Gordon Ramsay has sold his restaurant in Los Angeles to the management of the hotel which houses it, reports the
Business at ‘Gordon Ramsay at the London’ had become so slow, reports the newspaper, that on some days staff outnumbered guests. Part of the problem, on the newspaper’s analysis, is that “in Hollywood, everyone expects the star chef to be there”. As well as being on TV every night? Bless!
The report of the sale follows on a recent savaging of Ramsay’s reputation on the East Coast, which saw him effectively ‘written off’ as a major force by three of the Big Apple’s leading restaurant opinion-formers.
At the same time, the Independent reports that “the breakneck pace of expansion by Gordon Ramsay Holdings (GRH) – the UK-based private company that runs his restaurant operations – will slow dramatically and plans for a flotation next year have been put on hold”. A source, apparently credible, is quoted as saying: “The recession has come at precisely the wrong time – the masterplan has come off the rails. Any flotation is now a very, very long way off.”
On celebrity chefs more generally, the weekend has seen much commentary, the most obviously end-of-an-era-ish being a piece by Rachel Johnson in the Sunday Times. “In the 1950s the celebrities were film stars”, she writes. “In the 1960s they were photographers and hairdressers. In the 1970s they were rock stars. In the 1980s they were fashion designers. And in the 1990s and the 2000s they were, weirdly, cooks.” Too many places, as she rightly notes, came to be “about status and advertising and the brand, rather than what was put on the plate.”
(She does go off the rails, incidentally, when she hopes we don’t “go back to what they were in 18th-century Paris – scrofulous places where the sickly went for fortifying cups of bouillon”. Usually located in or near the brothel-cum-pleasure-gardens of the Palais Royal, the original restaurants tended in fact to be ornate establishments whose prices largely limited their clientèle to the aristocracy and haute borgeoisie. Any supposedly ‘healthy’ elements of the package were largely a marketing device. Plus ça change…)