The longest drawn-out tiff in London restaurant-land – between Gordon Ramsay and his former protégé Marcus Wareing – is finally drawing to a close. The Berkeley Hotel has announced that, from 19 September, Marcus Wareing – chef of Pétrus SW1 – is to take over, in his own name, the lease currently held by Gordon Ramsay Holdings.
The Berkeley is the second of the three Maybourne group hotels to dispense with the Ramsay group’s services at its main restaurant. At the Connaught, Angela Hartnett’s tenure came to an end last year, supposedly over some sort of dispute about room service. Only Gordon Ramsay at Claridges W1 soldiers on.
As Ramsay looks set to become ever more a media phenomenon – and ever less a restaurateur – good press handling will become more and more essential to the brand, and you can’t help noting what a hash his organisation seems to have made in dealing with this particular story.
The Daily Mail, which broke the Pétrus story, implies that it felt misled by Ramsay’s spokesman. It is rare for a newspaper to record such a complaint, and all the more interesting when the spokesman concerned is Gary Farrow (“one of Britain's best-known entertainment business PRs”, The Independent).
For team Ramsay so clearly to have disenchanted the ‘voice of Middle England’ would appear to be a spectacular own goal.
Later today (27 May) it is reported by caterersearch.com that Gordon Ramsay Holdings is to transfer the Pétrus name to another property in the group, and that Marcus Wareing will therefore have to find another title for the restaurant at the Berkeley.
Quite how it can be in the anyone’s interest – most particularly those of customers – to divorce the Pétrus name from the chef with whom it has always been associated, only someone with a rather petty mind would really be able to understand.