Gordon Ramsay Seeks Reinvention

Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Category: Famous or Interesting People

After a year of scandal in his personal life and financial woes in his business empire, Gordon Ramsay looks back with some regret – and some anger.

The Observer, March 2010

Wherever he goes, Gordon Ramsay sees knives. Today they are at a photography studio in Clapham, a halo pointing inwards towards his head. At other times they are in the hands of rival chefs, or being sharpened by tabloid newspapers, or being stealthily drawn by financial institutions. Of late, Ramsay has employed two methods of self-defence: kick boxing ("I've had the shit kicked out of me for the last 18 months so why not?") and eating out. He says that in January he ate out 47 times, sometimes three meals a day in London and Paris. By eating out a lot he hopes to learn what other restaurants are up to ("chefs are very bad at gauging the customer change because they've always got their heads stuck inside a sweetbread") and finding inspiration for the next phase of his career, which involves a moderate image change and a quest to once again become the hottest chef in the country.

He was hoping to spend January in Los Angeles on a new television show, but his arteries told him otherwise. In December he went into hospital for the routine chef's operation – varicose veins – and was told that varicose veins were not really the issue. A valve in his groin had twisted, sending blood the wrong way. "A real pain, but I kept it all hush-hush, and it's turned into the most amazing experience. Last week I did three Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris, and at La Tour d'Argent I thought I was going to have a heart attack. It was just a slab of duck breast on a plate with blood sauce, and I could feel my arteries closing down – that wasn't the way forward." He books under the name Gordon, not Ramsay, so as not to scare the chefs, but he still finds he has to wait 15 minutes longer than other diners for each course, so eager is everyone to impress. At Hotel Le Bristol he encountered a chicken dish for two costing €260. "I'd get stabbed in this country if I charged that! Even if the chicken had its arse wiped every day by the farmer and they said its feathers were shampooed by John Frieda – I'd be shot. Even if the chicken was delivered by the Queen's driver and had this little Armani dressing gown on before it got taken to the slaughterhouse."

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