Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Gordon sells out! The decline of the celeb chefs?


Recommended Posts

Just read that G.R is to sell his west hollywood restaurant, The London, less than one year after opening. The wheels seem to be coming ever more loose.

Apparently the reason for the sale has been citied as very slow business. What does the man expect? He is NEVER anywhere near the place, like pretty much all the other places that bear his 'name'. His (ex)customers are saying that they became fed up of the man never, ever being in the kitchen. ABOUT bloody time. There has to be a point, which I think we've reached, when people say enough is enough. I hope dinners are now beginning to see they are been taken for a ride. These celeb chefs have been for along time taking the piss. Charging mega bucks for food they merely consult on. Pretending to be chefs as and when it suits may be coming to an end. They spend more bloody time in tv studios it seems, than in their restaurants. How has it been allowed to get to this stage? Is it merely the power of telly and that folk are taken in on the whole celeb thing? I for one think its about time these chefs come back down to earth, get their whites back on and get back where they belong. When chefs start winning tv awards instead of stars then someting to my mind is a little wrong. I mean for god sake, AWT even endorses toilet cleaner. Pretty apt, I know!! :biggrin:

I was talking to the three star chef of L'Astrance back in January about how things are here with the celeb chef culture. He just could'nt get his head round it. His take was that he is here to cook. Thats what he does. He didn't expect his customers to pay large summs of money for food that was nothing to do with him. He felt (thank god) he had an obligation to his customers. The French wouldn't tolerate it he felt. Shame its not like that here.

If these hard times do anything, I really hope it brings back a little honesty to the restaurant trade.

Link to post
Share on other sites

There was a TV programme a week or so back that touched on this (missed the first half so not sure what the programme title was).

Mentioned stuff about how the celebs can pull from branding. IIRC, it said that Worral Thompson had made millions from his cookware endorsements. Disappointing to see Aidan Byrne and his agent talking about the strategy for getting him a TV show and so on. Just bloody cook!

John Hartley

Link to post
Share on other sites

I feel it doesn't really matter whether Ramsay (or Robuchon or Keller etc.) is there or not, but whether the food and experience is good or not. For example, Royal Hospital Road is still turning out great food without Ramsay being there most of the time. The problem comes when people expect the food to be good _just because_ it has a celebrity chef behind it. Each restaurant should be appraised individually and you should not expect that because it is Ramsay that a) he will be there and b) everything will be great.

We had a really lousy meal at "Ramsay's" Connaught when it was under Angela Hartnett. Clearly blaming Hartnett is more reasonable than blaming Ramsay in that case, and we didn't go back.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I feel it doesn't really matter whether Ramsay (or Robuchon or Keller etc.) is there or not, but whether the food and experience is good or not. For example, Royal Hospital Road is still turning out great food without Ramsay being there most of the time. The problem comes when people expect the food to be good _just because_ it has a celebrity chef behind it. Each restaurant should be appraised individually and you should not expect that because it is Ramsay that a) he will be there and b) everything will be great.

We had a really lousy meal at "Ramsay's" Connaught when it was under Angela Hartnett. Clearly blaming Hartnett is more reasonable than blaming Ramsay in that case, and we didn't go back.

I'm more in line with this thinking. As long the food, service, etc are on (for the price point) who cares? For me and my wife the enjoyment we get from his shows, primarily Kitchen Nightmares and Hell’s Kitchen (the comedy aspect of course) are more valuable than knowing he’s spending enough time in the kitchen. Is his empire getting too big to manage, quality control slipping, the economy a factor? Perhaps, but a good executive chef does not have to be in the kitchen for his places to run smoothly. He's hired and trained the right staff to do so.

That wasn't chicken

Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh God that programme about superchefs. Some no-doubt-overpaid cretin came on drivelling about chefs' need "to centralise control of the brand [that is, the chef] and exploit it in a 360 degree way". I found the Aiden Byrne stuff very dispiriting: sitting with his humour-free agent, dissecting his appearance on Saturday Kitchen, arsing on about "the Aiden Byrne brand". Do we care that much?

Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm more in line with this thinking.  As long the food, service, etc are on (for the price point) who cares?    For me and my wife the enjoyment we get from his shows, primarily Kitchen Nightmares and Hell’s Kitchen (the comedy aspect of course) are more valuable than knowing he’s spending enough time in the kitchen.  Is his empire getting too big to manage, quality control slipping, the economy a factor?  Perhaps, but a good executive chef does not have to be in the kitchen for his places to run smoothly.  He's hired and trained the right staff to do so.

Indeed, not to mention that this business model (find talented chef, put in kitchen, rebrand to get customers through door), like big hotel chains in India, does help start up talent which WILL spend time in the kitchen.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't believe some of the coments here. The celeb chef culture is about as cynical as it gets and its starting to show. How can it not matter if the chef with his name above the door is NEVER in residence? What an earth does that suggest? Give me strength. All the restaurants are sold off the back of his name. As for Keller, it is well known he divides his time (cooking) between his two restaurants, with a video uplink in each restaurant. Food is still his passion not just a vehicle to make tons of cash. These chefs can't be 'the' passionate chef one minute and a commercial brand the next. :angry: As for Aiden Byrne wanting to be the next big thing, christ, he looks a lamb to the slaughter.

Link to post
Share on other sites
As for Keller, it is well known he divides his time (cooking) between his two restaurants, with a video uplink in each restaurant.

Keller's got two branches of Bouchon as well as French Laundry and Per Se which are also "Keller restaurants".

I can see where you are coming from, being irritated by celebrity chefs who don't cook. But if I know that the chef is very unlikely to be in the kitchen, and I still have a good time at the restaurant and eat well, my feeling is it doesn't really matter. Anyone that truly believes that Ramsay (or anyone else) who has an empire of restaurants can be running the show in each of them all the time hasn't really thought it through.

It seems a bit foolish to reject a restaurant simply because the celeb-chef isn't there if the restaurant is performing. Similarly, it seems foolish to go to a restaurant "because its a Ramsay" if they are turning out crap food.

I'm sure there are plenty who just go for the name recognition and don't care that much how good the food is, but I don't think that is a sustainable way of running a restaurant empire over a period of time, and so quality standards must be maintained.

Perhaps the flipside to that is Jamie Oliver - he has ample brand recognition, but there's nothing much special about "15", especially for the prices. Will it last?

Link to post
Share on other sites

It's not that long ago that the celebrities of the restaurant world were maitre d's, not chefs. I very much dislike the idea of 'personality' chefs who think that they are creative artists. They are not, they are artisans, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Link to post
Share on other sites

How are celeb chefs 'artisans'? :laugh: They are the furthest thing from such a description. Artisan broadly means a craftsman who pursues a trade with some manual skills. It does not stand for 'Im a tv chef, spread ultra thin and sometimes a fleeting restauranteur. Anybody who knows me also knows 'artisan' is very close to my heart!!!!! :biggrin:

Link to post
Share on other sites

In regards to Ramsay, he's done all the hard years working his way up through the kitchens. If he finds it easier to make money with his branded restaurants, TV shows, books, and so on, then good luck to him.

It seems a bit foolish to reject a restaurant simply because the celeb-chef isn't there if the restaurant is performing. Similarly, it seems foolish to go to a restaurant "because its a Ramsay" if they are turning out crap food.

And that's nicely summed up. It's really up to the diner to make up their own mind on why they go to a particular restaurant and whether they're getting value for money. It's very naive to think that Ramsay will be behind the stove of all his restaurants.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
Link to post
Share on other sites

My feelings are that it has very little to do with the name and much more to do with the quality control. Ducasse has run 2 3* restaurants for many a year by keeping solid head chefs; Franck Cerruti and Christophe Moret. Keller has 2 head chefs at the French Laundry and Per Se.

Ramsay seems to genunely care about RHR and despite, every year people saying that will it be the year it's demoted and it never has. However, much of his empire seems to have been rapidly expanded and lacks the individual level of control that he is able to hold over RHR.

It doesn't surprise me that standards slip when you're operating such an array of restaurants over many continents. In this financial climate, there's also no surprise that places are going under.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I was talking to the three star chef of L'Astrance back in January about how things are here with the celeb chef culture. He just could'nt get his head round it. His take was that he is here to cook. Thats what he does. He didn't expect his customers to pay large summs of money for food that was nothing to do with him. He felt (thank god) he had an obligation to his customers. The French wouldn't tolerate it he felt. Shame its not like that here.

He says that, but then Ducasse and Robuchon are French and they have bigger global empires and then Michelin backs them up with stars galore.

Link to post
Share on other sites
My feelings are that it has very little to do with the name and much more to do with the quality control. Ducasse has run 2 3* restaurants for many a year by keeping solid head chefs; Franck Cerruti and Christophe Moret. Keller has 2 head chefs at the French Laundry and Per Se.

Ramsay seems to genunely care about RHR and despite, every year people saying that will it be the year it's demoted and it never has. However, much of his empire seems to have been rapidly expanded and lacks the individual level of control that he is able to hold over RHR.

It doesn't surprise me that standards slip when you're operating such an array of restaurants over many continents. In this financial climate, there's also no surprise that places are going under.

Franck Cerruti (must be the same one) had a Michelin starred restaurant in Nice.

I remember him.

On one occasion when we were dining there,an irate Frenchman stormed into his kitchen to complain about his courgette flowers not being to his liking.

A rather perplexed Cerruti shrugged it off and told me,"It is his right"

I wonder how the foul mouthed one would have reacted?

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

Link to post
Share on other sites
I can't believe some of the coments here. The celeb chef culture is about as cynical as it gets and its starting to show. How can it not matter if the chef with his name above the door is NEVER in residence? What an earth does that suggest? Give me strength. All the restaurants are sold off the back of his name. As for Keller, it is well known he divides his time (cooking) between his two restaurants, with a video uplink in each restaurant. Food is still his passion not just a vehicle to make tons of cash. These chefs can't be 'the' passionate chef one minute and a commercial brand the next.  :angry: As for Aiden Byrne wanting to be the next big thing, christ, he looks a lamb to the slaughter.

I don't expect Mr Porsche to have personally overseen construction of each of the cars coming out of his factory. I do, however, expect them to have the standards and quality expected thanks to bearing his imprimatur.

(unfortunately, it appears Messrs Alfa and Romeo DO oversee production personally. Its just they're always drunk)

It no longer exists, but it was lovely.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Jamie's "15" isn't really "his" place, the are training restaurants.His of italian eateries is another matter.

It's still a Jamie restaurant though, innit? And it certainly trades that way, you hear people say "I went to Jamie's restaurant" not "I went to Jamie's trainees restaurant". But that to me is an example where the branding/concept/owner talks much more loudly than the food and service on offer, so I steer clear.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't give me any of this Mr Armarni doesn't stich together each suit etc. Ramsay constantly spouts this line when ever he is put under pressure for never been in his kitchens. Ramsay didn't even coin this phrase, he nicked it from Gary Rhodes (another one who spreads himself as thin as the magarine he endorses!)

The fact of the matter is Porsche, Armarni etc etc are done to templates. Great food is not. Food is live, thats what seperates the great from the good, the bad and the indifferent. Give an exact ingredient to two different chefs and you will get two different results.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Don't give me any of this Mr Armarni doesn't stich together each suit etc. Ramsay constantly spouts this line when ever he is put under pressure for never been in his kitchens. Ramsay didn't even coin this phrase, he nicked it from Gary Rhodes (another one who spreads himself as thin as the magarine he endorses!)

The fact of the matter is Porsche, Armarni etc etc are done to templates. Great food is not. Food is live, thats what seperates the great from the good, the bad and the indifferent. Give an exact ingredient to two different chefs and you will get two different results.

A pertinent point is raised here. Let's just think about it for a moment shall we...

Gary Rhodes, an alleged "celebrity chef" endorses margarine. That is MARGARINE by the way. Factory distilled chemical kak with no natural, let alone redeeming, features whatsoever.

God help us all!

Always hungry.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Don't give me any of this Mr Armarni doesn't stich together each suit etc. Ramsay constantly spouts this line when ever he is put under pressure for never been in his kitchens. Ramsay didn't even coin this phrase, he nicked it from Gary Rhodes (another one who spreads himself as thin as the magarine he endorses!)

The fact of the matter is Porsche, Armarni etc etc are done to templates. Great food is not. Food is live, thats what seperates the great from the good, the bad and the indifferent. Give an exact ingredient to two different chefs and you will get two different results.

Completely wrong. Restaurant cooking is about consistency and delivery of the same high-level experience to each and every customer. Michelin requires consistency of standards, which requires a very clear template (not to mention delivery to GP does likewise).

With a few exceptions, one doesn't visit a top restaurant expecting sheer new invention each and every time The skill is in the origination of the idea and the quality and service control, which doesn't imply having to be there all the bloody time. THere's also massive skill involved in running a business, particularly in this sector. Its the difference between being a cook and being a chef.

It no longer exists, but it was lovely.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well excuse me all over the place. Compleletly wrong? I don't think so. Who's talking about innovation? This is about chefs who have their names above the door but plainly never cook in the place. But is there any wonder with what they get away with? This thread was started off the back of G.R now handing back control of 'his' restaurant, less than a year after opening. Amongst other things, this decsion was put down to his customers complaining he was never, ever on site. The whole thing is a mockery and its now starting to show. You can't argue this. Is plainly there to be seen. G.R is now nothing more than a p.r machine and people are now starting to see right through it. If you enjoy the celeb restaurants, don't let me put you off, this is just my opinion, that plenty of others out there seem to share.

For your information, I have run my own pretty decent restaurant now for nearly five years. I'm there ALL the time. I'm one of the very few people who doesn't seek fame. I do what I do as I enjoy it. Its not a calculated means to an end. This is one reason why my customers come back time and again. Also I don't need lecturing on Michelin and what they are all about. I was having this exact conversation/ argument with an inspector two weeks ago. Michelin play a massive part in fanning the celeb chef. I put this to the inspector, citing that I believe Michelin too has become nothing more than a world wide brand, which supports the various chefs brands out there. Guess what, he didn't wholely agree with me but at the same time didn't disagree either. Probably didn't do myself any favours of getting a star but so f..king what. I'd rather stand for something than sell out for anything.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Well excuse me all over the place....  I put this to the inspector, citing that I believe Michelin too has become nothing more than a world wide brand, which supports the various chefs brands out there. Guess what, he didn't wholely agree with me but at the same time didn't disagree either. Probably didn't do myself any favours of getting a star but so f..king what. I'd rather stand for something than sell out for anything.

Thank you, I enjoyed the sudden flashback to all those discussions in the late eighties in music. 'But we play our own instruments, we've paid our dues, these people who treat it as a business, they're just sell-outs.'

What, exactly, do you stand for? Desiring to return to a pre-capitalist idyll of the artist in an age before mechanical (never mind digital) reproduction is lovely. But fantasy.

I expect the INspector was very impressed by your rant and will be explaining to Mr. Michelin why everything they do is wrong.

It no longer exists, but it was lovely.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I stand for a little honesty or is that unfashionable in your book? Maybe a bit pre industrial revolution? If chefs want to be mega stars or brands etc, go for it. I'm not against anybody making money BUT not everybody who wears a pair of whites wants to be the next big thing. Its got to the point now whereby it seems all style and little content. That can't be right. Maybe Im all on my lonesome on this, but cooking shouldn't merely be a stepping stone to be a tv star. Or is it? Alot of these celeb chefs just crave attention. They seem to need it like a drip. Don't remember having a rant with the inspector. Oh yes, thats probably down to my 18th century attitude. Anyway, must get back to the workhouse!!!!! :biggrin:

Edited by food1 (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...