Celeb chefs warned against letting standards slip

Experts say celeb chefs could be spreading themselves too thinly

Is Gordon Ramsay damaging his culinary reputation by opening too many restaurants?
Is Gordon Ramsay damaging his culinary reputation by opening too many restaurants?

Celebrity chefs who put their name to multiple restaurants must keep up two key areas of their businesses if they want to maintain their reputation, industry professionals have said.

The first is to always offer high quality restaurant concepts, and the second is to be able to ensure standards do not slip.

Daniel During, managing partner of restaurant consultancy Thomas Klein International said: “Look at Wolfgang Puck. He is a fantastic chef who can cook fantastic food, but now he’s doing casual dining. It doesn’t have the same standard, and when you eat there the quality is not there. For me he has tainted his name by doing mediocre food."

It’s the same with Marco Pierre White and his lower-end restaurants, During said, one of which, Wheelers, is situated in Dubai.

“You can corrupt your name,” he continued. “Marco Pierre White was one of the first chefs in the UK. Now he is all over the place. Why do they do that? They do it for money but you can still make money while being true to your ethos and your values.”

During has spoken out as news breaks that Gordon Ramsay is to open two new restaurants in the new St Regis Doha in May. Gordon Ramsay Doha and Opal by Gordon Ramsay.

Knud Bundgaard, director of culinary - MEA, and F&B operations for Africa & Indian Ocean, Hilton Worldwide, said at the CatererMiddle East Conference in March: “The trend is going towards the home-grown, local celebrity chefs, so when people go to Table 9 (formally Verre, owned by Gordon Ramsay) they know that the celebrity chef is actually cooking – that’s what’s changed in the last couple of years. People want to know that the food is being cooked by the chef who’s got their name on the restaurant."

Markus Thesleff, co-founder of Okku, agreed: “Longterm, will celeb chef continue to work? I don’t think so – you need much more than that – the customer has realised the chef can’t be everywhere at once."

Gary Rhodes, known for his hand-on attitude towards his restaurants, said about the pre-oping period of new Abu Dhabi restaurant, Rhodes 44, due to open later this year: “When I’m opening operations like this, you’ll find me before the opening date for a minimum of two months in the kitchen. I think it’s the only way you can do it. I will work every single day until we have that food right and until I feel comfortable that the chef has got it right.

"With [head chef] Paul Upton I’m very lucky because he’s been working with me 10 years now,” Rhodes continued. “There’s an element of trust, but of course I care too. I know he’ll want me to be there.”

So far there has been no news that Ramsay has visited his Doha restaurants. However, a spokesperson from Gordon Ramsay Holdings said: “As is common practice with consultancies, Gordon Ramsay Holdings doesn’t own or operate the restaurants but the model means the two restaurants will bear the Gordon Ramsay name and Gordon and his team oversee the back of house including the appointment of the executive chef and the development and quality of the menu.

Gordon Ramsay Holdings is passionate about appointing top kitchen talent to its restaurants and consultancies. Michelin-starred Chef Gilles Bosquet will head up the two new Gordon Ramsay consultancies at St Regis Doha, having previously worked for the Gordon Ramsay Group and having spent time with the team in London in preparation for his new position.

"Through this experience, and the support of Gordon and his team in developing the menu, Gordon’s inspiration and flair as well as quality and exacting standards are passed down and maintained, ensuring the best possible customer experience.

"Gordon is very proud of the talented teams he has in place in all his restaurants and visits them as often as possible.”


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