No such thing as bad publicity?

Today, chefs come under the spotlight as often as their food

Opinion, Comment & analysis, Restaurants, Comment

Ramsay’s reincarnation of Pétrus restaurant opened in the UK recently, to rather mixed reviews.

When you cut through all the gastro-gossip, the food did in fact receive some glowing reviews as well as some less complimentary comments.

But as seems to be the case with all things Gordon-related, the food on offer was somewhat overshadowed by the details surrounding it — in this case, the rehashed reports of bad blood between Ramsay and former protégée Marcus Wareing, and what this latest development ‘meant’ for the feuding foodies.

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The new Pétrus is just minutes from its former home, The Berkeley, where Wareing originally ran the high-brow eatery. An acrimonious falling-out then saw Gordon Ramsay Holdings and the Pétrus name leave The Berkeley, where Wareing remained to establish his own very successful Michelin-starred restaurant.

There is a lot of extraneous information clouding reports of this new opening: vengeful motives (thanks to the restaurant’s location near Wareing’s base), ingredient standards (following the scandal at Foxtrot Oscar last year), whether Ramsay is spreading himself too thin (after losing a Michelin star at his Claridge’s outlet) and whether the world actually needs another Ramsay restaurant.

The problem is that nowadays, where chefs are celebrities and every customer is a reviewer, idle speculation and gossip is everywhere.

People can follow their favourite chefs practically 24-hours a day, thanks to the magic of Facebook, Twitter, and online media.

And should they wish to review their own dining/chef-sighting experience, they can share that information — be it good or bad — with the world in a matter of seconds.

So what does this means for chefs? How should these individuals handle online attacks, be they food-related or of a more personal nature?

Well, it’s important to remember a few things: firstly, pay attention to your customer feedback. If a lot of them are raising similar complaints, it’s definitely worth looking into.

Secondly, remember you cannot be everything to everyone. People have different tastes and preferences and you’re never going to win everyone over.

And finally, if you are constantly irritated by the fact the publicity is more about your personal life than your food, perhaps it’s time to take a step back from the limelight and let your food speak for itself.

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