Overall ranking: 5
Chef ranking: 3
Gordon Ramsay - Snapshot
Gordon Ramsay is the chef-restaurateur whose award-winning restaurants, cookbooks and TV series have made him a household name across the world. Since 1998, Gordon Ramsay Holdings (GRH) has built up a portfolio of 27 restaurants and pubs in the UK and abroad that it either owns or runs that have 10 Michelin stars between them. His first restaurant, in Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, south-west London, is one of just four in the UK to currently hold three Michelin stars.
Gordon Ramsay - Career guide
Born in Scotland in 1966, Gordon Ramsay first came to prominence in late 1993 as head chef of Aubergine in London, which he co-owned with A-Z Restaurants. In 1998 he opened Gordon Ramsay at Royal Hospital Road in Chelsea, followed in 1999 by Pétrus in St James's Street where he installed Marcus Wareing as chef-patron.
In 2002 Ramsay chose Angela Hartnett to head up the food and beverage operation at London’s Connaught hotel. A frenetic 2003 saw Wareing take over the Savoy Grill, open Banquette above it, move Pétrus into the Berkeley hotel and open La Fleur, while Ramsay opened his Boxwood Café - styled after a New York café - at the Berkeley. La Fleur closed in early 2004.
In early 2005 Ramsay teamed up with chef Ian Pengelley to open Pengelley’s at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower hotel in Knightsbridge, London. The same year saw Maze open at the London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square, under Jason Atherton, and two restaurants at the Conrad Tokyo hotel. In 2006, Ramsay converted Pengelley’s into La Noisette, headed by ex-Greenhouse chef Bjorn van der Horst, and made his US debut in hotels in New York and Florida.
The next year saw Ramsay open his first Irish restaurant, Gordon Ramsay at Powerscourt, at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Powerscourt, County Wicklow. In 2008 Ramsay opened his first US West Coast restaurant in Los Angeles and opened two new eateries in London with Hartnett at the helm: Murano and the York & Albany.
Rapid foreign expansion in recent years – backed by private equity firm Blackstone - has also seen openings in the Czech Republic, Australia, Japan, South Africa, Qatar and France. However, Gordon Ramsay Holdings (GRH) has stepped back from day-to-day involvement in a number of these overseas operations – as well as closing the Prague restaurant completely – after becoming financially overstretched.
After an acrimonious split with Marcus Wareing, who quit GRH but was awarded his own restaurant contract by the Berkeley, Ramsay retained the rights to the Pétrus name and opened a new restaurant, just minutes from the old site, in March 2010.
Ramsay was appointed OBE in the 2006 honours list for services to the hospitality industry. In July 2006 Ramsay won the Catey for independent restaurateur, becoming only the third person to have won three Cateys.
Gordon Ramsay - What we think
Gordon Ramsay is, in many ways, a divisive figure. While his achievements in picking up an astonishing 14 Michelin stars – and retaining three stars for so long at Royal Hospital Road - are lauded by the industry, his combative style, both on and off screen, has left a bitter-sweet taste in the mouths of some. A few were unable to disguise their glee when Gordon Ramsay Holdings (GRH) hit financial difficulties in 2008.
The rapid overexpansion of Ramsay’s restaurants abroad had left GRH struggling to pay back a £10m loan from the Royal Bank of Scotland and a tax bill of £7.2m. Figures released in January 2010 showed that six of GRH’s newer restaurants had combined losses of £4.3m for the year ending August 2008.
Auditors at KPMG proposed bankruptcy, but Ramsay and his principal backer Chris Hutcheson restructured the debts, and in several restaurants GRH became consultants rather than owners.
Speaking to the Observer earlier this year, Ramsay said he had no regrets. "No one saw the recession coming," he said. "The UK businesses were solid as a rock, but the issues we had were in Paris, New York and LA. For every pound we were making here we were losing two pounds abroad. But if I had the choice not to have done New York or Paris, going out there and putting a stake in the ground and showing the French we could cook as well as them, it was a big ballsy thing to do and I never regret that.”
GRH has also suffered from the departure of key chefs such as Marcus Wareing, Jason Atherton and Mark Sargeant in recent years, but it is testimony to Ramsay’s ability to spot and nurture talent that the company benefited from their skills in the first place. In January 2010 the Good Food Guide predicted that Wareing, Atherton and Angela Hartnett will take on the mantle of their mentor and dominate the restaurant landscape in the coming decade.
Despite his pub, the Devonshire, closing last weekend, with the new Pétrus having opened earlier this year, Ramsay shows no signs of going away any time soon and remains one of the most dominant figures in the hospitality industry.
Gordon Ramsay - Further information