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fatherinlav, Chris Hutcheson. In late
Iecember, Ramsay says, KPMG recom
mended that the company declare bank
ruptcy, fre hundreds of people and close
all but its bestperforming restaurants.
°Lverything vas on the line," he says.
°Iecember, January, Iebruary and March
vere the most highly pressurized, stiest,
most avful four
months I`ve ever
had in business."
Ramsay vas in
Hollyvood for
most of the frst 12
veeks of 2009
shooting the U.S.
version of He||'s
Ki|c|en, the reality
shov he fronts for
the Iox netvork.
After a day of flm
ing, he`d often be
on the phone for
hours at night,
talking vith Hutcheson about hov to save
their business. The stress vas so intense,
he says, that he`d go for runs in Malibu at
4:30 in the morning, vearing a black vest
loaded vith 20 kilograms of veights. °I
just ran and ran and ran," he says.
Ior Ramsay, bankruptcy vas unthink
able even if it made fnancial sense.
°There vas no fing vay that vas ever
going to happen," he says. °That vas
never even an option."
Ramsay`s fame vould have made it the
most public of failures. °He`s one of the
great chefs," says JeanLuc Naret, Paris
based director of the Mic|e|in Guiáe se
ries, vhich avards the stars that are the
Oscars of the food vorld. Restaurant
Gordon Ramsay at Royal Hospital Road
is London`s only dining spot vith three
Michelin stars. In all, Ramsay boasts 12 l


n a gray morning in October, Gordon Pamsay
bursts into the kitchen ot his south london
house, pop music blaring trom the radio. At
the heart ot the room stands a 67,000
pound ¸S!!!,000 lrench cooking range
that weighs 2.¯ tons and had to be lowered
by crane into the celebrity chet's home.
Pamsay, who is 6 teet 2 inches ¸!.88 meters
tall and weighs 2!¯ pounds ¸98 kilograms, is
wearing jeans, a tight black Tshirt that accentuates
his muscles and a Bell e Poss watcha Swiss brand
marketed to soldiers, bombdisposal experts and other
°men tacing extreme situations.` The +`yearold Scot pours
himselt a juice, sits at the kitchen table and looks back on his own
extreme situation. a year in which his global restaurant empire al
most went bankrupt.
In the fall of 2008, his Londonbased
Gordon Ramsay Holdings Ltd. breached
the covenants on a |10.$ million loan
and overdraft facility from Royal Bank of
Scotland Group Plc. The bank hired
KPMG to perform an independent re
viev of the frm, 69 percent of vhich is
ovned by Ramsay and 31 percent by his
1he Þamsay resrauranr ar
Clarldge's horel ln cenrral
London opened ln 2ûûJ.
LhrIs Putcheson,
Ramsay's farher-ln-
law, backed rhe chef's
ñrsr resrauranr.
¦ ^lL^l' 20!0 8LûûM8£Þ6 MAÞk£15
Puck, 60, has more than 90 restaurants
and says he generates $$0 million a year
in sales of cookvare and appliances.
Ramsay, too, has focused on TV in
amassing a fortune that London`s Sunáay
1imes estimated in April 2008 at |$0 mil
lion. °He`s perhaps the most media
enhanced chef in history," says Bill
Guilfoyle, a restaurant marketing expert
at the Culinary Institute of America in
Hyde Park, Nev York.

»xs»v`s ixiini ixi»xiii
just as the global recession
deepened. He opened eight
restaurants in 2008 and vas
particularly exposed as din
ers cut their spending. Brandname chefs
like Iucasse and Robuchon seldom ovn
their restaurants outright; instead, they
sign consulting deals under vhich they
provide chefs, create a menu and run the
operation. Ramsay`s company ovned al
most all of its restaurants and vas on the
hook for everything from rent to salaries.
°We veren`t unlucky," says Hutcheson,
61, chief executive omcer of Gordon Ram
say Holdings. °We vere clumsy. We`d put
too many risks in front of us vith too
much confdence that nothing vould fail."



almost |2$ million in U.K. sales alone.
Ramsay also endorses pots, pans, glasses
and china branded as Gordon Ramsay by
Royal Ioulton, and he`s Iiageo Plc`s U.K.
pitchman for Gordon`s Gin. Hutcheson
says Ramsay makes about |3 million a
year from endorsements.
All of this has placed Ramsay at the
vanguard of a generation of celebrity
chefs vith such myriad business inter
ests that they barely cook. °Television
made our profession really international
and sexy," says Austrianborn chef Wolf
gang Puck, vho began appearing on U.S.
morning television in the 1980s. Today,
stars, surpassed only by Irenchmen Joel
Robuchon (2$) and Alain Iucasse (18).
By 2009, Ramsay had about 20 restau
rants as far afeld as Iubai, Nev York,
Paris, Prague and Tokyo. He also starred
in fve TV shovs that reinforced his im
age as a master chef vho svears and
shouts in pursuit of perfection. In the
U.K., he earns more than |2 million annu
ally from Ramsay's Ki|c|en Nig||mares
and 1|e | vcrá, in vhich his culinary ad
ventures vith celebrities have included
creating breastmilk cappuccinos. In
2009, Hutcheson says Ramsay`s talent
fees from U.S. shovs alone hit $9 million.
Ramsay has also published tvo autobi
ographies and lent his name to 23 cook
books. According to Nielsen BookScan,
his booksvhich have been translated
into 18 languageshave generated
Ior Ramsay, this vas especially embar
rassing because Ki|c|en Nig||mares
shovcases him as a savior of other peo
ple`s restaurants. °It`s not great if you`re
making a shov called Ki|c|en Nig||mares
and advising people on hov to fx their
businesses for you to go bankrupt," says
Pat Llevellyn, producer of the program
and Ramsay`s partner in a production
company called One Potato Tvo Potato.
Ramsay vas, at least, no stranger to
hardship. The son of a failed musician
vho vorked as a day laborer, he grev up
poor in Glasgov, Scotland and Strat
forduponAvon, Lngland. In his 2006
'He can`t walk the streets of New York without people
shouting and screaming,` a TV executive says.
8LûûM8£Þ6 MAÞk£15 ¦ ^lL^l' 20!0


autobiography, Hum||e |ie (Harper), he
describes his late father, also named Gor
don, as a vifebeating alcoholic and thief,
vhose favorite punishment vas to thrash
the back of his son`s legs vith a belt. Ram
say`s mother, Helen, raised their four
children, baking bread vhen she couldn`t
aford to buy it and cooking them dishes
such as ham hock soup or sausages and
beans. His father`s viev, Ramsay vrites,
vas that °only poofs cook."
A knee injury vrecked Ramsay`s
dreams of a soccer career. So he stumbled
into a hotel management course before
taking a series of junior cooking jobs.

x 1989, nis fascination vith
haute cuisine vas avakened at
Harvey`s, a London restaurant
run by Marco Pierre White, the
frst British chef vith three Mi
chelin stars. Ramsay then moved to
London`s top Irench restaurant, Le
Gavroche, as an apprentice chef Mi
chel Roux Jr., nov its head chef, says
Ramsay vas arrested in his frst veek
after jumping over a London under
ground turnstile to avoid the fare.
While Roux says Ramsay vas un
ruly, he made up for it in the kitchen.
°He vas beautiful to vatch," Roux
says. °He`s a very naturally gifted
chef. He has the taste, the eye of an
artist, the emciency, and he`s ruth
lessly hardvorking."
Ramsay spent three years in
Irance, including a stint vith
Robuchon, vhere he mastered the
essentials of Irench cuisine. Then,
in 1993, he became head chef at
Aubergine in London. °He vas an
animal, a monster; he vas horrible," says
Angela Hartnett, vho vorked vith him
there. Hartnett says Ramsay once threv
oysters at her after she`d opened them
imperfectly. °He`d alvays say, 'Why are
you diluting my standards?`"
Nonetheless, Hartnett has vorked
vith Ramsay for 16 years and is currently
head chef at Murano, one of his London
restaurants. One
reason she stayed
vas the quality of
his cuisine, vhich
features lighter sauces using less butter
and cream. °He took classic Irench cook
ing and modernized it," Hartnett says.
Iriends say Ramsay is hardvired for
perfection. °If he vere in a line of vasher
uppers in a prison, he`d vant to do it the
best and fastest," Llevellyn says.
Aubergine von tvo stars in 1997, and
Ramsay decided he deserved more than
the 2$ percent stake its ovners had given
him. Ramsay quit, triggering a lavsuit for
breach of contract that the parties set
tled out of court.
Ramsay had just married a school
teacher, Tana Hutcheson, vith vhom he
nov has three daughters and a son be
tveen the ages of 7 and 11. Tana`s father,
Chris, vho ovned a printing company,
risked |1 million in cash and loan guar
antees to bankroll the Royal Hospital
Road restaurant in 1998. He and Ramsay
have been partners ever since, and their
bond goes beyond business. °He`s my
soninlav but, actually, he`s my son,"
Hutcheson says.
The Royal Hospital Road restaurant,
vith signature dishes like lobster ravioli
in a lemon grass and chervil sauce, von
its third star in 2001. By then, Ramsay
vas as famous for his temper as his cook
ing. A British TV documentary called 8ci|
ing |cin| shoved him spitting out food
and fring a vaiter for serving the vrong
appetizer. Ramsay even ejected restau
rant reviever A.A. Gillalong vith his
guest, actress Joan Collinsfor criticiz
ing him in print. °I`ve become more ma
ture," Ramsay says nov. °I vouldn`t say
mellov. I still get incredibly frustrated."
Many employees defend him, saying
he`s generous and loyal. °He`s defnitely
not malicious," says Josh Lmett, head
chef at Gordon Ramsay at The London in
Nev York. °He`s passionate."
Ramsay`s breakthrough came in 2001,
vhen privateequity frm Blackstone
Group LP asked him to run the restau
rant at Claridge`s, one of four landmark
hotels it had bought in London. Since
the 18$0s, Claridge`s had been patron
ized by famous guests ranging from
Queen Victoria to Cary Grant. °I
thought it vould be clever to have a bad
boy there, and Gordon vas the baddest,"
1he comburive cheí
in ucrion on Fox 1V's
Rell's kitchen reulir,
:how in 2003
¦ ^lL^l' 20!0 8LûûM8£Þ6 MAÞk£15
geographically diverse, you can`t give
them all proper attention."
Jay Rayner, restaurant critic for the
O|server nevspaper, says Ramsay`s food
is °outofdate" as he doesn`t have time
to create nev dishes. °It`s no longer top
notch," Rayner says.
While Ramsay bristles at such criti
cism, saying consistency is more impor
tant to him than being avantgarde, he
makes no apology for spending less time
at the stove. °You tell me a chef anyvhere
in the vorld that`s prepared to turn dovn
quarter of a million dollars for an hour`s
vork on TV, and they`re the biggest lying
bastard that ever put on a chef `s jacket,"
he says.

v 2006, n»xs»v had nine res
taurants in London. Ceriale
then asked him to create res
taurants in Blackstone`s
overseas hotels, too. Ramsay
opened in Nev York that year; Prague
and Boca Raton, Ilorida, in 2007; and
Hollyvood and Paris in 2008. He rented
the properties from Blackstone and used
his nonrestaurant earnings to equip the
kitchensa strategy he says made sense
because it deployed income that vould
have been taxed at 40 percent in the U.K.
Lvery one of these overseas ventures
has lost money. In Nev York, vhere he
opened tvo restaurants in Blackstone`s
London NYC hotel, Ramsay says losses
reached $4 million a year, vith a union
ized staf costing 80 percent of revenues.
Hutcheson says he and Ramsay didn`t
think locally. Ior example, they neglected
to take into account hov little alcohol
Nev Yorkers vould order at lunch.
Ramsay`s foray into Prague failed in early
2009. He also tripped up in Irance vhere
he opened at the Trianon Palace Versailles,
on the outskirts of Paris. Hutcheson says
in Mas|erC|ef, an American version of the
British cookery contest. °He can`t valk
the streets of Nev York vithout people
shouting and screaming," Iarnell says.
°He`s like a rock star."
The TV vork, along vith his interna
tional restaurant expansion, has trig
gered accusations that Ramsay is spread
too thin. Richard Harden, cofounder of
the guidebook Haráen's Icnácn Res|au
ran|s, says he vas the city`s best chef for
10 years. °Many of his restaurants have
lost their vay," Harden says. °If you`ve
got so many interests that are so
says John Ceriale, Blackstone`s senior
adviser for the lodging industry.
Ramsay`s arrival attracted a thousand
calls a day for dining reservations, Ceri
ale says, and the restaurant has since
made Gordon Ramsay Holdings as much
as |2 million a year. In 2002, Ceriale also
put Ramsay in charge of all food at the
Connaught and installed him at the Sa
voy Grill, a 120yearold restaurant in the
Savoy Hotel once run by Irench culinary
legend Auguste Lscomer. A year later,
Ramsay opened tvo restaurants in the
Blackstoneovned Berkeley hotel.
In 2004, Ramsay's Ki|c|en Nig||mares
debuted in the U.K., making him a house
hold name. Mike Iarnell, Iox`s president
of alternative entertainment, sav him in
a reality series, He||'s Ki|c|en, and signed
him to make U.S. versions of both shovs.
According to Hutcheson, Ramsay earns
about $2$0,000 per episode. On Nov. 3,
Iox announced that Ramsay vill also star
'I`ve become more mature,` Ramsay says. 'I wouldn`t
say mellow. I still get incredibly frustrated.`
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company vould go bankrupt un
less they could renegotiate
their contracts vith Black
stone. °Shuttering the
restaurants vould not
have been the best
outcome for us or Gor
don," Ceriale says. °They
needed to restructure the business,
and ve vere the key to restructuring it."

i+in wiixs oi negotia
tion, Blackstone agreed to
assume ovnership of the
restaurants in Hollyvood
and Versailles, paying
Ramsay a consulting fee to run them. The
restaurant in Prague vas closed in Iebru
ary. Ramsay vould retain ovnership of
the Nev York restaurants. °Iinancially,
ve veren`t going to come out vith
much," Hutcheson says. °But you just
vant to stop these apparently end
less losses."
In Ramsay`s remaining restau
rants, everything nov vas about
cost control. The pricier of his
tvo Manhattan restaurants
stopped serving lunch and opened
for dinner just fve nights a veek, en
abling Lmett to cut his staf from tvo
kitchen brigades to one.
In London, Ramsay`s bistro
Ioxtrot Oscar closed on Mon
days and Tuesdays. Stuart Gil
lies, his head chef at Boxvood
Cafe in The Berkeley, has saved
|1,$00 a month by no longer or
dering ßovers, and he nov uses
cheaper cuts of meat, such as
beef shoulder, that he says require
more skill to prepare.
Hutcheson says the vorst is
over and Gordon Ramsay Holdings
they lost as much as 200,000 euros
($300,000) a month there in 2008, vith
vages consuming 90 percent of revenues.
Ramsay`s ambitions in Irance vere fu
eled by ego, Ceriale says, as he dreamed of
vinning three stars in the home of haute
cuisine. °I totally agree," Ramsay says.
°The Irench have been brilliant over the
last 20 years at coming over to our coun
try and telling us hov crap our food is."
Hutcheson says this emotional ap
proach became a liability once the credit
crisis struck. In late 2008, vhen RBS
vanted to assess vhether its loan vas at
risk, he says his accounts department
couldn`t provide the relevant fnancial
data. The company vas also |7.2 million
in arrears on U.K. taxes. At the time,
Ramsay and Hutcheson had 1,2$0 em
ployees, up from 4$ in 1998. °The com
pany just grev too quickly and no one
kept on top of it," Hartnett says.
To avert bankruptcy, Ramsay and
Hutcheson poured nearly |9 million of
their personal savings into Gordon Ram
say Holdings in 2009, 69 percent of it from
Ramsay. They vorked out an extension of
tax payments vith the British government
and cut the staf at their London head
quarters to $8 from 86.
Hutcheson says he told Ceriale the
should generate |7 million to |8 million
in earnings before interest,
taxes, depreciation and amortization
in the fscal year ending in August. The
company is also moving ahead vith tvo
nev projects in 2010: Petrus, vhich had
tvo Michelin stars, vill relocate in
London`s Belgravia neighborhood in
January, and the Savoy Grill vill reopen
after a renovation.
Still, Ramsay vill focus as much as
ever on TV. °I vant a life out of my
kitchen," he says.
In the future, Hutcheson says restau
rants may become even less of a priority
for Ramsay. °I can run the business in
Gordon`s name," he says. °TV is his forte.
That`s vhat he likes doing."
Ramsay says his restless ambition
stems from his childhood. He sometimes
forces himself to recall those days as a re
minder of hov far he vants his life to be
from that misery. °Trust me," he says.
°That`s enough to keep anyone fing
moving a thousand miles an hour." u
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