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Gordon Ramsay Faces His Biggest Crisis

Gordon Ramsay Faces His Biggest Crisis

Robert Rorke | NY Post

GORDON RAMSAY has an identity crisis. The star of Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen,” now in its sixth season, is the best-known chef in the world, but his cooking empire, which includes 25 restaurants and two additional television series (“Kitchen Nightmares”; “The F Word”), has been under siege.

Ramsay sold his Los Angeles restaurant, Gordon Ramsay at the London West Hollywood, to the company that operates the California hotel where it was located (the eatery will still carry his name). Rumors abound that his New York restaurant, which opened to lukewarm reviews two years ago and now no longer serves lunch, may actually close.

His prospects in London are not much brighter. Two of his restaurants there have closed. And the British press recently revealed that Ramsay, who regularly harangues “Hell’s Kitchen” contestants about the importance of fresh ingredients, does some food preparation off-site.

In addition to these professional woes, personal problems have dogged him as well. A mistress, Sarah Symonds, has surfaced. And then Ramsay discovered that his show persona doesn’t always work off-screen. After an appearance on Australian talk show, Ramsay called its host, Tracy Grimshsaw, a lesbian and a pig. When the ensuing firestorm of bad publicity would not be extinguished – even the Prime Minister called the chef a "lowlife’ – Ramsay issued an uncharacteristic apology. “I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize for the stupid comments, I am deeply sorry for the hurt that’s been caused,” he said.

Fame, especially of the white-hot variety enjoyed by Ramsay, who is reportedly worth $83 million, has distinct drawbacks. The question remains, though: Has Gordon Ramsay peaked? “His shtick is getting played out,” says Josh Ozertsky, senior editor, restaurants, citysearch.com. "His tantrums and diatribes were all based on his unquestionable credibility as a chef.

He’s still successful enough to yell at the dopes on ’Hell’s Kitchen,’ but there’s no question now that his restaurants are circling the bowl. His reputation doesn’t have the weight that it once did." It remains to be seen whether “Hell’s Kitchen” will be carried along with this tide of misfortune. Ramsay remains excited about the new season, even though he says it is “possibly the most demanding in terms of frustration levels, but we’ve got some exceptional chefs.”

Even if the show continues to rate well, Ramsay will still be faced with the challenge of reinventing himself. Fabio Viviani, a former “Top Chef” contestant, says that Ramsay is resilient. “Gordon has the knowledge and the strength to get his restaurants back on track,” he says. “Maybe he just did a little too much.” Says Ozertsky, “It won’t be wise to write him off, but the restaurants are out of date and the shelf life of his TV celebrity is definitely past due.”

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