Interesting article, from Gordon Ramsay's mentor, but I could have told you this years ago. Here is a little story, which I was actually saving for my tell-all book I'm writing, but this is too good an opportunity to pass up.
I could have told you years ago that the Ramsay food brand was going downhill, especially after I had the misfortune to dine at his then restaurant, at the "London Hotel" on Sunset Boulevard in LA. I was dining with a friend at the time, and thank goodness they picked up the bill not me, as it was basically around $280 for what looked and tasted like cat food. Actually - that is NOT fair to cat food, as I know there are some very very tasty meals out there for cats, to which, much thought and effort is placed into the recipes, but still, I think you will get my point. I was rather embarrassed for Gordy at the time, as the friend was as appalled by the food, the price, the miniscule portions (for the prices being charged) and the VERY slow service, as I was.
Being close to Gordy, I was in a bit of a dilemma about what to do. I had told him I was going there, so hence, when he asked me what I'd thought about the experience, I tried to gently tell him that I thought he should make a flying visit to LA pronto, in order to check on the standard of his food, as it was so NOT up to scratch (another feline reference?). I really tried to do this as any concerned friend (who happened to be sleeping with him) would, as obviously nobody can be EVERYWHERE all of the time (he was busy jetting off to Paris and New York to open other new restaurants: both have now been taken over too actually. Pass the cream?) and I thought his staff at his new LA restaurant were taking the p*** and, he wasn't there to see it happening. Having spent a career in hotel sales, marketing and PR, I tend to know what's what!
Well if I did. What did I get in return?? A F******ing tirade that's what. Wow, does that man ever not like to be criticized. He was blue with anger down the phone to me from London, and I was so glad it was purely phone rage and that I hadn't dared to utter concerns and criticism in person I can tell you! I'd have never heard the end of it! He told me I was being ridiculous, and how he was getting rave reviews, and how it was packed every night. LOL dear, since it has now been bought back after such poor trading, I think it was you being ridiculous, not me! :-)
What was the result? He insisted on sending me back there a couple of months later, with friends and family, for a complimentary meal "on him." So I set out with my mum and my best friend to try it all over again. I'm not just saying this to be churlish, but it really was as bad as the first time, if not moreso. The food was tasteless and came in the tiniest portions you have ever seen. I know we were in LA and all that, but I have seen more food in a tin of Whiskas than on any of the plates that graced our table. Not only that, we were there HOURS. Waiting while the cat food was being prepared and delivered in a performance worthy of a broadway musical. There were definitely more staff than customers in his restaurant that night. And most of them were just standing around lazily, and probably the reason why our food took soooo long. To be honest, we couldn't wait to get home and make ourselves something to eat. We were all famished.
His restaurant at The London Hotel has since been bought back by the hotel - in both LA and New York - so, maybe Gordon should have taken heed of a concerned friend's critique early on, back in the day. Oh well. The ONLY good thing about my second trip to his restaurant in LA was that it was, "on him," and so we didn't have to pay good money for bad food!
The next day when he called me (he was by then in LA with the family, as it was their family summer holiday time) to anxiously and breathlessly find out how our visit to his restaurant went, I did something I don't do very often. I decided to be economical with the truth. It was easier for me to tell him what he wanted to hear, i.e. - that we had a great experience, and to praise him and stroke his ego, rather then tell him the truth and risk getting a right lambasting in return! To be honest I was too scared to tell him the truth. Even when he spoke to my mum on the phone, she too abstained from the true picture after the treatment I'd told her I'd had last time, choosing to simply "thank him for the gesture." *SORRY Mum that you had to go through that!!
There you go though, the truth is out now, and they do say that revenge is a dish best served cold, but, come to think of it, I don't think I've ever had a hot one at his restaurant!
Sarah J. x