April 2009 Archives

Planet HollywoodApart from Robert de Niro, whose involvement in upmarket Japanese restaurant group Nobu has mainly been silent, successful celebrity-run restaurants have been far and few between.

Does anyone still remember the Planet Hollywood-inspired and equally ghastly Fashion Café, backed by the likes of Naomi Campbell and Claudia Schiffer? Or Damien Hirst's London restaurant Pharmacy?

You'd think these high profile failures would have taught celebrities aspiring to become restaurateurs a few lessons but no, an increasing number of them seem hell-bent on taking the plunge.

There's Jack Tweed, widower to the late Jade Goody and current jail-bird, who plans to launch a "posh restaurant in Essex" (spot the paradox anyone?) in his late wife's honour.

Then we have Heather Mills, alleged gold digger and ex to Paul McCartney, who recently announced her forthcoming vegan restaurant in Brighton and megalomaniac plans to roll the concept out internationally.

Joining her in Brighton is radio personality and X Factor presenter Dermot O'Leary, who together with two mates will open Fishy Fishy in June. (No prizes for guessing what'll be on the menu.)

Last but not least, Danielle Bux, girlfriend to ex-footballer and potato head, sorry Walkers crisps face, Gary Lineker, wants to open a pub together with her beau. Having just endured Hell's Kitchen, you'd think she'd know better but hey, some people never learn.

Why do celebrities think they can run restaurants? And is it just me or do all of the above sound like recipes for disaster?

Picture of Planet Hollywood Leceister Square supplied by Rex Features.

Gordon RamsayGordon Ramsay was in the headlines again today and unsurprisingly it was bad news again for the chef.

For last night saw the announcement of the San Pellegrino 50 Best Restaurants Awards and Gordon Ramsay's three-Michelin-starred flagship restaurant on London's Royal Hospital Road wasn't on the list. In fact, despite being in 13th place last year, it didn't even make it into the Top 100.

The consensus among the 800-strong judging panel of food writers, restaurant critics and chefs was apparently that Ramsay is "spreading himself too thin" to be included.

The national media has unsurprisingly jumped at Ramsay's exclusion (especially given that erstwhile protégé and former best mate Marcus Wareing made a dramatic entry at 52 winning the Breakthrough Award) and I can't help but wonder whether he hasn't been used to grab the necessary column inches to promote the awards. 

Heston Blumenthal to launch a restaurant in London

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Heston BlumenthalHeston Blumenthal is planning to open his first restaurant in London.

The chef patron of the iconic three-Michelin-starred Fat Duck restaurant and the Hind's Head pub in the Berkshire village of Bray, is in discussions to launch a restaurant in the capital and has been linked to London's Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park.

More details to follow soon on Caterersearch.

Yesterday it emerged that Prince Philip had taken his 50-strong entourage to the Fat Duck for their Christmas lunch.

What a generous employer. Who pays his wages again?

Pierre GagnaireMulti-Michelin-starred French chef Pierre Gagnaire is set to put fellow culinary wizards Ferran Adrià and Heston Blumenthal to shame today by unveiling the world's first entirely synthetic dish.

Comprising a starter of apple and lemon flavoured jelly balls, with a creamy texture on the inside and crackling on the outside, Gagnaire has worked for months with food scientist Hervé This to create the recipe from chemical compounds.

Entitled "le note à note", the dish, which will debut at his Michelin-starred restaurant Pierre at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Hong Kong today, is a combination of "ascorbic acid, glucose, citric acid and a few grams of 4-O-a-glucopyranosyl-D-sorbitol, a sugar substitute otherwise known as maltitol". 

Hervé This, widely considered the godfather of molecular gastronomy, hailed the dish as a step into the future of haute cuisine.

"Tomorrow's chefs will frown upon plain vegetables, such as carrots and will instead use the molecules which make up carrots - caroteniods, pectins, fructose and glucuronic acid," he told The Times.

So is this the future of fine dining? 

Picture of Pierre Gagnaire supplied by Rex Features. 

Gordon RamsayGordon Ramsay found himself splashed across the front page of a red top again this morning, but, rather than blonde mistresses, it was "revelations" about a central production kitchen he uses for three gastropubs and Foxtrot Oscar.

The timing of the piece was undeniably good, coming days after Ramsay told Olive magazine that his "food hell" was ready meals, but one suspects it must have been a rather slow news day at The Sun for the story to be a front page splash.

The use of central production kitchens isn't new - indeed Gordon Ramsay Holdings bought the site from Albert Roux - and while it wouldn't reflect well on a fine dining establishment, it seems to make sense for pubs with small kitchens.

That said, the assistant manager at Foxtrot Oscar didn't cover himself in glory with his claim that all the food was cooked on site (even though it's not technically incorrect) and the story will only add to the perception that all is not well at Gordon Ramsay Towers.

Dream dinner party

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Gordon RamsayOlive magazine asked Gordon Ramsay whom he'd invite to his dream dinner party and the following made it on to his guest list:

His mother and sister, wife Tana, Radio One DJ Chris Moyles, Brazilian football legend Pelé, and Victoria and David Beckham.

It's not a particularly inspiring guest list considering that, except for Pelé, he actually knows all of these people and probably has had dinner with them at some point.

And in a further typical Ramsay slant he said he'd employ Ainsley Harriott and Gary Rhodes as waiters and would get Antony Worrall Thompson to do the washing up. "I wouldn't let him near the cooking." Nice.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Marco Pierre White back in Hell's Kitchen

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Marco Pierre WhiteMarco Pierre White (MPW) has returned to our TV screens in charge of ITV1's Hell's Kitchen and last night's opening show kicked off with a record five million viewers.

The series opener saw the celebrity contestants faced with their first challenge, which was making a sandwich, and MPW said the task would give him "great insight" into their technical ability and personalities.

"If they make it simple and honest, that's who they are. They make it flash, they're flash," he explained allowing us a glimpse into his profound culinary genius.

But, of course, not all of the celebrities were up to scratch and MPW took a very swift disliking to Linda Evans and Ade Edmondson, whom he "demoted to waiters" after they failed to impress with their culinary skills. Nice message he's sending out to the front of house division of our industry there but then we'd expect nothing less from Marco.

But, of course, the true scandal always takes place behind the scenes, and according to the Mirror  MPW dumped his girlfriend ahead of Hell's Kitchen in a bid to "find his fourth wife by wooing female fans" who last time round sent him bras and knickers. Lurvely stuff.

Furthermore, in a headline-grabbing move that shouldn't really surprise anybody, MPW has yet again hit out at fellow celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver.

"Everything Gordon does is contrived, unnatural, derivative," he told the Daily Mail before calling Jamie Oliver "a fat chef with a drum kit". "When he gets his first Michelin star I'll take him seriously."

I wonder how seriously they take him.

MPW's US TV career bombs
 

Has the Daily Mail got it in for Gordon Ramsay?

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Gordon RamsayGordon Ramsay has had a pretty bad run with the press lately.

Since the news of his alleged affair broke last winter, there's been little but negative headlines surrounding the fiery chef.

Whether it's him selling off his overseas restaurants, lying about his football career, or allegedly owing thousands of pounds to his suppliers, hardly a week has gone by without Ramsay having his name dragged through the mud by the tabloids.

But even among all the less than flattering headlines across the tabloid spectrum, I couldn't help but notice that one paper seems to particularly have it in for Ramsay.

You've guessed it, I'm talking about the Daily Mail.

The most recent piece shows Ramsay taking a tumble off his electric scooter in California. Not the most newsy piece we've seen but hey, it certainly makes for a good giggle.

Here's a round up of the Mail's other most recent headlines surrounding our favourite chef we love to hate.

Gordon Ramsay's restaurant nightmare as plan to open in Berlin is put on hold

How Gordon Ramsay 'lied about his football career to raise his celebrity profile'

Gordon Ramsay's kitchen nightmare after restaurant group runs into trouble over loans

Gordon Ramsay's a salon nightmare: TV chef hijacks the hairdryer during a day of pampering

Terence Conran to launch new restaurant called Lutyens

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Sir Terence ConranAfter Sir Terence Conran sold off 49% of Conran Restaurants, now D&D London, in 2006 and announced he was looking for a buyer for his remaining 51% stake in the company last year, the end of the Conran era was hailed by newspapers and magazines across the country.

But wrong they were and the launch of his restaurant-cum-shop-and-hotel The Boundary in Shoreditch proved that Sir Terence wasn't quite done with opening restaurants just yet.

And now as The Boundary approaches the final phase of its opening programme, with the rooftop and hotel soon to be up and running, he has diverted his attention to yet another new venture.

Together with wife Vicki and Boundary business partner Peter Prescott, Sir Terence is set to launch Lutyens, a restaurant, bar and private members' club in June.

Presumably named after leading 20th century British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, the restaurant will be housed in the former Reuters building on Fleet Street.

Former Le Pont de la Tour head chef David Burke will be in charge of the kitchen, while Café Anglais general manager Graham Williams will oversee front of house.

Picture of Sir Terence Conran at The Boundary supplied by Rex Features. 

Nathan Outlaw.JPGMichelin-starred chef Nathan Outlaw is to launch a second restaurant in Cornwall.

The chef, who runs his eponymous restaurant at the Marina Villa hotel in Fowey and has been tipped as a rising two-star for two years in a row, will take over the food and beverage operation at the St Enodoc Hotel in Rock next month.

His remit at the 20-bedroom property will include the launch of a 65-cover casual restaurant called Nathan Outlaw Seafood and Grill in June.

The 65-seat restaurant will serve a menu of classic British fare with a focus on Cornish seafood and meat dishes including steaks and casseroles.

Nathan told me the restaurant would be open seven days a week from breakfast through to dinner but would be closed for two months in the winter.

"It's not all about Michelin ambitions and this will be a vibrant place and a lot more relaxed than my other restaurant," he said.

Head chef will be Peter Biggs, who previously worked with Nathan at the Black Pig in Rock.

Look out for further details on Caterersearch tomorrow.

Michelin continues Asian expansion

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MichelinMan2.jpgAfter guides to Tokyo and Hong Kong and Macau, Michelin is continuing its Asian expansion with the launch of a third city guide for the continent.

The 2010 Michelin guide for Kyoto and Osaka, which will be published in October, is the second Japanese guide after the Tokyo guide was first launched two years ago.

Tokyo debuted with 191 Michelin stars, more than any other city in world, in 2008.

The 2009 guide awarded even more stars, with a record of 227 stars given to the 173 restaurants it lists, a total constituting more stars than Paris (99), London (60) and New York (56) combined.

It remains to be seen whether Kyoto and Osaka will repeat the success of Tokyo, but one thing that seems clear is Michelin's continued drive to become the world's benchmark when it comes to rating restaurants.

French chef lambastes Jamie Oliver

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Thumbnail image for Jamie OWhat a week it's been for Jamie Oliver. First he cooked up a storm at Downing Street for the world leaders attending this week's G20 summit and then his wife Jools gave birth to their third daughter Petal Blossom Rainbow Oliver today.

Congratulations Jamie and Jools!

While the heads of state were too busy announcing their $1.1 trillion rescue package for the world economy to comment on the feast they enjoyed on Wednesday night, the man himself assured us that all went smoothly.

"The dinner went really well. Everyone was chuffed, I am so proud of the chefs and apprentices from Fifteen. What a night!" Jamie told his fans via Twitter

But his attempts to impress the heads of states with his culinary skills were yesterday dismissed by one of France's culinary heavyweights, who was cooking for Nicolas Sarkozy and Barack Obama at the Nato lunch today.

Emile JungEmile Jung, who runs the two-Michelin-starred Le Crocodile in Strasbourg, gave a theatrical pause before admitting to knowing Jamie, musing: "The British cook? Ah yes, I've heard of him."

Oh pur-lease- don't they have TVs in Strasbourg?!?

Jung went on to say that while he is sure Jamie has "good products and good technique" when it comes to cuisine, French is the most "exceptional in the world".

"We have the best technique, the best traditions, the best memories, because to do good cuisine you need a (gastronomic) heritage," he said.

French arrogance still alive and kicking then? What do you think?

Jamie Oliver's online G20 extravaganza

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Jamie OliverWhile thousands of angry G20 protestors have gathered in the City of London amid violent clashes with police, a busy Jamie Oliver has quietly made his way to Downing Street ahead of the feast he's dishing up for the world leaders tonight.

Our favourite cheeky chappy is cooking up a storm for the heads of states with the menu listing some lovely seasonal British produce.

For the starter there's: Organic salmon from Shetland, served with samphire and sea kale, a selection of vegetables from Sussex, Surrey and Kent, and Irish soda bread, with a goat's cheese starter for the vegetarians

The main course is: Slow-roasted shoulder of lamb from the Elwy Valley in north Wales, with Jersey Royal potatoes, wild mushrooms and mint sauce or a vegetarian option of Lovage and potato dumplings

The dessert is a simple: Bakewell tart with custard

But Jamie isn't just cooking up a storm, he's also keeping his fans in the loop with regular updates on his Twitter page as well as uploading photographs of how he's getting on for everyone to view on his blog.

According to the Daily Mail Jamie will have his mobile taken off him once entering 10 Downing Street so we're unlikely to get any pics of him in action there. But you've got to give him serious credit for embracing the whole social networking phenomenon so fully.

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