| 7.1°C Dublin

Bridge suicide of chef chewed out by Ramsay

They are words of typically forthright advice that have come back to haunt Gordon Ramsay.

During the first season of the US version of his Emmy-winning show Kitchen Nightmares, the celebrity chef berated the owner of the failing Campania restaurant in New Jersey.

He told him that unless he sorted out his lacklustre food and poor service his business was "about to f***ing swim down the Hudson".

Yesterday, police confirmed that a body found floating in the same river was that of Joseph Cerniglia, the troubled owner of the struggling local Italian restaurant which was successfully rescued following the intervention of the British culinary superstar three years ago.

It is believed that Mr Cerniglia (39) jumped off the George Washington Bridge on Friday.

He is the second chef to have apparently committed suicide after appearing with the famously caustic Ramsay -- a woman who appeared in the 2006 series of his other hit show, Hell's Kitchen, shot herself a year later.

In a statement, Ramsay paid tribute to Mr Cerniglia, who leaves behind a widow and three sons.

"I was fortunate to spend time with Joe during the first season of Kitchen Nightmares. Joe was a brilliant chef and our thoughts go out to his family, friends and staff," he said.



Chaos

During the filming of the Fox show in 2007, the three-Michelin-starred chef became increasingly vexed at Mr Cerniglia's poor management skills.

As well as providing overly generous portions of uninspiring food cooked and served by somnolent staff, the restaurant had become mired in debt and was losing its customers.

Confronted with the chaos around him, an exasperated Ramsay asked Mr Cerniglia: "Why did you become a chef-owner if you haven't a clue how to run a business?"

The former executive chef at Manhattan's celebrated Gallagher's Steak House admitted there were "big problems", that he was $80,000 (f58,000) in the red and that he feared he would be forced to close within the year.

"I'm financially in trouble -- the debt of the restaurant alone is overwhelming. My personal debt -- wife, kids mortgage -- that's a lot of debt," he told Ramsay.

Mr Cerniglia's wife, Melissa, broke down during filming and said she was deeply worried about her husband.

"People like us put everything on the line for a dream, and I just want to see him have the time to succeed. If this business fails, we will lose everything," she said.



Intense

But despite the on-screen appearances of conflict, those who knew the Cerniglias said yesterday that Ramsay helped them turn around the ailing business -- transforming it into a thriving enterprise.

Evelina Grzymala (22) who worked at a tanning salon next door, recalled: "He said Ramsay was intense but that he turned out to be a nice guy, that in the end, he helped him out."

hnews@herald.ie


Privacy