Frying pans at dawn: Ramsay quits Connaught in row over room service
Gordon Ramsay is closing one of the crown jewels in his restaurant empire, prompting fears that his off-screen career may be on the verge of collapsing like a poorly timed souffle.
The famously cantankerous chef has parted company with The Connaught, the leading Mayfair hotel where he opened a high-profile restaurant in 2002 under his protege Angela Hartnett, who went on to win a Michelin star two years later.
Yesterday, the hotel confirmed that Ramsay will not be returning to its premises when it reopens in December after a €90m refurbishment. The fine cuisine served in his dining room there had been a favourite with celebrities and statesman from Tony Blair to Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Connaught, which is owned by the Maybourne Hotel Group, insisted the severing of relations was entirely amicable. However, Pandora understands that the two parties came to a disagreement about the restaurant's role within the hotel. Ramsay was apparently unhappy at being forced to extend the remit within the hotel which included providing guests with room service prepared in the restaurant.
Ramsay's empire, Gordon Ramsay Holdings, released a statement last night saying that Ramsay would not be returning to the venue. "The Maybourne Group and Gordon Ramsay Holdings confirm that GRH will not be renewing their lease on the restaurant at The Connaught, 1 Carlos Place, London, W1 when it re-opens at the end of the year following an extensive refurbishment," it read.
"Gordon Ramsay Holdings has operated the restaurant at The Connaught since 2002, when Angela Hartnett's Menu opened, with chef patron Angela Hartnett at the helm. The restaurant has enjoyed five years of success and critical acclaim and was awarded a Michelin star in 2004."
Ramsay's position as top dog among Britain's chefs has already been called into question this week, after his flagship restaurant in Chelsea lost top billing in the esteemed Zagat restaurant guide. The annual Harden's guide, released earlier this summer, also saw Ramsay fall from pride of place, while a high-profile new restaurant in New York has also attracted mixed reviews from the famously hard-to-please local food critics.
The departure from The Connaught will leave Ramsay with five restaurants situated in other major London hotels. He still has The Savoy Grill and Banquette at The Savoy, Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's, Maze at The Grosvenor, La Noisette at the Carlton Tower and Petrus at the Berkeley.
Elsewhere, it was recently reported that his other venture at the Berkeley, the Boxwood Cafe, could be moved or even closed once the hotel undergoes its own revamp in December.
So far in his otherwise glittering career, Ramsay has only had to close one restaurant for financial reasons (Amaryllis in Glasgow, which he shut in 2004 citing poor takings). He has often been criticised for allegedly spreading his talents too thinly across his numerous establishments in the UK and abroad.
The Connaught has yet to confirm its intentions for replacing the restaurant. However a spokesman claimed an announcement would be made in a few months. A spokesman for Angela Hartnett said she would be opening a new venture later this year.