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Gordon Ramsay Review Round-Up: Brit Press Pile-On!
Monday, January 08, 2007 | posted by Mike

Gordon RamsayI think it's safe to say that the British press has a...complicated relationship with celebrities. And, frankly, the bigger the star, the more they like to point out their shortcomings, foibles and failures. So, it was only a matter of time before they got wind of a couple of less-than-stellar reviews of Gordon Ramsay at the London. Not surprisingly, they had a field day with it.

First, you should check out the reviews. One is from the Bloomberg news service and the other is from the New York Sun.

Ferocious Chef Ramsay Opens Pussycat NYC Eatery

Ramsay's Kitchen, Without Cameras

Gordo won't be tacking either of them up on his bulletin board any time soon. Neither review savages the new restaurant, but they both point out that the dishes should be much more interesting. This sentiment is perhaps best captured in the last paragraph of the Sun review:

Mr. Ramsay's new restaurant manages to be extremely satisfactory, even luxurious, while completely omitting any aura of specialness that would make it stand out among restaurants in its price range.

Not the kind of thing that you want to hear about a splashy new debut restaurant.

But it seems that this is exactly the sort of thing that the British press was hoping to hear, as evidenced by the fact that they're running pieces like:

From Scotsman.com: Ramsay finds kitchen's hell in Manhattan as New York's critics descend like vultures

IF THE devil is in the detail, then Gordon Ramsay will regard the first reviews of his New York restaurant as hellish. Manhattan critics have driven a pitchfork through the heart of his new venture, Gordon Ramsay at the London, which they mocked for serving "leathery lobster" and "cruise ship catering".

And from the Telegraph: Gordon Ramsay's kitchen nightmare

Gordon Ramsay, the chef, is having his own kitchen nightmare after New York food critics queued up to pan his new £3 million restaurant.

They're obviously not cutting him any slack, as you can see by the copious use of the word "panned." Again, I would contend that I have seen much worse reviews than the ones above, but there's nothing like unmet expectations to send the press into a tizzy.

Here's the thing. I completely understand that, especially in New York City, you have to differentiate yourself from an amazing selection of fine dining options in order to be successful. But, if you look at Gordon Ramsay on television, at least, what strikes you about his skills is not that he is some great innovator, but rather that he is a perfectionist who wants to provide uniformly and consistently excellent dishes. Just compare Hell's Kitchen to the other big cooking competition show, Top Chef.

On TC, the contestants are judged at the end of each show on the originality, creativity and (of course) taste of the dishes that they create, usually from scratch and using ingredients or techniques dictated by the show. But on HK, each week's elimination is usually based upon how well the contestants can recreate Ramsay's dishes to his exacting standards when placed in adverse conditions.

He rewards precision, not innovation.

So why does it surprise us when the dishes in his restaurant arrive and they're not groundbreaking new inventions?



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