As usual, firebrand Gordon Ramsay has a lot on his plate. While overseeing nine flagship restaurants in London, as well as satellite eateries in Tokyo and Dubai, he’s gearing up for the third season of his reality show, Hell’s Kitchen, and has released a line of tableware. As if Ramsay isn’t busy enough, he has opened two restaurants in Manhattan, both in the London NYC hotel: Gordon Ramsay at The London (fine dining), and The London Bar (casual with a daily menu of seasonal, small plates). Wine Enthusiast recently caught up with the notoriously sharp-tongued chef and discussed culinary espionage, Tana’s brilliant chicken pie, and why your granny should never spend time in his kitchen.
Wine Enthusiast: With so much stiff competition in New York’s fine dining scene, why did you want to chance a restaurant opening here?
Gordon Ramsay: To open a restaurant in New York is to work among some of the best chefs in the world, from Thomas Keller to Jean-Georges Vongrichten. I thrive on the competition.
WE: Is it true that you sent a spy over to work undercover in a New York restaurant before deciding to open one yourself?
GR: No, I’m not involved in any undercover espionage! But, obviously, as with any new opening—and particularly this one, given it is my first U.S. restaurant—I and my team have spent a considerable amount of time researching the New York restaurant scene.
WE: So what are some of the highlights of the restaurant cellar?
GR: Our cellar has 5,000 wines from around the world. There are so many beautiful wines including the great Bordeaux vintages of 1982, 1989, 1990.
WE: I hear that Gordon Ramsay at The London has a chef’s table inside the kitchen—can I bring my grandmother to dine there, or will the language be R-rated?
GR: Within a kitchen environment there isn’t much time for “please” and “thank you.” Better perhaps that I meet your granny outside of the kitchen.
WE: You’re obviously really busy, but when you do get a chance to relax, what meal do you like to prepare and eat?
GR: My wife, Tana, is a great cook; I only claim otherwise to keep her on her toes! Tana cooks a brilliant chicken pie. It is great comfort food. Cloudy Bay is a rich and buttery Chardonnay and lovely with Tana’s pie. And my ideal tipple is a nice chilled Dom Perignon.
WE: I read online that you are recruiting for wine waiters at your restaurants…I’d love to work for you but I’ve watched your TV shows and frankly, I’m scared!
GR: I ask no more of my staff than I do of myself. Do your job and do it well and you’ll be just fine.