|November 8, 1966|
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Gordon James Ramsay was born on Nov. 8, 1966, in Johnstone, Scotland. In Ramsay's autobiography Humble Pie, he recalled a difficult childhood revolving around his father - a "hard drinking womanizer" - who relocated the family around the U.K. often. When he was 16, Gordon moved away from his parents and shared an apartment with his older sister. By that time, the 6'2" teenager had a promising athletic career ahead of him, playing with the Warwickshire youth football league and going on to play professionally - first, with the Oxford United Football Club; then relocating back to Scotland to play with the championship team Glasgow Rangers. By the age of 18, a serious knee injury put an end to his three-year sports career. His school records were not so hot and his choices limited, but he had begun showing an interest in food, deciding to enroll at a Hotel Management course at the local college.
Ramsay began learning the ropes of the restaurant business at several local hotel kitchens and instantly developed a passion for cooking. He moved to London and worked under influential chef - and renowned enfant terrible - Marco Pierre White at Harvey's. Three years later, he left White to study French cuisine under another of London's most respected chefs, Albert Roux, at his Michelin star restaurant, Le Gavrouche. Roux was so impressed with the budding talent, that a year later, he invited Ramsay to work as his second-in-command at the Hotel Diva in the French Alps. Ramsay stayed in France for three years, moving to Paris to work with Michelin-star chefs, Guy Savoy and Joël Robuchon. In 1991, after years of non-stop study in the high-pressure world of some of Europe's top kitchens, Ramsay was close to burnout and accepted a year-long job as a personal chef aboard a yacht in Bermuda.
In 1993, Ramsay returned to London where he fell right back into step as head chef at La Tante Claire. His former Harvey's employer, Marco White, wo d him away from that job with an offer of head chef status and a 25% share in an overhaul of his restaurant, Rossmore, which was renamed Aubergine. Under Ramsay's guidance, Aubergine achieved first two prestigious Michelin Guide rating stars. The chef himself was turning into a bit of a star, following the publication of his first book, Passion for Flavor (1996). In 1998, Ramsay was ready to open the doors of his own restaurant. On the site of his earlier employer, La Tante Rose, he debuted Gordon Ramsay at Hospital Road (so-named for its Chelsea address).
The eponymous restaurant was a critical, as well as popular hit, racking up three Michelin stars by 2001 and making Ramsay one of only a handful of U.K. chefs ever to achieve such status. The path to this accomplishment was chronicled in the Channel 4 documentary series, "Boiling Point" (1999) which first introduced the general public to this explosive but creative personality. He was fascinating to watch because of his unpredictability in dealing with his kitchen team, but there was a sympathy to this character who was willing to do anything to deliver perfection to customers. Ramsay was further jettisoned to stardom with 2000's follow up series, "Beyond Boiling Point" (Channel 4. Several cookbooks were timed to coincide with his TV success, including Passion for Seafood (1999) and A Chef for All Seasons (2000).
Ramsay was now a business partner with father-in-law Chris Hutcheson, and the pair's Gordon Ramsay Holdings began expanding Ramsay's culinary empire across the U.K. - with Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's opening in 2001 and the company taking over food and beverage service at The Connaught Hotel in 2002, transforming it into a Michelin star establishment. The following year, Ramsay overhauled the menu at the historic Savoy Grill and, in 2004, helmed the Boxwood Café at the Berkeley Hotel.
The year 2004 also marked the beginning of Ramsay as a solid television presence for some time to come. "Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares" (Channel 4, 2004-) - a documentary show where the celebrity chef had one week to try to save a failing restaurant - premiered in the UK and would go on to enjoy second and third seasons, with a 2007 adaptation for U.S. audiences (Fox, 2007- ). The show coincided with the release of a new recipe book Gordon Ramsay Kitchen Heaven. Next Ramsay was the focus of U.S. and U.K. versions of "Hell's Kitchen" (ITV 2004, Fox, 2005- ), where Ramsay served as drillmaster to a team of pop culture celebrities assigned to cater high profile events. For his next TV outing, "The F-Word" (Channel 4 2005- ), Ramsay opted for the more traditional lifestyle magazine format, using a restaurant as the setting for live interview and video taped segments on food preparation and trends.
In 2005, Ramsay opened his eighth restaurant, Maze, in London and branched out into International waters with Tokyo's Cerise and Gordon Ramsay at Conrad Tokyo. He was enjoying presence on worldwide television and the benefits of celebrity chefdom, so he naturally released an autobiography, Humble Pie, in 2006, along with two more cooking titles Gordon Ramsay Easy All Year Round (2006) and Gordon Ramsay Sunday Lunch and Other Recipes from the F Word. The same year, he announced deals to further expand across the culinary globe with European cuisine restaurants in hotels in New York, Los Angeles, Boca Raton, FL; and Dubai. In 2007, Ramsay Holdings addressed the more casual dining markets with its purchase of a pair of London pubs - The Narrow in the Limehouse and Warrington in Maida Vale.
Ramsay's explosive, expletive-riddled behavior was reported by many to be limited to the work arena, and despite his off-putting TV displays, the fiery chef claimed a loyal employee base, retaining 85 percent of his kitchen staff from 1993-2007. He was also active in many charities, raising money for children's and women's organizations by running four marathons, as well as further involving himself with AIDs and other healthcare programs. Among the groups who did not champion Ramsay's larger than life personality were PETA, who were outraged over a stunt involving Ramsay promoting the consumption of horse meat, and vegetarians, who were regularly mocked by Ramsay and to whom he admitted he had fed chicken stock without their consent.