"It’s been an absolute shit fight," he told The Sunday Times yesterday. "We were told to go into administration. I thought of selling some of the company. [My wife] and I discussed selling our house. It’s taken several million pounds of my own money with several more millions to come but I’m still standing.”
Ramsay’s last three months in business make the Bible’s "Book of Job" read like a bedtime story. First, rumours of a seven-year affair put pressure on his relationship with father-in-law and business partner Chris Hutchenson. Then Ramsay’s Maze restaurant in Prague had to be closed. Another eatery was kicked out of Restaurant magazine’s top 100 restaurants in the world. And Gordon Ramsay Holdings (GRH) was investigated by HM Revenue & Customes over £7.2m worth of unpaid tax.
And that’s just the prologue.
His bold overseas ventures, the London West Hollywood in LA and Le Trianon in Paris, had to be handed back to the hotels that house them, costing Ramsay £4m. Small change, considering they had been losing the chef £2m a year: "We found aggression in New York. And in Paris it was just arrogance beyond belief," he says.
Ramsay and Hutchenson had to drum up £5m of their own cash just to escape bankruptcy. And Ramsay had to sell his car, "God, I loved that Ferrari," he says.
However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for the entrepreneur. He is still, for his sins, a TV star. His £10m-per-annum earnings from the likes of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares (his own restaurants may well be featured in an upcoming programme. Joke) and The F Word will help plug the debts for the meanwhile. Although, Ramsay does admit: "There are limits to the appetite for Gordon Ramsay."
On top of that, the tax bill has finally been paid off and GRH predicts £7m in profits next year. This could be the end of the dark times. "We have got rid of our losses. We’ve got strong trading," he says. "We make £80,000 a month at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. No 44-seater makes that kind of money. El Bulli has never made anything like that.”
But, following the closures of Pétrus at the Berkeley hotel, Angela Hartnett at the Connaught, and the Savoy Grill, there’s no doubt that the hospitality business is shaking in its boots. Though Ramsay’s not cowed: "The best is yet to come," he says.
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