It sounds as if the knives are out: Gordon Ramsay is opening his first London restaurant for a year 500 yards away from his protegé-turned-rival Marcus Wareing.
Ramsay, who only just prevented his global empire from going bust earlier this year, will open a new version of Pétrus round the corner from Wareing's place at the Berkeley Hotel, Knightsbridge, in September.
Wareing ran Pétrus for nine years as part of Ramsay's company, but the pair spectacularly fell out and a legal tussle ensued before it was agreed Wareing could take charge of the Berkeley restaurant, while Ramsay would keep the name Pétrus.
The new venue will serve modern French "honest cooking" with an open cellar with 2,000 bottles in the middle of the dining room. Within minutes of its announcement, both chefs were laying claim to be running the real Pétrus, whose reputation still resonates. Ramsay said his establishment on the corner of Kinnerton and Motcomb streets would capitalise on Pétrus's heritage while taking a modern approach to fixtures and fittings. "Pétrus is a cornerstone of the group and particularly close to my heart as it was the second restaurant that we opened after Restaurant Gordon Ramsay," he said.
"We have taken all the best bits but brought it up to date. Everything from the architecture, the décor and design to the menus. The new Pétrus is really going to be a restaurant of the moment."
Wareing said there was a "big enough cake" for his and Ramsay's place, which he said would be less than five minutes' walk away. "I wish him luck with the new restaurant. I hope he has success with it." But Wareing, 38, insisted he had "created" Pétrus, which the pair named after their favourite wine. "I did expect him to use the name, that was part of our splitting apart," Wareing said. "The Pétrus name is a bottle of name in Bordeaux and you could name any restaurant after a bottle of wine."
He went on: "I think the consumers will always vote with their feet and my restaurant is a new chapter. With me in the kitchen it has a completely different identity. I created what Pétrus became and Gordon would acknowledge that. The real Pétrus, realistically in my eyes, is here."
Wareing won a "breakthrough" award at this year's 50 Best Restaurants (while Ramsay was omitted), but he still hankers after the three Michelin stars Ramsay has at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea. In an interview last July, he suggested that Ramsay might try to thwart his ambition. "Gordon loves being the only three-star here," he said.
"He's milked it for years. Whatever happens between me and Gordon, if he wants me never to get to the status I want then my advice to him is: put a gun to my head, shoot me, put me in a box and bury me because if you don't, I'll come back. I'll never give up ..."
Ramsay has signed a 20-year lease for the new Pétrus, which may be a sign that his firm has turned the corner. Last weekend, the 42-year-old chef revealed that in January he had been advised to put his empire, comprising 21 restaurants and pubs in the UK, US, France, Japan, Dubai, Ireland and the Czech Republic, into administration. Gordon Ramsay Holdings had breached trading covenants on £10m of RBS loans. Ramsay has shut three of his restaurants and sold his beloved Ferrari, but he is determined not to be defeated. "It's been very, very hard," he said. "At times it felt like a witch hunt. I've put my hands over my face and taken the blows. I've been working seven days a week."Reuse content