In a plot thicker than a velouté sauce, it emerged on Wednesday that Gordon Ramsay has applied for a London trademark on "The Spotted Pig", the name used by Brummie chef April Bloomfield's celebrated New York gastropub.
A simple mistake? Or a Machiavellian move by Ramsay? Certainly his fellow chefs are saying the latter. Anthony Bourdain, never one to avoid a confrontation, tweeted: "That Gordon Ramsay would register the name 'Spotted Pig' in London and screw April Bloomfield (who built the brand) over is shameful pathetic." Even the normally peaceable Jamie Oliver picked up his filleting knife: "Here, here Anthony [sic]... We like originals." It's hard to disagree, given that the restaurant, a) was the first gastropub in New York when it opened in 2004; b) has a Michelin star; c) is co-owned by Bono, Jay Z and US celebrity chef Mario Batali.
It may be the presence of Batali's name above the door that prompted Ramsay International Holdings to submit the application last month. In a ding dong in 2009, the tawny-haired New York chef barred Ramsay from his restaurants after he referred to him as "fanta pants", which roughly translates as "one with ginger pubic hair".
It's not by any means the first case of two restaurants, one name. Restaurateur Richard Caring and Robin Birley were at loggerheads for some time after Caring bought his father Mark's club empire, along with the rights to use the name. But the award for real schmutz goes to one Wolfgang Zwiener, who infamously opened Wolfgang's Steakhouse in Beverly Hills – a few blocks from Spago, the flagship of mega-chef Wolfgang Puck.