Best served cold: Ramsay stirs family feud in public
Gordon Ramsay has suggested that his father-in-law and former business manager Chris Hutcheson drove leading chefs away from his restaurant empire, and appealed for the ending of a rift between his wife and her parents.
In an open letter to Mr Hutcheson's wife, Greta, published in the London Evening Standard, the TV chef urged her not to punish her daughter Tana, Mr Ramsay's wife, for the bitter split between the two men which led to Mr Hutcheson being sacked last month.
Alongside the appeal, he gave his side of the story about the departure of Mr Hutcheson, who began his professional relationship with his son-in-law 12 years ago when he invested in what became his first three-star restaurant, Gordon Ramsay at Royal Hospital Road.
Two weeks ago Mr Hutcheson – who was sacked last month for, among other things, allegedly misusing company money and the directors' loan account, allegations he denies – described his son-in-law as an egotistical "monster". He said Ramsay was reckless with money and prone to mood swings, and even questioned whether he had been doing drugs, which the chef denied.
"Gordon is a very strange character," he said. "I have dealt with his breakdowns for years. It is like a tsunami when he gets going. He is schizophrenic... sometimes he is calm and sometimes he is absolutely manic."
In a letter headed "Dear Mother in Law", Ramsay revealed that he had hired a private detective to "curb my suspicions" about her husband, the chief executive of Gordon Ramsay Holdings (GRH). He told Mrs Hutcheson: "The very complex life that Chris leads has seen many of my key staff feeling they have had to cover on his behalf. His away days were rarely what I thought they were. But beyond that one of my biggest concerns was the business: signing huge contracts in my name and furthermore discovering emails were being looked at."
He accused Mr Hutcheson of "running the business as a dictator", suggesting that a failure to reward its top chefs with a share of the profits had led to them leaving. During the past two years, Marcus Wareing, Mark Sargeant and Angela Hartnett, all of whom worked at Aubergine, have left to run their own restaurants. Another leading chef, Jason Atherton, has also quit.
Saying he had always had a close relationship with his staff, Ramsay wrote: "The creative chefs we turned into partners, the harder they worked, the more profit they generated, but when they requested a share of the profits, their departure was seemingly imminent, something I wasn't comfortable with."
He added he had been hurt by the suggestion that his mood swings had been caused by drugs, given his long battle to save his younger brother, Ronnie Ramsay, from heroin addiction.
The letter is unlikely to end speculation surrounding the state of the business they ran. Early last year, GRH nearly collapsed and had to be saved with an injection of £5m from Ramsay and his father-in-law. The company closed restaurants in France and the US, killing Ramsay's dream of having three Michelin-starred restaurants in London, Paris and New York. The chef appears to believe his father-in-law mishandled the business.
Mr Hutcheson declined to comment.
The letter in full
Dear Mother in Law,
This has to be one of the most painful letters I've ever had to write. Listening to Tana in floods of tears reading your letter from you asking that she stays away from her family is so awfully wrong. Removing my father in law from my business has been the hardest and most important decision in my entire life. For a decade, his manipulation and controlling of so many lives has finally come to an end.
Chris recently suggested my mood swings were down to involvement with drugs; my god did that hurt. How dare he ever suggest this on the back of my frustration and dealings with my younger brother and his addiction.
To curb my suspicions, I employed a private detective and the situation started to unravel very quickly. The very complex life that Chris leads, has seen many of my key staff feeling they have had to cover on his behalf. His away days were rarely what I thought they were. But beyond that, one of my biggest concerns was the business: signing huge contracts in my name and furthermore discovering emails were being looked at.
The office became stifled and the air of relief at Gordon Ramsay Holdings, knowing that we don't need to pretend any longer, is a breath of fresh air. Three weeks ago today when I met with my team to explain the situation, you could instantly see the relief and joy on their faces. His role as CEO of Gordon Ramsay holdings in the end felt like he was running the business as a dictator.
My relationship with my chefs has been, and always will be, amazing. To see them, as individuals chefs, flourish and having now made their way to some of the most prominent chefs in the country, gives me nothing but pride and joy. The creative chefs we turned into partners, the harder they worked, the more profit they generated, but when they requested a share of the profits, their departure was seemingly imminent, something I wasn't comfortable with.
I know how hard this must be for you Greta, and I'm not expecting a birthday card today, but your punishing your daughter and our four children, for all the wrong reasons, it's so sad. She's an amazing woman and you've been a fantastic mum – please don't stop!
Lots of love, Gordon
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