Gordon Ramsay ready to dish the dirt on his kitchen rivals

By Guy Adams
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The Independent Online

It is with some trepidation, therefore, that I can report that the most colourful chef in modern times has signed a deal with HarperCollins to publish his autobiography.

At the age of 38, Glasgow-born Ramsay has seen more disputes than most public figures twice his age. Recent sparring-partners range from Antony Worrall Thompson and Edwina Currie to Ainsley Harriott and Joan Collins.

But it's Ramsay's former mentor, Marco Pierre White, who will take the keenest interest in what he's got to say. The pair worked together at Harvey's in Wandsworth before falling out over a business deal a few years back

In a recent interview with GQ magazine, Ramsay said the seeds of their dispute were sown when MP-W unsucessfully challenged him to an arm-wrestling match. "He went mad and ripped the table up, but I'd beaten him," he recalled.

At the launch of the television channel More4 on Thursday, he promised that the memoir would lift the lid on further gory details behind their row.

"If you think that interview was bad, you should wait to for my memoirs," he said. "I saw things that went on in that kitchen that you wouldn't believe."

Publishing sources said yesterday that Ramsay had signed a "high six-figure" deal for the book, and was dictating his manuscript on to a Dictaphone.

* When he isn't making quirky comedy films, Woody Allen spends much of his free time tootling away on a clarinet.

Until now, those who wanted to see him in action have usually been forced to visit New York, where he occasionally performs at the Café Carlyle.

But that's about to change. For I gather that Allen has agreed to appear in concert this Christmas at Annabel's nightclub.

Robin Birley, the son of the club's founder Mark, persuaded Allen to do the gig after Annabel's was used as a location in his latest flick.

"I knew he'd got a jazz band, so asked nicely when he was filming here and he said yes," Birley tells me. "It's just the sort of music I like, because it creates a sort of uproar."

One prominent member of Annabel's, David Blunkett, is unlikely to attend. He said last week that he "wouldn't be returning" to the posh club, after his antics there put his private life on the front pages again.

* The BBC is making a valiant effort to rejuvenate Top of the Pops, but is their policy of bringing in ageing co-presenters a step too far?

Jeremy Bowen thinks not. As well he might, since the 45-year-old newsman is one of the incongruous beneficiaries of the new regime.

"It's now being marketed as a family show, so the guest presenter is presumably meant to appeal to the parents," he tells me.

"I grew up watching it but long ago realised I would never make it on as a singer or musician so it was great fun and interesting to do it. If they asked me to do it again, I wouldn't say no." Rock on!

* Another day, another cheap shot at a Tory leadership candidate lands on Pandora's desk. This time it's aimed at Sir Malcolm Rifkind.

In a speech last week, Rifkind took a pop at Tony Blair's record on public services. "Under Labour, we've seen years of missed opportunities," he said. "Labour's failed to make lasting improvements in the public services."

All well and good, but sources who may - or may not - be connected to rival candidates think it "strange" that Sir Malcolm didn't refer to the special help he's been giving the Labour Government on public services.

"Rifkind is, among his many directorships, the chairman of a private firm called Alliance Medical, which runs scanning machines," says one.

"Last year, health minister John Hutton gave Rifkind's company a £95m contract to do scans for the NHS," it notes. "So it's more than a little bit rich for him to moan that they aren't investing wisely."

* There is another delightful controversy surrounding Professor Stephen Hawking's recent cameo appearance on The Simpsons. Last year, the prize-winning physicist's wife, Elaine, told me she had serious reservations about an episode in the show depicting electro-convulsive shock therapy being used to treat schizophrenia.

Now Richard Madeley - who interviewed Hawking for an upcoming episode of his chat show - has stumbled upon another talking-point.

"He said lots of interesting things," reports Madeley. "That there was no afterlife, that we were stupid to try to think about anything that preceded the big bang, and that he didn't like the way he'd been drawn on The Simpsons.

"He seems to be pissed off - but in a nice way. I think it was because they didn't make his face as yellow as all the other characters."