Ramsay proves a kitchen nightmare for New Yorkers

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The Independent Online

* Three weeks ago, Gordon Ramsay finally brought his brand of Michelin-starred, potty-mouthed cookery to New York. And his new £3.8m restaurant - cunningly titled Gordon Ramsay at The London - has teething problems.

He awaits the make-or-break review from the ruthless New York Times critic, Frank Bruni - who has complained he could only occupy a table for a maximum of two hours. And staff reportedly threatened to walk out during a row over tips.

Now, Gordon's neighbours have declared war on his establishment, amassing a long list of complaints including blocked pavements, obscene noise levels and damage to residents' breathing.

"Two of our shareholders have had to seek medical attention for respiratory problems caused by particulate matter from the garbage truck," a local firebrand tells Caterer and Hotelkeeper magazine. "And the exhaust fan and air conditioning unit drone incessantly at jet engine levels. We cannot sleep or work."

Ramsay's spokeswoman says that the chef "has been warmly welcomed by the neighbourhood and is committed to ensuring their comfort". (More than he ensures his kitchen staff.)

She adds that "such challenges are not uncommon during a major construction project", and insists the "complaint" [sic] was immediately addressed.

Residents say grievances continue to flood in, and have fought for a meeting between the factions on 19 December to demand action.

Perhaps it's better if Gordon stays in the kitchen that night...

* The bouncers at nifty West End club Mo* vida clearly didn't watch I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. (Good for them.)

Cue bemused mutters of "Who he?" when contestant David Gest turned up uninvited at designer Roberto Cavalli's vodka launch party on Wednesday.

The American television producer known for his short marriage to Liza Minnelli, was welcomed downstairs to the VIP room.

Fellow I'm a Celebrity contestant Toby Anstis near-crushed a table of surprised journalists to talk to Gest: "Come on David, let's go out and dance with some girls."

Alas. David was more interested in eating. After polishing off his pasta, Gest presented the writer Simon Mills, his unwitting co- diner, with a large red lapel badge thoughtfully bearing the motto: "Vaginica is my maid." (During I'm a Celebrity, Gest claimed he had a maid called Vaginica Seaman.)

Just what must one do to be so-honoured?

Says Mills, darkly: "You don't want to know."

He adds: "He asked if he can go on safari with me."

* Screams of "heresy" from Morrissey fans. Tony Wilson the godfather of Manchester's music scene, has launched a vitriolic attack on the singer just a week ahead of a public vote to decide if he will be Britain's "Living Icon".

Wilson, the former Haçienda nightclub boss and label manager behind New Order and Happy Mondays, tells me: "Steven [Morrissey] is a nasty human being. He treats people like shit and has done throughout his career. Smiths fans confuse the art with the artist."

Morrissey declined to comment. The city's most famous musical export is on the final shortlist of three - up against Sir Paul McCartney and, mercifully, Sir David Attenborough. The Living Icon will be announced on BBC2's Culture Show next Saturday.

No doubt Morrissey would greet a victory with characteristic jubilation.

* Thank you for the many suggestions for Cherie Blair'sDesert Island Discs. So many requests for Tammy Wynette's cowboy classic "Stand by Your Man", and "The Best Things in Life are Free" (Luther Vandross/Janet Jackson).

Other notables: "Summer Holiday" (Cliff ), "Money, Money, Money" (Abba), "Jailhouse Rock" (Elvis) and "Oh Carol" (Bobby Vee). Shame on those of you who proposed "Liar Liar" by The Castaways.

But the winner of a bottle of bubbly from Pandora's well-stocked cellar is Cheltenham's David Boulter, for"Man Next Door" by Bristol trip-hopsters Massive Attack: "There is a man that lives next door / In my neighbourhood [repeat] / And he gets me down... / He gets in so late at night / Always a fuss and fight [repeat] / All through the night."

* Thwack! I'm delighted to hear that pride may be restored to English cricket's miserable winter Down Under. The All-Party Parliamentary Cricket Team departs this turf on 16 December to seek revenge for our miserable capitulation in Oz to Shane Warne & Co.

Our boys play the New Zealand Parliament in Wellington Botanical Gardens on 20 December, then a grudge two-game rubber against the Australian Parliament, in Melbourne on 28 December and then Bowral, Sir Donald Bradman's ground, on 4 January.

"We hope to do at least as well as England," laughs captain Graham Allen MP (Lab). "Each player's batting average should be the same as his age. So we'll open with Lord Stewartby (71), partnered by Baron Davies of Oldham (67) or Alan Keen MP (69). We train in nets at The Oval and have blood transfusions, like long-distance runners."