Ramsay praises 'Nightmares' chef found dead

Gordon Ramsay paid tribute today to a "brilliant" US restaurateur who has been found dead three years after appearing on the British celebrity chef's Kitchen Nightmares programme.

The body of Joe Cerniglia, 39, was found floating in the Hudson River off Manhattan on Friday afternoon after reports that a man had jumped from the George Washington Bridge.

Mr Cerniglia's Italian restaurant Campania, in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, was featured in the first series of Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares USA in November 2007.

The programme depicted a business in serious financial difficulties, with Mr Cerniglia speaking of owing 80,000 dollars (£50,500) to his suppliers.

The American restaurant owner said on the show: "I am financially in trouble. The debt of the restaurant alone is overwhelming. My personal debt - wife, kids, mortgage - that's a lot of debt ...

"I can't see us going on another year, and that's a really scary thought. And I'm going to do everything in my power to avoid that."

In the programme, Ramsay accused Mr Cerniglia of wasting money by stocking many more ingredients than he needed.

The British chef said today: "I was fortunate to spend time with Joe during the first season of Kitchen Nightmares.

"Joe was a brilliant chef, and our thoughts go out to his family, friends and staff."

US officials are investigating the cause of Mr Cerniglia's death but do not suspect any criminality, local media reported.