Saturday, 15 June 2019

Gordon Ramsay leaves Prague

By Petra Pokorná |
PRAGUE DAILY MONITOR |
16 February 2009

Gordon Ramsay. (ČTK)

Gordon Ramsey (ČTK): Gordon Ramsay meets with journalists on 15 December 2008 on the occasion of the first anniversary of his Prague Maze restaurant. (ČTK)Gordon Ramsay meets with journalists on 15 December 2008 on the occasion of the first anniversary of his Prague Maze restaurant. (ČTK)

Only 15 months after Gordon Ramsay opened the luxury Maze Restaurant in Hilton Prague Old Town Hotel, his company has announced it is leaving the city.

Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Thursday that Gordon Ramsay Holdings, the company of one of the world's top chefs, and the owners of the Hilton Prague Old Town, have agreed to revise their business relations. The hotel management will operate the restaurant as of 16 February, while Gordon Ramsay Holdings will participate on the preparation of the menu, iDnes.cz quoted Michaela Dvořáková, Gordon Ramsay Holdings media representative, on Thursday.

When Maze opened not far from Prague's Masarykovo nádraží railway station in November 2007, the renowned chef, recipient of 12 Michelin stars, did not conceal his aspirations to acquire the first Czech Michelin star for his new restaurant at that time.

"There is no reason why Prague shouldn't have a restaurant with a Michelin star. I would be very glad if it was me who would get it for Prague," Hospodářské noviny quoted Ramsay on 23 January 2008.

However, it was the Prague restaurant Allegro that was awarded a Michelin star as the first restaurant in eastern Europe.

The news site iDnes.cz reported Gordon Ramsay Holdings did not give any reasons for Ramsay's departure from Prague and said, referring to unknown sources from the gastronomic sphere, that Maze's chef, Phil Carmichael, may have left for England already.

Unnamed restaurateurs told iDnes.cz that unfulfilled financial expectations may be behind the move. Ramsay allegedly did not agree with the owner of the hotel, the Blackstone group, on price for services. The Hilton hotel said it would publish a press release in the coming days, Lidové noviny reported Friday.

However, the restaurant was struggling with a lack of customers. Commenting on the empty restaurant at noon time, Maze's chef Phil Carmichael told Hospodářské noviny on 11 November 2008: "We do not have fewer customers than our competition. Maze looks empty because it has a greater number of tables."

The prices between CZK 500-700 for a meal were relatively acceptable for what Maze was offering, Pavel Maurer, the publisher of the Czech gastronomic guide Grand Restaurant, told Hospodářské noviny on 21 January 2008.

Although the restaurant is serving perfect food, there are other important aspects, which did not convince its visitors to return. The restaurant has been often "criticized" for its interior which, although designed in a tasteful art deco style, had no windows which contributed to a somewhat gloomy atmosphere (see e.g. the Prague Spoon review from 1 December 2008)

Also iDnes.cz reported Thursday it may have been the English coldness of the restaurant interior as well as the prices, according to Maurer, which discouraged many visitors from coming back.

Gordon Ramsay came to Prague a year ago to launch his restaurant and introduce the Czech edition of his book Sunday Lunch and other recipes from F word. Since then he came back only once in the middle of December 2008 on the occasion of the first anniversary of his restaurant. At that time he announced financial cuts and some modifications to the menu, Lidové noviny reported Friday.

To the disappointment of some visitors to his restaurant, Gordon Ramsay did not prepare the meals himself. British newspapers have quoted Ramsay or his spokesman comparing the situation to clothes by famous fashion designers. Ramsay's spokesman once told Daily Mail: "Of course, he's [Gordon Ramsay] not there all the time. When you buy a Giorgio Armani suit, do you think it's personally made by Giorgio Armani? But it's still an Armani suit. You get the Gordon Ramsay experience in whichever of his restaurants you go to."

Well, it will no longer be Prague.

Gordon Ramsay file (age 42)


- born in Scotland, grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon


- holder of 12 Michelin stars, one of only three chefs in the UK to maintain three Michelin stars for his restaurant


- owner of more than 20 restaurants in the UK, US, Japan and other places


- has published 20 cookbooks and memoirs, has been contributing to a regular column in The Times


- has starred in several UK and US television shows


- is also known for his fiery temperament and use of vulgar language, which have become part of his image. He was voted television's most terrifying celebrity in a Radio Times poll consisting of 3,000 people.

Petra Pokorná
is a staff writer and translator at the Monitor. She
likes writing about local food shops.
You can reach her at petra@praguemonitor.com
Petra Pokorná is a staff writer and translator at the Monitor. She likes writing about local food shops.
You can reach her at petra@praguemonitor.com. You can read more of her stories here.