Gordon James Ramsay OBE (/ˈræmziː/; born 8 November 1966) is a British chef, restaurateur, television personality, and writer. His global restaurant group, Gordon Ramsay Restaurants, was founded in 1997 and has been awarded 16 Michelin stars overall; it currently holds a total of seven. After rising to fame on the British television miniseries Boiling Point in 1999, Ramsay became one of the best-known and most influential chefs in the UK.
Ramsay’s television appearances are defined by his bluntness, fiery temper, strict demeanour, and frequent use of profanity. He combines activities in the television, film, hospitality, and food industries, and has promoted and hired various chefs who have apprenticed under his wing. He is known for presenting TV programmes about competitive cookery and food, such as the British series Hell’s Kitchen (2004), Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares (2004–2009, 2014), and The F Word (2005–2010), with the latter winning the 2005 BAFTA Award for Best Feature, and the American versions of Hell’s Kitchen (2005–present), Kitchen Nightmares (2007–2014), MasterChef (2010–present), and MasterChef Junior (2013–present), as well as Hotel Hell (2012–2016), Gordon Behind Bars (2012), Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back (2018–2020), and Next Level Chef (2022–present).
Ramsay was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in the 2006 New Year Honours list for services to the hospitality industry. In July 2006, he won the Catey Award for Independent Restaurateur of the Year, becoming only the third person to have won three Catey Awards. In 2020, Forbes listed his earnings at $70 million for the previous 12 months and ranked him at No. 19 on its list of the highest-earning celebrities.
Gordon James Ramsay was born in the Scottish town of Johnstone on 8 November 1966, the son of Helen (née Cosgrove), a nurse, and Gordon James Sr., who worked as a swimming pool manager, welder, and shopkeeper. He has an older sister, a younger brother, and a younger sister. When he was nine years old, he moved with his family to England and grew up in the Bishopton area of Stratford-upon-Avon. He has described his early life as “hopelessly itinerant” and said his family moved constantly due to the aspirations and failures of his father, who was an occasionally violent alcoholic; Ramsay described him as a “hard-drinking womaniser”. In his autobiography, he revealed that his father abused and neglected the children. He worked as a pot washer in a local Indian restaurant where his sister was a waitress. He had hoped to become a footballer and was first chosen to play under-14 football at the age of 12, but his early footballing career was marked by injuries; after a serious knee injury, he was forced to give it up. At the age of 16, he moved out of the family home and into an apartment in Banbury.
Early cooking career
Ramsay’s interest in cooking began in his teenage years; rather than be known as “the football player with the gammy knee”, he decided to pay more serious attention to his culinary education at age 19. Ramsay enrolled at North Oxfordshire Technical College, sponsored by the Rotarians, to study hotel management. He describes his decision to enter catering college as “a complete accident”.
In the mid-1980s, he worked as a commis chef at the Wroxton House Hotel. He ran the kitchen and 60-seat dining room at the Wickham Arms until his sexual relationship with the owner’s wife made the situation difficult. Ramsay then moved to London, where he worked in a series of restaurants until being inspired to work for the temperamental Marco Pierre White at Harveys.
After working at Harveys for two years and ten months, Ramsay, tired of “the rages and the bullying and violence”, decided that the way to further advance his career was to study French cuisine. White discouraged Ramsay from taking a job in Paris, instead encouraging him to work for Albert Roux at Le Gavroche in Mayfair, where he met Jean-Claude Breton, later his maître d’hôtel at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. After working at Le Gavroche for a year, Albert Roux invited Ramsay to work with him at Hotel Diva, a ski resort in the French Alps, as his number two. From there, a 23-year-old Ramsay moved to Paris to work with Guy Savoy and Joël Robuchon, both Michelin-starred chefs. In Master Chef series 3 episode 18, Gordon Ramsay stated that Guy Savoy was his mentor. He continued his training in France for three years, before giving in to the physical and mental stress of the kitchens and taking a year to work as a personal chef on the private yacht Idlewild, based in Bermuda. The role on the boat saw him travel to Sicily and Sardinia, Italy, and learn about Italian cuisine.
Upon his return to London in 1993, Ramsay was offered the position of head chef, under chef-patron Pierre Koffmann, at the three-Michelin-starred La Tante Claire in Chelsea. Shortly thereafter, Marco Pierre White reentered his life, offering to set him up with a head chef position and 10% share in the Rossmore, owned by White’s business partners. The restaurant was renamed Aubergine and went on to win its first Michelin star fourteen months later. In 1997, Aubergine won its second Michelin star. Despite the restaurant’s success, a dispute with Ramsay’s business owners, who wanted to turn Aubergine into a chain, and Ramsay’s dream of running his own restaurant led to his leaving the partnership in July 1998. He has described the decision to set out on his own as “the most important day of my entire cooking career; the most important decision of my life”.
In 1998, Ramsay opened his own restaurant in Chelsea, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, with the help of his father-in-law, Chris Hutcheson, and his former colleagues at Aubergine. The restaurant gained its third Michelin star in 2001, making Ramsay the first Scot to achieve that feat. In 2011, The Good Food Guide listed Restaurant Gordon Ramsay as the second best in the UK, only bettered by The Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire.
After establishing his first restaurant, Ramsay’s empire expanded rapidly. He next opened Pétrus, then Amaryllis in Glasgow (which he was later forced to close), and later Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s. He hired his friend and maître d’hôtel Jean-Philippe Susilovic, who works at Pétrus and also appears on Ramsay’s US television programme Hell’s Kitchen. Restaurants at the Dubai Creek and Connaught hotels followed, the latter branded with his protegee Angela Hartnett’s name. Ramsay has opened restaurants outside the UK, beginning with Verre in Dubai. Two restaurants, Gordon Ramsay at Conrad Tokyo and Cerise by Gordon Ramsay, both opened in Tokyo in 2005. In November 2006, Gordon Ramsay at the London opened in New York City, winning top newcomer in the city’s coveted Zagat guide, despite mixed reviews from professional critics.
In 2007, Ramsay opened his first restaurant in Ireland, Gordon Ramsay at Powerscourt, at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Powerscourt, County Wicklow. This restaurant closed in 2013. In May 2008, he opened his first restaurant in the Western US, in The London West Hollywood Hotel (formerly the Bel-Age Hotel) on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. The contract expired in 2015, closing the restaurant.
On 9 August 2011, Ramsay opened his first Canadian restaurant, Laurier Gordon Ramsay (at the former Rotisserie Laurier BBQ) in Montreal. In February 2012, Danny Lavy, the owner of the restaurant, announced the restaurant was disassociating itself from Ramsay, citing a lack of involvement and understanding on Ramsay’s part. The restaurant closed in 2013.