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Knives out for Gordon Ramsay as he faces lawsuit

Gordon Ramsay. Picture: Robert Perry

Gordon Ramsay. Picture: Robert Perry

  • by DANIEL BATES
 

CELEBRITY chef Gordon Ramsay is facing a fresh legal wrangle after being sued for £6 million by his former business partner for closing the restaurant they ran together.

The complaint, filed last week at Manhattan Supreme Court, is the latest in a string of legal cases involving the Scottish-born chef, but it could prove to be the most bitter yet.

In the 19-page report, Ramsay’s former partner, Rowen Seibel, accuses him of running a “dictatorship” similar to that portrayed on the television show Hell’s Kitchen.

Seibel claims that Ramsay carried out a “money grab” on the Fat Cow restaurant that they set up together in Los 
Angeles, shutting it down and then reopening it under a different name.

Ramsay is also guilty of “fraud, self-dealing, theft of corporate opportunity and various breaches of fiduciary duty”, the lawsuit claims.

Yesterday Ramsay’s spokesman dismissed the lawsuit as “ridiculous” and claimed that Seibel was taking money out 
of the business and that was why it failed. In a statement, Ramsay’s team said the Fat Cow closed because it was “spectacularly mismanaged”.

A spokesman for Seibel hit back, telling Scotland on Sunday that Ramsay’s accusation was “baseless” and claiming the chef was guilty of “egregious conduct”.

Ramsay, who was born in Renfrewshire, has now been involved in at least 12 legal cases in four countries across three continents since he shot to fame as a television chef with a volatile temper.

He was sued by a German chef who bit into a ceramic shard in a burger at a Ramsay-run restaurant in New York and supposedly damaged his sense of taste.

Ramsay agreed to pay £51,000 to settle a lawsuit in New Zealand for failing to appear at fundraisers for a chronically ill young girl.

Ramsay himself sued his former flagship restaurant in Canada, the Laurier Gordon Ramsay in Montreal, for £1.7 million after it abruptly ended the deal they had together. But that was not before the owner of the rotisserie sued him for up to £40m for a separate matter.

Ramsay has been hit with three New York lawsuits, including two wine dealers who demanded a total of £47,000 for not paying his bills.

The third lawsuit involved butcher Endicott Meats, which asked for £114,000 after claiming Ramsay failed to pay for a huge order of tenderloins, duck breasts, racks of lamb and bacon.

Other legal matters included allegations that scenes in Hell’s Kitchen were faked and a chef who claimed his career ended when Ramsay called him a “lazy tosser” on US television.

Staff at the Fat Cow restaurant also claimed they were paid less than the £5 an hour minimum wage and were not given meal breaks in a class action lawsuit.

Ramsay, who reportedly earns £22m a year, has long faced accusations that he is spreading himself too thin.

He has admitted that his empire nearly crumbled after the 2008 recession and he saw his profits slump from £3m to just under £400,000.

He also had a bitter long-running feud with his in-laws, which only ended when he agreed to pay them a reputed £2m to sever their ties with his business.

Endicott Meats founder Michael Endicott, however, has little sympathy and believes that Ramsay’s success has gone to his head.

His case was settled for “pennies” and led him to the conclusion that Ramsay does whatever he likes – simply 
because he can.

He told Scotland on Sunday: “The way I see it is that Gordon’s smarter than all of us: you would be a millionaire too if you didn’t pay your bills.”

 
 
 

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