Scots TV chef Gordon Ramsay is facing more financial trouble, with his Maze restaurant and grill in Melbourne, Australia, reportedly losing more than £1.3 million since it opened in a blaze of publicity last March.
The business has also been hit by the departure of several staff including head chef Josh Emmett, general manager Enda Cunningham and financial controller Geoff Petersen.
The loss is the latest crisis to hit the celebrity chef, who has struggled to keep his global restaurant business afloat for a number of years. Ramsay and his father in law, Chris Hutcheson, were each forced in 2009 to inject 5m of their own savings into London-based Gordon Ramsay Holdings to keep the international company afloat.
The three Maze staff quit after a showdown meeting with Gordon Ramsay Holdings interim finance director Geoff Eades, dubbed "The Doctor" for his experience in nursing struggling companies back to health - in part by cutting costs. Eades' job echoes Ramsay's role in the hit TV show Kitchen Nightmares in which the celebrity chef pulls failing restaurants back from the brink.
Following his visit, Sarah Armstrong, the sole Australian director of Gordon Ramsay Melbourne, also resigned as company secretary and director.
Ramsay's global restaurant empire has allegedly been beset by financial problems as a result of rapid over-expansion.
Mr Hutcheson, 62, who left his role as chief executive of the holding company in October, indicated then that Maze Melbourne was facing financial problems. He alleged he was dismissed just as he had secured potential investors and new bankers for the Australian business.
Ramsay has not visited the Melbourne restaurant since it opened. Former Australian international cricketer Shane Warne and Australia's then premier John Brumby both attended the lavish opening ceremony.
Ramsay's representatives confirmed last night that the much-hyped 13m venture had suffered start-up losses, but claimed the 1.3m loss estimate was wrong and the operation was now back on track.
A spokesman for the celebrity chef said: "Maze Melbourne is profitable. It is entirely usual for any business to incur start-up losses, but we are happy with the progress made, the performance of the restaurant and we have every confidence in its future success."
The spokesman downplayed the departure of core staff members.
The Maze restaurant has received mixed reviews from critics. Melbourne newspaper the Herald Sun comdemned the food as being "as uninteresting as (Ramsay's] expletives".
Maze is one of a global stable of restaurants and pubs run by Ramsay across the UK, Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Tuscany, Sardinia, Qatar, Dubai and Tokyo. His Glasgow restaurant, the Michelin-starred Amaryllis, closed down seven years ago after lack of business forced him to open only five days instead of seven.
IN October last year Gordon Ramsay and his father-in-law, one of the masterminds of his business empire, parted company after a huge row.
He was also forced to put The Warrington, a pub in north-west London, on the market just weeks after poor trading forced him to shut another London pub, The Devonshire.
The chef was also forced to close his Cape Town restaurant in South Africa, which was believed to be losing 10,000 a week. In the 12 months to August 2009, Ramsay's international restaurants lost more than 8m, despite his 5m cash injection into his business at the end of 2008 to save it from administration. One-off costs rose to 5.8m after the company wrote off investments in New York, California and Florida.