Gordon Ramsey’s latest restaurant has caused a storm of controversy in the UK after he was accused by a reviewer of “cultural appropriation”.
Last week, Ramsay and his head chef Ben Orpwood hosted a preview event for the restaurant Lucky Cat, which is due to open this June in Mayfair, London.
One of the journalists who attended the event was Angela Hui, a freelance writer for London-based food publication Eater.
In her review of the Lucky Cat restaurant, Hui described it as a “real-life Ramsay kitchen nightmare” and wrote: “Japanese? Chinese? It’s all Asian who cares.”
She explained that she and Orpwood’s wife were the only people of East Asian descent “in a room full of 30 to 40 journalists and chefs”.
For his part, Ramsay has defended his restaurant saying: “Despite the very positive feedback from guests, there was, regrettably, one offensive response from the night which I have to call out.”
He added that while it was important that critics and reviewers had “freedom of speech”, the “slew of derogatory and offensive social media posts that appeared on Angela Hui’s social channels, were not professional”.
The incident follows on for the furore in New York where the owner of a Chinese restaurant, Arielle Haspel, told Eater that the menu at her restaurant was not like other Chinese restaurants, because she was stripping all the bad ingredients out of traditional Chinese food.
Haspel had claimed that Chinese food usually left people feeling bloated and sick, a claim that was a throwback to more racist times in the US. She said her restaurant took all oils, MSGs and grease out of the food, making it much more palatable.
“We heard you’re obsessed with lo mein but rarely eat it,” she said in a now-deleted Instagram post. “You said it makes you feel bloated and icky the next day? Well, wait until you slurp up our HIGH lo mein. Not too oily. Or salty.”
Incriminating social media posts have since been deleted, but the backlash has been severe with many commenting they would not be eating in her “racist establishment”.