Gordon Ramsay hits back after critic accused him of ‘cultural appropriation’
Gordon Ramsay has hit back at a critic after she accused him of cultural appropriation over his new ‘fake Chinese’ Mayfair restaurant.
The chef became embroiled in a row ahead of the opening of his eaterie Lucky Cat as one reviewer alleged there appeared to be no Asian chefs in the kitchen.
Now the famously hot-tempered 52-year-old has lashed out over the ‘slew of derogatory and offensive social media posts’ by food writer Angela Hui.
Writing for the London Eater website, she posted a scathing review calling the new venture ‘nothing if not a real life Ramsay kitchen nightmare’.
However Ramsay took exception at social media messages allegedly sent by Ms Hui in which she targeted the partner of executive chef Ben Orpwood, calling her a ‘token Asian wife’.
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Gordon Ramsay (left) has hit back at a food critic after she allegedly referred to Executive Chef Ben Orpwood’s partner as a ‘token Asian wife’ on social media
Executive Chef Ben Orpwood pictured with his wife, who Ramsay claimed was labelled a ‘token Asian’ by Ms Hui on social media
In an article for the London Eater website food writer Angela Hui (pictured) criticised Ramsay for the experience, describing it as ‘nothing if not a real life Ramsay kitchen nightmare’
Ramsay said: ‘Despite the very positive feedback from guests, there was, regrettably, one offensive response from the night which I have to call out.’
He added: ‘The slew of derogatory and offensive social media posts that appeared on Angela Hui’s social channels, were not professional.
‘It is fine to not like my food, but prejudice and insults are not welcome, and Ms Hui’s comments around my Executive Chef and his wife, calling her a ‘token Asian wife’, were personal and hugely disrespectful.’
In her online review, Ms Hui wrote: ‘The pop-up dinner took place in a futuristic-looking plain white event space called Ice Tank in Soho, which felt more seedy nightclub than Asian eating house.
‘Or, perhaps, that is Ramsay’s vision of a vibrant (nee ‘authentic’) Asian eating house.’
She added: ‘I was the only east Asian person in a room full of 30-40 journalists and chefs.’
Ramsay said that the evening itself was a ‘warm, buzzing and brilliant night to celebrate what has been a long-time vision for me’.
Diners sampled dishes such as mini wagyu pastrami burger with Asian chilli jam and smoked duck breast with plum and Japanese nashi pear.
Pictured: Gordon Ramsay with Executive Chef Ben Orpwood at the preview event last week
Some social media users were critical of Ramsay for employing non-Asian chefs at his new restaurant
Left to right: Gizzi Erskine, Laura Whitmore, Gordon Ramsay, Melissa Hemsley and Isaac Carew at the Lucky Cat preview event in Mayfair last week
Two top chefs waded into the row this morning on Good Morning Britain, claiming that cultural appropriation was ‘inevitable’ in the modern world.
Scottish chef Neil Rankin said it would be ‘disingenuous’ of him to deny being inspired by food from other cultures having lived in ‘multi-cultural London’.
He said: ‘If you’re a diner and what authentic food, I would go to Italy or China. Food is like language, it travels and changes.
‘As a chef growing up in multi-cultural London, I ate more Italian and Chinese food than British food and being more influence by that, it would be disingenuous of me if I wasn’t inspired by that.
‘Cultural appropriation is inevitable and it’s disingenuous to say you’re just going to eat British food for the rest of your life.
‘A chef can learn how to cook pasta without living in Italy. To understand the culture, it takes years and years. To cook one dish doesn’t take that, you can look it up in three minutes on YouTube.’
Pictured: Ramsay with Laura Whitmore and Gizzi Erskin
Aldo Zilli, Italian chef who’s lived in Britain for 42 years, said it was important for restaurants to employ chefs from the countries where the dishes originated.
He added: ‘At home you can do whatever you wish.
‘But spaghetti Bolognese does not exist in Italy, for example, but people in Britain have been eating it for 40 years, in my house even; my wife makes it still.
‘When it comes to real Italian food, it doesn’t really exist, as it comes from regions not Italy as a whole. I’m involved in a restaurant chain that employs just Italian chefs.
‘You grow up in Italy you grow up with those flavours. I don’t think that anyone else outside Italy is going to understand that food but Italian chefs.’
But others have also criticised him for his Asian-style eatery.
Chinese-American chef George Chen responded to one of Ramsay’s posts on Twitter promoting the new venue, saying: ‘Is the famous Chef going to curse at his white cooks in Asian or what?
‘Every chef has a right to interpret another cuisine but the integrity and culture (read authenticity – albeit I hate that term) needs to be studied in depth and not WHITEwashed for marketing purposes!’
Writing in an article for Huffington Post, Asian-American journalist Kimberly Yam said: ‘Many people aren’t exactly happy with the chef’s claim to deliver ‘authentic’ Asian cuisine at the restaurant, especially without an Asian chef at the helm.’
Ramsay has previously been the subject of similar criticism. American journalist Jeff Yang wrote: ‘I dig his shows but it’s impossible to have an ‘authentic Asian restaurant’ because Asia is a *continent*, not a cuisine.
‘It’s like if he said he was opening an ‘authentic European restaurant.’ He’d get laughed out of town and I hope this does too.’
In an Instagram post, Ramsay said: ‘Gordon Ramsay Restaurants do not discriminate based on gender, race or beliefs and we don’t expect anyone else to.
‘I may not agree with all reviews, but if someone is going to be critical, then I expect them to be professional and have some integrity.’