Gordon Ramsay Loses Second Chef in a Week: Food Buzz (Update2)

Gordon Ramsay has lost his second chef in a week. Phil Carmichael at Maze Cape Town is quitting, following Maze London Executive Chef James Durrant out the door.

Their departure comes hot on the heels of the resignation three months ago of Jason Atherton, the British culinary master who founded Maze in 2005, creating what was to become a mini- chain with outlets in Doha, New York and Melbourne.

“We confirm the Gordon Ramsay Group’s announcement that Philip Carmichael has resigned and will be leaving in September,” Jennifer Glaisek, a spokeswoman for the One & Only Hotel, which houses Maze, said last night in an e-mailed statement. “He leaves with our best wishes for the future.”

Carmichael previously worked with Atherton at Maze in London and was then head chef at the now-closed Maze in Prague. Before that, he spent three years at the Roux Fine Dining restaurant at Merrill Lynch in London, from 2003-2006, according to Ramsay’s website. Carmichael worked at Le Gavroche from February 2002 to November 2003, joining from the Grand Hotel, in Amsterdam.

A call to Carmichael’s office in the kitchen on July 6 went straight to voicemail. Ramsay’s spokeswoman referred queries to Kerzner International, the hotel owners. Durrant’s resignation was announced on July 1 amid speculation about who might be next to go. A restaurateur who did not wish to be identified said yesterday that he had spoken to another Ramsay chef in London.

Kitchen, Pub Closures

Ramsay announced yesterday that he is closing GR Logistics Ltd., the suburban London kitchen that attracted unwelcome headlines when the Sun reported it produced meals in bags that were sent to the TV chef’s London pubs and Foxtrot Oscar bistro. Ramsay closed one of the three pubs last week.

If this all sounds like the end of the empire, it’s too early to write Ramsay’s obituary. It is no bad thing that Gordon Ramsay Holdings Ltd. should close unprofitable businesses. What’s disturbing is the departure of chefs.

Ramsay has already lost key figures such as Marcus Wareing, Mark Sargeant and Atherton. While it’s normal for chefs to move on, it is significant that the man who once attracted the cream of U.K. culinary talent is now doing the opposite.

Atherton is set to open his own London restaurant before Christmas and don’t be surprised if Sargeant announces plans for his own establishment later this year.

The draft menu for the new London brasserie of Pierre Koffmann at the Berkeley Hotel is a treat, with the former three-star chef delivering on his promise to prepare the kind of unfussy rustic fare he likes to eat.

Koffmann’s stuffed pig’s trotters are there at 27 pounds ($40) as is his pistachio souffle (12 pounds), along with hearty options such as black pudding with sauteed apples, and pan-fried calf’s head with sauce Gribiche.

There’s one little surprise for Francophiles. The roast chicken is described as “Laverstoke.” That will be a reference to Laverstoke Park Farm, in the English county of Hampshire, created by the former racing driver Jody Scheckter. Koffmann previously said a very good chicken had to be from France. Opening is set for July 15.

Before top restaurants open, chefs are often invited along to a private dinner. Alain Ducasse did it at the Dorchester and Daniel Boulud at the Mandarin Oriental. Koffmann is thinking of something different: a dinner for the wives and partners. “Chefs should be cooking,” is Koffmann’s view.

Four of London’s finest Indian chefs are coming together on July 20 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Find Your Feet, a charity that tackles poverty in rural India and Malawi. Atul Kochhar (Benares), Cyrus Todiwala (Cafe Spice Namaste) and Vivek Singh (Cinnamon Club) will join Navin Bhatia at his restaurant, Dockmaster’s House, for an evening of barbecue, canapes and entertainment. Tickets are 35 pounds from catriona@fyf.org.uk or click on http://tinyurl.com/38rszhn.

Dishoom, “London’s first Bombay cafe,” formally opens at 12 Upper St Martin’s Lane, Covent Garden, on July 15. The menu of casual Mumbai food includes small plates such as chili cheese and fish tikka, along with kebabs and roti wraps. The 160-seat venue is in the St Martin’s Courtyard development, where neighbors include Cantina Laredo, the first U.K. outlet of the Mexican chain owned by Consolidate Restaurant Operations Inc., of Dallas. The London outlet belongs to Oriole Restaurants Ltd.

Le Cafe Anglais is to open a 50-seat Oyster Bar & Cafe in the area currently occupied by the reception at the Bayswater restaurant. Cafe Anglais will close for two weeks in late August to build the bar, created by Stiff + Trevilion. The venue will be open from noon to 10 p.m. serving -- in addition to mollusks -- sandwiches and dishes such as smoked mackerel and apple salad; skirt steak with Bearnaise and chips; and Bakewell Tart.

Waitrose is to release a range of products developed with Heston Blumenthal in October. More than 20 are in development and among the first to go on sale will be Vanilla Mayonnaise and Ponzu Dressing. Not in the same bottle, I hope.

Union Market, a store with a 5,000-square-foot hall, opens today in Fulham and promises to offer the quality produce of farmers’ markets at supermarket prices. Let’s hope it’s not the other way round. The address of 472 Fulham Broadway means it’s near the Harwood Arms, which is a plus.

Texture won the Newcomer Award in the Cateys, the annual hospitality awards of Caterer & Hotelkeeper, held at the Grosvenor House on July 5. Brothers Chris and Jeff Galvin took Restaurateur of the Year, following several awards for Galvin La Chapelle, in Spitalfields. Mark Hix won the Chef Award.

I stopped off for a Giorgio Damiani jewelry party at Angelo Galasso in Knightsbridge, taking a break from food for the chance to rub shoulders with a former Sugababe, Keisha Buchanan. Obviously, I was there for the canapes, by Carpaccio. The same day, I made it to a tasting of Tesco Finest wines. The one that stood out for me was the Champagne Chanoine Vintage 2000, rich, biscuity and complex. It will cost 24.99 pounds when it appears in stores later this month.

A chef from Noma -- which won the World’s Best Restaurant award this year -- will spend a day at the Cooking Rooms cookery school in York, northern England, on Aug. 1. Sam Miller, a charming guy who comes from York, will create an eight-course tasting menu that combines Noma’s style with local ingredients. Pickled Yorkshire pudding anyone? You can try to win a free place via http://www.theworlds50best.com/.

You can combine a picnic and Pimm’s with a play at London’s National Theatre this summer. The first evening is on Aug. 2, starting with food and drinks on the Deck, overlooking the Thames river, at 6:30 p.m. The price is 55 pounds. For information, tel. +44-20-7452-3000 or click on http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/thedeck.

(Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)

To contact the writer on the story: Richard Vines in London at rvines@bloomberg.net.

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