In a downgrade of epic proportions, Gordon Ramsay at the London in New York City lost both of its Michelin stars. A Michelin rep tells Eater that no restaurant in the history of Michelin has ever gone from two stars to zero stars because of "quality issues." So what happened at the posh hotel restaurant with the shouty chef's name attached to it?
Backstory: In 2006 Ramsay reportedly invested $3 million of his own dollars into opening the restaurant. In 2008 it debuted in the Michelin Guide with two stars. At that time Ramsay was still the owner, and the chef de cuisine was Josh Emmett. Then in December 2009 Ramsay, amid financial troubles, sold the restaurant to The London hotel. The London licensed the use of his name and the restaurant retained its stars.
According to the restaurant's PR rep, "Gordon Ramsay is not involved in the day-to-day running of the restaurants or kitchens, as is a licensing agreement, but is in communication regarding updates and changes at the restaurant." Apparently he "drops by" the restaurant "on average every quarter." Given that the restaurant is Ramsay's in name only, it hardly seems accurate to blame him for the loss. It should be noted that Michelin hasn't been entirely unkind to Ramsay this year. His London restaurant has retained its three Michelin stars in the 2014 guide.
Even though he hasn't been directly involved in the NYC restaurant for years, losing the stars still hurts Ramsay's reputation. Especially when you have major newspapers like the Globe and Mail report the restaurant belongs to Ramsay. Quote: "Ramsay's reputation in the cooking world has been dealt a serious blow with the news that his posh New York restaurant The London has been stripped of both its Michelin stars." Or how about the Guardian that calls it "his flagship Manhattan restaurant" and a "humiliation" over losing the stars?
Not my best meal at gordon ramsay at London NYC. or service. perhaps they want to invite the f-man back for a consult?— Michelin Guide (@MichelinGuideNY) January 20, 2012
The lost stars likely did not catch the restaurant entirely off guard. Last year, a Michelin inspector tweeted about having an unsatisfactory meal: "Not my best meal at gordon ramsay at London NYC. or service." Presumably the restaurant would have taken the inspector's tweet as a serious warning to keep on their toes.
So what changed this year? The short answer is that the Michelin inspectors found the restaurant inconsistent in recent visits. Michelin Guide director Michael Ellis tells Bloomberg's Ryan Sutton: "We've had issues with consistency, and consistency is a huge thing for us." He also explains that he himself dined at the restaurant to see what was really going on: "I personally went there; we've had some very erratic meals." Ellis explains that he doesn't "really know what's going on in the kitchen" and that there's been "quite a bit of instability at the restaurant."
The most clear-cut source of the instability Ellis cites seems to be the absence of an executive chef. A pr rep for the restaurant confirms that the restaurant is going through a "transitional period" following the July 2013 departure of long-time executive chef Markus Glocker. While they are still searching for a replacement and "look forward to announcing our new Chef de Cuisine," at this point in time there's no one chef publicly at the helm of the kitchen. No chef, that is, except for Ramsay himself. And that, as it would seem, isn't too much of a consolation to the restaurant or the Michelin inspectors.
Michelin's decision to revoke the restaurant's stars doesn't just strip the restaurant of a prestigious award. Without one star or a Bib Gourmand recognition, they are completely out of the Michelin reference system, which can help direct tourists into the restaurant. Here's the restaurant's official statement on the lost stars:
While we are certainly disappointed by the Michelin Guide's decision not to award Gordon Ramsay at The London a repeat of two Michelin stars, we are confident that in the coming months, through the indelible ??strength of our team, we will once again be known for delivering consistently exquisite cuisine and impeccable service to our loyal guests.
Of course, the restaurant could regain its stars someday.