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Jay Rayner Review Starts Strange Legal War Between Gordon Ramsay and Judy Joo

"Right now the only people really making money... are the lawyers."

Chef Judy Joo.
Chef Judy Joo.
Judy Joo/Facebook

Guardian restaurant critic Jay Rayner filed one of his strangest reviews yet yesterday and it's filled with bad fried chicken and legal drama. He set about reviewing Korean-American TV chef Judy Joo's new "glossy Korean restaurant" in London called Jinjuu. Rayner had few nice things to say about the restaurant: It was too loud ("upstairs is a bar with music so loud it vibrates your colon"), the cocktails are cheesy and feature names like "Sake It To Me," and the dishes are "serviceable" but expensive.

Even though the food was far from noteworthy, the real trouble started when Rayner inquired into Joo's background. While she is a TV chef, Joo — who is in the midst of writing a cookbook — boasts on the restaurant's website that she spent two years working for Ramsay. When Rayner reached out to Ramsey's restaurant group to ask about her time spent there, the response was surprisingly hostile: Managing director Stuart Gillies told Rayner that Joo was "only given part-time experience as a gesture of goodwill at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in the pastry section" and allegedly went on to accuse her of "being economical with the truth" on her website.

When Rayner reached out to Joo about about what Gordon Ramsay Holdings had said, her lawyers sent Rayner a 17-page letter "denying everything" that Gillies claimed. The letter detailed the time she spent as many of his restaurants — namely as an unpaid intern — and included "multiple pages of testimonials" from chefs who worked with her during that time. Rayner writes that he asked Joo multiple times for a face-to-face interview to ask why Gordon Ramsay Holdings might be so angry with her, but instead her lawyers accused Rayner of intimidating her because he asked "all these question" and costing her "a lot of money in legal expenses." Rayner alleges that the lawyers even told him that it would be "inappropriate" for him to review the restaurant.

But that didn't stop Rayner, who writes that overall, Jinjuu is simply "OK." He notes that there are far better places in London for Korean food that "use similar ingredients more effectively," charge less money, and "don't send out legal letters." Rayner writes that "right now the only people really making money out of Jinjuu are the lawyers."