Andy Lynes
 food journalist and writer



7 March 2008


Let's spin the wheel for a game of Ramsay Roulette. Just go to, click on "UK Restaurants" and place a virtual chip on which restaurant name you expect to disappear the next time you visit the site. The smart money had been on the recently closed La Noisette as far back as November last year when rumours of the imminent departure of chef Bjorn Van Der Horst began to circulate. The only people surprised by the closure in late February appeared to be Ramsay's central reservation service, who described it as "unexpected", and the British press who ran their stories on 5 March, five days after I posted about the closure on

That may have something to do with that fact that all mention of the restaurant had been quietly removed from Ramsay's website yet no press release was forthcoming from Sauce Communications, Ramsay's PR company. Perhaps they hoped that by closing the restaurant and not telling anyone, the failed restaurant would simply dissipate into the ether, like a bad smell. No one would draw attention to the fact that it was the second Ramsay run restaurant on that site with the lifespan of a mayfly. Pan-Asian disaster Pengelley's lasted a mere ten months while Noisette managed a slightly more respectable eighteen.

In theory, the number of Ramsay's casual restaurant The Boxwood Café should be up next. The Berkeley Hotel announced redevelopment plans back in July 2007 that included the closure of the restaurant. However, persistent rumours of a serious falling out between Ramsay and his old friend Marcus Wareing could mean that Petrus, where Wareing currently holds two Michelin stars, could be the next restaurant to fall.

Wareing has worked with Ramsay since 1993, when he joined Ramsay's first restaurant Aubergine as sous chef. Their close relationship was evident from the Channel 4 TV series Boiling Point where they appeared to be inseparable, and there was a time when you couldn't switch on a boxing match in the TV and not see Ramsay and Wareing side by side ringside.

Wareing has always been seen as the blue eyed boy of the Ramsay organisation. He was the first chef Ramsay set up with his own restaurant at L'Oranger, and then the original Petrus restaurant, both in St James Street, London. Wareing was then given the responsibility of re-launching The Savoy Grill and later the hotel's Banquette restaurant.

But recently, Wareing appears to have been somewhat sidelined. Mark Sargeant, head chef at the money spinning Claridges restaurant that has been named executive chef for Ramsay's burgeoning chain of pubs. Sargeant has also been given the task of overseeing the food at Foxtrot Oscar, Ramsay's newly opened casual bistro a few doors down from his flagship three Michelin starred restaurant. Ramsay has recently announced plans to roll out both the pub add bistro concept nationally.

And its relative newcomer to the Ramsay group Jason Atherton's Maze concept that is being replicated around the world rather then Wareing's Petrus restaurant. New York has a Maze, as does Prague with potentially Amsterdam and Singapore to follow. Ramsay's next London projects, a restaurant in a boutique hotel and a new Italian restaurant Murano will both have Angela Hartnett at the helm.

While Petrus is a busy, successful and critically acclaimed restaurant, it is something of an anomaly in the current Ramsay portfolio. It's the only fine dining restaurant in the group that doesn't bare his name, and the most similar to the flagship Gordon Ramsay restaurant in Royal Hospital Road.

If the London in New York is anything to go by, Ramsay's worldwide fine dining restaurants will be made in the image of Royal Hospital Road and not Petrus, leaving Wareing out on a limb. That can only lend further credence to the whisper that Wareing is currently in talks to open a hotel restaurant outside of the Ramsay organisation.

If he does go, Wareing won't be the first of Ramsay's long standing loyal lieutenants to leave the Ramsay organisation. Neil Ferguson had been with Ramsay since the Aubergine days, but that didn't save him from the axe when Ramsay's New York restaurant, where Ferguson had been appointed head chef, received mixed reviews.

What caused the rumoured rift between old friends Wareing and Ramsay is anyone's guess. It will no doubt be a sad day for both men should Wareing walk away from Petrus, but it could potentially be the best move Wareing ever makes. As much as Ramsay likes to be seen nurturing and promoting his chefs, they are doomed to work under the shadow of his huge media profile. By breaking out on his own, Wareing could give himself the chance to be properly recognised as the culinary talent he surely is.