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March 9, 2009

These are unhappy days to be a celebrity chef. Or at least they are if your surname is Ramsay or Blumenthal.

According to a story here in The Herald, over half of the restaurants featured in Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares have either closed down or been sold after featuring on the TV show. One Long Island website has even taken to calling the chef the ‘new black widow’ after three restaurants in the area closed their doors after a visit from Ramsay.

Closer to home, Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck restaurant in Bray remains closed after a food scare. Initially, some forty diners reported feeling ill after eating at his restaurant. After offering a free meal as compensation, that number has increased to over 400.

Of course, they may all be genuine but it reminds me a little of the number of people who claimed to be at the King Tut’s concert in Glasgow where Alan McGee signed the then unknowns Oasis. Had they all actually been at the gig then King Tut’s must have had a similar capacity to the SECC.

Anyway, despite Ramsay and Blumenthal’s well reported problems, I suspect that the cult of the celebrity chef still has some distance to run. You might not want to be stuck in a lift with Ramsay but most of us would still be overjoyed to have him cook us dinner.

On a more cheery note, congratulations to Tony Crolla, the owner of Vittoria on Leith Walk and its more recently arrived sister restaurants: Vittoria in the city centre and La Favorita.

Crolla’s restaurants recently won gold and silver awards as part of the Keep Edinburgh Clean scheme. By reducing the number of trips his suppliers made to his restaurants and composting left over food, Crolla has dramatically lowered his carbon footprint.