To say I was surprised to read the news that chef Gordon Ramsay is opening something in Montreal, where I currently live, is an understatement.
I was floored, quite frankly.
Especially considering everything he’s had to deal with lately, including marriage troubles and debts to the banks. The last two hard blows have been the departure of key players Angela Hartnett (who now runs Murano restaurant independently) and father-in-law and CEO Chris Hutcheson from his Gordon Ramsay Holdings (GRH).
But aside from Gordon’s own issues, it seems strange to see such a boldface name land in Montreal, a city with few celebrity chefs, if any, and a small restaurant scene.
Fellow food writer and restaurant critic Lesley Chesterman, of Montreal’s daily paper The Gazette had the scoop:
“It could only be described as the most unexpected foodie news of 2010. Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay is taking over Montreal’s Rotisserie Laurier BBQ. With restaurants in New York, Los Angeles and Florida, Ramsay, 44, already has a foothold in North America. Yet this unpretentious, family-style eatery will be his first foray into the Canadian restaurant scene.
The London-based Ramsay, whose empire now counts 25 establishments worldwide, visited the Laurier BBQ kitchens three weeks ago and is “so excited, you can’t imagine,” says his partner and the owner of the building, Danny Lavy. “This is not going to be a Michelin-starred restaurant project, but a platform for something to roll out.” Plans to expand the restaurant cross-country are already being discussed".
The story ran yesterday and was frantically tweeted and retweeted and posted on Facebook walls by dumbfounded Montrealers.
Apparently, Ramsay’s Montreal rotisserie will even have a biergarten on the rooftop! And a menu of salads, ribs and hamburgers!
To put things into context: Rotisserie Laurier BBQ is an old-fashioned roast-chicken-and-chicken-noodle-soup family restaurant that had seen better days, but still brings back fond memories to many Montrealers.
A foodie friend asked me, incredulous:
“Did you see that ? Crazy !!! Rotisserie Laurier is MY childhood/teenage/parenthood restaurant.
So much of my life happened there ! Now Gordon Ramsay is taking over?!!???”
Partner Danny Lavy says in The Gazette that while they don’t want to mess with a place with so much history, they plan on making it “more of a hip place”.
Last time I remember him messing with a beloved classic – by installing his ex-right-hand-gal Angela Harnett in the kitchen of the Connaught’s Grill and giving the menu an Italian makeover, years ago, it was a disaster!
Although I truly don’t know what to make of this puzzling move on Ramsay’s part, I am eagerly awaiting the opening, slated for February. Stay tuned…