Gordon Ramsay hits back after critic accused him of ‘cultural appropriation’

Gordon Ramsay has hit back at critics after he was accused of tokenism and cultural appropriation over his new pan-Asian restaurant.  

Ramsay’s new Mayfair venture Lucky Cat, which he described as ‘an Asian eating house’ with a 1930s Tokyo inspiration, launched a preview night in London last week.  

But the award-winning chef and reality TV icon faced a backlash for supposedly not having enough Asian chefs at the venue – and for ‘whitewashing’ Chinese and Japanese cooking without the proper appreciation for either culture. 

In an article for the London Eater website food writer Angela Hui, who attended the preview event, criticised Ramsay for the experience, describing it as ‘nothing if not a real life Ramsay kitchen nightmare’.

Left to right: Gizzi Erskine, Laura Whitmore, Gordon Ramsay, Melissa Hemsley and Isaac Carew at the Lucky Cat preview event in Mayfair last week

Left to right: Gizzi Erskine, Laura Whitmore, Gordon Ramsay, Melissa Hemsley and Isaac Carew at the Lucky Cat preview event in Mayfair last week

Left to right: Gizzi Erskine, Laura Whitmore, Gordon Ramsay, Melissa Hemsley and Isaac Carew at the Lucky Cat preview event in Mayfair last week

Pictured: Gordon Ramsay with Executive Chef Ben Orpwood at the preview event last week

Pictured: Gordon Ramsay with Executive Chef Ben Orpwood at the preview event last week

Pictured: Gordon Ramsay with Executive Chef Ben Orpwood at the preview event last week 

Ms Hui wrote: ‘The pop-up dinner took place in a futuristic-looking plain white event space called Ice Tank in Soho, which felt more seedy nightclub than Asian eating house. 

‘Or, perhaps, that is Ramsay’s vision of a vibrant (nee “authentic”) Asian eating house.’

She added: ‘I was the only east Asian person in a room full of 30-40 journalists and chefs.’

But Ramsay hit back at Ms Hui, calling her out for apparently referring to Executive Chef Ben Orpwood’s partner as a ‘token Asian wife’ on social media. 

Ramsay said: ‘Despite the very positive feedback from guests, there was, regrettably, one offensive response from the night which I have to call out.’

He added: ‘The slew of derogatory and offensive social media posts that appeared on Angela Hui’s social channels, were not professional. 

‘It is fine to not like my food, but prejudice and insults are not welcome, and Ms Hui’s comments around my Executive Chef and his wife, calling her a “token Asian wife”, were personal and hugely disrespectful.’ 

Ramsay said that the evening itself was a ‘warm, buzzing and brilliant night to celebrate what has been a long-time vision for me’.

Diners sampled dishes such as mini wagyu pastrami burger with Asian chilli jam and smoked duck breast with plum and Japanese nashi pear. 

Pictured: Ramsay with Laura Whitmore and Gizzi Erskine

Pictured: Ramsay with Laura Whitmore and Gizzi Erskine

Pictured: Ramsay with Laura Whitmore and Gizzi Erskine

But others have also criticised him for his Asian-style eatery.   

Chinese-American chef George Chen responded to one of Ramsay’s posts on Twitter promoting the new venue, saying: ‘Is the famous Chef going to curse at his white cooks in Asian or what? 

‘Every chef has a right to interpret another cuisine but the integrity and culture (read authenticity – albeit I hate that term) needs to be studied in depth and not WHITEwashed for marketing purposes!’

Writing in an article for Huffington Post, Asian-American journalist Kimberly Yam said: ‘Many people aren’t exactly happy with the chef’s claim to deliver “authentic” Asian cuisine at the restaurant, especially without an Asian chef at the helm.’ 

Ramsay has previously been the subject of similar criticism. American journalist Jeff Yang wrote: ‘I dig his shows but it‘s impossible to have an “authentic Asian restaurant” because Asia is a *continent*, not a cuisine. 

‘It’s like if he said he was opening an “authentic European restaurant.” He’d get laughed out of town and I hope this does too.’ 

In an Instagram post, Ramsay said: ‘Gordon Ramsay Restaurants do not discriminate based on gender, race or beliefs and we don’t expect anyone else to. 

‘I may not agree with all reviews, but if someone is going to be critical, then I expect them to be professional and have some integrity.’ 

Link hienalouca.com

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