Gordon Ramsay on food, finance and the F word
Gordon Ramsay, celebrity chef and restaurateur, talks about what he has learnt in the last twenty years running a successful global restaurant business.
Produced by Natalie Whittle. Filmed by Nicola Stansfield. Directed and edited by Josh de la Mare.
The biggest lessons I've learned in business over the last two decades, for me, the customer is always right and don't dwell on mistakes. More importantly, value for money is always going to fill a restaurant. The secret of any successful restaurant is making sure it's fully booked on a Monday night. Key advice for any young chef would be, keep it local, instil confidence in the neighbourhood, and seasonal. Nothing worse than walking into a restaurant and seeing ingredients that out of season, or a list of ingredients that doesn't match where you are.
The importance of establishing a business is all about positive cash flow. And not running too quickly. For me, the secret behind any successful business is consolidating at what you've got. Before you opt into that second business, you need to be consistent for a good few years on you're first. And then, training-- incubating that team before you launch is crucial. I always get asked that question, if you're such a hands-on chef, who does the cooking when your not there? It's the same people when I am there, but quality control. And then, that second or third business, make sure it's not too big.
How do I maintain that freshness in the restaurant? For me, it's about staying ahead of the competition. Whether it's a new tapas bar on the edge of Soho or the latest steakhouse in the middle of New York, if I'm not there, the team will be there. And then I always say, there's something to learn from a bad experience. Scrutinising reviews on a weekly basis. And even, sadly, watching a restaurant being criticised locally. We still need to go in there. And then, what's been pivotal to my success, five years ago we introduced mystery shoppers. That let's you come in, cause problems, complain about food that's good, and I see the reaction from my staff.
Also, not only do you have to look at every ingredient, every member of staff, but businesses have to make money. And then you have learn how market that business. And then you have to be at the forefront of that business. And then you can never get stale. So I use my extensive travelling to constantly bring new ideas back to the fold, and let the team development it, and then I confirm it. And so we're now in our 15th year with three Michelin stars, and we're better equipped now than we were when we first won that third star.
Being in business is consuming. It can get the better of you. And also, it doesn't become stressful, it just becomes hard to handle. I think pressure is healthy, it's how you deal with that pressure. And my release in my business, and what's kept my business at the forefront, is keeping fit. I was out of shape. I was a fat chef. I was all over the place. Having that time to myself three times a week-- Monday, Wednesday, Friday-- reinvigorated me and, more importantly, give me time to rethink things. So getting away from the business is as important as being in the business.
And this career is demanding. And it's no different to achieving the very best in sports. And so if there's an amazing dish, then it becomes fucking brilliant. If it's a disaster, then it's fucking wrong. And so there's a healthy industry language that needs to be expressed. And never be shy to say the word "fuck." And trust me, if the queen can swear, I'm damn sure a fucking chef can swear. Fuck it. Are we done? Brilliant. Thank you very much.