Gordon Ramsay cooks up food and sport event
MARIKA HILL AND STEVE HOPKINS
Gordon Ramsay will serve up a hot event for New Zealand combining two of the country's greatest loves - sport and food.
The celebrity chef faced up to a few hundred fans at Smith & Caughey's in Auckland yesterday, attempting to make amends for two previous no-shows.
Earlier that day he reached a settlement with Duco Events which was suing him for $2.1 million for pulling out of two charity events to raise money for a sick Kiwi girl.
Ramsay agreed to donate $100,000 to charity and to work with the Auckland company on an event next year.
He remained coy about what this would entail but did let slip the event would involve food and sport, before he was escorted away by security.
Ramsay, known for his temper tantrums in the kitchen, appeared on his best behaviour as he signed his new dinnerware range for fans yesterday.
Even an eager fan who accidentally dropped a carving knife near Ramsay's toe only drew an "oh Jesus" from the Hell's Kitchen star.
Ramsay smiled for photographs, posed with babies, joked with fans and signed about 100 of his plates.
He even shared his No 1 cooking tip for wannabe chefs willing to enter the "danger zone" of risk-taking in the kitchen.
Having a vision for food was far more important than gourmet ingredients or expensive cookware, he said.
"It doesn't cost much. Just close your eyes and let your imagination go."
When asked about his reputation for swearing and rage in the kitchen, Ramsay smiled and said it was passion, not anger, he was expressing.
Many of the fans were left star-struck by Ramsay and appeared to have all but forgiven him for his previous no-shows.
Hanna Scholtz said the legal dispute over his failure to appear at previous events was just a misunderstanding.
"He is not a mean person. He is a lovely, humble person."
Jeffery Cheung waited seven hours in line to meet his hero, only to have his carving knife cut through his bag and almost hit Ramsay's toe.
He planned to frame the autographed knife on his wall.
An eager female fan exclaimed: "He's very tasty."
However, not everyone was excited about his appearance in Auckland.
The event was posted on Smith & Caughey's Facebook page, where Bronwyn Theresa Bell wrote she had lost her respect for Ramsay.
"So he didn't cancel out this time? Like he did in 2010 for the big charity dinner twice over, costing many people a lot of money invested in the event."
In a joint statement Ramsay and Duco director David Higgins said they were "delighted" the matter had been resolved.
"The parties have reached a mutually agreeable financial settlement, including a donation of $100,000 to Matisse Reid and the trust Chance2Eat."
Ramsay charged a $100,000 appearance fee to take part in Duco's charity dinner in June 2010, but cancelled a week before when his mother suffered a heart attack.
His tour was rescheduled for October that year, but that trip was also cancelled when he was tied up with business matters in the UK.
- Auckland Now