German chef Markus Barthel has filed a lawsuit against Gordon Ramsay at the London, located in midtown Manhattan, and its affiliated holdings, after sustaining serious injuries during a meal at the restaurant in March 2013. Barthel reportedly cut his tongue and mouth on a “sharp piece of ceramic or other material” inside his hamburger. Barthel states in the claim that the injury required surgery and has resulted in the loss of his sense of taste. Barthel claims further that he is no longer able to work as a professional chef, and is seeking compensation and legal fees.
Chef Gordon Ramsay, is not personally named in the suit against the London, which lost its two Michelin stars in fall 2013, making the restaurant the first in Michelin history to do so. According to a PR representative from the London, “Gordon Ramsay is not involved in the day-to-day runnings of the restaurants or kitchens as is a licensing agreement, but is in communication regarding updates and changes at the restaurant.” The London, which purchased the restaurant from Ramsay in 2009, licensed Ramsay’s name for use and was permitted to retain the chef’s original star rating.
Barthel’s lawyer Florian Bruno told the New York Daily News that after his client was injured trying to eat the burger, the restaurant staff “snatched it up” so that Barthel couldn’t use it as evidence. Since the accident, Barthel has not been able to find work as a chef.
Although Ramsay has not been involved with operations at the London for a number of years, the lawsuit, as well as its poor quality control since his departure, hurts the public perception of the celebrity chef who is known as a precise and demanding boss. So far, Ramsay has not been able to distance himself fully from The London; last year The Guardian noted the loss of two Michelin stars at Ramsay’s “flagship Manhattan restaurant” and the Globe and Mail called the demotion a “serious blow” for Ramsay. Even Barthel’s lawyer noted that Ramsay “makes his living out of criticizing people."
Perhaps the reason that Ramsay remains connected to the failing restaurant in the public eye is because the occasionally fiery chef is no stranger to lawsuits. In June 2013, his LA restaurant Fat Cow received a class-action lawsuit from its employees, who claimed they were refused overtime and forced to work through breaks; in April 2013, Ramsay was sued for $75,000 in unpaid bills from an accounting firm. According to Eater LA, Fat Cow has announced that it will close following service on March 27, reportedly not due to a lack of business, but because a Miami restaurant of the same name is threatening legal action. Grub Street has a detailed list of The 20 Most Despicable Things Gordon Ramsay Has Said and Done, Ranked. Interestingly, one of those items includes a lawsuit filed by Ramsay against Laurier Gordon Ramsay, for damage to his reputation. The restaurant dropped Ramsay from its name because the chef was in absentia after its debut, and is now called Laurier 1936.