Gordon Ramsay has it all. He owns and operates over 40 restaurants, and is recipient of several Michelin stars; his flagship, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, is one of the few restaurants in the world to hold three Michelin stars. He has his own reality TV career, having appeared on countless shows over the years — including Hell’s Kitchen, The F Word, MasterChef and Kitchen Nightmares. He even has an Order of the British Empire, obviously.
But career success is no indicator of personal happiness, and although Ramsay may be content today, his life has been filled with ups and downs. From his childhood to the peak of his career, Ramsay has endured abusive relationships, near-misses with death, long-running feuds with his colleagues, and deep, terrible personal loss. And that’s before you even get started on his well-publicized controversies. Yes, he’s at the top of his game; yes, he’s arguably one of the world’s most celebrated chefs. But these are the more tragic details of Gordon Ramsay’s life.
Gordon Ramsay had a violent childhood
In 2007, Gordon Ramsay wrote an in-depth piece for CNN, in which he tackled some of the issues he and his family had dealt with in his childhood. In the article, Ramsay explained how his father had been "less than a perfect role model," who frequently battled alcoholism and often became violent with Ramsay’s mother. "Every time he got violent," Ramsay wrote, "any present that my brother, sisters, or I had given mum would be smashed, simply because he knew it belonged to her. There were instances when the police were called to take him away; mum was taken to the hospital while we kids were taken to a children’s home."
During his early years, Ramsay and his siblings were moved around to a number of different homes and schools, mostly because their homes came with their father’s jobs — and because their father often lost those jobs. "To this day," Ramsay explained, "I will never understand why mum stayed with him. She deserved so much better and so much more; it still pains me to remember how badly he treated her. I have four young children of my own, and I could never see myself behaving the way my father did when I was a child. I want to be a role model for my children and have them look up to me."
As part of the article, Ramsay highlighted his and his wife’s work with the U.K. charity Women’s Aid, which seeks to end domestic violence against women and children. Ramsay stressed that "domestic violence is not identified solely by violent physical abuse; instead, it is defined as physical, sexual, psychological, financial, or emotional violence that takes place in a relationship, intimate or family-oriented."
Gordon Ramsay planned for a very different career path
Although today he’s one of the world’s most famous chefs, Ramsay was once on a very different path indeed — one that ended in a football stadium, rather than a kitchen.
In an article for The Guardian, Gordon Ramsay explained how he first fell in love with the game of soccer. "My uncle Roland took me to my first game at Ibrox," he wrote. "I was seven and I went on his shoulders. The crowd was just phenomenal. We were standing by the terraces and I remember getting slightly nervous, and very scared. Because you just swayed then, you just moved in a sway formation. I think it was against Hearts and it was dirty — I mean very dirty — and Rangers won 1-0. Those games are always going to be dirty for the next century, because it’s just an all-blood tie. And I loved it."
Ramsay soon took up playing football as a hobby, later describing himself as "a naturally aggressive left-back, a cut-throat tackler." Eventually, his parents moved back to Glasgow so he could sign for Rangers F.C. — and Ramsay even ended up playing a small number of non-league games as a trial.
Unfortunately, he then suffered an injury to his knee. Despite slowly working his way back to physical fitness, Ramsay was let go from the team. He was, in his words, "f***ing gutted." In his Guardian article, Ramsay writes: "And worst of all I still had to tell my dad who was waiting for me in a Transit van parked about 600 yards away from the main entrance."
Soon after, Ramsay started his first catering course. And you know how that turned out.
Gordon Ramsay’s brother has struggled with drugs
Over the years, Gordon Ramsay’s brother Ronnie has endured his own struggles — many of which have had a significant impact on his close family. In an interview with Jonathan Ross (via Hello!), Ramsay opened up about his brother’s addiction to heroin. "I don’t think there is any easy drug," he said, "but when you stoop to the depths of heroin, it’s very rare you get back. We’ve done everything we can to help him, now he just sort of binges and disappears so that’s just a constant reminder and also being a father of four ourselves, you need to be there for them because this stuff is rife."
Ramsay himself has seen the darker side of drugs and addiction first-hand. Years earlier, he had lost a colleague to cocaine. "We had dinner the night before he passed," Ramsay revealed. "I wish I’d seen signs earlier."
Clearly, this has had an effect on Ramsay’s professional attitude towards drugs. During his ITV documentary Gordon Ramsay on Cocaine, Ramsay tests the restrooms in his restaurant for substances and finds cocaine in both the staff and guest facilities. "I called a meeting," Ramsay told Jonathan Ross. "I didn’t throw anyone under the bus, I didn’t single anyone out. I just said, ‘Look, this is everywhere, it’s spotted in the restaurants and it needs to stop.’"
According to Ramsay, hard drugs are rife in the cooking industry. He explained: "I saw cocaine quite early on in my career. I’ve been served it. I’ve been given it. I’ve had my hand shaken and left with little wraps of foil in it. I’ve been asked to dust cocaine on top of soufflés, to put it on as icing sugar… Coke’s everywhere. It’s spiraling out of control."
Gordon Ramsay was defrauded by his father-in-law
Although Gordon Ramsay’s father was an abusive alcoholic and his brother struggles with addiction, most of the chef’s most recent troubles have come from another family member: his father-in-law. In 2017, Chris Hutcheson Sr. was arrested and jailed for conspiring with his sons to access Ramsay’s firm’s computer systems almost 2,000 times.
Hutcheson, who is the father of Ramsay’s wife, Tana, joined up with his two sons to attempt to access Ramsay’s financial information. The two sons, Adam and Chris Jr., each worked in IT roles at Gordon Ramsay Holdings Ltd., while Hutcheson himself had been the company’s chief executive, until his sacking in March 2011.
On one day alone, in February 2011, Hutcheson had accessed the company’s system 600 times (while Adam Hutcheson did the same 282 times). According to Sky News, Hutcheson and his sons had been attempting to gather information on Ramsay’s intellectual property rights, hoping it would give them "the upper hand" in a legal dispute they had with Ramsay. Some of the information they accessed, including the fact that Ramsay had undergone a hair transplant, ended up being leaked to the national press.
Hutcheson was jailed for six months, while Adam and Chris Jr. were given suspended sentences.
Gordon Ramsay had other troubles with his father-in-law
But that’s not the end of the troubles that Gordon Ramsay has had with Chris Hutcheson Sr. over the years. In 2015, Ramsay went to court to allege that Hutcheson had used a "ghost-writing signature machine" without his authority to make him a personal guarantor for the rent of the York & Albany pub in Regent’s Park, London; a figure which amounted to £640,000 a year. Arguing that his signature hadn’t been lawfully authorized, Ramsay took the pub’s owner to court, hoping to be released from the deal.
"I am appalled," Ramsay told the court, "at the extent to which Chris used the ghost writing machine to sign documents ostensibly on my behalf in circumstances where I had no knowledge of the documents that were being ‘signed’ or the matters to which they referred."
Unfortunately, this argument didn’t take. The judge dismissed Ramsay’s claim, and ordered him to pay the pub owner’s court costs as well as his own; an amount which came to over $1 million. Ramsay was also made to pay the nearly $1.5 million owed the pub’s owner in rent. The judge ruled: "Mr Ramsay’s own evidence establishes the very extensive, if not total, trust which Mr Ramsay placed in Mr Hutcheson to deal with business affairs on behalf of both the companies and Mr Ramsay himself."
The judge also ruled that Ramsay had shown sufficient interest in the property, and that he often relied on Hutcheson’s recommendations even without being consulted.
Gordon Ramsay and his wife had a tragedy at home
In 2016, Gordon Ramsay posted a heartfelt message on Facebook (via Tommy’s), in which he opened up about the miscarriage he and his wife, Tana, had suffered. This came in the wake of a small movement of a number of celebrities who had opened up about losing a child to miscarriage — including Mark Zuckerberg, Gwyneth Paltrow, Nicole Kidman, Courteney Cox, Mariah Carey, Pink, and Beyoncé.
Ramsay wrote: "Hi guys, Tana and I want to thank you so much for your support over the past couple of weeks. We had a devastating weekend as Tana has sadly miscarried our son at five months. We’re together healing as a family, but we want to thank everyone again for all your amazing support and well wishes. I’d especially like to send a big thank you to the amazing team at Portland Hospital for everything they’ve done. Gx"
In 2019, Ramsay and Tana had their fifth child, Oscar James Ramsay. On Instagram, the chef wrote: "After 3 baftas and one Emmy… finally we have won an Oscar, please welcome Oscar James Ramsay."
Ramsay and his wife have four other children: Meghan, Jack, Holly, and Matilda.
Gordon Ramsay had a brush with death
During filming on Gordon Ramsay’s hit TV series The F Word, the celebrity chef had a very near miss with death, after he lost his footing during a hike in Iceland.
Ramsay and his production crew had been visiting the country’s Westman Islands, when he fell as he descended a rock face. Ramsay hit the water, and his heavy boots only pulled him down further, causing the chef to panic — despite being a normally excellent swimmer. "I thought I was a goner," Ramsay later said. "They say cats have nine lives. I’ve had 12 already and I don’t know how many more I’ll have."
Eventually, Ramsay freed himself from his boots and swam back to the surface, having spent 45 seconds underwater. His crew, who threw him a rope and hauled him to safety, thought he had been killed. Ramsay was then treated for a knee injury at his hotel, before undergoing a medical examination in London.
Ramsay’s real ordeal, however, had yet to begin. "I didn’t tell [Tana] at first," Ramsay said. "I chickened out but she knew something was up. She was upset and extremely pissed off."
"When I was underwater all I could think of was Tana and my kids."
Gordon Ramsay watched his pet pigs be slaughtered
Despite holding what The Independent describes as a "reputation as the tough guy of British cuisine," Gordon Ramsay’s emotions were tested back in 2006 when his pet pigs were taken to be slaughtered. For a segment on The F Word, Ramsay’s pet sows, Trinny and Susannah, were killed — and Ramsay himself watched the whole process.
Looking "pale and shaken," the chef witnessed the pigs being stunned with an electric shock, shackled by their hind legs, and hoisted to the ceiling, before their throats were cut. The bodies were then placed into a scalding tank, shaved, disemboweled, and hung in a meat store.
Though Ramsay had raised the pigs just for this purpose, it was still difficult to go through. Describing the experience, Ramsay said: "Not pleasant. The whole operation is extraordinary. Quite emotional really. I felt sick as a f**king dog in there. Next I will think of something really nice to cook with them. But it’s not a nice experience."
Channel 4’s decision to air the slaughter was met with praise from the animal rights group PETA. In a statement, the organization said: "Paul McCartney once said that if slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian. If The F-Word slaughter turns out to be as graphic and gory as we hear it is, then these animals’ deaths will not have been completely in vain, since they will turn many compassionate people into vegetarians."
Trinny and Susannah were later served to diners in a Chelsea restaurant.
Gordon Ramsay had a feud with Jamie Oliver
Chefs tend to have pretty sizeable egos, so it’s probably not surprising that Gordon Ramsay has a long-standing feud with one of his greatest rivals: Jamie Oliver.
Over the years, the two chefs have made it very clear that they really, really don’t like each other, with each using their platforms to happily throw barbs and insults at the other. The feud began when Oliver publicly criticized Ramsay in the British press for making comments about the appearance of Tracy Grimshaw, an Australian TV presenter. In response, Ramsay called Oliver a "one-pot wonder."
A year later, Oliver told The Mirror that Tana Ramsay was a better cook than her husband. "’If I was to choose between Gordon Ramsay’s cookbook or Tana Ramsay’s," he said, "it would be Tana’s every time."
And things carried on like this for a long, long time. Accusations of jealousy, TV rants, and general mockery flew back and forth between the two, with things coming to a serious low when Oliver mentioned that he had five kids, while Ramsay had just four. That comment, though it may have been innocent, was made after Ramsay and his wife had suffered their miscarriage. Ramsay demanded an apology and vowed never to speak to Oliver again. He told the Radio Times: "Boys will always fight and butt heads but Tana was mortified. I mean really mortified."
Ramsay and Oliver claim to have since worked out their differences — fingers crossed it stays that way!
Gordon Ramsay regretted some of his famous insults
It’s taken a long time, but it appears that Gordon Ramsay has finally learned a lesson about the impact of his famous insults.
Although it sparked a long, vicious feud for which Ramsay has shown no remorse, the chef has since expressed his sincere regret for his original comments made against Australian TV personality Tracy Grimshaw.
Ramsay had originally showed a crowd of 3,000 people a photograph of a nude woman with a pig’s face, likening the image to Grimshaw. Aside from Jamie Oliver’s rebuke, Ramsay was also criticized by the Australian Prime Minister and his own mother for making the comments. Ramsay later told the Melbourne Herald Sun (via BBC) that it was her criticism that made him start to get the picture.
Ramsay then attempted to apologize to Grimshaw. "I made a strong attempt on Saturday to contact her," he said, "and I suppose like any petulant teenager, when you get ignored, the whole thing escalated. I tried to contact her, there was no response on Saturday, so I kept jibbing away at her. I wish I’d had a chance to put this fire out three days ago."
In an earlier response to Ramsay’s remarks, Grimshaw said: "Truly I wonder how many people would laugh if they were effectively described as an old, ugly pig. How is that funny exactly? And worse, it’s not even witty. I spent all yesterday thinking about how to respond and I honestly thought about saying nothing at all. But we all know bullies thrive when no one takes them on and I’m not going to sit meekly and let some arrogant narcissist bully me."