PUBLISHED: 16:01 EST, 14 July 2012 | UPDATED: 20:29 EST, 14 July 2012
- Marcus Samuelsson claims Ramsay made the remark in 2000 at London’s Lanesborough Hotel
- Samuelsson had come to cook at his restaurant alongside other top chefs
- The chef says Ramsay was irate because he had not named him when asked which chefs he admired
- Ramsay has strongly refuted the claim saying it is a ‘complete fabrication
- Samuelsson flew to LA in 2010 at Ramsay’s expense to audtion to be a Masterchef judge
- Man who handed Samuelsson the phone before the alleged remarks denies comments were made by Ramsay
Gordon Ramsay was last night embroiled in an extraordinary race row after allegedly calling a top chef a ‘f****** black b******’.
The stunning claim was made by Ethiopian-born Marcus Samuelsson in his new memoir Yes, Chef, published in America.
In his book Samuelsson, who has cooked for President Obama at the White House, alleged Ramsay rang him shortly after he arrived as a guest chef at London’s five-star Lanesborough Hotel in 2000.
Accusation: Swedish-born chef Marcus Samuelsson, left, claims Gordon Ramsay, right, called him a ‘f****** black b******’ during a telephone call while the pair were at the Lanesborough Hotel in 2000
Accused: Gordon Ramsay last night became embroiled in an extraordinary race row after allegedly calling a top chef a ‘f****** black b******’
He claims Ramsay was angry that Samuelsson had not named him when he was asked which chefs he admired.
‘On my second day I was cooking when a phone call came into the kitchen. The executive chef answered and with a puzzled look handed me the receiver.’
Samuelsson, 42, said he thought it was a call from a friend in New York, but added: ‘Instead, there was screaming. “How the f*** can you come to my f****** city and think you are going to be able to cook without even f****** referring to me?”
‘This went on for what seemed like five minutes. “I’m going to make sure you have a f****** miserable time here. This is my city, you hear? Good luck, you f****** black b******.” Then he hung up.
‘To be honest, though, only one phrase in his juvenile tirade unsettled me: When he called me a black b******. Actually, I didn’t give a f*** about the b****** part. But the black part p***** me off.’
The uncorroborated claim was strenuously denied by a furious Ramsay, who called it ‘a complete fabrication’, although Samuelsson – whose book was vetted by lawyers for publisher Random House – stuck by his story.
Reputation: Gordon Ramsay has a reputation for displaying an aggressive style in the kitchen, but he vehemently denies the claims made by Samuelsson in his new book Yes, Chef
Ramsay’s spokesman said: ‘We’re shocked by these completely false and extremely offensive accusations. Gordon has always had an amicable relationship with Mr Samuelsson, even suggesting him as a fellow judge when MasterChef started in the US two years ago.
This was an offer Mr Samuelsson readily entertained, travelling to LA twice to audition alongside Gordon, hours of which are captured on video, so we are understandably baffled as to why he would make these statements as well as publicly claim in a recent interview that their paths “haven’t crossed” since the alleged call.
‘We can only think this bizarre denial and these malicious comments have been made in order to garner publicity for Mr Samuelsson’s book and therefore we will pursue such actions as we deem appropriate against Mr Samuelsson and his publishers.’
Samuelsson refused to comment last week but a spokesman, who said they worked on behalf of publisher Random House, said: ‘Mr Samuelsson stands by his statement regarding Mr Ramsay and has no further comment.’
Meeting: Ramsay says he paid to fly Samuelsson to Los Angeles in February 2010 so he could audition for the U.S. version of Masterchef, pictured
A source familiar with the case said: ‘Gordon is boiling mad. You can accuse him of many things but not of being a racist. He has worked with, and created hundreds of jobs for people of all races, creeds and colours. He will fight all the way to clear his name.’
Samuelsson’s book explains why he failed to acknowledge Ramsay when asked which British chefs he admired.
He writes: ‘I had cooked with Gordon Ramsay once, a couple of years earlier, when we did a promotion in Chicago. There were a handful of chefs there . . . and Gordon was rude and obnoxious to all of them.
‘So when I was giving interviews in the lead-up to the Lanesborough event and was asked who inspired me, I thought the best way to handle it was to say nothing about him at all. I guess he was offended at being left out.’
He claims to have snubbed Ramsay since the alleged phone call. But Ramsay, 45, says that in February 2010 Samuelsson was happy to fly from his New York home to Los Angeles – at Ramsay’s expense – to audition for US MasterChef.
Footage of those auditions shows a relaxed Samuelsson chatting happily with Ramsay and joking for the cameras, although he failed to win the judging spot.
And Samuelsson’s claims about the phone call were disputed by the person he says handed him the Lanesborough phone, the hotel’s executive chef Paul Gayler.
Asked if he recalled Ramsay’s call or if Samuelsson complained about racist comments, Mr Gayler said: ‘I don’t remember that at all. I remember Samuelsson but I don’t remember him speaking to Ramsay. I don’t remember handing the phone to Marcus and saying, “This is Gordon,” no.’