Guess how many celebrity chefs actually work in their own restaurants?

Absent: Gordon Ramsey

Celebrity chefs are everywhere: on TV, selling recipe books or endorsing gadgets. Anything, in fact, that sells their name.

But if you eat at their restaurants, will they be doing what made them famous — cooking?

Some big names do not claim to chop their own onions. Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurants were founded to give disadvantaged young people an opportunity to cook, and he is no longer involved in their day-to-day running.

But is it too much to expect Gordon Ramsay to be at his Mayfair restaurant now and then, especially when it’s called Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s?

Certainly, his protege Marcus Wareing thinks so.

He has criticised his mentor for not spending enough time in the kitchen and pledged that when his own restaurant, Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley, opens, he’ll be in the kitchen.

So how many of our best-known culinary experts spend any time at the stove?

To find out, I tried to book a table when the chef is actually rattling the pots and pans.

The responses were surprising.

  • A Touch of Novelli at the White Horse

  • Hertfordshire gastro pub co-owned by Jean-Christophe Novelli

Would it be possible to tell me when Jean-Christophe will be in the kitchen?

He doesn't actually cook in the restaurant.

He is one of the owners and oversees the food side. He is in Hollywood filming a new TV show and we are not sure when he will be back.

He does visit when he is in the country, but it’s not scheduled because he is busy with his other projects.

Jean-Christophe does, however, choose who works in his kitchens and so we can promise his very high standards when you visit.

  • Marco Pierre White's Yew Tree Inn

    Elusive: Marco Pierre White

  • Berkshire dining pub

Is it possible to book a night when Marco is running the kitchen?

He doesn't actually run the kitchen here, I’m afraid.

He’s here regularly, but he’ll just turn up.

He’ll go into the kitchen and show the boys what he wants, but he doesn’t cook here any more.

How often is he there?

Two or three times a week, but we don’t know when. He’ll just turn up. There’s nothing sinister: he’s not checking up on us or anything.

Does he have a big hand in the menu?

Yes, they’re all his menus.

  • Gordon Ramsey's at Claridges

  • The F-Word star’s restaurant in the Mayfair hotel

Is it possible to book a night when Gordon is running the kitchen?

Unfortunately, I can’t. He’s got a really busy schedule, so it’s impossible to say where he’ll be at any given time.

How often would Gordon get involved?

I’m not sure. He’s been opening his new restaurants in Hollywood, so I wouldn’t really be able to say.

It’s completely hit and miss, to be honest. If he does come in, he will always pop his head round the door and say hello to the guests.

  • Le Manoir Aux Quat' Saisons

  • Michelin-starred Oxfordshire hotel and restaurant owned by Raymond Blanc

Will Raymond be running the kitchens on any given night?

No I'm afraid not. He doesn’t cook in the main kitchen any more. He is not here every day because he is just the chef-patron.

He comes to the hotel once or twice a week and checks the kitchen to see if things are still running as he wants them to. His executive head chef runs the kitchen for him.

  • The Seafood Restaurant

    Missing: Rick Stein

  • Rick Stein’s eatery in Padstow, Cornwall

When does Rick run the kitchen?

He doesn't, to be honest. Obviously when he’s around, he is in the restaurant, but he doesn’t actually cook.

He has a hand in everything that goes on, bar the cooking.

To be honest, he hasn’t done it for the past three years, purely because of work with the books and he’s always away doing a new TV series.

  • Notting Hill Bar and Grill

  • Branch of Antony Worrall Thompson’s chain

Are there particular nights when Antony runs the kitchen?

No. Not any more because he has six restaurants and TV work takes up his time. He is very much involved in the planning.

Most of it comes from him, and he puts it to us and we give our thoughts.

  • The Fat Duck, Bray

    Around: Heston Blumanthal

  • Heston Blumenthal’s Michelin-starred Berkshire restaurant

Can I book a night when Heston is running the kitchen?

Most of the time Heston is around, but the thing is that with his schedule it’s very last minute. I can’t tell you for sure that he will definitely be there.

I've been told celebrity chefs do cook in their own restaurants

Hester does. It’s still his pride and joy. But there are always bits and pieces that he gets called out to.

He is around for the majority of the evening services, but obviously it’s not something we can confirm 100 per cent.

Heston’s priority is the restaurant, but on the odd occasion he does have to do other things.

Would he be around two or three times a week?

Oh, if not more.

  • Smiths of smithfield

  • Headed by Masterchef judge John Torode

Are there particular nights when John runs the kitchen?

Not really, no. He has other interests as well, such as Masterchef. I can’t guarantee a night when he’s going to be there.

  • Rhodes W1

    Away: Gary Rhodes

  • West End restaurant where Gary Rhodes is chef-patron

Can I book a table when Gary will be working?

Unfortunately, Gary will be away from the kitchen for a while due to a new book he is launching.

He was here last night, but he will not be in for a few months. We haven’t been told how long.

On average, would he come in a couple of times a week?


  • Locanda Locatelli

  • West End restaurant owned by BBC star Giorgio Locatelli

Can I book a night when Giorgio is running the kitchens?

Well, he actually has a head chef who runs the kitchens. He may be in, but we don’t know when he is coming in or not.

So he doesn’t cook in the restaurant, but he is actively involved?

If they need a hand, he’ll obviously get stuck in. He is in most evenings, but we don’t know if he is in every single evening.

  • Zilli Fish

  • Part of Aldo Zilli’s Soho chain

Can I come on a night when Aldo is running the kitchen?

He's not here at the moment — his wife had a baby just a few days ago, so I don’t know when he will come back.

You can book if you want, but I don’t know when he will be here.

  • The River Café

  • West London media hangout founded by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers

When you reopen after your renovation, would it be possible to book for a night when Rose and Ruth will be running the kitchen?

Rose and Ruth will be in the kitchen as much as possible once we reopen.

However, their rota is confirmed only at the start of the week, so I would not recommend waiting to book around them.

It is likely one of them will be here, but I am sure you can appreciate we cannot guarantee it at this time.

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