The Australian prime minister, Kevin Rudd, on Wednesday needed just two four-letter words, and the odd shorter word, to convey his view of the infamously foul-mouthed celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, describing him as a “new form of low life”.
Rudd’s comments follow an escalating four-day war of words that has ensued since Ramsay mocked the Australian television journalist Tracy Grimshaw on Saturday.
By his own blistering standards, Ramsay was arguably moderate at the weekend: he showed an audience of several thousand at the Melbourne Good Food and Wine show a doctored photograph of a woman naked on all fours, with multiple breasts and a pig’s face, announcing that it depicted Grimshaw, who had interviewed him on the previous night.
“That’s Tracy Grimshaw,” he said. “I had an interview with her yesterday, holy crap. She needs to see Simon Cowell’s Botox doctor.”
He also suggested the presenter was a lesbian — producing an instant response on the Samesame gay and lesbian website: “Ramsay is just a little snot with no breeding or class”.
Ramsay’s agent scrambled to explain that the remarks were a joke, and that Ramsay and Grimshaw were friends — which is not how she sees it.
“Obvious Gordon thinks that any woman who doesn’t find him attractive must be gay. For the record, I don’t. And I’m not,” Grimshaw said on her Monday night show.
She said Ramsay had only agreed to be interviewed on condition she not mention his private life — allegations of a long-running affair made headlines last year.
“Gordon Ramsay made me promise not to ask on Friday about his private life. He then got on stage on Saturday and made some very clear and uninformed insinuations about mine.”
She said later in a Fairfax radio interview that she only responded to the insults because her mother was so upset, “so I thought dammit, I’ll have a bit of a crack back at him”.
“We all know that bullies thrive when no one takes them on, and I’m not going to sit meekly and let some arrogant narcissist bully me.”
Even more witheringly, she suggested: “The guy’s sort of on the ropes in many ways … his marriage must have been put under enormous pressure at the end of last year, his business has clearly been under enormous pressure, and his shows don’t rate as well as they used to.”
The deputy prime minister, Julia Gillard, chipped in: “I think what he should do is confine himself to the kitchen and make nice things for people to eat rather than make public comments about others.”
Then today the prime minister waded in: “All I could describe his remarks as reflecting is a new form of low life. I just think that’s off and offensive. Good on Tracy Grimshaw for coming out and giving him a left upper cut.”
Despite announcing last year that he was banning swearing, Ramsay is believed to have set an all-time record in February when he scarcely had time to draw breath between using the F-word 132 times in a two-hour episode of Ramsay’s Great British Nightmare, as he lambasted the staff of two failing restaurants. The staff responded with 50 F-words of their own.
His ever-expanding food empire — 21 restaurants and pubs in the United Kingdom, United States, France, Japan, Dubai and the Czech Republic — has faltered in the recession, with many restaurants cutting opening hours.
Last year his new Paris restaurant at Versailles, which has won two Michelin stars, failed to impress the French critic François Simon, who said it resembled Ramsay restaurants from London to Tokyo and called it “a cuisine of duplication … Xerox food”.
His first New York venture also attracted some ferocious reviews, one complaining of “leathery lobster ravioli”, another comparing it to “cruise-ship catering”.
Although he has won a lifetime total of 14 Michelin stars for different ventures, he lost a couple last year when his former protégé and friend Marcus Wareing broke with his empire, saying he did not care if they never spoke again.
Ramsay has just opened a new version of the Pétrus restaurant, which Wareing ran — five minutes walk from the Berkeley hotel where Wareing now cooks. – guardian.co.uk