Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has made his reputation on his outsize personality as much, it seems, as his food. On his numerous television shows, he is loud, profane, in control -- and very much in-your-face.
So when the volatile host of "Hell's Kitchen," "Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares" and, most recently, "The F-Word" opened his first Los Angeles restaurant, Gordon Ramsay at the London West Hollywood, last Tuesday night, was Ramsay screaming at his staff in the kitchen? Was he examining every polished plate before it went out the door?
No, there was a trim Ramsay-shaped hole in the enormous, gleaming kitchens of the newly remodeled hotel just off the Sunset Strip. And a very loud silence emanating from it.
Ramsay wasn't there. Nor will he be until today.
At the helm on opening night was -- no, not the winner of "Hell's Kitchen," who will join the staff this summer -- chef de cuisine Andy Cook, a 31-year-old native of Birmingham, England, who is a veteran of Gordon Ramsay at the Conrad Tokyo. And overseeing the operation was New Zealander Josh Emett, chef de cuisine of Gordon Ramsay at the London New York, who has been with Ramsay since 2000 and who will continue to oversee the L.A. restaurant from New York.
The two were joined by pastry chef Carl Bertka, half a dozen sous chefs and three sushi chefs -- with a total kitchen staff of 50, says Emett. (That's not a staff; that's an army.)
Maybe Ramsay was busy -- filming a show, running an empire -- or maybe he's learned (gasp) how to delegate.
Reached by phone, Ramsay said: "I was in town, the week before. I don't go in with guns blazing; to make a restaurant settle down, it's far better that I'm not breathing down their necks." The chef, who flies to Los Angeles for the official launch of his restaurant tonight, dismissed questions about his presence. "I'm a control freak; there's nothing long distance about it."
Asked whether he yells over the phone, Ramsay laughed. "If I did, I wouldn't tell you."
* Mall mania: Chef Charlie Palmer has opened Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale's South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa. And another Comme Ça is in the works, says chef David Myers -- across the street from the shopping center and set to open in November. Charlie Palmer, 3333 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714) 352-2525, charliepalmer.com; Comme Ça, 695 Town Center Drive, Suite 170, Costa Mesa, commecarestaurant.com.
* When in doubt, make it a Cobras & Matadors. Restaurateur Steven Arroyo's Goat (formerly Happi Songs Asian Tavern) is now a Cobras & Matadors (Arroyo's third), and Michael Ruiz, who closed his shop Ingredients in Montrose, is executive chef of all three Cobras. 460 La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 936-7622.
* In Glendale: Palate Food & Wine has opened; Patina alum Octavio Becerra serves up potted Berkshire pork, pickled peaches, and baby lamb with escarole. Mexican restaurant Frida is open in the Americana at Brand (more mall action). Palate Food & Wine, 933 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale, (818) 662-9463, palatefoodwine.com; Frida, 750 Americana Way, Glendale, (818) 551-1666, fridarestaurant.com.