A delegate who questioned whether the country's leading chefs were diluting the quality of their product by expanding and opening several restaurants provoked a lively debate during the "Question Time" session at this year's Chef Conference.
Gordon Ramsay, who has recently announced plans to run restaurants at Claridge's hotel in London and at One Devonshire Gardens in Glasgow, in addition to his eponymous restaurant in Chelsea, fiercely defended the strategy.
"Going forward and expanding is creating opportunities for young talent in this industry, not suppressing and witholding it," he said. "I invest in the young talent that has been through my brigade and I don't see anything negative in that.
"I've a young Scot who has been in my kitchen for the past three years and his excitement when I signed the Glasgow deal, enabling him to become chef-patron at the restaurant at One Devonshire Gardens, was unbelievable. How can that be negative?"
Ramsay said that he believed Gary Rhodes was similarly driven to expand by a desire to create opportunities for talented youngsters who work for him.
"He's obsessed with his team and works seven days a week for them. He sees it as a great way to go forward."
Stuart Rhodes, team leader hospitality and catering at Harrogate College, said he also saw the expansion by Ramsay, Rhodes and other big-name chefs as extremely positive.