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Industry reacts to Gordon Ramsay's attack on unseasonal menus

09 May 2008 by

Gordon Ramsay's attack on restaurants that offer unseasonable produce on their menus is already provoking reaction from the hospitality community.

The celebrity chef has called for legislation banning restaurants for using out-of-season produce with fines for chefs that do.

But Herbert Berger, chef patron at London restaurant 1 Lombard Street, insisted that Ramsay's attack on the restaurant industry was over the top.

"While I am in full agreement that we should use as much local produce on our menus as we can, we have to accept that availability and seasonality means this is not always possible - saying restaurants should be fined is a bit like cracking a walnut with a sledge hammer," he said.

"We grow some of the finest fruit and vegetables in Britain and local produce forms an integral part of my menu, but as long as consumers can shop for exotic fruits and vegetables all year round, they will demand this from our restaurants."

Berger said that Ramsay's attack was unfairly focused, suggesting the finger should instead be pointed at the supermarkets which, he said, are fuelling consumer demand for global produce.

Jason Leek, managing director of Compass Group's Restaurant Associates, which has just announced a partnership with Gordon Ramsay Holdings, said from a contract catering point of view legislation wasn't required as customers were increasingly demanding seasonality on menus.

Leek said: There's a strong trend towards seasonality on menus, it's what customers want and as a business we are becoming increasingly aware of environmental issues and taking steps to address them."

However, Ramsay received support from Nigel Godwin, head chef at Equilibrium restaurant at Fawsley Hall in Northamptonshire.

"It drives me mental when I see that people can't even be bothered to source local seasonal products, it's all part of the teaching process that we pass on to our young brigades," he said.

"One of the greatest things a young chef can learn is the quality of a product and when to bloody use it."

Seasonal produce: What it means to chefs and restaurateurs >>

Read more on Gordon Ramsay here >>

By Daniel Thomas

E-mail your comments to Daniel Thomas here.

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