We had a chance to sit down in Ireland with celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay at his Gordon Ramsay at Powerscourt restaurant inside The Ritz-Carlton at Powerscourt, 30 minutes south of Dublin.
Known for his, shall we say, lack of patience with less than excellence, the Scottish chef supervises more than two dozen restaurants and gastropubs worldwide from Versailles to Boca Raton.
“People are much more interested and knowledgeable about food nowadays and there’s definitely been a move towards getting more involved with what’s going on in the kitchen,” says Ramsay.
Toward that end, his Powerscourt restaurant is undergoing a big makeover. A wine bar and charcuterie table has replaced a section of the formal dining room, providing a more casual environment for groups to mingle before dinner with stunning views of Sugar Loaf Mountain.
Chef Ramsay is also adding chefs tables here, where groups of 10 can dine stove-side, as well as two private dining rooms for executive dinners for up to 14/20 pax.
It’s a formula he’s applying at a lot of his establishments. Imagine a group cooking class where participants can prepare Michelin-rated meals with simple ingredients, like a roast sirloin of beef with shallots and wild mushrooms.
“We’ve tried not to overcomplicate. We are doing what we do best using amazing local, seasonal ingredients and letting them speak for themselves on the plate,” says Ramsay. “I think it’s fantastic that groups now have the opportunity to get a glimpse of what it’s like to be in a fine dining restaurant kitchen. We’ve got chefs’ tables at our restaurants and also dining rooms where you have a great view of the kitchen, so people can interact as much or as little as they want to.”
Chef Ramsay, all of this sounds expensive for groups, no?
“The trend has shifted slightly from groups being scared to spend on fine dining, to those willing to try alternative options. We know that the term ‘fine dining’ can be off-putting because of the price,” he says.
For larger groups, he suggests planners work with restaurant staff and event coordinators to put together meetings within a specific budget that allows for a fine dining ambiance.
“There are lunch menus at several of our restaurants that give guests an amazing dining experience, but at a more affordable price point,” he says.
The London West Hollywood
Closer to home, Ramsay oversees all F&B operations at The London West Hollywood in Los Angeles. The 223-suite hotel provides a plethora of group spaces, including an 80-seat private dining room at Gordon Ramsay at The London restaurant, as well as five 15-seat private rooms. Outside, there’s the 7,000-sf Hampton Court lawn and 3,800-sf rooftop pool and sun deck.
There, the glamour and sophistication iconic of Hollywood is an attraction for groups, who with outdoor and indoor options can get a 360-degree view of the Los Angeles skyline and the Hollywood Hills. The ambiance is modern and stylish with a décor of sober colors like black, brown and beige, evoking a sense of elegance and sassy movie star chic.
The food also plays its part. Menus include wild mushroom risotto with mascarpone cheese and tarragon, or petit filet mignon with caramelized onions, mushrooms and truffle fries.
We were curious to see how Chef Ramsay’s vision is perceived in Southern California. So we checked in with Summer Stearns, Director of Special Events at The London West Hollywood, for a little Q+A.
Summer, how does catering overseen by Mr. Ramsay’s chefs add to the cachet of a group event? What has been some positive feedback from planners in the past?
“Planners love the distinction that Gordon’s name automatically brings to an event. We are among only a handful of venues in L.A. that offer the talents of a celebrity chef for groups. Because of this partnership, we’re able to offer special extras, like signed cookbooks and menus, or Gordon Ramsay signature aprons, which can be used as gifts for VIP’s or sponsors. We also receive a lot of positive feedback about our service and staff, who are trained within Gordon Ramsay standards to be accommodating and efficient without being too obtrusive.”
How does the variety of elegant venues for F&B at TLWH compare to other LA properties?
“Our location service really sets the hotel apart. We provide world-class, a la minute catering, meaning everything is prepared fresh in the moment rather than being prepped ahead of time and held for service. This level of culinary service is not common, especially in hotels.”
What are a couple of the most popular venues for groups and why?
“Our most popular venue for groups is our Rooftop West, which is a dynamic outdoors space located on our 10th floor. It can host up to 350 for a reception. Planners love the panoramic views of the Sunset Strip and Hollywood Hills, and the garden feel of the space, which has plenty of foliage and greenery. The Rooftop West can be tented or left open, which is really appealing. Our private dining rooms within the Gordon Ramsay restaurant are also popular for smaller groups from 10-60 people, because they have such a warm ambiance, almost like a traditional English salon.”
What have been some special past events that have incorporated any type of entertainment?
“We’ve been lucky to host some fabulous events at the hotel. Groups have brought in entertainment such as Cirque du Soleil aerial acrobats that performed over our rooftop pool, synchronized swimming teams, live music with a band stage and dance floor set-up across the pool, painted models on display as live art, fire-breathers, and acoustic performances from top rock artists, due to our proximity to the Sunset Strip.”
What are a few of your favorite dishes that planners can provide to groups?
“Planners love the creativity and fun that Chef Ramsay’s team brings to the table, like our Fish n’ Chips station, which offers golden fried cod presented in silver cuplets with ‘rags’ (tabloid magazines) as a Hollywood twist. The Kobe beef sliders and nitrogen ice cream stations with smoking bowls of ice cream are also favorites among event goers. For entrees, his wild mushroom risotto and braised short ribs are not to be missed. Chef Ramsay’s imagination extends beyond food. Gordon likes to work with mixologists to create cocktail and hors d’oeuvres pairings such as Kumamoto oysters on the half-shell with a roasted bean and horseradish vodka martini. Savory cocktails are definitely a trend right now!”