Celeb chefs and namesake restaurants: arrogance run amok or marketing genius?
The Guardian is shaming celebrity chef Marco Pierre White for attaching his name to restaurants he rarely cooks in. “The idea of a famous chef exploiting their name in this way should be a thing of the past. No one, no matter how talented and clever, can assure the quality of a restaurant by remote control,” the British daily writes, smarting at the spread of MPW-branded venues. By comparison, Toronto’s top chefs operate differently, typically launching spin-offs and side projects as separate entities under discreet titles. Star chef Jamie Kennedy added his name to most of his projects, but he was deeply engaged with all of them (oddly, his surviving locavore locale is simply monikered Gilead Bistro). When his flagship Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar was sold, the new owners dropped the name—and name recognition—immediately. Bad boy Marc Thuet once attached his name to his ventures, as well, but now prefers provocative titles, like Bite Me and Conviction (Petite Thuet remains eponymous, albeit diminutive). And then there are Michael Stadtländer’s Eigensinn Farm and Haisai—names as organic as their menu items, but devoid of chef branding.
Perhaps White is simply a different kind of marketer than his Canadian counterparts, but if the empire of Gordon Ramsay offers any indication of the fate of namesake restaurants, perhaps he should heed The Guardian’s advice.