Gordon Ramsay accused of cultural appropriation over Asian restaurant

Sejal Sukhadwala‏, a London-based food writer, suggested Lucky Cat appeared to be a pastiche of Asian influences, saying: “He [Ramsay] claimed to be setting up an “authentic” Asian restaurant – that’s the main issue here. Apart from all these issues around Lucky Cat… surely Pan Asian-fusion is really out-of-date?”Kimberly Yam, an Asian-American journalist, wrote: “Many people aren’t exactly happy with the chef’s claim to deliver ‘authentic’ Asian cuisine at the restaurant, especially without an Asian chef at the helm.”But Ramsay, whose restaurants hold seven Michelin stars, has defended his new venture, saying that head chef Ben Orpwood has spent several months in south Asia studying the region’s cooking.“He’s done the research,” he said. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. He has described his latest venture as inspired by the “culture, flavours and the incredible cooking” of Asia.But Gordon Ramsay has now found himself caught up in a row over cultural appropriation after his new restaurant was accused of tokenism and lazy stereotyping.The award-winning chef is opening Lucky Cat, which he calls “an Asian eating house” inspired by 1930s Tokyo, describing it as part of his “long time vision”.During one of the venue’s preview nights last week diners were treated to dishes such as mini wagyu pastrami burger with ‘Asian’ chilli jam, English asparagus with a smoked ponzu emulsion and smoked duck breast with plum and Japanese nashi pear.Ramsay said on the night: “I’ve toured and worked in much of Asia over the years and the culture, the flavours, and the incredible cooking never fail to inspire me. We’ve got a great team behind this project and we’re ready to bring something really special to London this summer.”However, critics have been quick to point out that the restaurant, which will open in Mayfair, does not appear to have any Asian chefs and seems to mangle together Chinese and Japanese cooking with little proper appreciation for either, distinct, culture.Angela Hui, a restaurant writer, who attended the preview night, said: “I was the only east Asian person in a room full of 30-40 journalists and chefs.”Writing on the food website Eater she added: “It was nothing if not a real life Ramsay kitchen nightmare. . . which felt more seedy nightclub than Asian eating house. Or, perhaps, that is Ramsay’s vision of a vibrant (nee “authentic”) Asian eating house.”Others have also been critical.George Chen, a Chinese-American chef and restaurateur, wrote on Twitter: “Is the famous Chef going to curse at his white cooks in Asian or what?  Every chef has a right to interpret another cuisine but the integrity and culture (read authenticity-albeit I hate that term) needs to be studied in depth and not whitewashed for marketing purposes!”Mr Chen also took issue with the name of the restaurant and the naming of a cocktail Lucky Geisha.“And what’s with all the ‘lucky’ naming deal…it’s like Charlie Chan stereotypes all over again.” What a night at the @LuckyCatGR pop up ! Can’t wait to see you guys there this summer #luckycatmayfair pic.twitter.com/OM01pkZnGn— Gordon Ramsay (@GordonRamsay) April 10, 2019 Ramsay also took issue with Ms Hui’s description on social media of Mr Orpwood’s wife as a “token Asian wife”.Writing on his Instagram page he said: “It is fine to not like my food, but prejudice and insults are not welcome, and Ms Hui’s comments around my Executive Chef and his wife, calling her a “token Asian wife”, were personal and hugely disrespectful.”

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