'The rents here are terrifying!' Gordon Ramsay feels the heat as Hong Kong restaurant opens

Celebrity chef says heat of city's high rents will push restaurant to success … or else

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 September, 2014, 4:16pm
UPDATED : Friday, 19 September, 2014, 5:14pm

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay says he hopes his new restaurant in Hong Kong is a success – because the “terrifying” and “colossal” rents in the city mean his “ass is on the line”.

Ramsay, whose Bread Street Kitchen & Bar opened on Thursday on Wyndham Street in Central, said he was ready for the challenge despite higher rents than in London.

“Let me tell you, rents are cheaper in London. In this business, we don’t like to see any restaurant go down, there’s nothing worse,” the British chef told reporters gathered in Hong Kong.

“We’re not the only restaurateurs in the city faced with such colossal rents. That helps you focus on the [quality]. It makes you work harder to be a success, it makes you strive for consistency. It’s the same in New York, Paris and London – this rent issue is not going to slow down.”

Ramsay, who also announced plans to open an eatery in Macau next year, said he chose the Lan Kwai Fong area of Central because it is modern yet traditional.

“This area is Hong Kong at its best. It has the humbleness of what food stands for in this country, as opposed to the big conglomerates in a big, flash setting,” said Ramsay, who has 25 restaurants around the world and is rumoured to be worth US$120 million.

“There’s something chic about rubbing shoulders with the kind of everyday business, where you walk up three flights of stairs, past two hairdressing salons, and get to a restaurant on the top floor of a block of flats – it’s extraordinary. I like the image of this area.

“But the rents are terrifying! This has to work, or my ass is on the line,” he added.

The chef arrived in Hong Kong on Wednesday morning, delayed by one day by Typhoon Kalmaegi. “It’s been a magical 36 hours,” he says. “We had a meal at the China Club, and then a phenomenal meal last night at Café Gray – wonderful views and then way too much champagne. I was the only one who turned up on time this morning.

Ramsay is opening BSK – the original of which is in London – in collaboration with the Dining Concepts restaurant group. His television rival Jamie Oliver recently opened a branch of his Jamie’s Italian chain in Causeway Bay.

I'm Scottish by birth but it would break my heart to see it divide as a unit 
Gordon Ramsay

In Hong Kong as Scotland voted on independence, Ramsay said: "I'm Scottish by birth but it would break my heart to see it divide as a unit.

"There's so much Scottishness in me … and I understand the importance of individuality," he added, saying it was not his job to stop any move to break away.

"The only issue I have is that it's irreversible. … The Union Jack stands for Britishness, Scottishness, Irishness and Welshness - and there's something quite cool about having a united front. It's going to be interesting."

Read a full interview with Gordon Ramsay in the September 25 issue of 48 Hours.