“I’m the happiest chef in the world — but I am not f*****g done yet”: In conversation with Gordon Ramsay

The claws are out for everyone's favourite sweary chef...

The first golden cat went missing on the Monday. By Friday afternoon, you knew the place was going to be a hit. Casual theft of this kind is a side effect of every successful restaurant in town, after all. Bibendum, down on plummy Sloane Avenue, used to churn through hundreds of chubby, Michelin Man ashtrays a month for most of the eighties.

Chef Tom Aikens almost came to physical blows with a hedge funder in 2004 when, after a £600 dinner, he accused her of stealing a silver coffee spoon from his eponymous two-Michelin-starred Fulham restaurant. “I’m standing there with my Celine dress and Cartier bag,” the customer screamed as Tom barred the exit. “Do I look like the sort of person who would steal a spoon ?”‘ Short answer: yes.

Over at Quaglino’s, during its louche 1990s resurrection, it was the art deco, Q-shaped ashtrays that went for a five finger discount — 25,000 of them, apparently, wandered up that grand staircase in the space of a decade (but then they were designed by Sir Terence Conran himself and did double up, rather nicely, as salt-and-pepper dishes). At Virgin Atlantic it was always the very sweet engine-shaped pepper pots in the business class lounge that went astray (in a typical quirk of Bransonian flair, the company eventually began engraving the words “Pinched from Virgin Atlantic” on the base.) Rihanna likes to steal glassware from Nobu, apparently.

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