Daily Mail links Gordon Ramsay to Chef suicide

I read this in the dead-tree version of the Daily Mail today and was struck at just how accusatory the article was: ‘Chef told by Gordon Ramsay that his business was about to ‘swim down the Hudson’ is found dead after jump into river‘. It seems to me that the Daily Mail is implying that the two events are linked and the article – written by two people: Tom Leonard and Daniel Bates – continues in the same vain:

The scene over lunch in the Campania dining room in suburban New Jersey was classic Gordon Ramsay.

The British chef and presenter of Kitchen Nightmares tore strips off the Italian restaurant’s hapless owner and self-taught chef, Joseph Cerniglia, ensuring maximum effect by doing it in front of customers.

‘Why did you decide to go into business if you haven’t got a clue how to run a business?’ Ramsay, 43, asked him loudly.

As the relentless bombardment hit home, he said: ‘Are you feeling upset now?’

Mr Cerniglia replied he was ‘getting really upset’, to which Ramsay said: ‘Thank **** for that. Hopefully, I’m getting through to you now.’

The notoriously blunt, three-starred Michelin chef likes to point out to the restaurateurs whose ability he monsters that he has only their best interests at heart.

He may do, but his warning to Mr Cerniglia that his business was ‘about to ****ing swim down the Hudson’ has come back to haunt him after the 39-year-old father of three’s body was found floating in the river.

As if to make things even clearer the article continues:

It is not the first time that a chef featured in one of Ramsay’s three American shows – often more confrontational than their British counterparts – has met such a tragic end.

Rachel Brown, a 41-year-old chef from Dallas, competed in 2006 in Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen. She later said she had no regrets about appearing in the show, although she didn’t win. In May the following year, she was found dead in her home after shooting herself.

Furthermore, the article keeps making reference to the stress that Joseph Cerniglia was being put under during the show and in particular during his interaction with Ramsay, but the writers purposely keep the timeline hidden so that you cannot put the appearance of the deceased into any clear context. For example, the article says the following:

Although neighbours said Mr Cerniglia’s restaurant in Fair Lawn had been doing brisk business, his wife Melissa and mother Pat had expressed fears to Ramsay about the stress he was under.

‘People like us put everything on the line for a dream. If this business fails, we will lose everything,’ Mrs Cerniglia tearfully told Ramsay during the show.

Her husband had sounded similarly desperate, describing his debts as ‘overwhelming’.

This clearly implies that the reason for the apparent suicide was the debt of the business and the prospect of failure faced during the show and highlighted by Ramsay. Except for one small detail the Daily Mail saves until the end of the article: Joseph Cerniglia appeared on the show in 2007. As the Daily Mail goes onto explain:

In Ramsay’s defence, he and his camera crew returned to Campania a year after his first visit and he heaped praise on its transformation.

A delighted Mr Cerniglia said it had been ‘nothing short of a small miracle’, as customers had almost doubled while his profits had improved by serving smaller portions…

Joseph Cerniglia’s brother-in-law last night praised Ramsay’s approach during the show.

Kevin Wynn, 43, said: ‘In no way did Gordon have anything to do with Joe’s death. When we were filming I found him to be nothing but a gentleman and I have the utmost respect for him.

‘The lessons he gave us such as keeping your food costs under control have stood us in good stead and we were just about to start a refurbishment.

As his brother-in-law makes clear: they place no blame on Ramsay’s intervention in 2007 at all, and considering Ramsay’s intervention was described by the deceased as ‘nothing short of a miracle’ it seems as if the Daily Mail have produced not just another utterly misleading headline, but one which seems to border on being libellous. The article could also be considered libellous considering how it spends a great deal of time implying that Ramsay and the show – only revealed to have been filmed in 2007 right at the end of the article – was responsible for the apparent suicide. This seems even more implicit that the final reveal is prefixed by: ‘In Ramsay’s defence…’, which clearly suggests that the first part of the article was firmly placing the blame upon Ramsay.

I could not find the article on the Mail website and nor could I find it by searching the Mail website. In the end I had to find it via Google, which suggests that the Mail might be attempting to bury the story somewhat. It will be interesting to see whether Ramsay contacts the Mail over this, given that the article seems to flirt with defamation (‘the communication of a statement that makes a claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individual, business, product, group, government, or nation a negative image’ [Wikipedia]. You do not have to like Ramsay’s style or agree with it to realise that being implicitly and unsubtly accused of causing someone to commit suicide (along with the aside that this isn’t the first time someone featured in the show has committed suicide) is very unpleasant indeed – and typical of the style and wanton aggression of the Daily Mail.

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