MONTREAL (CN) – Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay claims in court that his partner and owner of the Laurier BBQ restaurant defamed him after public quarrels about the restaurant’s relaunch.
In his complaint in Quebec Superior Court, Ramsay claims Danny Lavy, owner of Laurier BBQ, repudiated a license agreement for use of Ramsay’s name and likeness in association with the restaurant, which opened under the name Laurier Gordon Ramsay in August 2011.
Lavy announced on Feb. 15 that the restaurant was severing ties with Ramsay. He told the Montreal Gazette that Ramsay was “too busy to come to the restaurant” and “there was nothing they [Ramsay’s team] did we couldn’t have done on our own.” Lavy also said, “We got nothing that was ever a ‘wow’ dish,” but just “a few tweaks on what we already had.”
On the same day, the restaurant’s name was changed to Laurier 1936, for the year it opened.
Ramsay claims the agreement was actually terminated on Feb. 11, due to defendants’ repudiatory breach of contract.
Under the agreement, Ramsay says, he had no obligation to provide any management or operating advice to Laurier BBQ.
He claims that the restaurant’s overseers “demonstrated a fundamental lack of understanding of the parties’ obligations under the agreement.”
Ramsay says he went beyond his stipulated obligations by giving advice and providing a consulting chef weeks before the relaunch.
The restaurant was a success, with gross sales of $2.3 million from Aug. 10, 2011 to Jan. 15, and net sales of $2.3 for the same period, Ramsay says in his complaint.
The dispute between the men was complicated when Lavy and his kitchenware company Sensio, which distributes Ramsay’s trademark kitchen products in Canada and the United States, sued Ramsay in Cook County Court, Ill., alleging breach of a sublicense agreement.
Ramsay claims in his new complaint that Lavy used his position as controlling shareholder of the restaurant “to induce it to breach the agreement as part of the wider fall-out between the parties, rather than because of any genuine belief that plaintiff is in breach of the agreement.”
Ramsay claims Lavy set out to end the license agreement on an “improper basis and for false and fallacious reasons” and that his reputation suffered and continues to suffer due to statements made by Lavy.
Ramsay, known for his brutal comments on TV shows on which he tries to improve other people’s restaurants, is a married father of four who lives in London. He has hosted the TV shows “Hell’s Kitchen,” “Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares,” and “Master Chef.”
He seeks costs of suit; $161,000 in license fees, plus interest; $23,425 for travel expenses; $250,000 in “moral damages” and $250,000 punitive damages “for the defamatory comments made against plaintiff in the media.”
He is represented by Borden Ladner Gervais.