Gordon Ramsay Is No Stranger To Kitchen Nightmares Lawsuits

Celebrity chefs lead colorful lives, so it may not be surprising that several have faced lawsuits. Geoffrey Zakarian, Anne Burrell, Michael Chiarello, and others have been sued by their employees for alleged wage theft, and others have been accused of stealing tips, harassment, and even false imprisonment. While most of these lawsuits have just been a blip on the radar or barely affected their careers, others seem to have taken a life of their own. 

Whether you're a fan or can't stand him, no one can deny that Gordon Ramsay is a controversial figure. Between "Hell's Kitchen," "Kitchen Nightmares," and his colorful comments on social media, it's not unusual for someone to get offended by something Ramsay says or does. However, once in a while, frustration and anger at the chef get taken up a notch. 

Such is the case for Ramsay and the many scandals involving "Kitchen Nightmares" that have occurred since it first aired in 2007. While he was sued by A-Z Restaurants for restaurant sabotage and later by former The Fat Cow employees who claimed they were owed unpaid wages, it's his lawsuits involving "Kitchen Nightmares" restaurants Dillons and Oceana that raised eyebrows.

Claims of staged scenes

"Kitchen Nightmare's" first season featured Dillons Lounge (later renamed Purnima). In the episode, owner Mohammad Islam admits the restaurant is losing $20,000 to $50,000 a month, and Gordon Ramsay is horrified to find spoiled food, rat traps, cockroaches, and flies everywhere. General Manager Martin Hyde, whom Ramsay repeatedly tells is useless, ends up walking out. Hyde later sued Ramsay and Kitchen Nightmares for $1 million, stating he was humiliated and his reputation was ruined. He also wanted to prevent the episode from airing and to have any scenes he was in cut.

Hyde claimed that all the kitchen problems were pinned on him, even though he was only in charge of the front of the house and booking the restaurant's 100-seat cabaret theater. He alleged many things, such as a defective chair, rat droppings, and rotten hamburger meat, were staged to make the restaurant look worse than it was. He also claimed that the large crowd of diners were paid actors. "The idea of bringing moldy food in and planting actors is a joke," Ramsay responded to TV Week. "There's a man who got very scared and very embarrassed about his lack of professionalism."

The lawsuit was dismissed because Hyde's contract stated arbitration had to be completed first. In arbitration, he demanded $5 million in actual damages and $3 million in punitive damages, as well as an injunction.

Oceana Grill sued twice

Several years later, Gordon Ramsay and "Kitchen Nightmares" came to the New Orleans' Oceana Grill. Ramsay closed the restaurant after multiple rodents were found in a rat trap. He also threw up after smelling a container of shrimp and berated the chef after discovering that he'd served him food from the gross fridge.

Before the episode aired, the owners, brothers Rami and Moe Bader, sued. Worried about how their restaurant would be represented, they finally agreed to a settlement in which they would be paid $10,000 every time a clip of their show was aired, and an update about the restaurant would also be included. Everything seemed settled, but when a scene from the episode was posted on the "Kitchen Nightmares" Facebook page in 2018 with no update, Oceana sued again, claiming the show not only violated their agreement but producers "went beyond their creative liberty, manufacturing fake scenes [to] portray Oceana Grill in a false light" (via The Advocate).

After the lawsuit, "Kitchen Nightmares" stopped using clips from the episode. Currently, it's nearly impossible to find the episode. Oceana Grill is still going strong, with Rami posting regularly about the restaurant on his Instagram and positive reviews on Yelp and Google.