Pearls of Wisdom: Jason Atherton

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Gordon ramsay holdings, Chef, Gordon ramsay, Culinary art

Jason Atherton
Jason Atherton
Jason Atherton is chef/patron at Maze, part of Gordon Ramsay Holdings. There are four Maze restaurants in London, New York and Capetown, but three more outposts are planned for Australia and the Middle East

Jason Atherton is chef/patron at Maze, part of Gordon Ramsay Holdings. There are four Maze restaurants in London, New York and Capetown, but three more outposts are planned for Australia and the Middle East.

I’ve been with Gordon for 10 years now.​He’s had a huge impact on my career. Most importantly, he taught me how to run a restaurant and how to train a brigade to run my restaurant when I’m not there.

There are a broader range of culinary influences at play ​in my new book; it’s for the home cook but it does draw on my style of cooking at the restaurants.

We shut Maze in Prague even though we won a star​ - we just couldn’t make money. I’m not above saying we made mistakes and we lost a six-figure sum. It is what it is.

We should champion our chefs.​ John-Georges Vongerichten opens up restaurants all over the world and he’s treated like a god in the US. We should be proud of Gordon and what he’s achieved.

I want to make sure that colleges give chefs an understanding of how restaurants work financially.​ I’m not negative about education and I will work to improve things when I have more time on my hands.

Juan Mari Arzak is still passionate and pushing boundaries at 70.​ I hope I’m like that when I get to that age.

People should rewind the tape back to the late 90s. Gordon was the most exciting chef Britain had ever produced.​ His cooking at Aubergine and Royal Hospital Road was revolutionary. Now people are jumping on his back because he is a success.

Yoshihiro Narisawa really impressed me at Madrid Fusion.​ I don’t how much soil soup you’d sell in Britain, but he’s a very intelligent and creative young chap.

Maze New York has been tough.​ It makes money, but we have to fight tooth and nail to keep it going. It’s a very competitive arena and staff are incredibly expensive.

The two Maze restaurants in London are flying, ​our yearly turnover is £11m. But our rent is £120,000 a month and our staff costs are £250,000 per month.

I’ll chuck myself off a bridge ​if I hear another chef say ‘when I’m not here I shut my restaurant’. I respect it, but it’s about training. You need to show people how to run it how you run it when you’re there.

Angela Hartnett is a brand in her own right now, ​she’s one of the best female chefs the UK has ever produced. She’s good for the image of the industry – young girls will be encouraged to do catering courses.

James Durrant, my executive chef at both Maze and Maze Grill in London,​ is only 31. I see him creating his own brand soon, and we’re encouraging him as I speak. He’s been in that position for a while and we must allow him to grow. He’s one to watch.

I have a good head for finance.​ I’m going back to the London Business School to do my masters in the next year or so. I’m sticking with Gordon Ramsay Holdings. I’m a shareholder in the Maze business and I get paid a good salary. I’m happy here.

Gourmet Food for a Fiver, Jason Atherton's latest book, is out 16 April (Quadrille, £14.99).

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