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Gordon Ramsay aghast at 'Lady Victoria's' treatment at Gjelina

Posh-spiceGjelina is serious about its "no substitutions" policy. Even if you are chef Gordon Ramsay and you're dining with Victoria Beckham. Listen to this story and you can decide whether the restaurant went too far, or whether Beckham was asking for too much:

Ramsay said he was practically speechless -- imagine that -- when he found himself at Gjelina in Venice on Tuesday dining with the heavily pregnant Posh and the waiter wouldn't accommodate her special order. "I couldn't believe it," he said.

Posh is eight months pregnant with her fourth child with soccer great David Beckham, and the couple are close friends with Ramsay. (David Beckham and Ramsay sat together courtside for one of the Lakers-Mavericks games.) Ramsay said that Victoria Beckham ordered the smoked trout salad and asked for it plain, unadorned, with the dressing on the side. According to the menu, the dish is normally served with grapefruit, avocado, red onion and lemon, and that combo was apparently a bit too much for the ready-to-give-birth-at-any-minute Beckham.

The restaurant's response? Ramsay says they refused to make the change.

Speaking with the media on the eve of Season 2 of "MasterChef," which begins Monday night, Ramsay said he had trouble believing that such a simple request was asking too much of the kitchen. What do you think, dear reader? If you are paying good money for your meal, should you be allowed to ask for something on the side? Or does the chef and the restaurant have the right to reject such requests? 

"The lady's pregnant!" Ramsay said. "No one is asking to be fussy.... I still think that's the customer's prerogative.... It was a sour note. I don't think customers should be treated that way. That might not be the way I choose to eat it, but that's what the customer wants."

He added that he had an overall positive impression of the restaurant -- "the place is great" -- but added: "I don't know, times are tough out there. You have to show a touch of sensitivity."

Ramsay -- who refers to Victoria Beckham as "Lady Victoria" -- said he did not know who was running the kitchen at the time, or whether chef Travis Lett was in the house.

I contacted Gjelina for their side of the story. When the manager, who identified himself as Fran, came to the phone, I explained why I was calling and asked about the Beckham encounter. There was a long silence, before he said: "So you would like to know about our 'no substitutions' policy?"

Sure, I said, tell me all about the policy.

"It's clearly stated on the menu." And then he added, "Have a nice day," and hung up.

So much for sensitivity.

Gjelina's menu clearly states the following: "Changes & modifications politely declined."

And they are not joking.


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--Rene Lynch
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Photo credit: Mark Ralston / AFP/Getty Images

Comments () | Archives (104)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Asking for the dressing "on the side" is hardly a substitution. Really. Who do the folks at this restaurant think they are? You won't find me darkening their door any time soon with this kind of a review. Good luck to them. I think they may need it.

Lady V should've just scooped up the grapefruit/avocado/red onion and tossed it onto them stupid communal tables.

Can't stand this place, no matter how good the vegetables may be.

And, there was nothing on that salad (as listed in the article) that would harm a pregnant mother or unborn child. If she didn't want to eat the salad as prepared, she should have ordered something else. Or called ahead and discussed a special menu with the chef. No substitutions applies to everyone. Thank you Gjelina!

The situation, as described in the blog post, was handled correctly by the restaurant. The restaurant's policy is clear: "Changes & modifications politely declined." The policy is not: "Changes & modifications politely declined. Except in the case of celebrities and/or pregnant women." I don't think "Lady Victoria" or Gordon Ramsay should expect special treatment. The question is: should restaurants have these types of policies? Ultimately, it's up to the market to decide.

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