In A Nutshell
Superstar chef Gordon Ramsay has built a name producing cooking-based reality shows where he has a forum for expletive-laced tirades. But it may be that Ramsay’s vicious behavior has deeper consequences than merely entertaining a home audience. At least three people who have suffered his derision on TV have gone on to commit suicide.
The Whole Bushel
Gordon Ramsay is a celebrity chef known for his incendiary outbursts. To get a full appreciation of his personality, one should view the BBC version of his programming, where his vocabulary is not censored and flows forth like a vile river. He has multiple reality-type shows on at any given time, and while the rewards of excelling under Ramsay’s tutelage include massively successful careers, restaurants, and cash prizes, losing leaves one on the barbed end of his wrath. At least three different people that have appeared on his shows have taken their own lives.
One of the shows in Ramsay’s entertainment empire is MasterChef, where contestants vie to impress the palates of a panel of judges with their cooking talents. In Season 3, one of the competitors was hulking 218-centimeter (7’2″) Joshua Marks, whose talent in the kitchen got him into the final round, where he lost to Christine Ha. Marks’ family claims that the stress of being on the show led his mental health to decline dramatically. He was diagnosed with both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and in one skirmish with police, claimed that he’d been possessed by Gordon Ramsay, who turned him into God. In October 2013, Marks’ mother was driving home in Chicago when she received a frantic call that her son had been seen wandering around outside holding a gun. She rushed to find him, but arrived too late, discovering his body in an alley. He’d died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Hell’s Kitchen is quite like MasterChef, although it begins with the contestants cooking in teams until enough people are eliminated to compete individually. Prizes have included $250,000 cash or executive chef positions at restaurants owned by Ramsay. In 2006, the show featured Rachel Brown, who came in fifth place. In May 2007, Brown was found dead in her Texas home. Like Marks, the 41-year-old woman had also died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Kitchen Nightmares follows a bit different formula from the other shows; in this program, Ramsay visits foundering restaurants and rescues them. During the course of an episode, he samples the food (often spitting it out), viciously disparages the chefs and owners, then rehabilitates the business, introducing new menu items and giving the building a makeover.
To a certain extent, the failure of the restaurants featured on the show is already sealed, Ramsay’s production only swooping in when the businesses depicted were teetering at the edge of bankruptcy. Many, if not most of them have closed since his visits. In 2007, Joseph Cerniglia was featured on Kitchen Nightmares. The young chef, whose Fair Lawn, New Jersey restaurant Campania was failing, butted heads with Ramsay during filming, but at the end of the episode, it appeared things would turn around for Campania, which was deeply in debt. Unfortunately, in 2010, Joseph Cerniglia took his own life, plunging off the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson River. In a morbid turn, Ramsay told the chef that if he didn’t turn things around at his restaurant, “Your business is about to f– –king swim down the Hudson.”
Show Me The Proof
BBC News: ‘MasterChef’ runner-up Josh Marks commits suicide
Rachel Brown, contestant on “‘Hell’s Kitchen,’ found dead in Bedford
Most Restaurants on Kitchen Nightmares Are Now Closed
Joseph Cerniglia, ‘Kitchen Nightmares’ Suicide — Second for Chef Gordon Ramsay’s Shows