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BATTLE OF POTS AND PANS; Famous chefs to go head to head as Ramsay comes north.

Byline: BOB SHIELDS

THE KNIVES are out ... steak knives that is. And the gloves are off ... oven gloves of course.

Top chef Gordon Ramsay confirmed Scotland's worst cooked culinary secret yesterday by announcing he's coming north.

And he's opening in the same city as the chef he loves to hate - telly favourite Nick Nairn.

Ramsay, 34, is to take over the kitchen at posh Glasgow hotel One Devonshire Gardens to open a new restaurant, Amaryllis.

And just to stir some extra spice into the recipe, Gordon has revealed that he has handed the job of general manager to Nick Nairn's former wife, Fiona.

But the former Ranger, famous for his kitchen tantrums, claims he's not just pouring his oil on Nick's boiling water out of spite.

He said: "I've known Fiona for many years and she's the best in the business.

"She knows the Scottish scene well and will be a great asset to the restaurant."

And is her ex-husband pleased about her new appointment by his rival?

"I am sure he will be pleased but I have not spoken to him," she said diplomatically.

However, the dreaded Nairn name won't be heard echoing around the Ramsay kitchen. Fiona, who helped Nick build the popular Braeval restaurant in the Trossachs, is getting married this weekend to a BBC executive and will conveniently become Mrs Leishman.

But yesterday Ramsay was playing down the rivalry he normally encourages with cheeky remarks about his competitor.

Asked the difference between them recently, Ramsay said he'd rather stay in his kitchen and prepare food than travel around the country setting fire to it for television.

And while Ramsay is quite happy being a celebrated chef, he once threw Joan Collins out his Chelsea nosherie.

And anyone who calls him a "celebrity chef" is liable to have their ears tenderised by a famous Ramsay verbal blast.

Adding to the tension in the kitchen is the fact that the head chef at Amaryllis is Celtic-daft Glaswegian David Dempsey, while Ramsay's allegiance to Rangers is legendary.

He once said that the only people guaranteed a seat at his normally fully booked restaurant in Chelsea were Rangers chairman David Murray and former Ibrox striker Ally McCoist.

Both will be able to afford Ramsay's menus when he opens for business on April 24.

He said: "I want to cook quality and affordable dishes here. I'm planning a lunch menu at around pounds 18 and dinner at around pounds 25.

"I don't want this to be a place people visit once a year as a treat. I want to be busy every night.

"A measure of a good restaurant is whether it's fully booked on a Monday."

And Michelin three-star rated Ramsay hopes to add to the one star already awarded to the west end hotel, which is popular with film and pop stars.

Nick Nairn's city centre restaurant has yet to achieve a Michelin accolade.

Ramsay's publicity people say he'll be spending at least two days a week in Glasgow.

But Ramsay says it will probably be more, especially in the build-up to opening night.

And will his Glasgow nights coincide with any sporting events in the Ibrox area of Glasgow?

He grinned: "It's a possibility... "

NICK NAIRN

BORN in Stirlingshire, Nick joined the Navy aged 17 and stayed on the high seas until he was 25, then built his own restaurant, the Braeval Old Mill in Aberfoyle, in 1986.

Five years later the restaurant gained a Michelin star, making Nick the youngest chef to attain the award.

He split from wife Fiona in 1997 and she sold the Braeval in 1999. Nick's Glasgow eaterie is yet to win any Michelin stars.

GORDON RAMSAY

GLASGOW-BORN Gordon's first break came at 15 when he was signed up by Rangers.

But after three years he turned his back on football and went into hotel management.

He joined Marco Pierre White in London then moved to the Le Gavroche restaurant to work alongside Albert Roux.

In 1993 he became part owner of London eaterie Aubergine and is the first Scot to have three stars in the Michelin Guide.
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 16, 2001
Words:685
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