Joseph Cerniglia, a restaurant owner whose business was picked apart by Gordon Ramsay on a 2007 episode of Kitchen Nightmares, tragically died by suicide in 2010, at age 39.
Sadly, Joseph isn’t the first person to take their own life after appearing on a Gordon Ramsay-hosted program. However, his family insists that his time on the show was a positive in his life.
Chef On Gordon Ramsay’s ‘Kitchen Nightmares’ Dies By Suicide
In September 2010, Joseph Cerniglia’s body was found in the Hudson River after authorities received 911 calls about a man jumping off the George Washington Bridge. His death was ruled a suicide.
Joseph was deep in debt and struggling to keep his New Jersey restaurant Campania afloat when he appeared on Kitchen Nightmares. In a statement which sounds eerie now, Gordon Ramsay told Joseph, “Your business is about to fucking swim down the Hudson.”
Although Gordon was predictably harsh in his assessment of the restaurant, his intervention helped the business thrive. A woman who works nearby reportedly said Campania was “doing really well,” with a packed parking lot on the weekends.
She added, “[Cerniglia] said Ramsay was intense but that he turned out to be a nice guy, that in the end, he helped him out.” Joseph left behind a wife and three sons.
How Did ‘Kitchen Nightmares’ Affect Joseph Cerniglia?
Tragically, this isn’t the first time a chef has died by suicide after appearing on one of Gordon’s shows. Rachel Brown, who placed fifth place on Hell’s Kitchen, shot herself to death in 2007. It’s an unfortunate coincidence, but that doesn’t mean their experiences on the show contributed to their deaths.
In fact, Joseph Cerniglia’s sister said he “really liked Gordon and the show was great.” She added, “The show was also great for business. It really helped tremendously. There are no hard feelings at all from our family to Gordon Ramsay, who is a wonderful man. His behavior on the show was played up for the cameras.”
However, this didn’t stop fellow chef Eric Ripert from tweeting negatively about Gordon Ramsay’s approach, calling him “a poor inspiration for professional chefs.” He added, “Ultimately I believe in the goodness of Gordon but he is very wrong.” Ripert later denied that he was blaming Gordon for Joseph’s death.
According to the New York Daily News, Joseph had been busted for cocaine at his restaurant a few months before his suicide. He was reportedly “sweating profusely, shaking and in need of medical assistance.”
“I was fortunate to spend time with Joe during the first season of Kitchen Nightmares,” Gordon Ramsay said in a statement after Joseph’s death. “Joe was a brilliant chef, and our thoughts go out to his family, friends and staff.”