Mary Carmichael
Fiery chef Gordon Ramsay is to make his debut in the minefield of celebrity branding with the launch of a premium boxed chocolate selection called Just Desserts.
Manufactured by Ashbury Confectionery, which produces own label products for several major multiples, the new range is based on desserts served in Ramsay's Michelin-starred restaurants. It also shares the title with his most recent cookery book.
Already listed in Waitrose and Sainsbury, the collection retails at £5.99 and will be available in spring to coincide with the St Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and Easter chocolate gifting season. It is also designed to look good on a dinner table, with silver and aubergine packaging echoing the decor in the chef's restaurants.
"Dinner party hosts spend days crafting the most chic and fashionable food and tracking down unusual wines," said Ramsay.
"Yet for the crucial last offering of the evening there's little available which is contemporary or challenging."
The collection includes unusual flavours such as Salted Honeycomb Fudge and Pineapple with Star Anise, both of which are wrapped in plain chocolate. The other variants feature white and milk chocolate and include Orange and Cardamom and Espresso Brulée.
Ramsay said it had been important to go with desserts and to do what he knew. "They are not going to be withdrawn by next summer," he claimed, "because too much graft has gone into them."
Ashbury MD Mario Giannotta said no TV advertising was planned as the company preferred to rely on Ramsay's reputation for "uncompromising quality".
Celebrity brands have met with mixed success in recent years, ranging from Loyd Grossman's booming range of sauces to Hazlewood Foods' Gary Rhodes ready meals range which was withdrawn two years' ago.