Celebrity Chef: Shark fin soup pirates hold Gordon Ramsay at gunpoint in Kitchen Nightmares?

Celebrity Chefs!

Food Network Celebrity Chef Gordon Ramsay held at gunpoint by pirates fishing for shark fins —

[Jan. 4]

Mercurial celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay recently went from figuratively to literally combustible in a stand-off with pirates engaged in illegal shark finning.

The Hell’s Kitchen star was recently in Costa Rica filming segment for Channel 4’s forthcoming 3-part series, The Big Fish Fight. Ramsay and his crew claim that they’d just discovered a massive shark-fin harvesting operation when they were rousted by pirates.

Ramsay told The Daily Mail:

‘It’s a multibillion-dollar industry, completely unregulated,’ he’s saying.

‘We traced some of the biggest culprits to Costa Rica. The day before we got there, a Taiwanese crew landed a haul of hammerhead sharks – police searched the boat and found bails of cocaine. These gangs operate from places that are like forts, with barbed-wire perimeters and gun towers.

‘At one, I managed to shake off the people who were keeping us away, ran up some stairs to a rooftop and looked down to see thousands and thousands of fins, drying on rooftops for as far as the eye could see. When I got back downstairs, they tipped a barrel of petrol over me.’

Ramsay reported that he and the crew were held at gunpoint. Later, local police advised them to leave the country. At first blush the story may sound like a publicity stunt on the part of a chef who’s as famous for his tantrums as he is for his cuisine, but this isn’t the first time film crews have run afoul of pirates in the waters around Costa Rica.

Conservationists have been working to educate the public about the practice of shark finning. Shark fin soup is a popular delicacy with a high environmental price. When sharks are finned, they’re harvested in massive numbers, their fins are sliced off, and the fish are thrown back into the water. Without their fins, the sharks usually die. This practice is cruel and it has driven a number of shark species to the brink of extinction.

Oceana, an organization that works to save sharks, estimates that between 23 and 73 million sharks are finned each year. Oceana recently shepherded the Shark Conservation Act, which outlaws shark finning, into law in the United States. The Bill has passed in both the House and Senate and is waiting to be signed into law by President Obama pending discussion of a loophole in the bill for one fishery that has some law-makers concerned.

Filmmaker Rob Stewart’s award-winning 2010 documentary, SharkWater, showed how sharks have gone from predator to prey and featured a segment on the shark-fin trade:

In an effort to protect sharks, Stewart teams up with renegade conservationist Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Their unbelievable adventure together starts with a battle between the Sea Shepherd and shark poachers in Guatemala, resulting in pirate boat rammings, gunboat chases, mafia espionage, corrupt court systems and attempted murder charges, forcing them to flee for their lives.

Sharkwater is now available on DVD, BluRay and on the Discovery Channel.

The Big Fish Fight features celebrity chefs Heston Blumenthal, Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver. The three chefs hope to use their star-power to convince chefs and diners to choose sustainable seafood and to take an active role in protecting the fragile underwater ecosystem.


Celebrity Chef Gordon Ramsay is known for acting like a monster on television, but in real life he actually does have a bit of a heart. The green celebrity spends a great deal of time supporting the Scottish Spina Bifida Association. He has also lent his celebrity endorsement to UNICEF.