Playing with Fire by Gordon Ramsay has been a hugely influential book for Investments in how we design ourselves to enable and add value to our portfolio companies. The book is about Ramsay, his second autobiography, which charts his rise from a chef working 16-hour, six-day weeks, to the brand and business empire we know and recognise today.
However, if you look a bit deeper, it is as much about those who contributed to and enabled Ramsey’s success as much as Ramsey himself. In his case, his father-in-law Chris Hutcheson, who Ramsay credits throughout the book, played an instrumental role in the opening of his first restaurant in 1998, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, which was awarded its third Michelin star in 2001. He was Ramsay’s mentor and business partner for much of his career.
While the two have since parted ways, Ramsay would not be the person he is, nor would his business empire and public image exist, without Hutcheson’s contribution.
At Letsema, we want the “Chef to be the Chef”, designing ourselves around the “Father-in-law”, where we let our operating partners focus on running the business, product development, making the product and selling it.
At the same time, we design ourselves as a holding company that compliments the operating skills of our partners, through building out our centres of excellence and focusing on business enablement, M&A, partnering, strategy, commercial market development, marketing and people.
The Chef Father-In-Law structure allows Letsema to perform these activities while giving our operating partners the space they need to excel at what they do. Companies become great companies when allowed to grow, and are enabled in the right way, which is what we always seek to do.