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Ripert Rips Ramsay, "Poor Inspiration to Professional Chefs"

By Samuel Goldsmith, NY Daily News: The suicide of a New Jersey chef seems to have sparked a food fight between culinary stars Eric Ripert and Gordon Ramsay.

Joseph Cerniglia, the owner of Campania in Fair Lawn, took a death plunge into the Hudson River last week - three years after Ramsay excoriated him on his reality show "Kitchen Nightmares."

Ripert, the genius behind Le Bernadin and a judge on "Top Chef," took the acid-tongued Ramsay to task in a series of Twitter posts Tuesday.

"Nothing personal against Gordon Ramsay but he is a poor inspiration for professional chefs in his shows," Ripert tweeted. "I have my bad days to but always try to improve. TV or not - its no excuse! Ultimately I believe in the goodness of Gordon but he is very wrong."

In a later tweet Ripert denied he was blaming Ramsay for the apparent suicide of Cerniglia. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Ramsay released a brief statement about Cerniglia that showed he doesn't speak ill of the dead.

"Joe was a brilliant chef, and our thoughts go out to his family, friends and staff," the TV host said.

When Campania was featured on Ramsay's restaurant-makeover show in 2007, he blasted Cerniglia's bland food and bad financial decisions.

"Your business is about to f--king swim down the Hudson," Ramsay yelled.

On a 2008 follow-up show, Ramsay praised Cerniglia for changes that helped turn around the debt-laden business.

The Jersey chef was busted for cocaine at his restaurant months before he apparently leaped off the George Washington Bridge, cops said.

An emergency crew rushed to Campania on July 15 after someone called 911 and said he had snorted coke.

Cerniglia was "sweating profusely, shaking and in need of medical assistance," reported then.

He was taken to Hackensack University Medical Center and arrested for being under the influence of narcotics.

Those close to Cerniglia were tight-lipped about what led the married father of three to jump.

His pastry chef, Jessica Marotta, 27, who describes herself as his "soulmate," wrote a message to him on Facebook.

"I always told you I would hold your hand forever," she wrote. "Now I will hold you in my heart forever.

"Your love is a gift and I will always be grateful for sharing the life we had together. I know you will always be near me in spirit to guide me. Our souls will meet again soon. I miss you so much baby."

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