Hells Kitchen, Gordon Ramsay, Joseph Cerniglia


A debt-ridden chef featured on Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares has jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge.

The body of 39-year-old New Jersey restaurateur Joseph Cerniglia was found floating in the Hudson River on Friday at 1:30 p.m. 

"It has been ruled a suicide, the cause of death was drowning with blunt impact," a spokeswoman from the New York City Medical Examiner's office tells E! News.

"There were injuries of the head, torso and extremities. The injuries came as a result of a fall from a height."

Cerniglia owned the Italian restaurant Campania in Fair Lawn, N.J.. He bought the eatery in 2006 and the next year was featured on Ramsay's show, where Cerniglia proclaimed he was "financially in trouble" and owed investors nearly $80,000.

"Why did you become a chef-owner if you haven't a clue how to run a business?" the hot tempered Ramsay asked.

The staff at Cerniglia's was feeling the loss today, said an employee who answered the phone this afternoon.

"We're doing as best we can be now, things are a bit crazy right now," said the staffer, adding that they were still open for business despite the tragedy.

Before opening his own business, Cerniglia had been a successful executive chef at Gallagher's Steakhouse in New York.

He is the second former contestant on a Ramsay television show to commit suicide. In 2007 Rachel Brown, a chef who came in fifth on Hell's Kitchen, shot herself in her family's Dallas home.

Cerniglia's family, including three sons, ages 13, 11 and 9, will hold a private funeral service in New Jersey tomorrow.

They wrote in his obit: "He was honored to have his restaurant featured on an episode of Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares and the television experience was thrilling for him."

Rest in peace.

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