It’s tough to feel sorry for Gordon Ramsay, whose $38 million 2012 income landed him the number-one spot on Forbes’ list of top-earning celebrity chefs. But has he lost the identity that brought him fame in the first place? Is he now no more than a clown?

That’s a question that Slate senior editor Jessica Winter considers in a thoughtful look at the chef’s evolving empire and role.

Nobody remembers that Ramsay is a great chef, a winner of Michelin stars, a workaholic. Now he is synonymous with his four Fox Network cooking/hospitality reality shows, soon to be five, and for bullying and humiliating the poor victims brave enough to appear on those shows. Meanwhile, prominent closures and contract nonrenewals are shrinking his worldwide restaurant empire.

“This is Ramsay’s sacrifice to the novice chefs of America: His name is no longer synonymous with sublime cuisine but with throat-shredding tantrums bouncing off the walls of a disgusting pantry full of moldering food in the bowels of an exurban strip mall’s second-most-popular family restaurant,” Winter writes.