Gordon Ramsay: "Cooking is like sports and not everyone gets to the top"
Photo taken in October 2017 showing world famous haute cuisine icon and media chef Gordon Ramsay in Cannes, France. EFE-EPA/Sebastien Nogier/File
World famous haute cuisine icon and media chef Gordon Ramsay, in Capetown, South Africa. EFE-EPA/Nic Bothma/File
By David Villafranca
Las Vegas, Nevada, Jan 5 (efe-epa).- Controversial, brazen and with an explosive personality, but also successful and very popular. That is Gordon Ramsay, one of the best-known chefs on the planet and who, before the debut of the new season of "Hell's Kitchen," told EFE that to triumph in the elite circles of haute cuisine one needs more than talent.
"Cooking is like sports: there are many divisions and not everyone gets to the top," the Scotsman said.
Nobody doubts Ramsay's talent over the stove, a gift that has led him to open prestige restaurants all over the world.
But besides being a haute cuisine icon, the chef has made an even greater impact on popular culture with televised programs like "Hell's Kitchen" and "Kitchen Nightmares," which have contributed decisively to bringing the fever for gastronomy on the small screen.
Once again featuring the irascibility and the outburts of anger that are characteristic of Ramsay, "Hell's Kitchen" will begin its 19th season on Jan. 7 on Fox in the United States with the main novelty this time around being that the competition among chef wanna-be's is taking place this year in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In April 2019, EFE attended the filming in the gaming city of this new installment of "Hell's Kitchen" and was able to speak with Ramsay in an interview that, because of assorted delays and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, was not able to be made public until now.
Question: After so many seasons of "Hell's Kitchen," how do you intend to keep a fresh perspective to try and surprise the public?
Ramsay: That's a good question. Every year and every season, we get more and more creative. This year, Season 19, is a dream, but we're so much better than we were at Season 1.
As an exec producer, we're super creative ... So, we tend to stay in what's happening in the industry. Whether it's an innovation in super-foods or (in) molecular (cooking), we're trying to bring those current trends and twists into the development (of the show).
Q: Apart from their qualities in the kitchen, what abilities are you looking for in the "Hell's Kitchen" winner?
R: I'm looking for someone who has vision. Someone who is bold, tenacious. And someone that has a drive.
Cooking is like sports ... you know, there's multidivisions. Not everybody gets to the very top. So, if you're disciplined, and you're a visionary, and you have a great sense of direction on the plate ... They're the key fundamentals that we look for in young talent. Drive ... When you cook, it's not about earning money. And so, if you're good at your job and it's a passion, as opposed to a nine-to-five (job), the money will come.
And so, food for me is like medicine. They need to have that eight, 10, 12 year apprenticeship before anything comes back. Patience is a virtue with cooking. You need to be super-patient.
Q: You can be entertaining and charming sometimes, but also very serious and brutally honest on other occasions. Have you ever thought that you had gone too far or that you had been too hard with someone? Do you regret anything?
R: I don't have any regrets. I'm a passionate guy. I was at a hockey match on Sunday watching this incredible playoff game. One of the players got knocked out. No-one gave a shit. The crowd continued shouting and screaming, the players had to go on.
So, where does that leave me? I just believe in what I do. I want the very best. And ... you know, I have good days and bad days. I think the bad days look more interesting and the good days look more boring. So, to the public it's ... a combination of both.
So, no, I definitely don't regret (anything). No, no, no.
Q: Looking into the future, what would you like your legacy to be? How would you like to be remembered?
R: I think if there was anything that I'd like to be remembered for it is "pressure's healthy." Pushing the boundaries out.
Listen, I've worked with some great chefs. I watched Ferran Adria at El Bulli burn out and turn around and say "Stop, I'm done." And this man was cooking five and 10 years in front of everybody else on the planet.
We are, this year, celebrating 21 years at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay (in London) and (the) 19th year as three-star (Michelin rating). So, yeah, passion and brutal honesty, yeah, that's really important.