Gordon Ramsay, My Hero

I seem to have a thing for British chefs. All my favorite chefs are British: Jamie Oliver, Marco Pierre White, Heston Blumenthal, and Gordon Ramsay. Among this group of culinary geniuses, Gordon Ramsay is the one I like best.

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It’s true he swears a lot on television, but that doesn’t make him a barbaric chef. I suspect that shouting, angry, foul-mouthed side of him is just his TV persona. In reality, he is an angelic, kind, and sensitive guy. Just watch him on his Ultimate Cookery Course TV series, and you’d know what I mean, especially the episodes where he cooks with his children. In any case, the swearing is not his fault, it’s the industry.

“Swearing is industry language,” he once said. “For as long as we’re alive, it’s not going to change.”

Honestly, I don’t mind all his swearing, but young, vulnerable minds could well be influenced in the wrong way, especially if they were ardent followers of Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares. I don’t swear much, but even if I did, I like to think it isn’t Ramsay-inspired.

There are so many reasons to like Chef Ramsay.

First, he knows what he’s talking about, unlike many of the other non-chef celebrities on the food network who are 95 percent celebrity and only 5 percent cooking skill, like Thailand’s Chef McDang, that effeminate superstar chef, whom some locals like to think is a bogus chef because “he sucks.”

Second, he’s brave. Remember that episode in Gordon’s Great Escape, when he went to Malaysia and climbed up a bamboo ladder in a dark, dank cave in search of birds’ nest. He swore and cursed at the whole prospect of all “15 stone” of Chef Ramsay—that’s 95 kilograms—climbing up that slender, fragile ladder just to end up with “a ball of wool” that resembles “a sort of white mustache.”

Third, he’s courageous. He takes on the kind of challenge where the odds are totally against him. In the same Great Escape show, but in a different episode, he took on Chef McDang who showed up with an army of assistants. Was he rattled at all, especially since he didn’t even have a soul to assist him? Not really. He just bulldozed his way through the three competition dishes of soup, curry, and stir-fry. Fancy the three judges—one of whom happened to be Chef McDang’s father—giving a thumbs-up to Chef Ramsay for his curry and a draw for the stir-fry. So much for Chef McDang looking down on his English counterpart, and so much for me rooting for a farung rather than my own countryman.

Chef Ramsay is clearly a disciplined man. He started out with nothing, coming from a family that wasn’t particularly well off. Yet, he managed to work his way up, opening Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea in 1998 at 32. Now, that’s something. The restaurant earned its third Michelin star in 2001, making Ramsay the first Scot to achieve that feat.

That all sounds really cool. But the coolest thing about Chef Ramsay is the way he sharpens his knife, zinging across his sharpening steel, ready to cut up anything that gets in his way.

(539 words)

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Jiji Setavoraphan, Secondary Three
February 2016

Also by Jiji: Being Fat Ain’t CoolTough Times Don’t Last But Tough Girls DoAt Manbok, Spice and Kick in a Kimchi StewWhen My Music Goes Bang, Bang, Bang

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