A lot of people on this thread really don’t like Gordon Ramsay from Hell’s Kitchen but I think he neds to be an @$$. Why? The contestants are so full of themselves and yet are barely competent.
How many laughed at the opening presentation of common mistakes yet made those same simple mistakes?
Robert has screwed up for a season and a half. I think he has blamed himself exactly once.
Tenielle gets pissed when someone helps her (the scallops in an inch of oil) to “stay off my station” but as soon as Tek has issues with grilling meat, she’s over there vicariously running it.
“I ain’t no bitch!”
They all need to be taken down a few notches and not be (unjustifiably) so full of themselves.
I think it’s because he’s venting the self-hatred he must feel for participating in something as worthless as Hell’s Kitchen, instead of working on something that doesn’t make you feel stupid for watching it, like The F Word.
He’s as nice as pie on The F Word, because the subject is something he can get his teeth into, and not a formulaic, cookie-cutter competition show featuring a random selection of vapid jerks carrying on as though they believed that they were possessed of fascinating personalities.
I haven’t seen the UK version of Hell’s Kitchen but I have seen the UK version of Kitchen Nightmares and also The F Word. It’s clear that the over-the-top persona is only on the American shows. Also, his narration of the UK version of Kitchen Nightmares discusses the food and the chef/owner seriously while the American version has a ridiculous narrator.
The one weird aspect of The F Word is that every episode features Ramsay in some sort of macho stunt, like tracking and killing a polar bear and then butchering and preparing it, right there on the frozen Canadian tundra, armed only with a paring knife. (No, not really, but he really does get involved in a hunt in seemingly every episode.)
No doubt it’s his shtick now, and I agree that the US version of shows like “Kitchen Nightmares” are pretty much unwatchable compared to the UK series…
BUT, watch Ramsay’s “Boiling Point” from 1998 when he was still working towards his first 3 Michelin star rating, before all the “reality” shows and celebrity status and hype - his abusive outbursts were quite real and intense, and no doubt scary for his employees - he looks pretty freaking mentally disturbed at times.
I think the basic concept of The F Word is that food is interesting, and that actually being interested in it (the whole process from acquisition to ingestion) leads to an increase in your quality of life. The “Action Man” sequences fit pretty well with that, I think.
I love all of Gordon Ramsay’s shows, even the American ones, but Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares (UK) is infinitely better than Kitchen Nightmares (U.S.). The restaurateurs and chefs are generally more receptive to feedback and more trusting (I can’t believe how much shit and backtalk he gets from the American ones, in particular that asshole from the New York City seafood place that went out of business), the music is better, Ramsay’s narration is much better than the cheesy movie trailer kind of narrator used in the U.S. version and it’s just a more all around satisfying viewing experience.
In the past, I’ve taken the stance that, yes, it is necessary to be hard on your barely skilled staff in order to get them up to the level of performance you need to be at. Quality doesn’t happen by complacency. But I haven’t thought that the personal digs and name-calling were necessary. I think it’s unprofessional. You can motivate your staff, as a leader, without having to resort to personal put-downs. I think the name calling is counterproductive in terms of earning your team’s respect.
That said, I’ve seen Ramsay be gentle and encouraging on Hell’s Kitchen and points out when a dish comes out well or the chef has cooked something exactly right. He appears to be reserving the name calling only for the true vapid idiots who deserve it.
So I’ve decided that Ramsay has run a lot more kitchens than I have and knows how to get optimal performance out of his chefs better than I would. When he needs to run a magazine, he can call me and find out the best way to do that. I’ll leave the kitchen-running to him.
Having been in some professional kitchens, GR is only slightly over the top, but I agree that much of it can be an act. The UK version of Kitchen Nightmares is light years better than the US version, although the menu changes often result in the same 5-6 dishes it seems. It consistently baffles me that the contestants on Hell’s kitchen make mistakes that line cooks at most casual restaurants do not make.
I’ll share a Ramsay anecdote. I was working as a contractor for a resort company that was opening a hotel where one of the featured restaurants in the hotel is Ramsey’s Maze. I was in the still unfinished kitchen with two other IT contractors, and we were all setting the ordering system, cabling, setting up terminals and so on.
Ramsay was walking through the kitchen and for some reason decided to go off on one of the IT guys who was pulling a network cable through a wall. He started to f* this and f* that, and this is my fing restaurant, and f you, and on and on.
The resort owner, who was part of the group reached out grabbed Ramsay’s shoulder and told him more or less “Your restaurant is in my hotel, and those people are working for me. If you talk to anyone in my staff like that again your restaurant will not be in my hotel.”
Ramsay did not say a word. The hotel opened and Maze is there, so I’m assuming Ramsay didn’t go off on anyone else.
Professional cooking, like pro sports or pro music, is just one of those fields that happens to bend over backwards for hardasses, as long as they get results.
What they have in common is: a) a team ethic - people have to work in close unity; b) a craft ethic - no person is as important as the product; and c) a perfectionist ethic - every error costs time, money, and reputation.
The cultural trope about such work is that when people fail to do well, it’s because they’re too laidback or self-centered. The remedy, then, is to shock your people out of their comfort zones, because our best work is done under adversity, if not outright fear. When stakes are high, it’s assumed, people need negative motivation as well as positive.
Needless to say, there are other philosophies of work and leadership, even in craft and team professions. They might even work better with diverse personalities. But they’re not as fascinating as the regime of hardassitude, so they have less status and no cultural resonance. One measure of professionalism - not the only one, of course - becomes willingness to smack people around, and to be smacked around, in the interest of the work.