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That One Angry British Guy on TV

Thursday, April 18, 2019

From behind the TV screen alone, it may be difficult to view Gordon Ramsay as anything other than a constantly enraged madman. As his loud and proud personality is served up in the entertainment industry as the main course instead of his raw talent as a chef, it becomes increasingly more difficult to get to know and understand the well accomplished chef that he truly is.

It is easy to assume that Ramsay has simply forced his way into the cooking industry kicking and screaming, but that statement could not be any further from the truth. Ramsay has earned his spot in the culinary world, yet instead of being known as the chef with sixteen total Michelin stars, he is often reduced to “that one angry British guy on TV.”

Although he screams and shouts with a thunderous English accent, Ramsay is actually Scottish. Born on November 8, 1966, in Glasgow, Scotland, he moved to Stratford-upon-Avon, England with his family when he was five years old.

Growing up, Ramsay’s dream was to play soccer for Rangers F.C. When he was presented with the chance to do so at the age of fifteen under a youth policy, he was ecstatic. Unfortunately, however, he injured his knee three years later before ever actually playing in a certified league match. He continuing to train and play on his injured knee, and as a result, suffered irreparable damage, leaving the Rangers with no other choice but to release him from the team.

Around the same time, Ramsay’s mother divorced his abusive alcoholic father and, consequently, his younger brother Ronnie developed an addiction to heroin. Ramsay’s father grew resentful towards the family, especially towards Gordon as he wanted him to become a professional soccer player, even though he was not physically able to be one. This created a terrible environment for the dismantled yet determined Gordon, so he decided to get away from it all.

After visiting a local career enrolling office, Ramsay was directed towards a hotel and dining foundation focused on catering. Since he couldn’t easily afford to go to school, he attended North Oxfordshire Technical College only once a week and worked six days a week in a nearby pub and hotel.

Ramsay quickly became obsessed with and excelled in the culinary arts, memorizing recipe books and discovering new, profound uses for different ingredients. After graduating, Ramsay moved to London to work at Harveys under his first mentor Marco Pierre White. This was where Ramsey was primed to be the hot-headed chef that everyone knows today.

"Cooking is about passion, so it may look slightly temperamental in a way that it's
    too assertive to the naked eye" -- Gordon Ramsay (photo credit: The Straight Times)

Pierre White was an amazing chef but he was a tyrant. While Ramsay was training under him, Pierre White attained three Michelin stars and was the youngest chef to ever do so. He was known as the godfather of modern cooking and had also been dubbed the first celebrity chef by many cooking enthusiasts.

Such a status was not without its sacrifices, however, and everything in Pierre White’s kitchen had to be perfect. If everything was not exactly how it should be, he would tear the entire place apart in disappointment-based frustration.

One famous incident with Ramsay occurred when Pierre White randomly hurled some sauces at him making him cry. While a feud between the two chefs still exists to this day, without the perfectionistic qualities Pierre White had instilled in Gordon, he would not be the man we all know and hear today.

Nearly three years later, Ramsay found a second mentor in Albert Roux, and eventually he moved to Paris to work under Michelin-starred chefs Guy Savoy and Joël Robuchon. In 1993, Pierre White opened a new restaurant and, knowing Ramsay’s talent, offered him a position there as head chef along with a ten percent stake in the business. There, Ramsay received his first two Michelin stars. Two years later at the same restaurant, Ramsay was awarded the Newcomer of the Year award at the prestigious Catey Awards, an Oscars-like event for restaurant and hotel businesses.

In 1998, Ramsay opened his first restaurant under his own name. This was a huge financial gamble, and to offset the costs he invited a television camera crew to film a reality show called Ramsay’s Boiling Point, which ended up transforming into more of a documentary. The show was successful and Ramsay’s hot-temperedness was the main attraction. The popularity of this film sparked a follow-up mini series called Gordon Ramsay: Beyond Boiling Point and, as time has gone on, Ramsay has starred in more than twenty shows most famously, The F Word, Hell’s Kitchen, Master Chef, and Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.”

Today, Ramsay has over thirty-five luxury restaurants around the world and currently holds seven Michelin stars. In 2000, he was named “Chef of the Year” and, in 2006, he was named “The Most Influential Person” in the UK hospitality industry, awarded “Independent Restaurateur of the Year,” and was granted the title of “Officer of the Order of the British Empire.” In 2008 and 2009, stemming from his performances on his various TV shows, Ramsay was awarded “Favorite International Personality.” In 2013, he was inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame and, along with all his work on TV and in his restaurants, Ramsay has more than twenty books.

His trademark stubbornness, combativeness, ego, and anger can all be entertaining at times, and highly offensive at others. Without getting to know him, Ramsay can be unjustly dismissed simply as another enraged TV personality. What separates him as an individual from other great entertainers, however, are certain traits that aren’t so easily apparent from behind the TV screen, such as his willingness to go out of his comfort zone, his confidence in himself, and his passion and love for what he does.

When he first began to devote himself to becoming a chef, Ramsay purposely threw himself into uncomfortable situations, leaving behind and exchanging his family and everything he knew for harsh cooking environments and an entirely new career path. Since he did not come from the best cooking education system available, he had to put his head down and work harder than everyone else to gradually work his way up the restaurant industry.

Even when his dreams of becoming a professional soccer player were crushed, it may have slowed him down but it never completely stopped him. Finally, while Ramsay has been professionally cooking for well over twenty years, he still enjoys every second of it.

There is a level one reaches when they work their absolute hardest, and there is an exceedingly higher level where one works their absolute hardest and loves what they do. Ramsay is on this elevated level, which is the most significant reason why he is so successful. If he truly hated cooking and if he was truly the furious psycho seen on TV, only then would it be acceptable to refer to Gordon Ramsay as “that one angry British guy on TV."