Inspiration can come from anywhere, so why not an intimidating former soccer player turned celebrity chef who most Americans have never heard of?
Almost nobody in the United States knew who Gordon Ramsay was until a couple of years ago when the Fox TV show Hell’s Kitchen debuted in the U.S. He’s still not a household name here. If you did see Ramsay on Hell’s Kitchen, he just seems a bit like a blond Simon Cowell on steroids with access to kitchen knives; a big, angry, hypercritical asshole with a funny accent who makes contestants on reality shows cry. Oh, and he says ‘fook’ a lot.
In the U.K. Ramsay has been fookin’ famous for years. He’s a TV celebrity who’s had three different shows in the U.K., he’s one of only three British chefs with three Michelin stars, he’s authored a number of cookbooks, he has a small empire of restaurants around the world and The Queen awarded him an OBE award in 2006.
Unlike Simon Cowell, significantly, Ramsay can actually do the thing he’s yelling at people about better then they can. As you may have guessed by the three Michelin stars, the guy can cook. He’s capable of high end gourmet cuisine as well as quick casual fresh meals and the thing that he brings to cooking isn’t anger – it’s passion.
If you are interested in cooking and haven’t seen him cook, here’s a quick cooking lesson with Ramsay – smoked trout, pasta and a raw tomato sauce – in less than 10 minutes. If you’re not interested in cooking, just skip this video because you can still learn something from Chef Ramsay.
I really only started to get Gordon Ramsay a couple of months ago when I started getting addicted to his U.K. show Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares that runs on BBC America. The premise is simple – each episode, Ramsay goes into a failing restaurant and tries to turn it around in a week. One of the best things about the show is that he doesn’t always succeed. It’s a welcome dose of reality in reality TV, where most ‘makeover shows’ seem to have to have some bullshit happy ending tacked on. In Ramsay’s real world of reality TV, some restaurants turn around, some backslide and some close altogether.
You also see a lot of different sides of Ramsay – a nuance you just don’t get on Hell’s Kitchen. He’s smart and not just about cooking – he knows business, customer service, and people management. He’s not arrogant, either. He admits mistakes easily and geniunely seems to want to help these restaurants succeed. After watching a bunch of episodes, I think I’m getting a sense of Ramsay’s philosophy and that’s what this series of posts is about; stuff that anyone in any walk of life can learn from Gordon Ramsay.
- Lesson One: Don’t Be An Arrogant Fook
Independence is good. Staying true to your vision is important. Be a maverick. Be a rebel. Just don’t be stupid.
It’s one thing to be a visionary and another just to be stubborn. Time and again on Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares the problem is an owner or chef who just won’t listen to the simple truth that everyone else seems to know.
In thie clip below, Gordon tries to help the owner of The Walnut Tree Inn in Abergavenny, Wales; a formet Michelin star restaurant with a fourty year history. In this scene, the restaurant owner will just not lower his prices despite the fact that 1) he’s about to go out of business from a lack of customers, 2) everyone in the small Welch town he’s in says the prices are too high and 3) Ramsay demostrates that he can lower the cost of a dish without any real compromise at all. Ramsay wants to strangle the guy and so will you when you watch the clip.
So how do you know when to give in and when to stay true to your inner voice? Here’s a few suggestions…
Is There Really A Problem?
If things are good, things are good. Have a cool drink and smile. On the other hand, if your business is about to close or your spouse is packing their bags, you need to be really honest with yourself that there’s a problem and you need to fix it before it’s too late. Once you decide that there’s really a problem, then realize that you have to stop acting like there isn’t one. Here’s one hint; if your situationis so bad that you are on a television show…there’s a problem.
Ask People You Respect To Be Honest With You
Start with your close circle of friends, associates and mentors…the people you trust already. You need to ask them to be honest with you because they probably already know your problem and haven’t wanted to tell you because they also knew you didn’t want to hear it. You need to prove your friend’s fears wrong and tell them to give it to you straight. Ramsay is someone the restaurant owner respects (they have known each other for years) and Ramsay is certainly being honest.
Ask Everybody In World
Strangers can be trusted to be honest because they don’t give a flying fook about you or your problems but they sure have an opinion. The problem is that they all have different opinions and they don’t really understand your problem. That’s fine – ask enough people the right question and you’ll get some data. Not a complete answer, but valuable data. The key is asking simple questions that strangers are equipped to answer and try as hard as possible to keep out any bias. Ramsey went down into the Welsh village and asked a bunch of people what they thought of the Walnut Tree Inn and they told him, overwhelmingly and on their own initiative that it was too expensive.
Listen To Them And Repeat Back Their Concerns
You’re admitted you have a problem, you’ve talked to friends and gotten data from strangers. The biggest trick now is to not get defensive and to really, really listen. In the clip of Ramsay and the Walnut Tree Inn’s owner, they are having two conversations. Ramsay is saying to lower prices to bring in more customers but the Italian is saying he doesn’t want to lower his standards. Despite Ramsay giving him edible proof, the Italian just won’t hear what Gordon is saying.
So how did things work out for The Walnut Tree Inn? No fooking suprise but sad still, innit?
One of Wales’ best known restaurants, The Walnut Tree Inn, near Abergavenny, has closed for business. A statement on its website says the restaurant had to close at short notice “pending some reorganization” (sic).
The restaurant is credited by many in the industry with putting Wales on the culinary map and has been popular with food critics since the 1960s.
The saddest part of that story…
TV chef Gordon Ramsay featured The Walnut Tree in his Kitchen Nightmares series in 2004, clashing with Mr Mattioli over its menu and prices.
Mr Mattioli later said he was unhappy with the portrayal of his business.
He still doesn’t get it.
Lesson Two: Don’t Go Commando In The Kitchen Or You’ll Burn Your Bollocks.
â€œI was standing too close to the hob when I was cooking. I was wearing these cotton trousers underneath I was going commando. Suddenly I felt this searing heat. My bollocks were burning. â€œI went to the hospital because of the excruciating pain. I had an ultrasound and I get the results on Friday.
Update On Ramsay’s Bollocks…
Tara Ramsay said that her husband was not injured while cooking. â€œI have to set the story straight here and Iâ€™m going to blush as I say it, as itâ€™s a very personal subject,â€ she told ITVâ€™s This Morning, according to Digital Spy.â€œ
As with all men you have to check regularly and he had a dull ache in one of his testicles and so he went to have it checked. You know Gordon, itâ€™s a red rag to a bull, he gets really excited at the story he can make up. We were at an awards that night and the moment we stepped out, he was questioned on it. You could see he was just brimming with excitement at the fact, â€˜I know what Iâ€™m going to say, I burnt it,â€™â€ she said.
Tara Ramsay also revealed that Gordon Ramsayâ€™s balls are totally fine. â€œThe dull ache is absolutely fine. All checked and all fineâ€¦Itâ€™s old age,â€ she said.
More lessons in part 2, but those two are good ones so follow them.A U.S. version of Kitchen Nightmares debuts on Fox on September 19th. I hope they all don’t have happy endings…but I hope they have a lot of happy endings.