Herald Sun - Switched On - - Front Page - Kitchen Night­mares

LONG be­fore Gor­don Ram­say found in­ter­na­tional fame as the foul-mouthed and volatile chef on Hell’s Kitchen, he’d made a name for him­self in Bri­tain as a soc­cer star turned ac­com­plished restau­ra­teur.

It’s easy to for­get that Ram­say, when not be­rat­ing staff or con­tes­tants on television, is a chef first and fore­most, hav­ing earned three Miche­lin stars at his epony­mous Lon­don restau­rant and open­ing more than a dozen oth­ers.

With the new show Kitchen Night­mares mak­ing waves in Aus­tralia be­cause of Ram­say’s pen­chant for the f-word — more than 80 times in a one-hour episode — Ram­say talks about his on-cam­era de­meanour, the molec­u­lar gas­tron­omy move­ment and his din­ing ex­pe­ri­ences. What kitchen night­mare is your big­gest peeve? What’s frus­trat­ing more than any­thing is when chefs start to cut cor­ners and be­lieve they are incog­nito in the way they send out the en­trees. And they know it’s not 100 per cent, but they think the cus­tomers can’t spot it. We know (cus­tomers) vote with their feet. They re­turn to restau­rants on the back of con­sis­tency. There are very few chefs both in Bri­tain and the States who re­ally iden­tify the se­cret of be­ing con­sis­tent and com­bine con­sis­tency with flavour. I train my chefs with a blind­fold. I’ll get my sous chef and my­self to cook a dish. That young chef would have to sit down and eat it with a blind­fold. If they can’t iden­tify the flavour, they shouldn’t be cook­ing the dish. Do you think you’re mean to peo­ple you work with on the show? I spend a lot of time in top restau­rants across Amer­ica. No dis­re­spect, but when you’re cook­ing in the pre­mier league of restau­rants . . . when things go down, it has to be sorted im­me­di­ately. My mum doesn’t en­joy some­times lis­ten­ing to me tell staff off, and I say to my mum: ‘‘It’s a kitchen, not a hair­dress­ing salon’’. Be­ing as­sertive and re­ally firm has to be backed up with be­ing fair. And one thing I’ve been all along is in­cred­i­bly fair. Have there been any dishes you’ve taken a lik­ing to on your US trav­els? The fas­ci­nat­ing short rib phe­nom­e­non. I had one re­cently at Wolf­gang Puck’s Cut in Los An­ge­les and it was ab­so­lutely phe­nom­e­nal. It came out on this plate with this amaz­ing creamy po­lenta, fin­ished with grated truf­fle, and it’s served with the cook­ing juices and the short rib on top. I was like a pig in heaven. What’s your take on the sci­en­tific approach to cook­ing? Molec­u­lar gas­tron­omy is a dou­bleedged sword. For those who mis­in­ter­pret it and don’t un­der­stand it, it be­comes a catas­tro­phe. When the in­tegrity is ap­plied and you un­der­stand . . . deal­ing with, say, liq­uid nitro­gen, or the ef­fects of cook­ing meat over a three-day pe­riod at a very low tem­per­a­ture, it’s ex­tra­or­di­nary. But for me, the phe­nom­e­nal amount of in­sight and real sci­en­tific approach to (molec­u­lar gas­tron­omy) is com­pletely dif­fer­ent to a nor­mal style of cook­ing, so you’ve got to re­ally un­der­stand it. You’re a big fan of El Bulli and Fer­ran Adria (the Span­ish chef re­garded as the fa­ther of molec­u­lar gas­tron­omy). I’m not a great lover of foam. I’ve been to El Bulli on four oc­ca­sions now and that man is the stan­dard­bearer. There have been so many ripoffs, it has been em­bar­rass­ing.

When you’re dic­tat­ing to a cus­tomer, ‘‘You’ve got to start at this side of the plate, and move ver­ti­cal 10 de­grees, then come back to 6 o’clock, and then reap­pear at 9 o’clock, and don’t eat that one be­fore you’ve dusted it with pow­der’’, I’m sorry, eat­ing out doesn’t have to be a for­mula.

Eat­ing out is about hav­ing fun. I get re­ally frus­trated when it’s badly done.

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