Aside from being an acclaimed chef with an array of popular restaurants to his name, Gordon Ramsay is best known for his confrontational style in the kitchen. The master cook definitely isn’t afraid of raising his voice in order to whip aspiring chefs into shape. It’s this explosive temperament that has helped make Ramsay a television star in both the U.S. and his native U.K. His most popular American series, Hell’s Kitchen, returns to FOX for its fourth season on Tuesday, April 1 at 9pm. To get fans pumped for the return of the high stakes cooking competition, Ramsay participated in a conference call with the press to dish about the new season.
Previous seasons of Hell’s Kitchen offered winners the chance to run their own restaurant, but this year’s prize is bigger and better. This time the winner of the competition will get the chance to work at Gordon Ramsay’s new restaurant, The London West Hollywood, where they’ll work as an executive chef. Ramsay pointed out that this gives him a personal stake in the contest, as the person he chooses will make him look bad if they’re incompetent.
“I put my money where my mouth is,” the chef stated. “I put my neck on the line.”
Over 22,000 people applied to be part of the fourth season of the FOX series, with only 15 making it through to the finals. Ramsay mentioned that he’s more excited about this season than any previous year, mainly due to the level of professionalism among the chefs. He added that the women are more talented than ever in season 4, which he found refreshing since the restaurant industry is often dominated by chauvinistic males.
Aside from the tense kitchen standoffs that fans of the show have come to expect, the new year of Hell’s Kitchen will have some unexpected twists. One thing that should provide lots of laughs is the fact that Ramsay himself got in on the competition. The chef was decked out in extensive makeup, including long hair and a ponytail, and went in undercover as “Terrance from Texas.” The disguise allowed him to spy on his fellow chefs and see how they worked when “Gordon” wasn’t around.
Perhaps the best thing about the series is the variety found amongst the competitors. The finalists for season 4 include a few people with little experience in a restaurant, including a stay-at-home dad and a receptionist. Ramsay stated that, “It’s much more exciting to me when you can pluck somebody out of obscurity.” He mentioned that the people who don’t start out as professionals often have a greater level of passion in the kitchen.
Chef Ramsay dropped other interesting tidbits about the season, such as the fact that all the previous winners will be back to help with the judging. This should also provide an opportunity to see how successful the winners from the first three seasons have been.
As for the future of the series, fans who can’t get enough Hell’s Kitchen will be happy to hear that season 5 has already completed filming. According to Ramsay, FOX decided to film two seasons back to back for economical reasons, to help utilize the expensive kitchen sets. Season 5 will likely air on FOX over the summer.
One thing we can bet on is that, come April 1, there will be a lot of real-life drama in those sweltering, high pressure kitchens. “We do have good days, we do have bad days, we do have meltdowns, and we do have tears,” Ramsay admitted. “For me, it’s real. I’ve done nothing but keep it real.”
– Don Williams, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
(Image courtesy of FOX)