There are many sides to restaurateur and TV star Gordon Ramsay: a devoted father, a raving Hell’s Kitchen tyrant, a tough critic and judge on MasterChef, an award-winning chef and restaurant owner, and more. Can we trust this notorious swearing perfectionist not to lose his cool and act appropriately when MasterChef Junior premiers this Friday, when a room full of energetic young amateur cooks look to him for guidance?
Gordon Ramsay has been a leader in the TV cooking competition empire since Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares launched in 2004. People only familiar with Ramsay from commercials and episodes of Hell’s Kitchen undoubtedly believe he is a complete jerk.
And now he will oversee 24 impressionable minds, ages 8 to 13, as they compete in a grueling cooking competition in front of a national audience on MasterChef Junior.
From UK Footballer to Five-Star Chef
Gordon Ramsay followed a challenging path to success, and he has had his own share of missteps and challenges. Born in Scotland, Ramsay moved to England at age five and continued to move many times, as his family faced economic instability.
At age 15, Ramsay was signed by the Glasgow Rangers, but he was injured after several trial games. Ramsay says that this inability to play for his favorite team drove him to pursue perfection in his chosen career: cooking.
Ramsay’s background provides him with a sense of humility, and his authority will generally be respected by children who grew up watching his shows. But will Ramsay lose his cool if his authority is challenged?
Hell’s Kitchen: Rule of Tyranny
Most Americans know of Ramsay’s expletive-filled rages on his Las Vegas-based TV show Hell’s Kitchen, where his perfectionism and hubris are on display. He is not ashamed to use every curse word known in American and British English and yet he does not tolerate chefs replying in turn. He demands perfectionism while making established chefs so nervous and competitive that they make mistakes that even I avoid: serve raw chicken, burn pancakes, and leave foil on the food.
An aside: why on earth Hell’s Kitchen serves seared scallops as an appetizer week after week is beyond me. Ramsay perennially hates, bashes and trashes nearly every plate of scallops served up by the contestants. Typical Ramsay rants on Hell’s Kitchen include:
“This chicken is f–*ing raw, raw, raw! How dare you serve raw chicken! F*** off!”
“I’m so sick of the lot of you. Piss off! Get out!”
And to all of his rages, chefs must respond in unison, “Yes, Chef!”
But the drama on this show is a requirement for joining the show.
According to interviews of past contestants by The New York Post: eliminated contestants are immediately sent for a psychiatric evaluation after the show to make sure they didn’t have a breakdown. After this, each former contestant is given a spa day for back rubs, hair and nails, and other luxuries before being sent back into the real world.
And yet, a fiery pressure cooker is not the kind of environment that savvy producers have in mind while creating MasterChef Junior. The children will face pressure, but it seems like Ramsay as a co-producer of his shows has a grip on exactly how much pressure he wants contestants to feel.
If producers are consulting with psychologists as they appear to be, MasterChef Junior will be careful to give the young 8 to 13-year-old contestants only as much pressure as they can take.
Ramsay knows what it’s like to start life with very little and work his way up to holding four Michelin stars. On the adult version of MasterChef, we see Ramsay admire and praise amateur home cooks who challenge themselves to learn new techniques and improve. As on MasterChef, Ramsay will likely be in awe of the talent and hard work of the young MasterChef Junior contestants. Ramsay’s inspired spirit will go a long way in stemming his anger and preventing a scene, and may make the show fun to watch!
Gordon Ramsay is a father of four, and he has proudly introduced his children to audiences and contestants of both MasterChef and Hell’s Kitchen. In fact, Ramsay’s pride and patience with his own children was my first sign several years ago that Ramsay had a caring side.
Gordon Ramsay may be a perfectionist in the kitchen, but by now we realize that he is in the entertainment industry. He wants to give viewers what they want, and what they want is to see children and teens amaze with their cooking wizardry.
“MasterChef Junior for me is instilling discipline outside of their family’s traditions and giving them something precious,” said Ramsay in a preview. “There’s something quite character-building when you know how to cook. For me, it’s about staying on that path of discipline.”
Ramsay wants to inspire his contestants and audience. He also likely does not want angry parents calling the show and a slew of lawsuits.
On MasterChef Junior, Ramsay’s treatment of the young cooks ranges from praising their dishes as “phenomenal” and saying that he is “blown away” to scolding a young chef in the kitchen (in an unusually calm and relatively soft voice, to be fair): “I’m not here to wipe your bottom, let’s get that right. You’re a big boy; you can do that on your own.”
There appears to be a lot of laughter, a lot of praise, and even children dumping some sort of baking batter on Chef Ramsay’s head.
I predict that we will be able to trust Gordon Ramsay, and that many viewers who know him from Hell’s Kitchen will be surprised at his level of caring and professionalism on MasterChef Junior. Either way, I can’t wait to find out!
Do you agree?
MasterChef Junior airs on Friday nights at 10pm on FOX.
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(Image courtesy of FOX)