Masterchef S02 ep13 : Gordon Ramsay, Restaurant Hospital Road, [London]
Interview with Gordon Ramsay
Before Gordon became a TV celebrity, he was quite a good chef.
Ramsay: Kitchens at this level either function to pure perfection or when someone throws a
spanner in the works, bang, the whole thing breaks down.
Ramsay: I found my real feet in the heart of Paris studying with Guy Savoy. Working for Marco
White and Gavroche was inspiration, but I really felt at home in Guy Savoy and that was a huge
influence in my career.
What made Guy Savoy different to Gavroche?
Ramsay: Both very French, both very busy, exciting, brilliant kitchens to work in. Gavroche was a
very French classical repertoire and Guy Savoy had a very light style of cooking that involved very
little cream, very little butter, lots of poaching and braising and poaching and grilling, lot of sauces
thickened with purees of vegetables, purees of herbs, it was a very light style of eating. Heavy
influence of fish, travelling through the seasons, I mean Gavroche was not that seasonal, but, very
classical French. Guy Savoy was exciting. Wonderful thing with … and using a lot of … and
there’s some fantastic line court … and line court bass, a lot of … lots of different cooking
techniques, braised belly of pork, slow roasted beef and it was just a very intriguing idea and a
wonderful concept of cooking which was completely the opposite to what I’d been taught by
Marco and at Gavroche.
Ramsay: Food trends tend to come in and out. We’ve been inundated with Pacific Rim and fusion
confusion. Those kinds of restaurants disappear within three or four years. Hallmark restaurants
with proper repertoires and confirmed status are around for 20, 30 years. I’d be mortified to think
of this being a trendy restaurant.
Ramsay: I’ve got the perfect set up and the perfect platform to create, I function Monday to Friday,
I close Saturday, Sunday, I travel the world and when I close in summer, Christmas and Easter. I’m
constantly obsessed with what’s going on in New York, I’m constantly obsessed with what Charlie
Trotter’s new menu is. I’m constantly obsessed with what Thomas Keller’s doing in the French
Laundry. I admire Ferran Abrelan at El Bule in Rossas so I need to stay that little edge in front. I
need to have that one foot in front of everybody else just to look at new plates, look at new ideas,
continue evolving my menu. The f… recently sent me earl grey tea and the … puree, it’s cooked in
rock salt so it’s almost like a … sliced very thin, over … puree and then a wonderful earl grey tea
jelly to eat with it, those flavours on the palate are cleansing. The foundation of my training from
Marco to Gavroche to Guy Savoy to Robuchon and then I spent some time with Ducasse in the
South of France. I’m on edge, but, I’m looking for tomorrow. I’m not interested in today.
Ramsay: I think the execution is important. But tomorrow when I go out for dinner, or Saturday
night when I go out for dinner with my wife, it’s the flavours that I think about, first thing Sunday
morning, not how food looks. I loathe food that looks pretty, can’t stand that. Execute the dish, hit
perfection on the combinations of the garnishes, and the main ingredients, unfussy exposure on the
plate and don’t get incy wincy, but concentrate on the flavours because that, for me, is what holds
the memory and the focal point of tomorrow lunch time when the guests are talking about their
night, their previous night’s dinner.
Ramsay: I’m an absolute nightmare at selecting the best of the best produce. And I pay a fortune
for that, I’m not here to sit and scrimp and scrape and saving a thousand pound a week on my veg
bill, I’m not interested in that. I want the best, and only the best.
Ramsay: I source a lot from France, but I also have … sea bass from South Cornwall, I also have
the best of venison from Scotland, hand … scallops from the West Coast of Scotland. Scottish
lobsters which are … over the caviar and the tomato consume so the hallmark of this cooking here
is reliant of brilliant produce in and around this country. Unfortunately, the repertoire doesn’t
coincide with steak and kidney pudding, fish and chips and stodge, as we know it. I’m rebelling
against all that, I want to create a completely new platform in order that we can be proud of 20, 30
years down the line.
Ramsay: One particular evening we had a VIP guest and we weren’t allowed to be told who this
guest was and I thought it was a member of the Royal Family. The security guards arrived two
hours before and this guests arrived and went through all the fridges, went through the back
passage ways, one went on top of the roof, and so it was getting quite serious as to who this was.
Then I asked the Chief of Security who it was and they said look for security reasons we can’t tell
you. They had a table of four in the dining room and four opposite them for security and two
armed security guards outside. Of course when this particular guest arrived it was bloody Salman
Rushdie. I’ve never seen my dining room empty out so quickly in my entire life.
Ramsay: I was recently slated in the Sunday Times for having a failed footballing career and a
shotgun wedding by getting my wife up the duff, was the exact words, so I had to marry her, and
this was written by a talented writer by the name of A A Gills who writes for the Sunday Times as
a food critic. I asked him politely not to come and review my new restaurants, lo and behold he
turns up and … he turns up with Joan Collins and no one would actually think I’d have the
bollocks to evict the whole table and I kicked the whole f*cking lot out. Sorry, Joan don’t take it
personally. Piss off please.
Ramsay: Integral part of the business is being right smack bang in the middle of service and things
going wrong and just being in complete control. I am a control freak, I do hit perfection every day
and I am a self confessed perfectionist. Take me out of that scenario and stick me in a television
studio and I start acting as though I’m going to create the next Cornish pastie, forget it. Life’s too
short for …
Ramsay: Chefs get excited on adrenalin. I suppose it’s just my one release since my Ducati is gone
now, I got banned recently in my Porsche, that’s gone and my licence is back and I’ve just put an
order in for a new Marinella to be delivered at Christmas. The excitement of travelling 208 mile an
hour Friday night after service on the M4, that is adrenalin and if I can pick up my car up on the
Friday night, shoot down to the countryside and my wife, spend the weekend away, come back
Sunday, drop the car off at the garage, and then come back to work Monday morning, that’s my
Ramsay: And I’ll never understand why young cooks today from the age of 19 to 25 work 16, 17
hours a day to become mediocre chefs. If they’re going to do it then they’ve got to do it properly
and they’ve really got to stay focused on that training and get into bed with a big chef for 2-3 years
at a time, travel to New York, spend some time in France, spend some time in London you know
be put against a chef, be brought under their umbrella. I was with Marco, I was with Gavroche at
Michel in Sav… the blue eyed boy and of course Robert Chombel, he couldn’t stand the English
anyway so I had no chance, 18 to 25 you’re like a sponge. And you can tolerate a lot of flack at
that age. When you get to 26, 27 you want a bit of return, you want to see some decent salary, want
a bit of position in the kitchen and more importantly, don’t waste time as a sous chef because in
my mind, if you’re going to waste 18 months or two years as a sous chef to understand cost control,
and staff organisation it would be far more beneficial to your career to go and spend two years with
a big chef than it is to become a sous chef and prop another chef up.
Ramsay: The future, 33 now, if I’m 46, 47 at sort of John George’s age, Danielle’s age and if I’m
as successful as those guys, 10-15 years down the line I’m going to be over the moon. Spreading
my name with bistro and brasseries I’m not interested in, pushing for three stars has always been
my ambition, and I hope this is my year when I get my third star in January, from there I’ll just set
up a former No. 2 of mine, Marcus Wareing at Patrouche, he won his first in six months, go
forward, that’s how I’d like to be recognised, investing in nurtured young talent coming through
my kitchen, giving them a perfect platform to create and readdressing this small fine dining eatery
in neighbourhood cities, and getting away from the 200, 300 seater brasseries which is not
portraying our cuisine in the best light. So that’s what’s in store for me and if I can do that
investment, over 18 months or two years, the 15 guys in my kitchen over the next 10 years, then
maybe 15-20 years down the line I may have an empire one day hopefully consisting of 2-3
Michelin star restaurants.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Gordon Ramsay, Restaurant Hospital Road, [London]