Gordon Ramsay's Shark Bait (BBC-America)
Ramsay does a bit of investigative video journalism and is fairly eloquent with it. Not news for most of us of course, but the pictures are effective in getting across the sheer volume of the shark slaughter and waste for soup fins. There's a short segment showing long line (12 miles of it ) fishing from a tiny tub in the Pacific in which Ramsay unhooks and releases a sea turtle. It closes with his screening the video for the staff and management from some large Chinatown (London/Soho) restaurants. Addressing them in a respectful manner, he comments that the Chinese generally waste nothing in their cooking, yet 95% of the shark gets discarded to harvest the fins. Several of the restaurants go on to remove the soup from their menus and posting signs on their doors supporting a stop to eating shark fin . Chinese/ sino-americans in the U.S. who fancy the soup (and the restaurant proprietors catering to them of course), in part for the conspicuous consumption aspect of it, should watch the program but probably won't.
I thought it was a desperate grasp to try to remain relevant and in the news by jumping on the enviornmental issue du jour instead of focusing on improving food in his restaurant empire which has taken a hit in the past few years.
He was so desparate for ratings and publicity that he hyped the special before it aired with tales about how he was nearly murdered by fishermen in Costa Rica who doused him with gasoline and then lined him against a wall while pointing guns pointed at him.
But, we saw nothing even close to that on the special. In Taiwan, somebody drops some liquid near him to shoo him away. But, he doesn't get a drop on him and it wasn't gasoline. And, at no point is his life ever threatened, especially with any guns.
The only passing thing involving guns was when Ramsay breaks into a rooftop in Taiwan and Gordon says they must leave 'before they get shot' after a lady on the rooftop makes a phone call. But, in all likelihood, that lady was probably making a phone call to the police about this crazy foreigner who broke into the place. (Ramsay was acting strangely paranoid in Taiwan, freaking out about a dog barking, a black Mercedes driving by, and that lady making a phone call.)
I couldn't believe he could lecture those Chinatown restaurants with a straight face given his own questionable behaviour where he was hunting for sharks for sport not too long ago by basically suffocating the sharks to death for 10 minutes, when he's eaten endangered species before on his tv special, and several of his restaurants were serving endangered species like bluefin tuna (which is more endangered than sharks) and european eel (larger percentage of the eel population has been wiped away compared to sharks) at the time this special aired in England.
Gordon Ramsay should probably focus on improving his own enviornmental footprint before lecturing others, but obviously didn't.
Ramsay does a bit of investigative video journalism and is fairly eloquent with it
As a piece of investigative jounalism, it was kind of a dud.
First of all, if he really wanted some honest dilaogue, he should have brought along a translator with him ito Taiwan instead of shouting in English at all the Taiwanese people who didn't understand him because they only spoke Chinese. Its insulting to the audience to try to portray a Taiwanese person as sinister or with something to hide just because that Taiwanese person doesn't speak English.
And, as a chef/ivestigative jounalist, it seemed disingneous to taste shark fin soup and write it off as conspicous consumption without acknowledging the gelatinous texture of the shark fin. I would have thought that a chef would understand the role texture plays in food.
For all the talk about finning, I was expecting to see a lot more cases of it. But in the end, all he shows is old video footage about finning to those Chinese restaurants in London.
But, what would have been the London Chinatown restaurants reaction if Ramsay had shown them his own, newer footage about finning where all he ended up uncovering was one shark that got finned and even that was argubably not really a case of finning?
When he's at Taiwan, we see all these shark bodies being unloaded along with their fins. But, Ramsay tries to prove that this is a case of finning when he counts the shark bodies vs the shark fins and notices that there isn't a 1:1 ratio. But, sharks have multiple fins so of course there wouldn't be a 1:1 ratio between shark bodies and shark fins.
And, then Ramsay goes to Costa Rica and joins a boat that's been out at sea for 1 month. Here, Ramsay finally uncovers a case of finning because he discovers a shark fin that does not match any of the dead sharks on board the boat. It turns out that the fishermen illegally finned the shark because they were supposed to only bring in fins if they brought the rest of the shark too. But, instead of bringing that shark to shore, the fishermen had cut up the shark to serve as bait to catch more shark.
Ramsay should probably stick in the kitchen instead of trying to be an investigative journalist. I knew this investigative journalism was in trouble from the very beginning when he made that wildly inaccurate claim that 100 million sharks are killed each year.