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In defense of Gordon Ramsey

I've read how people don't like Gordon and how he's arrogant and egotistical but I think some of that comes from jealousy. He even listed in a story on this website as one of the most obnoxious chefs of 2011.

He yells alot. Yes he does no doubt about it. But I wonder if people hear whats he saying. When I manage a Wendys we had a District Manager that no one liked because she yelled all the time. They were actually scared of her. Then one day I actually listened to what she was saying not how she was saying it and it was all to make me and my employees better. She yelled because her family yelled when they spoke. Sometimes its not how you say it its what you say. My employees actually looked forward to her visits and my place was one of her favorites because we started to treat her like a regular person and listened.

He says you alot. Think about someone who has a big ego. Its usually I or me. I watched the most recent Kitchen Nightmares and nothing was about him. It was about making the restaurant better. The most negative he has ever been with a restauranteur was the Black Pearl who deserved everything they got and more.

He takes joy in someones success. He actually bounces around when someone does good, especially when they were having troubles before.

I know when he curses at chefs on Hells Kitchen but once again is doing it because they deserve it and should be doing better or is it for TV?

I'm not saying he's a perfect guy but I think he deserves more credit then he gets.

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  1. I always used to think that Ramsey shouted a lot because it was his onscreen persona. He's on television and you have to have a USP to be a success so being angry, shouty chef was his thing.

    Then I worked in a kitchen for a bit. Nothing special, just a village pub where I was doing some pot washing and waitressing. There were two male chefs, one was the big guy who was in charge and the other was a bit lower down, a much younger lad. They were both great guys...outside of service that is. During work time, they could be so horrible. Yeah they shouted, yeah they told people off, yeah you would get in deep trouble if you messed it up. Sometimes I really hated working with them. But outside of service, they were so nice it was funny. They could be yelling at you all evening and then afterwards you might sit and have a drink with them like nothing happened.

    Bottom line, I think some chefs get angry in the kitchen as a way of dealing with the pressure and time constraints of service. They get angry and loud because it's the only way they know how to keep everyone in else "in line". It doesn't mean they're not lovely people outside of work.

    1. I recently had the pleasure of meeting Chef Ramsey and I have to say that I was surprisingly impressed by just how charming, disarming and gracious he was. Not what I expected at all.

      I had always suspected that the crazy man persona was just that, a character make for TV, and I am now even more convinced of this. "Nice" just doesn't make good TV and I think he is a very shrewd businessman who feeds his public what they want.

      1. It's pretty egotistical to think that criticism comes only from jealousy

        1. jealousy? Surely you can do better than that. A lot of people don't like his persona. I don't get the rabid fan base that so often posts on chow in outrage over any criticism of him.

          1. My understanding is that is the way he is in his OWN kitchens as well. I recall an interview with his former TV MaƮtre d', Jean-Phillipe, and said yes, that's the way he is. I forget why, but for whatever reason, he commands respect of his staff, and they're usually with him for a LONG time. In fact, Jean-Phillipe is still with him as his Restaurant Director at Petrus in London (he's worked for Gordon since 1995).

            While his method might not work for everyone, it does for GR. I'm OK with that. If someone doesn't like it, they don't have to work for him. Or watch his shows. Does it gets schticky on Hell's Kitchen? Yeah, which is why I've stopped watching it. But it obviously works.

            1 Reply
            1. re: LindaWhit

              I agree - my husband works in a kitchen (just a local place) and is well used to high-pressure anger. He says it's pretty standard in a kitchen. Ramsay's method works for him, and exaggerating it works for his media empire. So be it. He DOES actually give information in his yelling, trying to improve whomever he is yelling at. I couldn't deal with it (I'd break out in tears every time) but I know better than to put myself in this situation.

              1. We are defending people yelling and scream and cursing? Maybe the US president needs to start yelling, screen and cursing at the state of the union.... and then some of us can "defend" the actions, by saying "You should hear what he has to say, not how he said it"

                Maybe I should also do that to the next little baby I see. Just yell at him, and when his parents asked what the f is wrong with you, I will remember to use the "hear what I have to say" defense.

                Look he can do whatever he wants. It is his kitchen, but I don't think we need to defend him.

                1. I don't know folks but it seems to me that one of the most basic principles taught about managing people is that the KITA (Kick in the Ass) method has long since been proven to not work that well with most people. Shouting is one thing but being condescending and demeaning is quite another. I've always felt that, if you conclude that an employee doesn't 'get it' you need to take them aside and make sure they are listening and understanding........ easier if you're not screaming at them. If they don't 'get it', they should be working somewhere else.

                  I was once in a 'stand-off' with a boss who kept insisting that I come up with an explanation about why something I'd done had been done incorrectly. After trying everything I could think of, and getting nowhere, I finally said "I guess I'm just stupid!". That caused an enforced 'time out' but resulted in a mutual understanding that just beating on me wasn't the way to get results. Some bosses just do what they are comfortable doing and what makes them feel effective.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Midlife

                    I think I had the same boss, Midlife. She insisted that everything was done for a reason - and wanted to find out why I did something wrong. Sometimes it's just because I messed up, but she wouldn't take that as an answer. I finally found a different job, and 3 months later, she was fired (she had gone through about 10 employees in 5 years in her team of 3).

                  2. I've worked in a kitchen where the chef did a lot of yelling. He had to to make himself heard over the noise but mostly because most of the kitchen staff didn't have the collective IQ of a slice of Wonderbread BECAUSE the owner refused to hire staff he had to pay decent money. He hired mostly illiterate morons and the people like the line cooks, who actually knew what we were doing, he VERY grudgingly handed out larger pay checks to. The restaurant closed after a couple of years and the owner went back to driving a cement truck. Notice G.R. never yells and screams at ANYONE who is doing their job properly and to the very best of their ability on a consistent level.. He's not that stupid. He treats his employees with the utmost respect and even deference as long as they have earned his respect. That is one of the reasons he has been so successful in a VERY hard business.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Puffin3

                      He's also good about praising those (publicly) who have done well. 'Those scallops are cooked perfectly', etc.

                    2. Some say GR is genuinely abusive towards his staff. Others say that it's mostly an act for camera.

                      I take the view that being abusive to your employees is never acceptable. Not in the restaurant industry. Not in any industry.

                      So, I'm not sure on what basis I dislike GR's persona. Is it because he's genuinely abusive towards folk? Or is it because it's all an act and he thinks it makes him look the "big hard man"? Either way, I don't like the persona.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Harters

                        I suspect the TV persona is quite manufactured and IIRC correctly it has been getting more extreme over time. I even think the US vs UK shows have different personas. After all we only see wh the producer leaves on the screen, 20 mins of bad temper in a 30 minute show creates one impression, whilst 20 mins in 24 hours quite another.

                        The contradiction i see with him is how be really nurtures talent, not what the Chef Shouty image is all about. He sometimes nurtures it on screen but the real evidence is in the chefs and FOH who he developed and who stayed with him a long time: Marcus Wareing, Jason Atherton, Will Sargent, Angela Hartnett, Claire Smythe etc etc. Not a bad list for such a bad persona.

                      2. I've never seen Hell's Kitchen, which is perhaps the key exhibit for people about GR, or?

                        But I have seen numerous episodes of Kitchen Nightmares (that's the show where he tries to revive failing restaurants?), and there he never seems inappropriately harsh. It's more a tough-love vibe. What he does seems always to proceed from a desire to improve things rather than to exalt himself by demeaning anyone. I cannot think of any exception.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Bada Bing

                          Spot on. Remember "Hell's Kitchen" is on Fox, and the network seems like a whole lot of sensationalism to me. Kitchen Nightmares is not at all like Hell's Kitchen, yet the BBC series spawned Hell's Kitchen. Different networks, different countries - different Gordon.

                          1. re: phee

                            I'm going to repeat what I said on this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/857990

                            In response to someone saying "It's FOX" (re: added drama):

                            WHY do people keep saying that?

                            It can be said about ANY station that airs reality shows. CBS does it with Big Brother or The Amazing Race or Survivor, The Food Network does it with TNFNS, Lifetime does it with Project Runway, Bravo does it with Top Chef, The Real Housewives, MTV does it with Jersey Shore, ABC does it with Extreme Home Makeover, NBC has it with The Apprentice, etc.

                            Fox doesn't have the exclusive lock on "added drama," you know.

                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              I guess it was more apparent because we had something to compare between his BBC series and the Fox series. Night and day, IMO.

                              You're right - they all do it. And this is why I rarely watch reality shows. In fact, I blew off the last season of Top Chef. Just tired of all the added drama, I guess.

                              1. re: phee

                                And "BBC" doesn't have the lock on 'quality' either although clearly, that is part of the brand identity that allows those watching Ramsay's UK programming on BBC America to feel good about it.
                                Funnily enough, the programme is not BBC but Channel 4 (Kitchen Nightmare's at least) which means other assumptions around television network branding are going on as well.

                        2. I liked him on the "F Word" a lot. No one here mentioned it. It was one of the few programs that I actually enjoyed on the FN. He was the complete opposite of what you see on American tv. No yelling, no nothing. I actually saw interesting cooking, techniques and ideas. His latest Christmas episodes were pleasant enough. He did a 3-episode series in India that was very well-done, also.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: Professional_Amateur

                            I liked "F Word" too. Here, it was on BBC America, not FN. FN would never run a show like that.

                            1. re: acgold7

                              I guess here in Canada, the FN was a bit more courageous. You could initially watch it at a reasonable time but when new seasons arrived, they started pushing the time later so, I switched to Youtube...:-)

                              1. re: Professional_Amateur

                                Also remember that although they share some programming and other licensed elements, FN USA and FN Canada are completely different companies and are not related.

                                1. re: acgold7

                                  Yes, I've seen the FN while in the US and its not at all like what is broadcast in Canada. Like apples and oranges really.

                            2. re: Professional_Amateur

                              F Word is one of his best works. Another one is when he escapes to India, it is a mini-series or 4-5 shows. He never gets angry in that and you can see the real Gordon in that series. I don't think there are too many hard working and talented individuals like Gordon. IMHO, he has earned the right to shout or to be different any way he pleases.

                              1. re: ak08820

                                <you can see the real Gordon in that series>

                                Maybe that is the abnormal Gordon. Based on his reputation, he indeed yelled at people very often in his kitchen -- not just for shows.

                                <I don't think there are too many hard working and talented individuals like Gordon. IMHO, he has earned the right to shout or to be different any way he pleases.>

                                Hmm, I don't think one earns the right to shout or yell through hard working and talent. People yell simply because they yell. There is no "right" to speak of.

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  Absolutely agreed. A prima donna screams at people rather than treats them like a professional. That wouldn't work out in my workplace, and I know if someone treated me that way , if they were my boss or a client, I would leave. If they weren't, I would get in their face.
                                  Not sure why so many people think browbeating is particularly amusing but to each their own.

                                2. re: ak08820

                                  I really enjoyed the India series as well, and wish he would do more like that.

                              2. i think you have to look at the culture of the work place. I think shouting over the din and as Anthony Bourdain put it: busting balls, is a tradition in the restaurant world. Not saying that it is right or wrong, but it is what it is. I find that work places where high stress levels are achieved usually gives people an excuse to vent and do things they wouldn't usually do.

                                As for the Kick in The Ass method. It has been shown that it works very well in the short term, when thing shave to get done yesterday. But it doesn't work in the long term and forethought is required. I think that the kitchen is one of those places where it pays dividends to be using KITA.

                                One thing I have learned in dealing with people is that things done in service to getting the job done should never be personal. When the crisis is over, we can all be normal human beings again.

                                1. I defend Gordon Ramsay. I like characters with that "Would you please take your head out of your a$$" attitude. Go Gordo go !! ... And, Judge Judy for World Emperor while we're at it too.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Cheese Boy

                                    "And, Judge Judy for World Emperor while we're at it too."

                                    yesssss!! I love Judge Judy!!! :D

                                    1. re: petek

                                      Sometime she does make a lot of sense.

                                  2. Having high standards and demanding the best one can produce is one thing, but no one, not even chefs, deserve to be cursed at. I have spent the last 40 years teaching people and was considered a great educator. I never resorted to profanity to get the best out of my students.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: randyjl

                                      <but no one, not even chefs, deserve to be cursed at.>

                                      How about criminals?

                                      <I never resorted to profanity to get the best out of my students.>

                                      Now, we do know for sure that people do that effectively in military and football. I am not approving Ramsey, but I am just giving the alternative view points.

                                      1. re: randyjl

                                        < I never resorted to profanity to get the best out of my students>

                                        But I bet you didn't spend the last 40 years teaching people in a tiny, hot,cramped, poorly ventilated space surrounded by smoke, knife wielding thugs and fire!!! Or maybe you did.... :D.

                                      2. Ever work in a commercial kitchen? No AC/100 plus heat with ten others, half of which had come in late where 'loaded'/dirty/couldn't care less about even the remotest concept of hygiene let alone food prep/presentation? And people wonder why chef screams. Sigh. The ONLY time GR ever screams at any one for anything is when they are screwing up. Don't like it? Find another line of work IMO.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Puffin3

                                          There are many working environments where staff are managed in difficult and challenging circumstances. Screaming at those you supervise or otherwise being abusive towards them will usually get you fired, not applauded. At least that is the situation in the country where I and Gordon Ramsay were raised.

                                        2. I thought he was hard of hearing, that's why he shouted all the time. Surely his attitude couldn't be beneficial in any workplace. Imagine your boss berated you in front of your peers. It's happened to me and it's humiliating.

                                          1. How you treat people is a reflection of your character. I am all for honest, direct criticism because knowing you failed is important in the learning process. Tell them that it is not good at all, maybe even inedible; tell them what they did wrong; tell someone how to do it better or correctly -- but always do it with respect. Sometimes you have to tell people several times before it sinks in. Sometimes you have to terminate people to slow to improve. There is no defence for his antics. Personally, I do not like watching people being cruel and disrespectful to people, I will not watch it. If you do -- what does that say?

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: cacruden

                                              I watch. So tell me. What does that say?

                                              1. re: cacruden

                                                you have to separate when he's trying to teach and when he's playing a character. hell's kitchen is the worst case of getting to know him. you see a bit show through when he helps the extreme longshots who make it far in the show. he usually offers to pay for culinary school for them.

                                                watch some of the kitchen nightmares from the bbc series. he truly cares about the people, and wants to help. yeah he curses but who cares? its rarely in the sense of degrading people..

                                                1. re: arjunsr

                                                  <watch some of the kitchen nightmares from the bbc series. he truly cares about the people, and wants to help. yeah he curses but who cares? its rarely in the sense of degrading people..>

                                                  +1 the 2 shows are like night and day..stopped watching the U.S version after the second season.

                                              2. Have you seen the latest Ramsay controversy? According to Marcus Samuelsson, he said Ramsay phoned him and screamed and cursed at him (including making a racist remark) because he thought Samuelsson had not given him due credit during an interview. Samuelsson has waited 12 years before mentioning this incident in his recent book.

                                                "Gordon Ramsay screamed at me, 'you f.........."


                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: Antilope

                                                  Oh you mean the same MS who must remind everyone in every sentence he speaks that he was actually raised the N. Europe some where? He's now become a caricature of himself. It's like " yes I'm very dark skinned but don't worry because I grew up among White skinned people I'm OK". The fact that he 'claims' some one screamed at him 12 years ago is a bit pathetic IMO. You'd think some one as 'couch' successful as him would have been able to let it go by now. Oh well. We all know about how those 'N. Europeans' can hold a grudge. LOL LOL

                                                  1. re: Puffin3

                                                    Speaking of how we can bear grudges, Marco Pierre White still mentions that, before leaving his employment, Gordon Ramsey arranged for the restaurant's reservations book to be stolen.

                                                    It is well documented that Ramsey acknowledges his involvement.

                                                    1. re: Harters

                                                      Gordon Ramsay stole his own reservation book so everybody would blame Marco Pierre White and thus make White look bad while also making Ramsay look sympathetic.

                                                      It really does seem like Ramsay has issues with his mentors and former bosses, the way he'll bad mouth them- he did that to White, to Raymond Blanc, to Joel Roelbuchon. Compare that to the way White treated his mentors and former bosses on his Marco Pierre Cooks For specials. Or, the way Eric Ripert, despite his success, is still grateful and respectful towards Roelbuchon.

                                                      I used to like Ramsay but the final straw for me was his Shark Bait special which was geared towards his English audiences, and not necessarily Americans here. I was just so turned off by the dishonesty of it all and the rampant hypocrisy.

                                                      Before the special, Ramsay was trying to hype it up and get higher ratings by telling the media how he had been held by gunpoint, doused with gasoline, how he had to jump overboard to find a stash of hidden bag of shark fins, etc.. And, then you watch the show, and none of that happened at all.

                                                      Instead, I saw him breaking and entering into buildings and shouting in English at bewildered Taiwanese people. And, when they didn't respond to him because they didn't speak English, he'd tell the cameras that those people must be guilty and gangsters and other nonsense.

                                                      On the show, he tries shark fin soup but writes it off as tasteless. But, I would expect more from a chef who could also recognize that the shark fin was there for the texture, not the taste.

                                                      On top of that, Ramsay had been fishing for sharks only about a year before the special, and now he was crying crocodile tears about sharks getting killed. On his previous specials, he reveled in eating and serving endangered species. And, his restaurants continued to serve endangered species even when this special aired.

                                                      If he wanted to do more, it would be more effective with his platform to highlight the endangered fishes his audience in the UK are eating rather than an Asian delicacy. I just got the sense that he was more concerned about headlines and fame than really doing or caring about the environment. It just happened that sharks were the latest enviornmental topic du jour, and he decided to jump on it.