Gordon Ramsay, star of Kitchen Nightmares, Hell's Kitchen, and MasterChef, took to the Internet to answer questions as part of a Quora session on Friday, February 3rd. Here are some highlights:
- He's not trying to be mean -- he's just in the zone. "Like any athlete, when you are in it and you're competitive and you're dying to win then you are in a different mindset. Cooking is exactly the same for me. When the stove is on and we are live, there are ingredients, pressure. It's unscripted and I'm just going to ask you to follow me and you're going to get me as a real chef talking about what excites me the most and what frustrates me the most," says Ramsay. "I need to be under that spotlight to get the best out of myself," he admitted.
- There are subtle differences between good chefs and great ones. "Level of sensitivity on their palate. There is a defined level of perfection and the ability to maximize an ingredient and the flavor of that raw ingredient. Great chefs have the ability to make edits on the plate where they know to say stop. They know that something is utterly perfection. The insecurities of a good chef cause you to finish a dish with endless microgreens, herbs, and purees that have no relevance," Ramsay noted.
- He believes that the best restaurants don't let the push for fame and ratings get in the way. When asked about common mistakes first-time restaurateurs make, Ramsey said, "They start thinking about the bright lights and accolades instead of filling their restaurant. As opposed to worrying about being famous, worry about the restaurant being popular within your neighborhood. The NYTimes, Michelin, The New Yorker, they will come visit you if it's the best in the neighborhood, but don't worry about outside of that neighborhood."
- He raised his kids on cooking instead of screens. Describing a typical family meal in his house, Ramsey spoke fondly of making cooking a collaborative effort. "It was the advantage of making my kids learn to cook at the age of five, no iPads, no Xbox, no games -- I made them cook, so we could do it together," he said.
- If he weren't one of the world's most accomplished chefs, he'd want to be a Navy SEAL. "They are disciplined. I've met those guys and have seen what it takes to be a SAS member or a SEAL and it is absolutely extraordinary on the paces they've put themselves through. They are elite athletes and their discipline is something I can relate to," he said in response to a Quora user's question.
- He challenged Bobby Flay to a cook-off. "I've been asking Bobby Flay for the last five years for that opportunity to go up head-to-head, and he still won't sign that damn contract," said Ramsay. "I walked into Bobby's Mesa Grill and said, "Bobby, let's cut the bullshit and get in the ring you and I for 60 minutes and if you need a ten minute head start and extra sous chef, you can have them, but I'm going to kick your ass." He said yes, but 24 hours later, his agent phoned up and said, "No, we haven't got the time."
- The single food trend that annoys him most? Foam. "If I want foam I will stick to my bubble bath after the end of a long week," writes Ramsay. "Watching foam sit on a plate and 30 seconds later it starts to disintegrate and it starts to look like toxic scum on a stagnant pool of crap. I don't want to eat foams. It's not good."
You can read Gordon Ramsay's full Quora session here.
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