When I began watching Gordon Ramsay first on Hotel Hell and then followed that with Gordon Ramsay's Great Escape, Hell's Kitchen and Master Chef, I admit that while I did expect to be entertained, I didn't expect to learn anything worthwhile aside from some colorful new curse words.
However I quickly saw Gordon Ramsay cut again and again to the heart of the matter cleanly and quickly with keen insight and sharp intelligence. He doesn't allow anybody to be less than honest with themselves. He challenges people to see things with fresh perspective and to strive to constantly do and be better.
The more I watched, the more my admiration for him grew until one day I said to my husband in a burst of enthusiasm "I think that Gordon Ramsay and Pope Francis are two of my favorite people in the world!" An unlikely pair perhaps but true none the less.
I have a strong appreciation for excellent, quality food although I sadly lack in the ability to create it myself. I have tried but if someone were to ask me to put together my "signature dish", I would have to tell them that once with innocent optimism, I threw together a meal of diced potatoes and bacon fried in maple syrup. A tribute to my Canadian upbringing that could have caused my citizenship to be revoked. No one was more ashamed than I at how inedible this meal was.
Even so, I love watching cooking shows. I love watching chefs like Gordon Ramsay, Gennaro Contaldo, Rick Bayless, Graham Elliot and many other chefs, both professional and aspiring, practice their art. I learned to enjoy this from my son, a six year old foodie, who from the time he was three has been more interested in watching food shows on youtube than cartoons. At the age of four, I overheard my son tell some children he was playing restaurant with at the park that they should make fusili saffarano instead of mud pies and wondered in awe if perhaps I was looking at Norway's next Master Chef.
Back to these life lessons though.
1) Stand by your food.
Alternately, stand by your creation, whatever that is. Present it with confidence. Believe in what you have done. There are cases that a chef will present their food apologetically to the judges and this always causes the judges to judge the food less well. It isn't inspiring and doesn't inspire confidence. I wouldn't submit an article for publication with the explanation that this really isn't the best I can do. This doesn't mean that chef or writer feels they have nothing left to learn or should be arrogant but simply that if we go to the trouble of putting something out there, whether meal or poem, we should have the courage to stand by it and say "this is the best I have to offer right now, not that I have nothing left to learn but I take pride in what I do".
2) Don't Beg (Even if you really, really, really want something).
Anything we achieve should be achieved with integrity. Possibly this is just me, but I would rather not have something than get it through begging. On Master Chef auditions, some people fall on their knees and cry and beg for a chance to take part in the show. With writing I might hope fervently that something of mine would be accepted for publication but I wouldn't beg for it. I always hope my work has merit on its own. For me, an accomplishment achieved through begging would not be something I'd feel proud of.
3) Honesty is the best policy.
I immensely respect Gordon Ramsay. Honesty is the most loving way to be even if initially hurtful. Stepping carefully around the truth does no one any favors. White lies and nice words can't improve a situation in desperate need of improvement. In Hotel Hell, Chef Ramsay would quickly and accurately access the situation and then with skill like that of a doctor cutting out a cancer so a patient can heal, he would use his words to reveal the heart of the matter, the issues that needed changing.
4) You are allowed to spit out your food.
Chef Ramsay doesn't waste his time with food that is not worth eating. He often will taste it and if it is not to his liking, it goes in the garbage can. In life we often feel obligated to finish what we start even when we know it isn't worth our time. It can be hugely beneficial to not waste our own time.We can begin to respect ourselves enough to not feel obligated to finsih things that are not good. We don't need to read a book or see an entire movie if we are not interested in it. We can choose to end relationships that aren't healthy. If a project no longer holds our interest, we can choose to begin something new. There is something to be said for respecting ourselves enough to only give time to the things
This is of course not a comprehensive list of things to be learned from Chef Ramsay.
Maybe next time I will write a list of Gordon Ramsay's most interesting swear combinations...
Stay tuned. ;)