Monday, 4 January 2010
My Culinary Influences... Part 2.
Part 1 can be found here
So Jamie Oliver gets most of the credit for getting me in the Kitchen on a regular basis and experimenting with a very wide spectrum of results. But it was a certain Gordon Ramsay who came crashing into my life in his series “Boiling Point” that changed my view on what was possible in a kitchen.
The series followed Gordon setting up his first restaurant “Gordon Ramsay” at Royal Hospital Road, after walking out of “Restaurant Aubergine” following a dispute with the owners. This was an eye opening series for me for a number of reasons. Before I saw “Boiling Point” I never knew this class of restaurant existed, and it was truly inspiring to see what went on “behind the curtain”. I also never knew you could get away with talking to your staff in such a manner without ending up in court charged with some form of abusive and threatening behaviour. What a guy, what a show!
You see Jamie was, and still is, about good tasty rustic home cooked food packed full of flavours, and that is great for home cooks. Gordon is all about perfection, the fine balance of flavours, the difference a change of texture can make to a dish, the meat and fish and veg cooked to perfection... and if it isn't all of these things and more, if even one little component isn't right, then the chefs hard work goes in the bin and has to be done all over again. Little wonder that his restaurants were so successful (things have changed during the credit crunch with Gordon having to close some of his establishments) and generated large profits. I have never eaten at a Ramsay establishment, but I yearn to... because I want to sample the food of any man (or women... no discrimination here) who is so blindly focussed on serving you the best dishes he can possibly create, no holds barred.
Follow this link to Youtube and wait for the fireworks to start 45 seconds into the clip, I have transcribed the “discussion” Gordon has with a chef below. Gordon in bold, and the chef he is “speaking with” in red italics....
What is going on here you? What is going on, one ravioli one f***ing foie gras, hey you, a**hole, you lost it again? You lost it again! What's your big deal? Why don't you f*** off home then! Go on f*** off home then! Hey a**hole... Yes Gordon... why don't you f*** off home then? Why don't you f*** off home? ...Because I don't want to Gordon.... Why have you f***ed it up? Have up lost it? ...No Gordon... Well f***ing wake up d***head!...Yes Gordon...
That should sort that out shouldn't it Gordon, you sure put him back in his place and focussed his mind on the task at hand?.... apparently not...
What's the big deal, one ravioli, one f***ing sautéed foie gras?!?! Do you want to go home and cry to mummy again?...No... Like a big f***ing wuss?...No Gordon... Guy puts himself in the s*** across the kitchen stands there blubbering like a f***ing baby!...Sorry Gordon... You got any bite back as a guy, you have any bollocks you?...Yes Gordon... Have you f***! As far as I am concerned you don't know your a**hole!
You could be be forgiven... once again for thinking that the chef has definitely been dealt with now and we can carry on with service, once again we are wrong....
What's he doing, Mark? One f***ing bass, one sautéed foie gras, one ravioli and you haven't even got the f***ing endive on! What's going on in your mind you? What's going on in your mind?...Not sure Gordon... What is it then, can't keep up? Tell me then!...Not sure Gordon... Your minds back at the f***ing beach again is it?...No Gordon... Unbelievable! Wake up ...Oui Gordon... or next time don't even set your f***ing alarm clock stay in your f***ing piss...Oui Gordon... then directed at another chef for brushing against him ever so slightly, so slightly I cant see it on the footage.... Do you mind not knocking me like a f***ing punching bag because I'm gonna lash out, do you understand?
Gordons 3 Michelin Star food may have made him famous, but it is without doubt its his “management technique” that made him infamous! I have heard many people who's first experience of Mr Ramsay was in “Hells Kitchen” or “Kitchen Nightmares” and they thought he was putting a persona on for the show. I for one don't believe this. As the “Boiling Point” series showed it isn't an act, it is him down to the bone and I for one loved it! Find me another character in any profession whom can get away with the kind of things he has said and done to many of his employees? And the best bit, they always came back for more because they knew how good he was and how much they could learn from him.
I find it understandable that he loses the plot a lot, he doesn't want much from his chefs, he just wants it doing right. Right to you and me would undoubtedly fall far short of his definition of the term, as his is most likely linked steadfastly to the term already mentioned in this post, perfection. If Gordon had chosen to be a builder I am sure he would have built some of the finest, well detailed buildings in country that were thoroughly thought out, sat exquisitely in their surroundings and prompted a yearning for one from those that saw it. Perfection just seems to be what he is about and if it isn't forthcoming I for one wouldn't like to be standing in his way!
So Jamie Oliver may have got me into the kitchen to cook, but it was Gordon Ramsay who made me strive for a final product that was good if not excellent, if not perfect! He also added an expletive or two to my vocabulary (which my mother isn't happy about, sorry mum) and showed me a world I never knew existed... and now, in a little over 24hrs, I am to attend the culinary school he is a part owner of!
What have I done? What have I let myself in for.....
Come back soon and find out!