Q: Hi Chef, Are there any really strange food combinations that you enjoy?
A: I had an amazing doubled pork chop with rhubarb. Now rhubarb is something we literally eat with desserts, but this dish was incredible. It was in Spain. It was a double pork-chop that had been slow-roasted over an open pit fire with rhubarb. Absolutely delicious. This was one of my mates that was trying to show off cooking in his back garden in Spain when we were out filming for KITCHEN NIGHTMARES. I didn't think it was going to work, to be honest. And then when I started tasting, I thought Shit! This is delicious!
Q: Do ALL the kids on Master Chef Junior really know the techniques off the top of their head for every challenge, or do you give them a quick overview/rundown before the challenge starts. For instance the crouqembouche challenge?
A: That's a really good question. So across the filming procedure, we get the chance to spend time with them, with basic culinary lessons. So they won't know exactly what they're doing, but we'll show them basic techniques a few weeks prior. And also, things like the croquembouche - we'll do a class in sheet pastry, but we'll do sheet pastry BUNS, as opposed to actually doing a croquembouche. When it comes to the more serious elimination challenges, they'll have insight 3-4 weeks out. We are halfway through shooting season 5 of Master Chef Junior, and I am staggered by the level of competition. We start taping tomorrow morning, but based on the standards of the first few seasons, the level is just amazing - they are coming in better, stronger. And for kids to have ballet lessons, soccer lessons, that's something we've grown up with. And I've never known kids like we're having now, who are having cooking lessons outside of school hours.
Q: Is there any food that you won't even try?
A: Ehm - any food I won't even try? That's a good question. I think, being a chef, the first thing that I set out to do was to make sure that I almost got to taste every ingredient anywhere in the world. I wanted to learn so much about ingredients that I'd never know what NOT to do with an ingredient. So I'm an open book. Whether it's a beating cobra heart from a snake in Cambodia, or a deep-fried tarantula, or a Beef Wellington, I'll eat absolutely anything. The only thing I draw the line at, Victoria, is eating overcooked food. There is NOTHING worse than an overcooked brussels sprout. The smell is disgusting.
Q: Fellow cook here, although I'm a little down the road from where you are now. I have a question for you, since you have been there and done that. I'm working in a Michelin kitchen right now, toiling away, hours after hours, days after days. My hopes and dreams are nowhere to be found as I scale and portion salmon after salmon, shelling pods after pods of broad beans. My body is calling for maintenance nightly when I hit the sack. I need to eat more, put in a little more weight training, need a little massage to sort out the neck and the lower back. My home life, it's a fucking disaster, like all cooks. The closing thing I have to a father is the menacing figure prancing around at the pass, barking commands and bollockings when needed. He won't have the time to listen to my shit, because all the other cooks around me are in the same shit. Some have come from council houses, some are recovering addicts, one has been in jail. There's only one guy who has a still happily-married parents, and he's the Cordon Bleu-graduating white boy who helps on the larder section. Sometimes I look out the tiny window and I can see people walking around the streets, enjoying the sunlight, while I'm here, questioning my dedication to this art as I rotate stock in the cool room, getting frost bitten, but the fear of the chef stops me from stepping outside to warm up. When a waitress walks in to clear plates, I sometimes would look up just in time to see a beautiful room full of happily-fed and merrily drunk people. They actually look happy, like, what the fuck? How can anyone be as happy as our diners are? I have a fucking deadbeat father living on the other side of the planet, calling me up for money once every six months. Friends, women, any kind of company, I can only dream about. The closest thing to feeling any kind of joy I get is those rare moments when I walk through the dining room near the end of service to get some coffee for everyone, and there will be a few diners, left, idly sampling those little petite fours that we've painstakingly ensured are all perfectly round, identical and just plain delicious. Then, one of them will stop the conversation they're having with their company, look up from their food and say, 'thank you chef. this is delicious', and making the previous 14-hours of sweat and tears kind of worthwhile. My question is, how did you deal with it? How the fuck did you deal with all the bullshit, Gordon? Because 'thank you chef' is nice and all. Very nice in fact, that sometimes I have to hold back the tears and let them lose in the cobweb-filled staff toilet like a fucking degenerate, crying over a compliment because it was the closing thing to being happy in months.'Thank you chef' doesn't end my mother's misery and help her deal with my little sister's whoring ways. 'Thank you chef' doesn't make my dad grow some balls and start taking charge of his life. 'Thank you chef' didn't help your brother stop being a junky and lifted your family from poverty. It doesn't fucking help any of us in the grand scheme of things, for heaven's sake, so you tell me, Gordon. Whatever you tell me, I'll listen.
A: That's an amazing question. First of all, I've been in your shoes, and what you need to do is take a break. So I came out of my training in Paris, after getting my ass kicked in some of the best restaurants in the world. I took some time off, and got aboard a boat, and was a private chef on a yacht. And those 6-9 months off allowed me to regenerate. I'd run myself into the ground, as you described. Cooking at this level is so intense. So don't give up. Be honest with yourself, and take a month out. Now if that month out - just stepping back - if there's one thing I've taught my young chefs today it's to work hard, and not get disillusioned with the bigger picture. That's the most important thing about cooking - you may be working down the road for me here in Atlantic City, but you could travel the world and still get a job in the kitchen, and still get time off in the same time. So that's what i would suggest, stepping back for a month, shutting everything down, and then starting up again in 4 or 5 week's time. Listen - if you send me your resume, I could look at putting you into one of the restaurants as a work experience, if you want to see something different, in order to make sure you don't come off the rails, to see something different, to create that level of interest. Never give up. But don't be scared to take a break. I did it myself, traveled the world, through Sardinia, Sicily, and had the most amazing time, and what i learned after that experience was that I could do in 1 hour on a boat what i was doing in 14-15 hours in the professional kitchen. It confirms what you've learned, when you walk into a new establishment. It shows how strong you are.
Q: What do you normally eat as an everyday meal?
A: Chef's pick. So I don't really sit down and do lunch. I certainly don't sit down and eat dinner. I have a breakfast with oatmeal, that's the first thing, and that sets me up for the rest of the day. It's very hard to sit down for a 3 course meal, and I'm very easy to please. If i go out to dinner, I'll share an appetizer, enjoy my entree, and enjoy my dessert. It's very hard for me to enjoy a full meal, because I taste every 2 minutes in the kitchen. I'm not very good at sitting down for 3 hours to enjoy a meal. I'd be lying if I told you "I sit down 4 nights a week and have a 3 course dinner." I do nothing of the sort. And also, there's nothing worse than eating dinner at 5:30 and then having to get up and cook for 3 hours. So I like to keep on my toes, and eat small bits. Almost like in Hong Kong - 4 or 5 times a day, small bowls of food. And also, it keeps that little bit of, you know, appetite there, and that keenness to perfect what you're cooking. Someone said to me last night "Never trust a skinny chef." And I said "That's bullshit, never trust a fat chef." And she said "Why?" And I said "Because they've eaten all the good bits." Yeah!
Q: Hello Gordon, I've wanted to know what is your opinion on Michelin rating systeme ?
A: That's a very good question. One thing we need to REALLY understand about Michelin is the stars are awarded to the restaurant. So, you know, if there's one thing I've come to admire with the Michelin is that it's consistent. It's a guy who is judging you incognito. We have a lot of guys in this country, and Europe, who are a bit too familiar, too chummy with chefs, and they overindulge - food editors, they'll know, and tip off the chef. With a Michelin guide, you have no idea when they'll be in, or when they'll review you. And that's why they're the most feared and respected by chefs. Now I'm always asked - you're a hands-on chef, you're on TV, how come you're still with these stars? Who does the cooking when you're not there?When I'm not there, I have trusted proper chefs - like Clare Smyth, the chef de cuisine in Chelsea - even when I'm there, she's still running the ship. She's been running it there for 10 years. So the stars are awarded to the restaurant. And sometimes the chefs think the stars belong to the chefs, but they belong to the restaurant. The service is just as important. Michelin's had a hard time in America, because it was late coming to the table. But if there's one thing I respect, it's consistency. They manage to identify consistently, and it's all there for the customer. So when people ask me "What do you think of Michelin?" I don't cook for the guide, I cook for customers.
Q: Earlier in your career, did anyone handling the media aspect ever try to convince you to change your persona? Do you swear just as much in everyday life (please say yes)?
A: I've never really worried about the sort of media profile, early on in my career? I'm a chef. So I, you know, we don't get taught how to handle the media properly! And as you can probably understand, chefs when they start out make some pretty big mistakes in terms of saying things in the heat of the moment that get taken out of context, but I've always said that's passion. Do I swear? Two weeks ago, I was at a parent's meeting for my school. And my daughter said "Daddy, please don't embarrass me." SO I get to the school and the first thing that happens - there's all these mums and dads there, and all the teachers are there, with the names on the table, and I see the head-mistress, and my daughter Holly was there, and it's incredible - I went straight up to the head-mistress and asked for a selfie! Which I thought was fucking brilliant. My daughter dived under the table in embarrassment. But it just broke the ice. These things are just so formal. And the head-mistress said "Oh my LORD, I've never had a selfie before! What do we do!?!?" So I said "Put your head up and fucking smile!" I tweeted it out. God bless 'er.
Q: Do you have any food recommendations for a college student on a budget?
A: That's a really good question. I would recommend that you get adventurous with pulses - chickpeas, beans, lentils. And you know, cooking these is incredible. Brown rice? Phenomenal. You don't need expensive proteins. Just make them incredible with how you cook them, or prepare them - a pressure cooker is a great way of making these foods go a long way, is to cook them deliciously. Chilis, garlic, definitely.
Q: Hello, Gordon! I'm very excited you're doing an AMA! Regarding food, what guilty pleasure do you have that most people would be shocked at? Fast food fries, frozen fish sticks, etc. Mine is spaghetti in a can. It's repulsive and I know I shouldn't eat it, but I can't help it.
A: Well, first of all, you need help. Spaghetti in a can!!?! That kind of shit we grew out of on our 8th birthday. I still remind my mum that she taught me how to spell with alphabetical spaghetti in a can. You need help, big time. My go-to sort of fast food snack... it would have to be In-N-Out Burger. Oh my god, honestly, it is, when I eat Double-Doubles. I am terrible. And I always bring it back on the airport when I'm flying from LA to London, I'll sneak it into the first class lounge at BA!
Q: Hi Gordon, The F Word is one of my favorite shows of all time. It taught my wife and I how to cook great food and be smart about it. We also loved all of the adventures and animal raising that happened throughout the series. Thank you for that. My question: outside of your own restaurants, where are some of your favorite places to eat? What dishes do you order?
A: First of all, The F Word for me was a programme that taught me the importance of sources of food. The F Word tried to highlight the place of origin. How often do you go out for lunch or dinner, and you don't know where the food comes from? So the F Word tried to show the importance of that journey. I've become a big fan of Vietnamese and Cambodian food. Because they cook with very little dairy. SO everything was tasty, but incredibly healthy at the same time. Great use of spice, broth, pork, a way of eating well but also JUST on the cusp of trying to stay healthy at the same time. So, you know, when I travel across the US, I always try to get off the sort of main "foodie" - the main, sort of high streets, and get into little foodie quarters. If it's South New Orleans, or Austin Texas, I'm going for the latest little thing that's just opened. So I'm pretty low-key like that. I like going into some sort of off the beaten track areas.
Q: Hi Gordon! I'm a huge fan of yours, and enjoy watching all of your shows. I especially enjoyed your 'Home Cooking' series, and I want you to know that they sparked an interest in cooking for me that I'll never forget. Anyway, on to my question: What is the best meal you have ever had? And what about the worst? Thanks!
A: Wow, that's a great question. Well, negative - the WORST meal? There's been too many of them to tell you about, because the last ten years, working on KITCHEN NIGHTMARES, I've eaten a lot of crap. I think I've drank about THREE and half litres of Pepto-Bismol! And in terms of, you know, good meals - I had an incredible meal at the Black Liquor Market in Studio City. The most amazing Scotch eggs, deviled eggs, and then these short ribs that were braised in beer. Incredible, just incredible.
Q: Greetings Chef Ramsay, and welcome to Reddit! I'm absolutely honored to have an opportunity to ask you a question or two. My dream is to have my own kitchen one day, and I'm trying my hardest and working my ass off as a prep cook right now. Anyways, I'm a huge fan of your cooking, and have been watching you on television since I was a child, so I'd love your input on a couple things: What's the biggest piece of advice you can give a young, aspiring chef?
A: Ehm, good question. The biggest piece of advice - you know, cooking is about character. It's about different cuisines. And I think sometimes we go into it a little bit blinkered-vision. Learn a second vision - I thought I really knew how to cook when I worked for Marco and then when I went to France, it really opened my eyes. So learn a second language, and travel. It's really important to travel. That is fundamental. because you pick up so many different techniques, and learning a second language gives you so much more confidence in the kitchen.
Q: Gordon, how do you like your eggs?
A: Very good question. I have to say, scrambled. Over a slice of sourdough bread that has been grilled, and then sort of doused with Worcestershire sauce. Now scrambled eggs, I did a video a few years back with my youngest, Tilly, showing how to make scrambled eggs, and I think it has 10-11 million hits? And the nice thing about scrambled eggs is that they don't have to just be breakfast - you can have them in the evening, with some nice mushrooms, some tomatoes. You can have them as a snack at midnight, or at 5 o'clock in the afternoon.