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17th Nov 2017

Thirteen years on, Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares is still wonderfully savage television

What are you? An idiot sandwich

Ciara Knight

I miss Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.

It was a true joy to behold each week to witness an angry man openly swearing at people that were extremely shit at their jobs. The world needs more people like Gordon Ramsay. If he was to go around to every workplace in the country shouting obscenities at workers that underperform, we’d see a tenfold increase in productivity within minutes.

The premise of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares was simple: Gordon arrived at a failing restaurant for a week and gave the staff an almighty bollocking until they started to shape up. These people willingly invited him into their workplaces to call them a variety of insults unsuitable for pre-watershed television.

At the time, the show was widely regarded as perfection and many of the techniques used by Gordon are still impressive to this very day.

Gordon always lured the staff in with a false sense that he was there to help and make their lives easier, but then he’d unleash hell on them

In reality, Gordon was just there to make good television. He gave off the impression that he was deeply concerned with helping to make these restauranteurs’ lives easier, but ultimately he was just thrilled that they were willing putting themselves in a position to be ridiculed on national television for 49 minutes. It was a theatrical exchange when Gordon arrived at the chosen restaurant, he was always incredibly polite and interested in their story. He asked seemingly unweighted questions with a view to throwing the answers back in their faces during a heated discussion in the very near future.

He’s the perfect TV villain. Gordon’s quite charming, he knows more about the art of running a successful restaurant than anyone else present and imparts his wisdom, but at a cost. Gordon’s going to humiliate these unfortunate souls until they reach breaking point. At that stage, he will then let them in on a few trade secrets and get them to a level where they’re comfortably treading water. Gordon couldn’t give a fuck about these restaurants, he’s just there to say bad words and maybe inspire change. He’s a master manipulator and it’s a gift to watch unfold.


Thirteen years on, you still don’t get such a high quality insult as what Gordon Ramsay was churning out in 2004

It’s 2017 and I firmly believe that we still haven’t seen the likes of Ramsay’s insults on our screens since. It’s a combination of the creativity involved in his wording, the delivery which he nails every damn time and the reaction from his intended target, who has no choice but to accept the criticism since he/she invited Gordon to their place of work for exactly this kind of interaction. The man is fearless, he’s got enough experience and sufficient proof of success that he can say whatever the fuck he wants and get away with it.

My particular favourite insult of his was when someone shouted that they needed more pumpkin, to which he replied “Right, I’ll get you more pumpkin. I’ll ram it right up your fucking arse. Would you like it whole or diced?”. Has there ever been such a majestic combination of offensive words than this on prime time television? I believe not. Not only did Gordon pretend that he would retrieve the pumpkin, he then gave the recipient the option of having it up their arse in either a pure or chopped form. We must together accept that 2017 television is extremely dull in comparison.


The dramatics were second to none, proving that Gordon Ramsay is one of the finest actors of our time

Gordon Ramsay’s exceptional dramatics displayed on Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares can only be likened to that of a schoolgirl trying to get out of PE by alluding to a male teacher that she’s got her period and therefore cannot participate. I’ve done quite a bit of research and can’t pinpoint any notable drama classes that Gordon attended during his childhood or later in life, meaning his talents appear to be completely natural. In retrospect, it makes sense. That kind of finesse can’t be taught. You’re either born with it or you’re not.

In the scene pictured above, Gordon has just requested to sample the chef’s signature dish. The chef spent quite a bit of time meticulously cooking and then plating up an ensemble of scallops, parma ham, black pudding and various garnishes, to which Gordon excitedly tried. Rather than simply spit it out in disgust, Gordon raced out the back door to immediately vomit up the ‘rancid scallop’ in spectacular fashion. The chef was shaken to his core, instantly feeling the guilt of having almost poisoned Gordon fucking Ramsay. I implore you to watch it here because the dramatics need to be seen to be believed.


Gordon made utter pricks out of the chefs every single time and it never grew tiresome, not even once

Often, the failure of the restaurant isn’t solely down to the chefs. It’s fair to put a certain amount of blame on them, but there’s also other facts to consider like a weak menu, poor location, lack of staff, bad management, etc. However, Gordon’s area of specialty is cooking, so that’s where he decided to put the largest amount of his focus on. Every single episode without fail, Gordon embarrassed the chefs beyond repair. He’d pretend to vomit up their food, for example, because he doesn’t give a fuck about their future employability and frankly I admire that kind of commitment to entertainment value.

In the scene above, Gordon forced the most junior chef to steam clean the entire kitchen. The goggles felt unnecessary from a practical point of view, but from a televisual entertainment aspect, they were nothing short of glorious. The steaming followed a thorough rummage through the fridges, placing every mouldy bit of food on display for all to see. Adding salt to the wound, Gordon then ratted out these discrepancies to the restaurant owner, who then gave the chefs a sufficient bollocking as well. We need to take pity on Gordon’s siblings growing up because he was probably a massive tattletale.


Not content with roasting the restaurant operation alone, Gordon often enlisted the help of others

In the ultimate act of savagery, Gordon would regularly consult dissatisfied customers or disinterested punters about why the restaurant in question wasn’t a place that they would happily frequent. It’s as if his harsh words weren’t cutting enough, so he needed to enlist the backup of others. These unsuspecting souls would gladly partake in a public bashing of someone’s career choice with a little too much enthusiasm. You have to feel for the chefs and restaurant owners when they watch the show back, but then again they’ve kind of brought it all on themselves.

That’s one of the main selling points of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. It’s absolutely brutal towards people that are openly admitting their failures. We should applaud those that have the wherewithal to recognise their own shortcomings and are willing to make a change at any cost (even public humiliation). Rather than just outright help them, Gordon wears them down to nothing, then wears them down a little bit more, then helps them to turn things around. It’s a rollercoaster of emotion and I recommend not watching it in a heightened emotional state.


As a viewer, you’d often jump on board with Gordon’s frustration and find yourself egging him on

Approximately one quarter of the way through an episode of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, you’d find yourself losing every shred of pity for the chefs and restaurant owner and moving over to the dark side to support Gordon Ramsay. He highlighted their shortcomings to such perfection that you couldn’t help but feel that he was actually being stitched up. Even if you knew nothing about the culinary world, hearing that a chef has never made an omelette before started to seem outrageous. Gordon did well not to lose his cool at every opportunity.

The restaurant’s path to failure started to become a lot clearer the more we got to know who was running it. That’s Gordon’s doing and credit where it’s due, he always managed to get to the bottom of who was the shittest worker. In the image above, the head chef of a restaurant confessed that he’d never made an omelette and I just about knocked the television over. Even I can make a ruddy omelette and I’m shit at everything. Gordon kept his cool with a defeated ‘You’re fucking joking me’ and with that, every viewer settled themselves firmly into team Gordo Ram-Ram.


It made you question every restaurant you’ve ever set foot in in your life, and wonder if Gordon was around to pop in

Is this what a restaurant kitchen is really like? Can Gordon Ramsay pay a visit to them all just to make sure everything is in shipshape? Nobody fancies paying for a shitty meal, especially not when the chef doesn’t know how to make an omelette. As you’re watching Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, you’d find your mind wandering back to a poor restaurant experience you had in 1997. Was that chef also unable to tell the difference between pork and lamb? It’s possible.

The affecting nature of RKN is what made it such an great show to watch. You would identify with the chefs at the start, then start to feel bad for Gordon having to deal with such morons, then start to question how this kind of situation could affect your own life. You’d then draw parallels between the chefs’ failures and your own life. Am I going to be doing the journalistic equivalent of burning croutons for the rest of my life, or is an expert going to be drafted in to show me the ways of true success at some point? Also, should that restaurant in 1997 have been shut down for health and safety shortcomings? Probably.


The ‘One month later’ catchup was some of the most emotional television the world has ever seen

Gordon would roll into town unannounced roughly a month after he spent a week whipping these hopeless chefs into shape, only to discover that standards had usually slipped back into their old ways. He’d be fucking furious. He wasted his precious Gordon Ramsay time on these little fuckwits and they’ve only gone and thrown it back in his angry little face. Gordon knew this would happen all along, but he doesn’t skimp on the dramatics because that’s not going to make exceptional television.

The final update was always crucial. You really want to hear that the restaurant has gone from strength to strength and they’ve turned their entire lives around. However, for entertainment value, part of you also wants to hear that the place has gone into utter turmoil and the chef set fire to the premises in a fit of rage one night. Ultimately when all is revealed, it’s nice to get a conclusion to the event that has unfolded for the past 49 minutes either way. It’s fun to think about Gordon Ramsay still furious about the terrible chefs he’s encountered a mere thirteen years on, but in reality he’s just living in a really nice mansion somewhere.



Images via Channel 4


Gordon Ramsay