Hell hath no fury like the wrath of scorned chef Gordon Ramsay, whose quick tongue and flared temper can bring anyone to tears in a matter of seconds.
And though the way his shows — Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares — are edited with viewers catching an angry chef Ramsay all the time, it does take a lot to get this man irritated. One of those things includes short cuts.
If you’re not going to do it right, Ramsay says you shouldn’t be in the kitchen. It’s really that simple, and according to the British king of cuisine the key to cooking is “finding top quality ingredients.”
“That’s always the most important thing is keeping it seasonal ... so it gets a little bit frustrating when you start to cut corners and not focus on the ingredients,” says Ramsay, who was in Toronto this week to promote his newest cookbook Fast Food and his show The F Word that premieres exclusively on The Food Network this fall.
“A great butcher and a local fish monger, they start to reserve things for you, giving you two or three weeks’ notice ... it takes time to get that understanding with your local butcher but it’s certainly worthwhile,” continues Ramsay.
Fast Food is a practical cookbook, and though some of the recipes may seem high-end or gourmet, the ingredients called for are things you would usually have in your kitchen every day.
Ramsay, who makes an effort to cook at home at least twice a week with his hectic schedule, says sometimes people get frustrated because they can’t find the main ingredient. Just substitute it with something else.
“If you’re trying to flop it out for the first time and you can’t find a salmon use a trout, if you can’t find a trout use a mackerel,” he says. “Some of the most important things is all in the preparation — great ingredients, good preparation and set yourself a little timetable ... once you’ve done a recipe two or three times it becomes (easier).”
So how horrible are young chefs today? Of course when you’re watching a show like Hell’s Kitchen, you’re seeing what the producers of the show want viewers to see.
“You’re watching something that’s very cleverly edited — Hell’s Kitchen is a competition no different from (American) Idol,” says Ramsay. “At the end of the day, of course there’s talent there, but it’s weeding through the talent to get rid of the donkeys (that) is the hard part.”
Anyone can flip burgers on a grill and dress a caesar salad, but Ramsay says that’s not what being a chef is all about.
“What is a chef? A lazy slob that sits on his ass and reads recipes on his computer all day long,” he says. “So it’s the short cuts that get me upset, when they lie to you. Working with a chef that tells lies is 10 times harder than working with chefs that can’t cook.”