Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Liberal use of the F-Word: Gordon Ramsay

I will admit I am fascinated by Gordon Ramsay’s show on the BBC called "The F Word”. I am pretty into a lot of British shows from Dr. Who and Robin Hood to Torchwood. I think the thing that makes the F Word work so much better than Kitchen Nightmares and Hell’s Kitchen is that is shows a rawer version of Gordon and what he does behind the scenes. Also, it is not bastardized by the American TV networks so the show flows well and doesn’t edit every little damn word he says. The F Word pretty much throws in segments, but does it so well you don’t even know an hour has gone by. Before you know it his kitchen brigade has served a 3 course meal to 50 people, he has had a cooking challenge with a British celebrity, and his on the spot reporter (Janet Porter) has covered a story. Gordon likes to call Janet Porter his “Culinary Cruise Missile” and she really makes him eat some wacky things. In the episode that was on last night he was forced to consume Camel milk.

The show centers on getting amateur cooks in the kitchen, usually a team of 4, and they must cook a 3 course meal themselves and get a majority of the patrons (50 in total) to say they would pay for each course. The results are tallied at the end of the show and tracked on a white board. At the end of the season, a winning brigade will be crowned. Along the way during the show we get cut ins of other things that are going on. Rather than watch 4 people cook, we are taken to Gordon’s house in some segments where it shows him with his kids and the ordeal he is going through actually raising pigs he plans to cook. The cameras then will track back to the kitchen and we get caught up on how the 4 cooking people are doing. During the show another segment that is worked in is a cooking challenge where a celebrity will bring their recipe and challenge Gordon to make it. Once the two dishes are done, a taste challenge is issued to some restaurant patrons and the results are told to Gordon and the celebrity. Here is where Gordon’s true personality comes through on the show as it is evident he cannot stand to lose or be told that someone can cook a dish better than he can. In a recent episode he actually lost a “taste off” challenge when his Irish stew was not picked by the people comparing the two dishes. I believe at that point a smattering of F word bleeps and shits flew out of his mouth and he got pretty angry. BBC bleeps the F word, but not “shit” which I find pretty interesting.

The show features pretty slick camera work and is not as in your face as the over explosive Fox TV shows that he has brought to America. F Word also skips the dumb reality TV show moments and simply presents the cooks and the chefs in a normal environment doing what they do and that is getting bitched out by Gordon when they aren’t producing to his standards. Some of the best moments of the show are the raw footage moments supplied when Gordon confronts some of the restaurant patrons that would NOT pay for the dishes that were sent out by the crew of 4. A great moment on one episode was the woman that returned the dish with the rabbit liver on because it was served too pink. Turns out that is indeed the perfect style to serve that and it was obvious she didn’t know what she was talking about. Gordon busted her chewing gum and eating his food at the same time, and that is a bad no no when it comes to testing his dishes. He definitely does not hold back any punches when he figures out why some people would return the food that was made to what he thought was a decent standard.

Other classic segments involve him visiting a random house and helping the resident learn to cook and get away from pre processed meals and skipping meals altogether. Examples of this include the British expatriate living in France that could not get her neighbors back over to dinner after one failed meal she served them. Being French, they insulted her cooking and English food in general. Gordon came in and set them straight by serving a full course meal and teaching the British woman how to properly cook it. If there is one thing Gordon can’t stand it is people with ignorant palates and the French. This sort of stuff happens all the time on the show and it is presented quickly and cleanly so that by the time the hour is up you don’t even realize you were watching a cooking contest show. Much better than the lame Top Chef on Bravo or Hell’s Kitchen itself I think. Also on the BBC Gordon has Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares which is of course the original version of Kitchen Nightmares currently in your face on Fox TV. The production qualities on all the British versions of Gordon’s shows are so far and above the crap that the Fox Network spits out I have to cringe when I watch those episodes.

At any rate, consider this my cooking “Thanksgiving” blog entry and do yourself a favor and check out this show. While you are at it, give the excellent Torchwood a shot as well (a good Dr. Who spin off show). No entry from me tomorrow so have a good holiday all.