Gordon Ramsay takes on the French
SH: Gordon, are you pleased to be in Paris?
GR: Yes, I love Paris, and France in general. I have a chateau in Lyon which has been under refurb for the last 2 years. It’s a treat for the children to come down and spend summer, weekends and half-term - they get all excited about the little bakeries and who’s going for the croissants. With the combination of the chateau and the restaurant in Versailles, I think I’m in danger of becoming French!
SH: What kind of cuisine is on the menu at the Trianon in Versailles?
GR: The produce is local, everything’s highly seasonal. Basically it’s French cuisine with a sort of modern European touch, I wouldn’t say a Scottish touch - f****** deep-fried haggis on top of my scollops? What am I going to serve the roasted sea bass with, deep-fried Mars bar?!
SH: Have the French food critics been particularly harsh with you?
GR: Oh my God. Have you ever seen the movie Braveheart?
SH: Er, yes...
GR: There you go. They’ve hung, drawn, quartered me and pickled my b******* at the same time.... (Ed: Gordon's comments about the revered French food critic François Simon have been left to your imagination). The headline was ‘Karaoke Cuisine from England.’ The French come over to England, so why can’t the Brits come over to France and do something? We welcome the French with open arms, we kiss-kiss-kiss and we embrace them - we don’t f*** them from behind! We're doing very well, but ask me that question next March when the Michelin guide comes out, because I want three stars, and it's push, push, push. We hadn't even opened the fine dining and we were getting panned, which was completely unfair, but it's fine. It took place in New York, it took place in LA and it’s going to take place in Paris. (Sings) Long live the Scots! Long live the Scots!
SH: What differences do you notice between what your French and British diners' expectations?
GR: I think the French expectations are far more serious about haute cuisine in terms of gastronomy. The Brits are a little bit more impatient. When clients at the Trianon come for dinner it’s 8.30, and three or four hours later they’re still there. It’s a massive enjoyment, socializing, and not something that’s done on the fly. London’s very fast-paced and everyone’s on a short time frame. In Versailles everything’s just so much more chilled and relaxed and it shows.
SH: Do you notice a big difference in lifestyle too?
GR: Oh my God, yeah. I was in New York on Sunday with Jean-Baptiste, my maître d’hôtel, and we went for lunch-brunch around Soho, at Balthazar, this amazing sort of modern bistro. We had steak-frites and a bottle of Margot, and then we walked around the town and it was so relaxed and slow and chilled, just like Paris. No-one’s rushing around like crazy.