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Interview: Gordon Ramsay

Gordon Ramsay on controlling his global empire


SH: How much of your time is actually spent in the kitchen these days?

GR: I would say 65% of my time per week. I’d never be where I am today unless I could maintain those standards. If I don’t spend time in the kitchen, it’s mainly on a plane, or doing little TV programs. It’s much harder formulating a reputation when you’re not there as much as a chef that would be there full-time. That’s down to the level of delegation and integrity that you put in, training individuals. How would we evolve as a nation if I didn’t bring talent through the ranks? I’m identifying with Claire Smyth, who’s just turned 27. She’s been with me for the last 5 years, we sent her off to France on a sabbatical, and she’s come back to hold the reins (at Gordon Ramsay Chelsea).

SH: Do you think it’s important to encourage more women into the catering industry?

GR: I lived in France for 3 years, (2 years in Paris and a year near Monaco), where 25% of the brigades were female. Some of the best chefs in the world are female, from Angela Hartnett to Eleanor Rhodes to Nadia Santini and Jo Pascadore. The unfortunate thing about cooking today is that it’s not as glamorous as being in the fashion industry or the music industry. We have nearly 2 dozen female chefs, an amazing group of girls. It’s important to keep on encouraging them so it’s not such a masculine, hard-ass environment.

SH: How do you manage the quality of every restaurant you own when you can’t actually be there in person?
GR: I’m a control freak! You know Big Brother? I have the same situation at home. I’ve got a webcam directly linked to every hotplate anywhere in the world, so can I sit there zooming in on the dishes in New York and - bang - pick up the phone: “Why are we putting the scollops there, you know damn well they go with the bacon?” It sounds a bit loopy but chefs are loopy anyway, we’re all f****** nuts! We’ve got to be nuts to work 15 hours a day. It’s not like going to work at 9 o’clock, finishing at 3.30 or 4, going to the gym, then going for a swim and then going to Pilates! You cook in the morning and you cook at night, there’s no other way round it.

SH: Like swearing?

GR: I don’t mean to swear...You know, when I was at Reblochon and the s*** hit the fan, oh my God you got b********, I mean you got seriously reprimanded. That’s no different to what it’s like today, at that level. Flipping burgers and dressing Cesar salads, who gives a s*** about that? Of course it’s going to demand pressure. But pressure’s healthy. It only becomes stressful when you can’t handle it. And one thing I can handle is pressure!

SH: Do you ever worry about becoming overexposed?
GR: I work my a*** off and I use the TV to fund the restaurants. Do you stop going to watch Manchester United because Wayne Rooney’s doing an advert for Asda? No you don’t. Are you going to stop going into Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea because I’m doing an advert for Gordon’s gin and tonic and I use the money to evolve the scholarship that we set up? The proof’s in the pudding.


Sarah Horrocks
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