The Ramsay Roundtable: Part 1

I love Gordon Ramsay’s shows Hell’s Kitchen and MasterChef. I’m not the only one, as both have been on for years. There is something so fascinating about them. If I see the name Gordon Ramsay, I’m tuning in. You never know what you are going to get. Sometimes it’s lot of cussing. Sometimes it’s exploring how shark fin soup is made. Sometimes it’s traveling the world, seeing how to make the proper curry. There are many faces to Ramsay, and they are all interesting. 

I’m not the only one who feels this way. Joining me today to talk all things Gordon Ramsay are two of my favorite people, let alone bloggers. They are Sean Keeley from Nunes Magician, and Brian Harrison from Orange 44. I seriously can’t tell you how excited I was when they agreed to talk about the man and his shows. As a result, I peppered a lot of questions their way. Sit back, relax and enjoy the first part of the Ramsay Rountable. 

What do you think the appeal of Gordon Ramsay is?

Sean Keeley: What I find appealing about him is that, at his best, he will tell you like it is but there is a sense behind it that he really does care about making you better. That might not always come across on the American shows compared to the British shows, and that’s unfortunate. If all you know of him is his American shows, you’re not really seeing the full picture cause he’s actually a pretty good guy (behind all that nonsense).

Brian Harrison: The fact that he clearly knows his trade very well and doesn’t settle for anything less than the best standards. But not only that, he’s known for taking classic cooking and technically hard dishes to make and making them pretty accessible to average people. Plus he’s just entertaining yelling at people, always a marketable skill.

Bearcats Blog: I am with the guys on this one. Ramsay strives for the best, and tries to get it out of the people on his shows. Whether it’s the chefs on HK, the regular people on MasterChef, the restaurants on Kitchen Nightmares (which we did not talk about), Ramsay seems to believe in the potential that people have, and tries to get it out of them. When they don’t meet his standards, he doesn’t take it well. In his other shows, like Great Escape, he’s about pushing himself. He does what he preaches. 

Do you prefer kinder, more gentle Gordon on MasterChef, or pissed off, hard ass Gordon on Hell’s Kitchen?

SK: I like the MasterChef Ramsay a little better. Hell’s Kitchen only works because they go out of their way to choose unlikable or flawed contestants, so we don’t mind that he’s debasing them. Whereas on MasterChef, we’re rooting for a lot of those people so we wouldn’t stand for Gordon going nuts all day long.

BH: It’s the combination that makes it. If you always yell it loses it’s effectiveness and if you’re always gentler people just roll and don’t take you serious. It’s the combination that grabs people’s attention. But I love when he goes off on someone as much as anyone. Can no one cook a scallop?

BB: I think I’m with Sean here. I’m sure they edit out the parts where Ramsay and the staff teach the recipies that are used for Hell’s Kitchen, but what we see is Ramsay being a hard ass, with occasional praise. On MasterChef, you can tell he wants everyone to be good. If they slack off, he is in their face about it, but in a nice way. He hasn’t told anyone on MC to fuck off. But still, I love a good plate smashing. 

After the jump, thoughts on MasterChef. There are spoilers. 

Who do you think is going to win?

Sean K: I hate to say Christian but dude can cook. Either him or Adrian if he can keep it together and not get psyched out. Suzy’s going to F up one of these days and lose it when she gets eliminated. She makes fantastic facial expressions so I’m looking forward to that.

Brian H: Right now I think Jennifer is in control. Christian is good but his cockiness is going to catch up with him sometime. Suzy just doesn’t know enough and is also too cocky for her own good. Ben falls to the yips. And Adrien just is too young and unskilled to pull it out I think.

BB: Boy, Brian was sure right about Ben wasn’t he? The last two nights saw Ben not handle the pressure well at all. I think we are coming to a Jennifer/Christian final. At this point, I think Jennifer wins, just so Christian can cry. 

What’s the point of Graham? He never says anything interesting. They edit his stuff out sometimes. He doesn’t even offer up good insight or recipes. Is he only on the show because he’s fat?

SK: Graham is the quintessential “other” judge. His look and cooking pedigree got him the gig but he just doesn’t have the same kind of personality that stands out. He’s the third-string QB of the show. He just holds the clipboard and rides the coattails to glory.

BH: He’s just a good chef and the nice one. And nice doesn’t make for good TV. So he ends up on the cutting room floor. But he seems like a nice guy and probably deserves to be on the show.

BB: Graham seems nice, but I’ve yet to see a time where he does something out of his ordinary. Joe will give us a change up sometimes, Graham is the same thing each week. He wore a fancy hat last night. It was a start. 

How awesome was it when Joe flipped out on Suzy, Jennifer and Alejandra? Gordon’s “one word for that, shit,” was great, as was Joe throwing away the plate. Is it just me, or is more of that needed with all the ass kissing that happens?

SK: Joe has this weird way of almost making good metaphors but when you really think about them, they’re terrible. “What this is, is a good example of what garbage is.” I see where Joe was going with that one but what he ended up saying was “this is garbage” with a few extra words. I think Joe works too hard sometimes to be a jerk. You’d think it would come natural to him.

BH: I like when that happens, but I also think that the average people succeeding is the reason this show is cool. I can’t cook all that stuff and it’s pretty impressive when these armatures can. But it’s great when these big time chefs cool the jets of these amateurs when they start getting big heads.

BB: I like seeing the people do well, but this episode came when they were all starting to think their shit didn’t stink. They were in the final 10 at this point, and some of them threw up terrible dishes. Sean’s point is so awesome. That’s why he’s the best. 

Why is Jennifer such a horrible person? I think she’s almost worse than Christian. 

SK: Really? I didn’t think she was so bad until she started getting into it with Christian. Before that she was middle-of-the-road. I;m glad she fought back but there’s a point where fighting back becomes just as annoying as what he’s doing and she’s at that point. Let it go.

BH: I’m confused. She doesn’t really talk shit. She just reacts to what Christian is shoveling out. While Christian is good he certainly isn’t the best and certainly isn’t at Ramsay’s level yet. Not sure what horrible things you’re seeing and I’m missing.

BB: Obviously, I’m alone on my Jennifer hate. She started getting on my nerves every week when she would cry for absolutely no reason at nothing. Then, she started getting into it with Christian, and she seemed holier than thou. Maybe she looks like someone I dated and I irrationally hate her. Seems like the problem is this guy, not Jennifer. 

On that end, why is Christian such a horrible person? He kind of sucks. 

SK: What’s fascinating to me about Christian is that they positioned him as such a nice guy for the first 3-4 episodes. He had this great backstory of cooking for his kid. He was under the radar early on with his mouth and let his cooking do the talking. And then when the uppity young jerk got eliminated, it was like the producers said “We need a new villain, time to break out all that Christian footage we’ve been holding back on.” And all of a sudden, Christian was a monster and everyone hated him. It was so sudden that it was downright strange.

But yes, he’s a major dick.

BH: Totally sucks. Yeah you’re a stay at home Dad. To borrow from a famous comedian, you’re supposed to take care of your kids. Good for you. And can he cook? Absolutely. Does that make him the best cook or qualified to say he’s better than the other contestants? Not until he wins the whole thing. Until then, keep your mouth shut and do your work.

BB: I’m with Sean on this one. I was a Christian fan, and then all of a sudden he was the worst person in the world. He was my choice to win when they started with 16. Now, I hope he loses every week. Notice how he doesn’t even get picked for the mystery box challenges anymore? Yeah, sucks. 

I can’t get a good read on Suzy. Sometimes I think she’s very adorable and want to marry her, other times I wish someone would kick her in the face. Thoughts?

SK: I know what you mean. Sometimes she looks pretty attractive and cute. And then other times she looks haggard and mean. Like I said earlier, she’s the go-to contestant when they need a “Oh my God” reaction. Great reaction face. So she’s got that.

BH: Total face kick for me. She’s just annoying and has been on a steady decline since the beginning of the show. The fact she’s still around is actually a little confounding to me. Either way, her voice annoys me, and her facial expressions make me want to punch my television.

BB: Suzy is incredibly smug. That seems to be her downfall on the show, and sometimes she turns the smug meter up to 11. Other times, she’s all nice and innocent. Then, she’s hating people for no apparent reason. She’s a mystery box of a person. 

Would Ben Star be worth rooting for if he didn’t wear the ridiculous chef hats? 

SK: I’m rooting for Ben but I think its obvious he’s not going to win this thing. He’s too erratic and takes too many weird risks.  Also, not sure if you noticed but early on he always got left out of the mystery box challenge presentations. I mean they didn’t even bother to show us his dish or tell us what he was cooking. Often the challenge would end, they’d announce the winner and I’d see Ben and wonder where he was the whole time. That means he was often making middle-of-the-road stuff. That’s his downfall.

BH: It would help. Also he’s way too dramatic about everything. Crying when people leave is ridiculous. These are strangers that you happen to be on a show with, not a best friend. He’s pretty good and definitely my underdog pick to win, but relax dude.

BB: Maybe Ben needed one of his chef’s hats, because he didn’t wear one tonight and was eliminated. I had a sneaky feeling he would finally win the mystery box, and then lose that challenge. That’s what happened today. I think Adrien’s dish was worse, but Ben was so far over his head in the restaurant Monday, that he had to go. He’ll have a show on Food Network one day. 

How ridiculous is the product placement on the show getting? If I hear them talk about the masterchef knife, or the masterchef pans while they zoom in on the viking oven, I might snap. 

SK: It’s pretty bad. I was kinda grossed out when I realized the kids’ BBQ challenge was just an excuse for them to advertise their ‘Lil MasterChef cooking crap, or whatever its called. But if you watch The Biggest Loser, then MasterChef ain’t nothing. THAT show is ridiculous with its product placement.

BH: If I thought it originated from Ramsay or the other chefs I’d be upset, but I know this is just some network thing or some tie in that Ramsay is obligated to hock for a piece of the action. But I’m guessing it wasn’t his idea. That being said, yeah we’ve seen enough. The knives I get, but the kid kits? Too much.

BB: I think tonight was the reason I think Graham sucks, he’s the one who’s always doing the blatant product placement. Tonight it was for the non stick MasterChef pans. It made me want to stick my head in a Viking oven after slashing my wrist with the MasterChef knife set.

Brian mentioned this in his answers, and I forgot to ask about it. What’s with all the crying on MasterChef? People cry at the drop of a hat. Then they cry when they aren’t even up for elimination. Am I just being grumpy about their dreams being smashed, or is it ridiculous? 

SK: I think it’s kinda like the contestants on The Bachelor who get insane about guys and girls they’ve known for 2 weeks. Your entire life becomes the show that you’re on. You sit around all day waiting to film and you sit around all night thinking about the next day. You don’t talk to loved ones. You don’t leave the set to go to the mall. You are stuck there and surrounded by other contestants, producers and other crew. It’s like Stockholm Syndrome, winning the reality show you’re on becomes the only thing that matters.

So when you’re confronted with the reality that you might get eliminated, you can no longer imagine a world in which your sole objective isn’t to cook an omelette with papaya skins and a wrench in 3 minutes.

Yes, its ridiculous, but that’s why we watch.

BH: I don’t know if it is just because it’s a show, or these people are just the most emotionally fragile people on the planet, but they all cry almost on command. They have to pump onion fumes in the room or something. It takes a family member dying or the movie Rudy for me to crack a tear. I just don’t get it. It’s all ridiculous. But as we all agree, it’s one of the big reasons we watch.

BB: Sean makes a great point, but at the same time, so does Brian. I know it must be really hard to be in a situation where your one goal is to win the show, and crying is your big emotional outlet. But at the same time, girls on that show would cry at the drop of a hat. It was like dominoes, one would fall, and the rest followed. It drove me crazy. Then again, I cried after I dropped a pop up to lose a game once. I have no room to talk.

Do the early stages make you think that you could try out and make MasterChef? 

SK: Sometimes yes, mostly no. I don’t know enough basics to elevate a dish to a point where I’d feel comfortable going from “in my kitchen” to “serving to Gordon Ramsay on national television.”

BH: If it was MasterGrill I’d totally have a great shot, but I don’t do much cooking over a stove and I certainly don’t bake much of anything. My girlfriend handles the cupcakes and cakes and cookies. I’ve never butchered a fish and I’ve never poached an egg so I’d be dead in the water. I’m fine with that. Test me on 2003 Syracuse trivia or hearsay rules for testimony and I’d win. We all have our areas of expertise.

BB: I absolutely think I could make. People throw up so much shit, that I think if I spent some time perfecting a dish, I would be on there. I am not a cook though, so that would really hurt my chances.

Lastly, how adorable was Whitney last year? 

SK: Very cute. But there was some fire underneath that cuteness. I have a feeling she’s a real-deal. She’ll have her own show in 2-3 years. 

BH: Very cute. I’m not a big fan of the southern accent but she was definitely a feel good story and I was glad she won, especially after she delayed college to compete in the show. She was also very likable which is something reality show contestants lack a lot these days.

BB: We end the MasterChef talk on one we can all agree on. If it doesn’t work out with Chef Andi, you can call me Whitney.

And with that, we end for the day. A huge thanks go out to Sean Keeley and Brian Harrison. Follow them on twitter at what’s linked. Visit their sites that are linked up top. They put a lot of effort and time into answering a shit load of questions, and I can’t thank them enough. Tomorrow, part 2 goes up about Hell’s Kitchen and more. 


About Scott

I write Bearcats Blog and also on Run the Floor.