The Taming of the Chef

Can Gordon Ramsay Make It Here?

  1. Gordon Ramsay, the only chef in London honored with three stars by the Guide Michelin, is not a monster. Ramsay, who is also the host of three uniquely adversarial in-your-face television shows (“Hell’s Kitchen” in the United States; “The F Word” and “Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares” in the United Kingdom), is not the most abusive person running a restaurant. And although a British undercover documentary once captured him in mid-torrent, profanities flowing in a diatribe directed at a young intern, earning Ramsay the title of one of the country’s “most unbearable bosses,” the people who work for him show a tenacious, irrational-seeming loyalty verging on love. But he does get angry, helplessly and uncontrollably angry—not an earthly anger but something darker—and has trouble knowing how to stop.

    I’d been with Ramsay in his new restaurant in New York since he arrived, on November 14th. The weekend before, he had been celebrating his fortieth birthday, in the Banqueting House at Whitehall (“Where the Queen had her eightieth”): two hundred and eighty guests, standup comics, a rock-and-roll stripper, a performance by the cast of “Chicago,” a midnight disco, magnums of wine from the birth year, fifty chefs, plus “a very English sweetshop” and “a good British breakfast” at midnight. That afternoon, he received copies of the American edition of his autobiography, his second book that year, and embarked on the making of a documentary for Britain’s Channel 4. The shooting began at New Je...