I had the honour to be invited by all3media to an exclusive roundtable discussion with international renowned chef, Gordon Ramsay. He’s certainly a showman by nature.
British chef Gordon Ramsay is celebrating 25 years in the television industry this year, with shows like Hell’s Kitchen, MasterChef, Kitchen Nightmares and F Word having made him a well-known personality across the world. It’s a long way from his fi rst visit to Cannes in 1992 as the chef on Neighbours mogul Reg Grundy’s yacht. Ramsay was the fi rst keynote speaker at this year’s MIPCOM, talking about his current shows for Studio Ramsay (which is represented by all3media), his experience in the industry, and his future plans.
Ramsay stressed that he didn’t have TV ambitions at the time, despite being asked if he saw a future in television. “I said there’s no way I’m fit for TV!” he said, of a time when he was focused on mastering his culinary craft.
Was it hard to learn how to be a TV personality? Ramsay talked about one show in particular. “Have you ever seen Kitchen Nightmares? Jesus Christ! Kitchen Nightmares was almost me being let off the leash,” he said. “It was an amazing insight into the problems in our industry. Unlike a doctor’s surgery where you need to study medicine for 10 years, or go to bar school to be a lawyer, anybody can buy a restaurant… It’s a tough business, so you need to be passionate on a daily basis, not just when you feel like it.”
Has being a successful restaurant owner enabled him to prosper in TV? “We have an amazing team behind me. I multi-task, so I think yes, you can be the best chef in the world but if you’ve got a bad business behind that, you look the most stupid,” he said. “As the chairman I just try to infl uence them in as many ways as possible in my way of thinking, without being too assertive over it being done my way… There are so many synergies between running a business as a restaurant and TV. You have to stay fresh, you have to be the next best thing, and you have to be raising the bar.”
Ramsay is starting to produce more shows without appearing in them. “For me, I want to get involved with that kind of jeopardy: what can I bring to the table. How new are we, how cutting-edge are we? How cool is that idea and will it travel?” he said. “We’re looking for characters and spotting new ideas, then tweaking those little pressure points and seeing what happens. That creativity, that’s the way I am, that’s me naturally. I’m the biggest pain in the arse in the world when it comes to that level of development… It’s not about an ego, it’s about are we the best? Because if we’re not, don’t bring it to the table.