“I’m like a fucking rottweiler”

Tuesday, November 14, 2006 by

Yes, all right. Hands up. I’ve been at the Channel 4 preview discs again. This time, it was the first three episodes of the new series of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. It kicks off tonight on C4. And indeed, kicks off is as good a phrase as any, as Gordon is in reliably acerbic form.

The first episode sees him in the Costa del Sol, trying to help an ex-pat eatery turn its trade around. It’s frightening stuff, with dog shit in the restaurant and reheated kebabs. The young proprietor is into a scary amount of debt, and yet despite his desperate situation, he takes a huge amount of convincing that his current business model is not the right one.

Episode two, and Ramsay “rocks up” (as he’s currently fond of saying) at a Lancashire pub which is a staggering £250,000 in the red. The sixtysomething owner/head chef has suffered numerous heart-attacks, while his penchant for fine dining and habit of collecting crockery on eBay are compounding the problems. And yet, again, it’s another case where our hero has to go to great lengths to convince the restaurateur that change has to happen.

In episode three, it’s a trip to Liverpool, and a former antiques dealer-turned-restaurant manager. There are some fantastic scenes here as Ramsay and the head chef nearly come to blows, and a great sequence where Gordon has to prep the restaurant for Sunday lunch himself because none of the three management staff show up.

In contrast to The F Word it did seem like Kitchen Nightmares was diminishing upon each return, but judging by the run of episodes so far, that’s stopped. A really sensational crop, which – let’s face it – are going to undeservedly get beaten into nothing up against I’m a Celebrity ….

On October 19, Gordon Ramsay held court at The Maze restaurant with a group of journos. Here’s a bit of what he had to say …

“This series of Nightmares has been harder, personally, because everyone’s trying to outsmart you – which is stupid, because they’re on their arse, and the place is struggling. But then they try to pre-empt what you’re doing. So we’ve gone in a lot more creatively in terms of how are we going to completely strip them of everything they know, and change it around so it’s more exciting for me. That means they don’t have time to be premeditated. 

“The biggest problem is where they want an on-off camera scenario. So they want to unplug their microphone and not really talk to you properly, because their next door neighbour thinks they’re great and keeps going to their restaurant. And that’s bullshit. So the minute that starts, I stop. And that’s happened on this series twice, where the contributor wishes for an off-the-camera scenario. It’s bollocks. I don’t do that. I don’t have a card from my producer saying, ‘Get into the fridge, check the milk, look at the fur and the mould on the gratin dauphinoise’. I’m like a fucking rottweiler. Let me off the lead, let me sniff them out, then we go through them one by one.”

He also spoke a little about what’s going to be episode four in the run …

“It was in Norfolk. I rocked up and the fucker kicked me out – locked me out! This was a former Michelin-starred chef. So Norfolk was harder than any of them because he’d had a lot of success. He was the local bigwig, who was a big star in a little pond. He was hard work. Very hard work. When he kicked me out, it was the first time I phoned up Channel 4 and said, ‘Fuck it’. You know what I mean? What’s the point of me going back in there if he’s not prepared to listen? There are other restaurants we could do. 

“But we were halfway through the shoot, so in terms of production value it would have cost a lot to go elsewhere. However, I wanted to make it clear to him that I’m not going to have an undercover scenario where he doesn’t want to tell me the truth. My discovery is going to be 10 times more intense unless he comes out with the truth and tells me. Don’t be so precious!”


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