Sometimes television, in its eagerness to raise ratings and create sensationalistic programs, ends up distorting the way we view subject matter or individuals. The first time I saw the reality based show, Hell’s Kitchen, my first distinct impression of Chef Gordon Ramsay was that he as brash, crude and completely marinating in his ego and an exaggerated view of self worth. However, morbid curiosity kept me watching this show and the more I watched the more certain subtle things leapt out to me that told me that I wasn’t seeing the whole picture. There was was something beneath all the temper tantrums and obsession with perfection.
Roasting In Hell’s Kitchen, brought this full circle for me. In Roasting, Chef Ramsay gives us a no holds barred description of his stormy nightmare of a childhood and what drove him into the kitchen which in turn gave him an escape from his tumultuous upbringing and past. He spares very little in revealing the cutthroat world that lurks behind all that suave, high-styled facade of the culinary industry. Frankly, you could do better with a ravenous school of piranhas. This explains where he gets his disciplined approach in working in the kitchen. The book, needless to say, is littered with the unavoidable F-bombs as was indicated by the subtitle and should not be as shocking since most of his reality show is perforated with bleeps. Oddly enough, and as much as I hate to admit (or condone) it, this works quite well in his favour. You basically hear his voice throughout the entire book as if it were an actual audio book narrated by the man himself, for he writes (in perfect English) the way he talks on his show. This adds tremendously to the emotional content of his writing and you get to feel his bitterness, frustrations, and vulnerabilities (yes, the man is very human).
At the core, Roasting In Hell’s Kitchen is one of those working man stories that you cheer for and appreciate. Instead of seeing some spoiled brat resting on the their parents’ laurels and wealth and making a complete twit of themselves, we see someone that’s been handed a sack of rotting lemons in life and with hard work, humility, and sacrifice had managed to make it into the most delightful glass of peach flavoured lemonade. I saw not an egomaniac blowhard that threw temper tantrums in the kitchen but a man obsessed with delivering a delightful culinary gift and a superb dining experience to every customer that sits at his tables. It is refreshing, that despite his fame, he still remains this grounded in his professional and personal life. The truth is, we all could learn a bit from him. I have. A truly touching memoir, that’ll probably have you cheering rather than scolding Chef Ramsay. Needless to say, I am always curious about his culinary escapades on the telly.