Fansofrealitytv.com Ė Chef Gordon Ramsay promises authentic drama and emotion on his new reality show ďHellís Kitchen,Ē premiering next week on Fox.
ďNothing was set up here,Ē he said in a call with reporters this week. ďIt took place naturally. We pushed those individuals to the limit....The emotions are real and the people are real."
The show features Ramsay, a chef renowned for his temperament as well as his cooking, training 12 wannabe chefs, and eliminating them one by one. He said the show is a true reflection of the pressure-filled atmosphere of a restaurant kitchen -- truer than, say, shows on the Food Network.
"The last time I watched the Food Network I fell fast asleep within the first 15 minutes. It didnít exactly turn me on," Ramsay said. "Iím fed up with this glamorized image that these channels want to portray, that life is an absolute dream ... This is quite diverse, itís never been shown before. Something that is slightly risquť because it gives a proper insight to what itís like at that level. Itís real, really real.Ē
A large part of that reality is Ramsay himself. Already a veteran of two similar shows in the United Kingdom -- including one by the same name on ITV -- Ramsay said Fox allowed him to be himself, rather than tone himself down for American audiences. Note here that Ramsay has been compared to another acerbic Brit, Simon Cowell of American Idol fame, and you'll understand why drama would naturally result from Ramsay being himself.
Ramsay said he tried to push the contestants to their breaking point, saying it builds character and teaches the person their limits.
ďI want them to explode, because when they explode I can help them,Ē Ramsay said. ďPushing someone to the extreme is a very healthy thing.Ē
Evidently that's how he learned.
Ramsay said when he was training as a chef in the 1980's, customers weren't as exposed to, and interested in, what goes on in the kitchen. At the same time, he said, chefs who made it weren't wusses.
"I worked for some phenomenal chefs. But one thing I never did was ring up and complain to my mum to run home and sort of taunt the chef because he was shouting at me in a rude way. You leave your problems at work and for me, they got off their chest and got straight to the point and moved on," Ramsay said. ďI worked for far worse and if you saw that Hellís Kitchen was a real eyeopener, the chefs that I worked for would have been a Hollywood blockbuster.Ē
But a chef who can live up to Ramsay's exacting standards isn't made overnight. Ramsay said viewers must judge the show, and its contestants, on their evolution.
ďCooking is about integrity and honesty and I donít want to be judged on this first program, I want to be judged on the results when we get to program 10 when you look at the transformation of these individuals. Itís not a hairdressing salon, and itís not a burger joint. Weíre running something quite sophisticated and itís the first time that that level of integrity has been exposed," he said. ďThe closer you get to someone, the more you can really discipline them, but itís nothing personal, Iíve never ever tried to make out that itís personal, because I didnít hate them, although at times I think they hated me. But when you look at the transformation over the period of six weeks, seven weeks, thereís a turning point, and thatís not to be missed.Ē
And for the contestant who survives Ramsay's temper and the rigors of competition? A prize that would make any aspiring chef drool -- what Ramsay called "basically the perfect start, almost on par of having your own restaurant," although he didn't spell out what exactly that would be.
"Itís a substantial prize, itís not a prize to be taken lightly, it will change the direction of their life for the rest of their duration in the industry, and itís the equivalent of being given the perfect sort of head start, and the improvisiaton of almost having your own restaurant," Ramsay said. "From a chefís point of view you canít ask for anything better than that.Ē
The show premieres Monday, May 30, at 9 p.m. Eastern.