|Ramsay with the MasterChef Junior champion, Alexander|
I was familiar with Ramsay and his reputation for being a bit of a bad boy chef, with his shows called Hell's Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares, but I had never actually sat and watched any of them. After watching the kids whip up everything from Beef Wellington to amazing layer cakes, we binge-watched the latest season of MasterChef, which had recently wrapped up its fourth season.
After MasterChef we decided to try another series, where Ramsay was the focus. We have been watching The F Word ("F" is for food, right?), which is part reality show, part food magazine. Each episode has Ramsay training real home chefs in his restaurant. They must prepare a three-course meal for the restaurant's diners, who will decide based on how long they waited for their food and how it tasted whether they will pay or not. The restaurant patrons frequently include British celebrities, including folks like Joan Collins, Jonathan Ross, and Sharon Osbourne, who join Ramsay in the kitchen or taste-test, sometimes even cook, some of the food. The restaurant drama is intercut with Gordon visiting folks at their homes and encouraging them to cook a home-cooked meal for their family instead of packaged or take-out food. It also includes scenes of Ramsay at home with his wife and four children and their efforts to raise animals for food.
|Ramsay and his kids set up a shelter in the back yard for the turkeys|
We happened to watch the first series, which featured Ramsay raising six turkeys, which he had amusingly named after six other celebrity chefs. Timely, in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. The idea was that he was teaching his children (and the audience) where their food was coming from. The kids (and my daughter and I) got attached to the turkeys. Ramsay seemed to, too. When it came time to slaughter them it was handled in quite a humane way, but it was still really hard to watch. I told the kid she didn't have to watch, ut she wanted to know. My daughter has since sworn off eating turkey, although at the moment chickens may still be OK as "there are lots of chickens in the world." We had chicken for Thanksgiving, but she seemed doubtful about that, too.
We've started watching the second series and this time out Ramsay and his family are raising and fattening two pigs. We haven't gotten to the end of the series yet, but the kid, after she saw some baby piglets in an episode where they visit a farm has sworn off eating pork now too. Ramsay himself, after meeting with a good farm practices advocate and seeing how pigs are raised in most farms, including crowded, dirty conditions, castration, and tail docking, seemed shocked.
"It's enough to make anyone turn fucking vegetarian, for God's sake. And I've always sort of knocked vegetarians and vegans for missing out on the most amazing flavour you can get from meat. But you can see why so many people change instantly."
I like Ramsay's direct approach to food, of many cuisines, and his sincere efforts in trying to motivate folks to cook for themselves and their friends and families. His overall message is quite positive, even though he frequently uses foul language to get his point across. I am not phased by the kid watching these episodes with me and hearing a few f-words. She knows that she isn't supposed to use that word. More importantly, I'm not sure yet what the impact will be regarding her possibly newfound vegetarianism. I have tried to cut out all meat in the past and I don't do too well without it — I feel depleted. But she is on her own journey, and I will support her with whatever she decides.
It seems that the way we eat, between my daughter's ethics and my desire to eliminate artificial additives and toxins — is undergoing quite an overhaul. Somehow Gordon Ramsay has gotten mixed up in all of this.