'Hell's Kitchen' star Gordon Ramsay dishes about personality traits
By Christopher Rocchio, 06/20/2007
Bearing the brunt of Gordon Ramsay's wrath in the kitchen is one thing, but imagine how it must have felt staring down the Hell's Kitchen star on the soccer field.
"I think my drive comes from not making it in football," said Ramsay in the June 22 issue of Entertainment Weekly. "When I got told by my manager, 'Thanks, but no thanks,' I bawled my eyes out - for hours."
Growing up outside of Glasgow, Scotland, Ramsay was recruited to play for the Glasgow Rangers at 16. However before he was able to sign with the club, a preseason knee injury brought his goal of becoming a professional footballer to an abrupt end.
"It just got pulled away from me with no choice. Because I was that close, to be honest. I wasn't brilliant, but I wasn't bad as a pro player," Ramsay told Entertainment Weekly. "I've got it out of my system, but [ever since] I never take anything for granted. I never think that I'm financially secure. I'm very resilient. I don't sit there crying over spilt milk. I have a level of not just humbleness, but a downright respect for what I do that I never f**k with it."
While his failed football career due to injury may have helped harden the 40-year-old foul-mouthed culinary king, Ramsay's character apparently began to take shape before that when he was raised in public housing by his mother -- a trained nurse -- as well as his "abusive and often unemployed" father.
"With my father, [it was always], 'There will be no sugar on your porridge; you'll have salt, because (a) it'll put hair on you bullocks. and (b) because I told you so," he told Entertainment Weekly.
At 19, Ramsay said he met with a career counselor who provided him three potential options: the Royal Navy, the police, or a hotel management/cooking course.
"The navy I didn't fancy; the police, I didn't have the proper qualifications," he told Entertainment Weekly, "So I thought, 'F**k it!'"
Initially thinking cooking was for "poofs," Ramsay eventually learned to like the "adrenaline and buzz" provided by the kitchen. He apprenticed in both London and Paris, adding he was instantly drawn to the parallels between the heat in the kitchen and the intensity on the soccer field.
"It was a lot like sport: You're under pressure six nights a week," he told Entertainment Weekly.
With his foot in the kitchen door, Ramsay began to ascend the ranks as a chef. He appeared on television for the first time in 1999 in the U.K. culinary documentary Boiling Point, and British television viewers immediately took to his personality. In 2004 Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares and the U.K. version of Hell's Kitchen both premiered in England and they didn't go unnoticed across the Atlantic, at least with Fox's head of reality television programming, Mike Darnell.
"The show was just okay, but Gordon was terrific," Darnell told Entertainment Weekly. "Even though he screams and curses, it's coming from a sincere place. He's not being mean just to be mean; he's trying to get the people to be [their] best."
With the U.S. version of Hell's Kitchen currently airing its third season on Fox, the broadcast network also plans on airing an American version of Kitchen Nightmares as part of its 2007-2008 primetime programming lineup. The series will follow Ramsay as he travels across America and helps restaurants in crisis, offering viewers a glimpse at the chef's nurturing side.
"Kitchen Nightmares will give a balance to Hell's Kitchen," Ramsay told Entertainment Weekly. "I'm really trying to help these people out."
Currently a restaurateur who boasts 13 establishments to his credit, Ramsay has proven he can be a calm and calculating business owner at one moment and the culinary world's answer to Simon Cowell the next.
"I am Jekyll and Hyde. I put my chef's jacket on and it just happens!" he told Entertainment Weekly. "I can't congratulate the [contestants] for making mistakes... I'm not trying to make excuses for my management skills. I have a very assertive way. It's wake-up, move your ass, or piss-off home."