Q&A with hot tempered chef, Gordon Ramsay

By Nici Wickes

Controversial chef, Gordon Ramsay is heading to Auckland next week. Viva caught up with the multi-Michelin-starred restaurateur.

Mr Controversial of the culinary world is coming to Auckland. Gordon Ramsay might be here to put things right after a no-show at an event last year, but he's also launching his range of tableware at an exclusive event at Smith & Caughey. Despite the potty mouth, Ramsay's style exudes a sense of quality and class, so it is no surprise he has teamed up with one of Britain's most prestigious brands, Royal Doulton, to produce a range of kitchenware.

Viva caught up with the multi-Michelin-starred restaurateur to find out how he handles the love-hate relationship he has with the public, why Twitter makes him feel good and why, with his renowned hot temper, he has put his name behind a range of breakable objects.

Tell us about your connection with Royal Doulton.

Royal Doulton is a renowned company and a British icon. Its focus on quality and style really stands out. When they approached me to collaborate on a tableware, glassware and cookware collection, I jumped at the chance to work with their designers because I like clean lines - they really allow the food to speak for itself. It is all in the presentation. But the Maze range is also about keeping true to its restaurant origins while remaining versatile and durable for home cooking and dining.

What are the challenges of cooking with low-quality equipment?

Good food starts with the right equipment. For pans, weight and proportions are key and they need to feel right. If they are high-quality, it is simply a case of adding the right ingredients and success is guaranteed. The same can be said for knives. Maze chef's knives feature a double-bolster handle for balance and comfort, meaning even an untrained cook can chop, slice, mince and dice with ease.

How do you stay inspired in the kitchen?

For me cooking is a pleasure, not just a profession. Travelling to lots of amazing places helps me to stay excited - having the opportunity to experience different traditions and methods of preparing food. Cooking never gets boring.

To make us feel better about ourselves, can you share with us one of your kitchen nightmares?

Right at the start of my career, I did a stint at a resort in the French Alps. One day the head chef asked me to put the fresh bouillabaisse outside in the freezing cold to chill it. Problem was, the top froze over while the bottom continued to cook. By the evening it had festered and formed a thick froth on top. It was absolutely disgusting. It's important to know that it is okay to make mistakes, you've just got to keep at it.

What advice do you have for home cooks who are not that confident in the kitchen?

Practice makes perfect. Don't be intimidated, just enjoy it. Cooking should be about being a bit adventurous and discovering new flavours. Most importantly it should be fun. I have a new upcoming TV series that is all about a back-to-basics approach, but showing home cooks how to take everyday food to a new level.

In your opinion, what's on the horizon for us in our eating and cooking habits?

Staying seasonal rather than fashionable. Good food should be fresh, well-sourced and perfectly cooked. But I do also keep in the know with trends. Such as in my new restaurant, Bread Street Kitchen, it is all about small plates, which means you can have more than one. It is proving really popular.

Who, in your mind, makes for the perfect dining guest at one of your restaurants?

I'm not sure that there is such a thing as a perfect dining guest, more the right venue for the right occasion.

Okay, then what does a nightmare diner look like?

Someone who wants their steak cooked well done. No, please don't! No seriously, I think it is anyone who is rude to any of my staff. They do a fantastic job and there's no need to be rude.

Inevitably someone with as high a public profile as you goes through ups and downs in the popularity stakes - how do you cope?

I try not to take it too personally, although sometimes that is easier said than done. I think what my fans have to say is more important and thanks to Twitter I have the opportunity to communicate with and get instant feedback from my followers, which is great.

If I was to pop around for a summer barbecue at yours on the weekend, what would be on the menu?

Probably steak and a good salad. I like to keep things simple, and I love a good steak.

Don't you ever just feel like relaxing?

I'm a very energetic and passionate person and still have so much that I want to achieve. The only time I get to relax is when I'm with Tana and the kids. I also like to keep fit and I ride motorbikes to relax.

Where to from here - any other projects in the pipeline?

Yes, a new restaurant opening in Las Vegas, Gordon Ramsay Steak, and a new restaurant in Britain. New activities and new challenges - I am all about doing more and doing it better.

* Gordon Ramsay will be at Smith & Caughey's Queen St, City, from 5-6pm on Tuesday, March 6. Ph (09) 377 4770.

- NZ Herald

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