Gordon Ramsay is my new hero. Not the nasty, petulant, downright mean Gordon Ramsay of "Hell's Kitchen." That's a horrible show and not his best career decision. Sorry, Gordon, your agent steered you wrong on that one.
I'm talking about the Gordon Ramsay of "Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares," the BBC America version, to be exact. By now, most people have seen the Americanized version on Fox, but the original BBC show is tops. It's a brilliant show: world renowned chef Gordon Ramsay spends a week at a failing restaurant helping the owner turn it into a success. These are desperately failing establishments, their owners tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt because they are in over their heads in a business they know nothing about and can’t see any way out.
Enter Gordon Ramsay. In a matter of minutes, he pinpoints all the problems—the first of which is always horrible food. How can a restaurant be successful when its sole product is terrible? The food is always followed by bad management on the part of the owner, an unmotivated staff, poor marketing and usually one or two bad apples on staff that threaten to bring the whole place down.
The fascinating part of every show is watching Gordon handle the psychology behind all of these moving parts. Because people are so resistant to change—even if not changing the menu in their restaurant means they could lose their home—Gordon must come on strong, yelling and swearing right in their faces. They hate Gordon for saying their food is terrible—for saying it tastes like "baby sick." At one restaurant, he ran to the bathroom to throw up after a few bites of the main course. And while their restaurant sits empty and they sink deeper and deeper into debt, and while they tell the camera that they are desperate and need to do something to save their business or it will fold, they then turn around and tell Gordon he's wrong, their food is perfectly good and they get great feedback from their customers, the ones who do come in to eat, that is.
This is the human being's natural response to change. We hate it. Even when we know it will be the best thing for us. Even when we want to change, we have a natural aversion to it and resist it with all of our strength.
Gordon deals with this human aversion to change in a way that makes for great drama. He pushes people to the brink until, falling flat on their asses, they can come to terms with their own folly. Only then can they pick themselves up and begin to change. Not everyone does, and a lot of people revert back to their old ways. Change is slow and fleeting. But they mostly all love him by the end of the show.
Another thing I love about Gordon: He seeks out the hidden talent. He looks for the quiet person lurking in the background and see what he or she can do. He gives that person confidence in their abilities and lights a fire in them. It's an admirable quality and a pleasure to watch Gordon bring out the best in these hidden gems.
One other reason Gordon Ramsay is my hero: He is passionate about everything he does. All of that yelling and swearing—it's because he cares about what he's doing, and he cares about the people he's trying to help. He coaches people, and in the best sense of the word "coach," striving to bring out the best in everything—people, his restaurants, the food he prepares. It's part of the reason he's so fun to watch on television. This passion, it makes Gordon Ramsay a truly magnetic personality.
So, thanks, Gordon, for being my hero.