Leading restaurant critic Jay Rayner has hit out at Gordon Ramsay for “glamourising bullying” after a clip of the British chef hurling abuse at kitchen staff circulated on social media.
The video was posted by Channel 4 on Twitter and features a montage of the chef’s “top meltdowns” from his TV show, Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares USA, which stopped airing in 2014.
In the two-minute-long clip, Ramsay can be heard repeatedly shouting expletive insults at employees such as: “you stuck up, precious little b****”, “you bulls***ing little f***er” and “you’re a f***ing joke”.
Commenting on the clip, Rayner tweeted: “What a sad, inadequate man. This is everything that has been wrong about restaurant kitchen culture.
“Because he suffered violence and abuse as a young cook, Ramsay thinks it’s character building and so the cycle continues.
"All he’s doing is glamourising bullying.”
Rayner’s tweet has been liked more than 4,800 times so far and has generated a flurry of equally outraged responses from fellow critics, chefs and food experts.
Chef Stevie Parle, whose restaurants include Palatino and Craft London, also weighed in on the debate, tweeting: “Glamourising this kind of bull s*** really sets us back. No wonder we can’t find any chefs.”
Speaking to Munchies, Rayner elaborated on his comments, describing kitchens as “nasty, hot, violent places” and referring to the culture reflected in the clips of Ramsay as “antiquated and out of date”.
Some viewers speculated that Ramsay might’ve been playing up to a certain persona in order to make his TV show seem more entertaining, with one person writing: “all an act now for US TV,” in response to Rayner’s tweet.
A few commenters also suggested that his behaviour might simply be a result of the high pressured environment in which Ramsay worked.
However, others pointed out that there are heaps of other chefs who don't behave in such a way:
“There are many talented, innovative chefs who don’t fall into the aggressive bully caricature,” wrote one person.
Some also pointed out that the British chef has built his entire brand on his excessive use of obscenities (hence the title of his 2006 TV show, The F Word):
“Sadly, Ramsay has made a successful career out of it,” commented one person on Twitter, “any media outlet glorifying it for ratings, is a disgrace…”
Even if he dramatises his behaviour for television, Rayner thinks it’s still a hugely unhelpful and damaging persona to promote in the public sphere.
“Plus, it just makes him look like a tosser,” he told Munchies.
“You're only cooking tea, you're not saving people's lives.”
There are some chefs making efforts to reduce the aggressive culture that predicates some kitchens.
For example, the bakery Dominique Ansel, lauded for its infamous cronut pastries, has reportedly imposed a ban on swearing.
Its eponymous founder described using offensive language in the kitchen as “counterproductive” to Munchies, adding that it will only discourage your staff from wanting to work hard for you, which is obviously detrimental to the business operations and the overall working environment.
Meanwhile, London restaurateur Trevor Gulliver, who co-founded St John restaurants, added that the “angry chef” persona is a thing of the past and is typically viewed as unhelpful and unacceptable temperament by people in the food industry.
Has the angry chef caricature had its day? Watch this space.
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