Gordon Ramsay is a Michelin-starred chef who has become a household name in large part thanks to his work on television shows like "Kitchen Nightmares" and "Hell’s Kitchen". His slow-cooked scrambled eggs are legendary, and he’s famous for holding no punches when teaching people — from amateur chefs on "MasterChef"to pros with their own kitchens — how best to navigate the world of cooking.
But the hot-tempered Scottish chef has also paved the way for quite a few misunderstandings when it comes to food, and his famously opinionated nature has come back to bite him in the bum several times. In the examples below, it’s Ramsay who’s the "idiot sandwich," and we’re sure that some of the chefs he’s criticized will be happy for the schadenfreude.
From weird stereotyping to bizarre technique, here are some of the things that Gordon Ramsay made us believe about cooking that just aren’t true.
Cooking has to be stressful
Watch "Kitchen Nightmares" or "Hell’s Kitchen" for even just a minute, and you’d soon believe that boiling an egg is the most stressful thing you’ve ever attempted. In fact, a supercut of his most colorful outbursts quickly went viral on Twitter.
But Gordon Ramsay isn’t the only chef to exact this sort of tyrannical ambiance in a professional kitchen. Chefs ranging from David Chang to Ramsay’s mentor Marco Pierre White, who reduced Ramsay himself to tears. For years, screaming chefs were the norm in restaurants. But according to Vice, that might be starting to change, with some modern kitchens encouraging a more low-key vibe — something long-suffering staff (and diners sitting too close to the kitchen) are likely very grateful for.
To be totally fair to Chef Ramsay, this sort of energy is only really present on his pro cooking shows. When the chef cooks for viewers at home, he has a far more calming, soothing presence in the kitchen.
Frozen food is always bad
If you’ve ever gone down a "Kitchen Nightmares" YouTube hole, you might notice that Chef Gordon Ramsay frequently offers the same critiques over and over again: "It’s overcooked;" "it’s ghastly;" "it’s bland." And… cue some on-point editing revealing a freezer chest full of pre-prepared meals or shrink-wrapped seafood… "It tastes frozen!"
Ramsay appears to utterly despise frozen food, often stalking into the kitchens of the restaurants he’s seeking to help to reveal that chicken, veggies, or even meatballs are frozen. The viewer is, of course, supposed to intuit in these moments that frozen food is akin to poison.
But frozen food is nothing to turn up your nose at. Stored properly, frozen fish is often better than fresh, reports The Spruce Eats, especially for out-of-season fish. Most sushi and sashimi in the U.S. is made with frozen fish, due to FDA recommendations, which makes it safer to eat and has no real negative consequences on its quality or flavor, according to the Huffington Post.
The same holds for frozen vegetables, which often retain more nutrients than fresh, especially if the latter have been sitting out for a while. And freezing veggie scraps is a great way to slowly accumulate enough odds and ends to make a delicious homemade stock.
There’s something wrong with pairing pizza and ranch dressing
While visiting a restaurant in South Bend, Indiana on his TV show "Kitchen Nightmares," Gordon Ramsay made quite a stink about being served pizza with ranch dressing. But while it’s certainly not a combo you’re likely to find in Italy, it is a classic in much of the United States. The creaminess of the dressing and the freshness of the herbs plays well with the acidic tomato sauce on pizza, and it’s commonplace from the Midwest to Texas.
"In Texas, no one feels an ounce of shame asking for ranch on the side of a slice," writes Mandy Naglich of Taste of Home, noting that even since moving to New York, she refuses to be "shamed by it."
Pizza and ranch certainly falls into the category of divisive pizza pairings, much like pineapple on pizza. But just because it’s divisive doesn’t mean it can’t be great!
Vegan food is bland
The popularity of a plant-based diet has skyrocketed of late, with more than half of young Americans identifying as "flexitarians" according to one recent poll. But Chef Gordon Ramsay took his sweet time getting on board with veganism.
Ramsay has made no secret of his skepticism regarding a plant-based diet, going so far as to claim an "allergy" to vegans back in 2016 and even mocking PETA by calling himself a member of "People Eating Tasty Animals" (via Delish).
That said, the famed chef has recently changed his tune. Not only has Ramsay created delicious vegan recipes, some of which, like his eggplant steak, have enjoyed viral social media fame, the chef even faced off with "Riverdale" star and vegan home cook Madeleine Petsch in a vegan "MasterChef" cookoff. But perhaps the most convincing nod to his change of heart? His… uh… not-so-PG choice words for Piers Morgan’s unflattering response to the Chef’s new vegan roast option at one of his London restaurants. When he pulls out the f-bombs, you know Ramsay means it.
Honey is vegan
Gordon Ramsay may have recently changed his tune regarding his former dislike of vegans, but the chef is still learning, which means sometimes he makes a gaffe or two. Case in point? Adding honey to his "vegan" granola for Veganuary. Since a vegan diet eschews all animal-derived ingredients, this was a pretty big no-no.
To be totally fair to Chef Ramsay, "honey is a somewhat controversial food among vegans," according to Healthline. Some vegans do indeed eat honey, especially of the sustainably farmed variety. That said, most vegans do not, Healthline reports, due to its link to animal exploitation and cruel practices, including the clipping of the queen bee’s wings.
Bottom line? While some vegans do allow themselves a bit of honey, most eschew it, so its inclusion renders the recipe, while perhaps vegetarian, not vegan, and not suitable for Veganuary. If Chef Ramsay had just used maple syrup instead, this wouldn’t have been an issue.
Blue cheese can’t go moldy
While answering a set of questions from home cooks on Twitter for WIRED, Chef Gordon Ramsay couldn’t keep himself from chuckling at the suggestion that blue cheese could go bad: "Blue cheese is impossible to go off," he laughed. But the chef was mistaken.
We can see, of course, why he was mistaken. Blue cheese is indeed already moldy when you buy it, thanks to the addition of penicillium mold during cheesemaking. This mold is what lends the distinctive blue veins to the cheese, which give it not only its color (and name) but its assertive flavor.
But just because blue cheese is already moldy doesn’t mean it can’t get moldier — and different molds react with the cheese in different ways. Much like other cheeses, a piece of blue cheese can indeed attract other types of mold, including dangerous mycotoxins, which will grow on the cheese in addition to the penicillium that is supposed to be there. And when this happens, the blue cheese has, indeed, gone off.
Pasta carbonara is meant to be wet and yellow
Early in 2020, Gordon Ramsay Tweeted a picture of the carbonara he serves at his Union Street Café, dubbing the dish "amazing." But commenters — specifically Italian chefs — were not at all impressed. Ramsay’s version eschewed both guanciale and pecorino, which are the two main ingredients in the relatively simple Italian dish. But the part that threw them the most? The sauce: too wet, too yellow, and just… too much of it.
Some of the kinder comments simply suggested Chef Ramsay head to Rome to see how the dish is made properly. Others, however, pulled out all the stops in their vitriol, comparing it to everything from a bowl of soup to pasta with processed Velveeta cheese. It must have been a humbling experience for the chef, who himself has compared other cooks’ dishes to everything from a dog’s dinner to a breaded condom.
A Western chef retooling classic pad Thai is a good idea
Chef Gordon Ramsay’s Michelin stars couldn’t save him from the devastating feedback a top Thai chef gave him on his version of pad Thai. On Ramsay’s "Gordon’s Great Escape" show, the chef was preparing to make the Thai dish — a national classic — for a group of Buddhist monks. Before setting out to complete the challenge, Ramsay asked a top Thai chef, identified on the show only as Chang, for his opinion on his version of the dish, which boasted king prawns, tamarind paste, and peanuts. Chef Chang was decidedly unimpressed.
The Thai chef criticized Ramsay for deviating from the classic recipe, and above all, for doing away with the traditional blend of sweet, salty, and sour flavors so essential to the pan-fried noodle dish. Guess the highly critical Ramsay finally got a taste of his own medicine!
You need to season bacon
Chef Gordon Ramsay is slowly but surely being upstaged by his precocious, charming daughter Matilda "Tilly" Ramsay, who has set her sights on supplanting her dad both in cooking prowess and in humor. (When asked in a video what it was like to grow up as the daughter of the world’s best chef, Tilly quipped, "But Jamie Oliver’s not my dad!")
The duo appeared on "The Late Late Show with James Cordon" for an English breakfast cook-off, and things got… bizarre. While Cordon devoted himself happily and fully to his drunken full English cooked all in one pan, Gordon and Tilly chided one another, with Gordon constantly criticizing what his even-tempered daughter was doing in a slightly strange, almost manic attempt to stress her out.
But Tilly couldn’t be swayed — perhaps after a lifetime living in the same house with her super-intense dad, she’s built up some resilience. And while Ramsay’s methods were odd, one of his critiques was even odder: that Tilly should season the bacon, which is already a pretty salty food.
It’s a good idea to cook bacon directly on an electric burner
During his appearance on "The Late Late Show with James Cordon" with his daughter Tilly, Gordon Ramsay tried to cook their rashers of bacon quickly using a very unorthodox method: tossing them straight on the electric burner. Not only did this create a phenomenal amount of smoke, it also burned the bacon.
If you’ve got gas burners at home, there are a few ways that you might consider using them without a pan or pot, such as charring red bell peppers straight on the open flame. But while some home cooks have heated tortillas right on an electric burner, this sort of cooktop is usually not a great way to cook something fatty and messy like bacon without a pan.
Suffice it to say, it was an odd choice, and it was also super dangerous. Not only could Chef Ramsay have caused a fire; he also probably ruined Cordon’s cooktop.
Worcestershire sauce is spicy
We know that British food has a reputation for being bland, but Chef Gordon Ramsay leaned a little bit too far into the stereotype when he claimed during his appearance on WIRED that Worcestershire sauce is spicy.
Um… sorry Chef, but the sauce — which is indeed umami-rich and seasoned with anchovy, garlic, onion, tamarind, and molasses — is far from spicy, especially not as spicy as the horseradish he was suggesting it as a replacement for. And with just cloves and chili pepper extract in the formula for some brands, Worcestershire sauce isn’t even all that spiced as it is.
If we may be so bold — for those who find themselves suddenly at a loss for how to make cocktail sauce without horseradish, chili powder is a far more apt substitute. It lends some heat and spice to the ketchup, marrying perfectly with cold boiled shrimp. Or, eschew the cocktail sauce entirely and opt for sriracha mayo instead. Problem solved.
Scrambled eggs need to be taken off the range 1,000 times to make them tender
Chef Gordon Ramsay’s technique for making scrambled eggs went viral in the past decade while promising a tender, creamy result. For those of us who grew up on rubbery scrambles, it seemed like a dream come true.
But much like watching the chef himself in his TV kitchens, this recipe is also kind of manic, requiring that the cook remove the pan containing the eggs from the heat every 10 seconds for three minutes. It’s not exactly labor-intensive, but it is high-stress, and it can turn the art of making the eggs into an anxiety event far too quickly (and far too early in the morning) for our tastes.
To add insult to injury, this sort of on-and-off-and-on-and-off movement isn’t even necessary. YouTuber French Guy Cooking achieves similar results simply by cooking the eggs over a double boiler.
A blind person couldn’t be MasterChef
When Chef Christine Hà, who is blind, first appeared on "MasterChef" in 2012, Chef Gordon Ramsay and co-hosts seemed surprised she was vying to compete for the title. After Hà became a contestant, Ramsay assured her that he was going to be just as hard on her as the others, and he pulled no punches on his criticism throughout the season.
At times it even seemed like Hà was being set up to fail, such as when she was challenged to handle fresh crab. At the end of that challenge, Ramsay landed in hot water when he asked Hà if she was "really blind" as a compliment to the dish. The clip went viral, and Ramsay was forced to defend himself. However, Ramsay was impressed by Hà’s skills throughout the season, even stating, "You cook, every freaking time, like an angel."
Hà eventually took home the championship title, becoming the very first visually impaired winner of "MasterChef."
Maybe Chef Ramsay started off with preconceived notions about Hà’s kitchen capabilities, but he ultimately learned his lesson, even coming to the MasterChef’s defense on Twitter after commenters chided him for including her on the competition: "You’re sick get some help!" Ramsay wrote. "Unbelievable she cooked an amazing dish!"
Hà has since opened her own restaurant and penned two cookbooks, becoming a role model for blind and visually impaired chefs around the world.