Ramsay's Great British Nightmare [video]
Editors' note: Last week, the UK's Channel 4 ran a multi-format series called The Great British Food Fight, featuring different programs with Gordon Ramsay, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Heston Blumenthal, and Jamie Oliver. Eat me daily will be reviewing all of these shows this week, starting with Gordon Ramsay's Ramsay's Great British Nightmare. We're including video clips, because (a) these shows are all very good, and (b) it's unlikely that these programs are going to air anywhere else outside of the UK. If you want to see them... well, we obviously don't suggest you pirate them. That would be illegal.
Ramsay's Great British Nightmare is, basically, a double episode of the more serious UK version of Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, in which we have him visiting two restaurants, Mick's Bistro in Devon and The Runaway Girl in Sheffield. On its airing in the UK, it stirred up controversy for its excessive swearing: Ramsay drops the f-bomb 132 times in an hour and a half, and the staff of the restaurants themselves chime in fifty times of their own.
Beyond all the cussing, Ramsay's main thesis throughout is that local is good. This isn't because of some Alice Waters-like idealism, but rather because of Ramsay's almost patriotic concern that local communities need to support their local restaurants, that in turn support their local farmers and businesses, keeping money and interest in the community.
In pursuit of this goal, Ramsay displays emotions that seem to be, for once, genuine. He seems truly devastated by the inefficiencies and downright craziness that he sees: Vacuum-packed lamb-shanks at the bistro that claims to be sourced locally, food reheated out of buckets at the Spanish tapas restaurant — plus crazy, stubborn owners mired heavily in debt, who truly had no business owning a restaurant in the first place.
Ramsay is more angry, desperate, and frustrated than we've ever seen him on any versions of his show. It's so extreme that he even goes guerrilla, grabbing people headed into chain restaurants in order to get them in his projects' doors, and holding a town hall meeting about the merits of local sourcing. Gordon Ramsay has always preached the local angle, but this time he frames it within the context of a national crisis, a smart and important lesson.
Ramsay's Great British Nightmare: Pre-packaged Lamb Shank
One truly poignant segment was of Rich, the chef from The Runaway Girl, a broken man, because for two years he was forced by the owner to prepare food in bulk beforehand and reheat it to order. He explodes in an unbelievable tirade:
"We already look like a couple of f**king tits, so shut your f**king mouth and f**king listen. If you don't turn it around today, by two o'clock, me and him are f**king off... You can do it without me or f**king with me. I've had enough of this f**king charade. I don't need this f**king s**t. I've got to stand next to him and show him the f**king tubs of f**king s**t that I'm f**king cooking... He's trying to f**king tell you. I've tried to tell you for two years about every f**king thing, the food, the bands and I told you that. But you don't f**king understand. So show him some f**king respect. Or else I'm f**king going at two o'clock. And that's f**king it. No f**king bulls**t. F**king dangle me like a f**king puppet."