Will People Actually Cook Along With Gordon Ramsay: Cookalong Live?

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Tuesday night, Fox is airing Gordon Ramsay: Cookalong Live, a reprise of a Channel 4 series from last year in the UK. The premise of the show: Ramsay cooks a three-course meal in an hour, live, with viewers ostensibly "cooking along." To participate, you're expected to have a whole list of ingredients and equipment on hand (see the Menu and Shopping List pdf) to generate a curious menu of Angel Hair Pasta with Shrimp, Chili and Tomatoes; Steak Diane With Sautéed Potatoes And Peas; and a Quick Tiramisu.

Update: Disconcerting! THR reports that they're going to crank up the celebrity factor and bring in comedian Cedric the Entertainer, actress Alyson Hannigan, and singer LeAnn Rimes onto the show.

This weekend's New York Post offered some criticisms, and while you'd expect a Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper (the Post) to be supportive of a Murdoch-owned television network (Fox), but here, not so much! (The article's author, Carla Spartos, is the same killjoy that hated on NYC food trucks, using words like "prissy" and "fussy.") After calling Cookalong's concept "appealingly old-fashioned" and "refreshing," the Post digs in:

  • One of the recipes calls for unseasonable tomatoes ("heirloom or beefsteak") in December.
  • The Quick Tiramisu recipe calls for "4 Italian ladyfingers" that are apparently hard to find in supermarkets.
  • The total bill for the ingredients is over $100 for four people.
  • Steak Diane is a "cream-laden culinary throwback" to the 1970s.
  • And finally, "if we’re meant to cook along live, why are serving a dinner for four at 10 p.m.?"

All of which are highly reasonable criticisms! Forget seasonal, forget healthy, and forget about eating until after 10. In addition, amusingly, if you plan on, ahem, cooking along, you're supposed to have a pot of boiling water ready at the start of the show and have a cup of coffee already brewed for the dessert. Which is like a lot of extra work (and will take you more than an hour)! But still, an hour seems like a longish amount of time to cook some noodles and shrimp, and then some steaks with a cream sauce. And then for dessert: A Ladyfingers-laden Tiramisu? That sort of comes off as a quickie that you might find in Rachael Ray's 30 Minute Meals. Or gasp, Sandra Lee.

Be forewarned! Tim Hayward, after cooking along with one in the UK last year wrote: "By the end of the show I was drained, angry and surrounded by bad food." So will it be successful, ratings-wise? Signs point to no: Fox hasn't been doing much promotion for it — as of this writing there's only a small text link for Cookalong on its homepage. Also, it's up against new episodes of Scrubs and NCIS: Los Angeles; and some new singing reality show on NBC called The Sing-off. Scrubs! What were they thinking programming it against Scrubs?

—Raphael Brion

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10 Comments

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  1. Have to agree with the Post. Seems there's a disconnect between what many chefs are cooking on TV and what everyday cooks are managing in the home. From what the reviewer described, it looks like the disconnect is a big one. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

  2. I think this is a fundamentally sensible idea (which is why I do a podcast, Cooking in Real Time, using the same premise). But wow--the Gordon Ramsay version appears to have screwed it up in more ways than I could've imagined!

    I'll have to watch it to see for myself. Wondering what people are supposed to be doing during the commercial breaks...

  3. Tracey

    Well this is exactly the sort of show that is perfect for TiVo! I won't be 'cooking along' with Gordon until after the New Year most likely, if the recipes look interesting to my family when we see them. Once the holiday rush is over, then I can purchase the ingredients, and cook along at my convenience. The article is acting as if nobody has a DVR type device or eats late.

  4. I do like the concept, hopefully they will be able to pull it off and iron out some of the folds. I do agree that the time spot seems a bit hard unless your on the West coast. Also it does seem a bit pricey for a home cooked meal but time will be the judge. And Tivo will more than likely be on call.

  5. JK

    Hm. It is kind of funny that newspaper did not discover DVR yet and do not know that one can timeshift TV.

    Also, for the ingredients, some of these things one might have already around if one cooks. Besides that, if you cook it correct it one might still be saving money over a comparable restaurant visit.

  6. LC

    This was a fun show and showed a different (and surprisingly fun) side of the Chef !

  7. Jude Fitzsimons

    Frankly I believe most viewers will observe, record info and make the dinners at a more appropriate time for them. I loved the show and I've never been a fan of Mr Ramsay because of his insistant bad language. If this show stays on the air I'll be one of it's biggest fans. Great concept. Those that cook along on the show and by satalite are a source of comic entertinment. This show gets 5 stars from me!!!

    • Gaill

      I agree!! And of course the show doesn't only show in the UK, its all over the world.(different time zones) I thouroghly enjoy Gordons' shows, and try not to miss any of them. I sat and enjoyed 'cookalong' for entertainment and tips, and then at my leasure went back to the recipes and the net and made some of the meals with my son. Great fun! ( I don't appreciate bad language either, but ignore it because he is a legend ) Am going to see him live in Cape Town SA this weekend! Can't wait!

  8. Steven

    The show was fun. My biggest complaint is it was hard to follow along. He spoke too fast, and did not clearly state which ingredients we were about to use. He should have had subtitles for his ingredients including the measurements. We missed adding the wine reduction sauce to our pasta. But it was still enjoyable.

    I hope he can make more shows next year. This format was an interesting twist on the standard cooking show.

  9. JM

    Gordon seemed out of his element and did not know how to interact with other people without yelling at them. You can tell after the show he probably went in the back and kicked some garbage cans and told off a key grip. You could sense his anger was building up inside him and he had a fake smile on his face the entire show.

    We love to watch Gordon because he is brutally honest, this show he was hiding his honesty the entire time.

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