THESE DAYS, EVERYONE'S A FOODIE. We’ve all developed these strange, intimate relationships with chefs and their television personas that exist independently of the food they cook. I adore the nerdy Food Network star Bobby Flay, but I think his restaurants are ho-hum. (He does too many things in fancy stacks.) Mario Batali, I could live without him, his transparent hangovers on Iron Chef America, his cookware and NASCAR recipes, his goofy friendship with Michael Stipe—but between Lupa, Babbo, Otto and, yes, Del Posto (the Enoteca is very good, and won’t break your bank account), my husband and I have spent more expendable income in Mr. Batali’s restaurants than we have furnishing our apartment.
And Gordon Ramsay … in a sea of cable drek, his BBC shows stand out as examples of what good—and yes, there is such a thing—reality programming can look like. From across the pond beamed a charismatic, intelligent television personality who never talked down to viewers, who could teach them to cook and be sophisticated consumers of food. He took us inside his own house and seemed genuinely delighted to do so. He respected us as he has always claimed to respect his restaurant customers.
But that’s not the image he’s chosen to export to America via Fox. With Hell’s Kitchen, he’s not even a compelling devil; he’s just a bored jerk collecting a paycheck. At this point it seems safe that we can expect more of the same on his next Fox show.
I want my Gordon back. I want the man who cried over slaughtered turkeys—and then made them taste so good.
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