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Love him or hate him, you can’t deny that Gordon Ramsay has dominated the celebrity chef world for years.
Starting out in his 20s, he quickly made a name for himself as a chef and then later found his way to our TVs. His fiery temper and scathing comments to tearful contestants on “Hell’s Kitchen” and “Masterchef,” as well as hapless restaurant owners on “Kitchen Nightmares,” have made for satisfying — if terribly stressful — entertainment.
But there’s more to Ramsay than snarling insults and an unchecked barrage of F-bombs. Keep reading to find out some little-known facts about the hot-tempered chef-turned-TV-personality.
He Was Once Held At Gunpoint While Filming A TV Segment
For a 2011 episode of the British show “The Big Fish Fight,” in which Ramsay investigated the ingredients of shark fin soup, he traveled to Costa Rica to investigate the area’s illegal shark fin trade.
Ramsay claims he discovered a sack full of shark fins below a boat, and when he threw the sack on deck, “everyone started screaming and shouting,” he told The Telegraph. “Back at the wharf, there were people pointing rifles at us to stop us filming … The police came and advised us to leave the country. They said, ‘If you set one foot in there, they’ll shoot you.'”
He Is One Of The World’s Highest-Paid Celebrities
Between his restaurants and TV shows, Ramsay cooks up quite the annual salary. In 2016, he even tied with Beyoncé (and surpassed Kim Kardashian West!) for the 34th spot on Forbes’ list of highest-paid celebrities. His pull for that year was $54 million, and he increased his earnings to $60 million the following year, bumping up to No. 26 (tying with Elton John and Garth Brooks) on Forbes’ 2017 list.
Ramsay And Mario Batali Have Beef — And Not The Medium-Rare Kind
The feud between Ramsay and fellow chef Mario Batali began when Batali insulted Ramsay’s food and Ramsay retaliated by calling Batali “Fanta Pants” back in 2008. (While it may seem like an innocent nickname, it’s actually a dig at Batali’s ginger hair.) Batali then banned Ramsay from all of his restaurants, though he has said that he’s open to making peace with his fellow chef — if Ramsay makes the first move.
“If he called me himself and said, ‘Let’s sit down for a drink’, I’m sure it would be fine,” Batali told The Guardian. “We’d be cool. But right now it’s not cool.”
His First Career Choice Was Professional Soccer Player
Like many young British boys, Ramsay originally aspired to be a professional soccer player. He has even claimed in the past that he played for Scotland’s Glasgow Rangers team until a knee injury snuffed out his pro-soccer-playing gooooooaaals. His claims are inaccurate, though the Rangers did apparently monitor Ramsay as a potential player when he was a teen before he suffered an injury.
He Has His Own Video Games
If watching Ramsay shriek at people on TV simply isn’t enough for you, check out these virtual worlds in which you can interact with the chef. For Nintendo Wii, there is a “Hell’s Kitchen” game, which features a depiction of Ramsay so lifelike that it may actually scare you. Or try Ramsay’s mobile game, Restaurant DASH, in which players use their virtual culinary skills and restaurant management prowess to become “the next rising star chef” — all under Ramsay’s stern mentorship. For those who thrive under pressure, these games are for you.
He Has Been Married For 22 Years
Ramsay is married to Cayetana “Tana” Hutcheson, a former teacher. Wed in 1996, the two have weathered some storms throughout their years of marriage, but none of the drama seems to have affected their union. In fact, after a scandalous feud between Ramsay and Tana’s father, Chris Hutcheson, the TV chef told The Sun, “We looked after each other. And it’s actually brought us — me, Tana and the children — closer than we’ve ever been before. Our marriage is stronger as a result of it all.”
He Is Rather Obsessed With Beef Wellington
Beef Wellington is so near and dear to Ramsay’s heart that there’s an entire section devoted to it on the website for Gordon Ramsay’s Restaurants — including recipes for making the classic meat-in-pastry dish at home. It also seems to be the dish he most enjoys berating his contestants for screwing up.
He Studied Hotel Management
After his soccer star dreams were dashed, Ramsay attended a technical school for a degree in hotel management. So he does know a bloody thing or two about customer service! Of course, this knowledge came in handy when Ramsay tried to help rehabilitate struggling hoteliers in another one of his shows, “Hotel Hell.”
There Are Five Things He Thinks Everyone Should Be Able To Cook
You don’t need to be a world-class chef at home, but Ramsay believes there are five dishes everyone should learn how to cook. These include a great burger, a good breakfast, a chicken dish, a braising dish (the kind of thing “you can cook on a Monday and still eat on Friday,” he told curious Reddit users) and a great cake.
He Has Participated In Ironman Competitions
The knee injury that ended Ramsay’s soccer dreams certainly didn’t stop him from pursuing fitness as an adult. He has participated in over 15 marathons, three ultra-marathons, three half-Ironmans and two Ironman World Championships (which require running a full marathon, bicycling for 122 miles and swimming 2.4 miles). The reason he works out so hard? “Training is my release,” he told the Telegraph.
His Guilty Pleasure Junk Food Is Probably The Same As Yours
When asked during a Reddit Ask Me Anything whether he had a “guilty pleasure food,” Ramsay confessed that he, like so many of us mere mortals, is weak in the face of an In-and-Out burger. “I wish they were set up in London because if there’s one thing I miss flying out of LA, it’s an In and Out Burger [sic],” he wrote.
He Was The Head Chef At London’s Aubergine
After working under the careful tutelage of top chefs — like Joel Robuchon and Guy Savoy — Ramsay went to work at London’s Aubergine in 1993 as the restaurant’s head chef. He was 27 years old at the time. Under his guidance over the next three years, the restaurant earned a prized two-star rating from Michelin. Unfortunately, the restaurant has since closed.
He And His Wife Have 4 Children — Including A Set Of Twins
The eldest of the four Ramsay children is Megan, age 20, followed by fraternal twins, Holly and Jack, age 18. The youngest is Matilda, age 16. All of the Ramsay kids are good friends with David and Victoria Beckham’s children — but they are forbidden from dating them.
None Of The Kids Will Inherit Ramsay’s Money
In an effort not to spoil his children, Ramsay has openly declared that he won’t leave his fortune to his kids in his will. “It’s definitely not going to them, and that’s not in a mean way; it’s to not spoil them,” he told The Telegraph. He said that he and his wife agreed their children will each get a 25 percent deposit on an apartment someday, but that’s it.
He also won’t allow his children to join him in first class when they fly together: “They haven’t worked anywhere near hard enough to afford that. At that age, at that size, you’re telling me they need to sit in first class? No, they do not.”
He’s Had Cosmetic Surgery
Ramsay admitted that he had cosmetic surgery to fill in some wrinkles on his face. It seems that the chef grew irritated with all the critical remarks about his appearance that he received in the press … and from his children. “I was never embarrassed by it but my children helped me become more paranoid about it,” he told The Guardian in 2010. “You’ve seen the articles: craggy face, map of Wales, ugly, deflated rugby ball. There’s only so much sh*t you want to take. I woke up in the morning and [daughter] Matilda was trying to squeeze pound coins in there.”
He Has A Favorite Midnight Snack
Beans on toast is a classic British meal, so it’s no surprise that Ramsay’s favorite late-night snack is baked beans. Of course, he is not rummaging around for plain old beans in the middle of the night. When he has a hankering, he grills some sourdough bread, adds baked beans, garlic and hot sauce, and tops with a duck egg and Parmesan cheese. Sweet dreams!
He Has A Black Belt In Karate
Anyone who can’t verbally spar with Ramsay in the kitchen probably won’t want to challenge him to a physical fight either, as the chef is trained in martial arts and even has a black belt in karate. Apparently, it came in handy when a “Hells Kitchen” contestant tried to hit him.
His Daughter Has Her Own Food Show
Step aside, Pops, there’s a new TV chef in the Ramsay family! In 2015, Ramsay’s then-13-year-old daughter, Matilda, premiered her own cooking show titled “Matilda and the Ramsay Bunch.” Already spanning several seasons, the 15-minute episodes follow the Ramsay family on their cooking and traveling adventures. Now 16 years old, Matilda has also released her own cookbook, “Tilly’s Kitchen Makeover.”
There Is One Kind Of Food He Refuses To Eat
Although the chef has said that he’s open to trying any food once, there is one type of food he will not touch: airplane food (not to be confused with Ramsay’s restaurant, Plane Food, at Heathrow Airport in London). “I worked for airlines for 10 years, so I know where this food’s been and where it goes, and how long it took before it got on board,” he told Refinery29.
He And His Wife Have A Philanthropic Foundation
Here’s something that reveals a softer side of the temperamental TV chef: The Gordon and Tana Ramsay Foundation. This philanthropic effort that Ramsay started with his wife, Tana, partners with London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) to fund equipment and services for sick children.
Find out about donating to the Ramsays’ foundation or joining a fundraising event (such as the AJ Bell London Triathlon 2019).
He Speaks French Fluently
When Ramsay went to study in France, he didn’t speak any French. Over time, however, both his cooking and language skills developed, and he became fluent in French. He now understands Spanish fairly well, too, though he has expressed on Twitter his desire to speak that language better.
He’d Love To Cook For Hillary Clinton
When asked what he would cook for his celebrity diner of choice, Hillary Clinton, Ramsay told Bon Appetit, “I would say something authentic, rich, and a sauce that had been doused with lots of red wine. Like a braised short rib, because she’s of that era — of that age — that she understands fine food.”
He Was Once Brought To Tears In The Kitchen
Ramsay can crack even the toughest nut in the kitchen and part of the reason viewers enjoy his shows is because there’s always the chance they’ll see a full-grown adult weeping over an underdone roast. But so far the only person to make Ramsay cry in the kitchen was his daughter Matilda when she was 13 years old. She had made a burger for her new TV show and was upset that it didn’t look good enough.
“That brought tears to my eyes; she cared so much about the burger and the garnish,” Ramsay told Bon Appetit. “For anyone to be that precious at 13 about food … I was very proud of her.”
He Actually Enjoys Kale — But It Took Him A While
Considering this man’s intense love of beef Wellington, it might come as a surprise that he is actually on board with a trendy green superfood like kale.
“I turned my nose up against [kale salads] for the first six months, but then my wife got my kids — Holly, Megan, Matilda and Jack — to eat them, so I was the odd one out at the table,” he revealed in a Q&A with Bon Appetit. “I’ve now changed to kale chips to snack on, rather than chocolate.”
He Doesn’t Like Getting Special Treatment In Restaurants
When asked to describe the worst thing about being a famous chef, Ramsay said it is the huge amount of food he is often served at restaurants when the staff wants to impress him. “Sometimes I just want to sit in the corner of a restaurant and eat two courses,” he told Bon Appetit, noting that sometimes the chef sends out many, many more courses. “If I don’t taste it, it looks rude. If I eat it, they want feedback. I want to go out to restaurants and not give feedback, keep my mouth shut and enjoy.”
He’s Changed His Tune On Vegans And Vegetarians
In the past, Ramsay has openly mocked vegans — even joking that he’s “allergic” to them. He gained some compassion, however, on his show “The F Word” when he learned about the animal abuses at many farms, particularly the castration and tail docking of young piglets. On the show, Ramsay said, “It’s enough to make anyone turn f*cking vegetarian, for God’s sake. And I’ve always sort of knocked vegetarians and vegans for missing out on the most amazing flavor you can get from meat. But you can see why so many people change instantly.”
He Had Some Tension With Anthony Bourdain
Ramsay and Anthony Bourdain had a bit of a tumultuous relationship, with some admiration early on and then some tension in later years. Namely, Bourdain called Ramsay’s attempt to copyright “Spotted Pig” — thus screwing over April Bloomfield, the owner of the Spotted Pig restaurant in New York City, which was beloved by Bourdain — “shameful pathetic“.
He Doesn’t Like Watching Himself On TV
Even Ramsay finds his shows too stressful! The chef said he doesn’t enjoy watching his own TV shows, preferring instead to go out to dinner or watch “Deadliest Catch.”
He Had A Near-Death Experience While Puffin-Hunting In Iceland
While hunting puffins in Iceland to cook on his show, “The F Word,” Ramsay slipped off a cliff and fell into ice-cold water. He was reportedly underwater for 45 seconds, weighed down by his boots and coat, before he surfaced and the film crew tossed him a rope to pull him to safety. “When I was underwater all I could think of was Tana and my kids,” Ramsay told The Telegraph.
That wasn’t all, though! He was also bitten on the nose by an angry puffin during the hunt and required three stitches. Some might say it was the puffins’ revenge.
He Hates Dinner Parties
It may not come as a surprise that this fiery chef doesn’t care much for dinner parties. The reason? He can’t stand pretending the host’s food tastes good when it doesn’t.
He Once Got Sparred With Singer Ellie Goulding
Granted it was on Britain’s “The Jonathan Ross Show” during a boxing skit where a padded Ramsay was her sparring partner, but it still made for a memorable moment. It happened after the singer confessed to having a crush on him.
He Loves Vietnamese And Cambodian Foods
When asked during his 2015 Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything), “What are some of your favorite places to eat?” Ramsay responded, “I’ve become a big fan of Vietnamese and Cambodian food. Because they cook with very little dairy. So everything was tasty, but incredibly healthy at the same time. Great use of spice, broth, pork, a way of eating well but also just on the cusp of trying to stay healthy at the same time.”
He’s A Softy
Despite his temper, frequent yelling and near-constant ‘F’-bombs, Ramsay is quite sensitive when it comes to his kids and “Masterchef Junior” contestants.
“It’s easier being a dad, and also having three girls. I think sometimes I am a little more sensitive,” Ramsay told Fox News. “For me, it’s hard to watch them [the contestants] get upset about [their culinary] mistakes. I didn’t start cooking until I was 19 … [The contestants are] 8, 9, 10 years of age, even by the time they get to 18 they would have been cooking for 10 years. I need to help them realize their potential.”
His Daughters Are Instagram Celebrities
Twenty-year-old Megan has 129,000 Instagram followers, 18-year-old Holly has 185,000 and 16-year-old Matilda, who frequently appears with dad on TV and on her own show “Matilda and the Ramsay Bunch,” has the most followers at 310,000. And let’s not forget about 18-year-old son (Holly’s twin), Jack, who has 211,000!
He Prefers To Eat Five Times A Day
“The triathlon lifestyle fits into the chef’s lifestyle,” Ramsay told The Telegraph while describing what and how he eats to keep his body at the triathlon-competing condition. “I don’t have breakfast, lunch and dinner. I eat five times a day – small portions.”
He Wants To Compete With Bobby Flay
According to a Quora session in which Ramsay was asked whom he would choose to battle in an “Iron Chef”-style cooking competition, Ramsay said he’d been “asking Bobby Flay for the last five years for that opportunity to go up head-to-head, and he still won’t sign that damn contract.” Ramsay continued, “I walked into Bobby’s Mesa Grill and said, ‘Bobby, let’s cut the bullshit and get in the ring, you and I for 60 minutes and if you need a 10-minute head start and extra sous chef, you can have them, but I’m going to kick your ass.’ He said yes, but 24 hours later, his agent phoned up and said ‘No, we haven’t got the time.'”
His Favorite Disney Movie Is Hardly Unexpected
According to his 2015 Reddit AMA, he loves “Ratatouille!” That’s not hard to imagine, given it’s all about fine dining.
He Doesn’t Do Pineapple On Pizza
The frequently irate chef tweeted that “Pineapple does not go on top of pizza” back in 2017. It subsequently created an enormous Twitter debate on whether or not this tropical fruit is an acceptable pizza topping.
Today, his statement has been retweeted more than 117,000 times. He previously went on U.K.’s “The Nightly Show” where he exclaimed, “You don’t put f—ing pineapple on pizza.” So in case it wasn’t clear, he’s not a fan!
He Ate Girl Scout Cookies For The First Time On Live TV
In a 2016 episode of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” Ramsay had confessed to never having eaten a Girl Scout Cookie and was subsequently invited to try them all on air. Kimmel presented him with a spread of Tagalongs, Samoas and Thin Mints, to which Ramsay remarked, “Visually, they look like dog biscuits.” But how about the flavor? After tasting a bite of a Thin Mint cookie, he described it as, “a cheap, half-rate dinner mint,” before spitting it into the trash.
He Once Kicked Joan Collins Out Of His Restaurant
A.A. Gill, a restaurant critic, had once notoriously described Ramsay as, “a wonderful chef, just a really second-rate human being.” So, when Gill chose to dine at the chef’s flagship London restaurant, along with English actress Joan Collins in 1998, the two were quickly kicked out.