Recently, Gordon Ramsay took some time to do an interview with a few journalists about the new season of Kitchen Nightmares. As always, he was witty, kind, and honest. It’s always a pleasure, so let’s take a look at a few questions.
Gordon’s view on second chances for these restaurants…
Gordon: I am getting tired of giving second chances, but they’re part of the issues that are taking place on a daily basis, and that’s to do with the economy. And so it’s getting harder to be patient to be honest and so it’s my own issues and dealing with regular issues. I’m still trying to open new restaurants as well at the same time, so you’re right.
Do they deserve a second chance? When they are arrogant, obnoxious, and they’re not prepared to listen and they want to cook themselves as opposed to the customers, then, yes, I won’t give anyone a second or a third chance. But there are some sort of prissy distraught, upsetting, and emotional circumstances this year. I think it’s been a bit of a whirlwind to be honest.
Jump ahead to read more of the interview.
On what we’ll see this season that we haven’t in seasons past
Gordon: More than ever before, as you know, there’s a whole team behind me and they have a couple days prep to the restaurants before I get there, a couple days prep for the restaurant after I leave. We bring in an infrastructure and we really focus on what are the most important elements to get that restaurant back. Sometimes the restaurants this year have been beautiful in terms of interior, the décor, are family run, but the segmentation that’s taken place are more seen than ever before this year.
And then I was greeted with a huge mouse coming through one of the doors. Now I’ve had a lot of flack in my time, but I’ve never been greeted by a mouse in a door of the restaurants. And the shock of the fact that I walked in there, and then they accused me of bringing it in and that’s a little bit out there on that one, me bringing my own mouse to plant in the restaurant before helping them? Come on!
Do you ever second guess yourself
Gordon: Second guess?Good question, a really good question. I act on impulse and I go with my instincts. I’ve had a lot of success; I’ve had failures, so I learn from the failure. I talk about it. I can share that stuff, so I suppose I’m 44 years of age and so if I tried it now as I was 15 years ago. I shoot from the hip.
I have to get straight to the truth and it’s not because we’re panicking and we’re not there for ten days. In the U.K. versions, we’re there for nine, ten days at a time. Here, we’re here for a week and because of the work that goes into that week, the research from every critic to every article to the opening night, the first six months, the financial implications, we turn it upside down. We really turn it upside down. So I don’t pussyfoot around. I really get straight off, so I never second guess it. I go for it straight away.
On what he’s learned from this series
Gordon: What I’ve learned more than anything is the research that goes into the ethnic restaurants. This year Greek restaurants are highly gender, fusion, Asian. So I quite like being selfish where you’re …and delving into I suppose the estimating importance of re-establishing it.
We’ve just done a smokehouse here in Atlanta initially…. It was amazing, but the whole setup was extraordinary. They had these $14,000 smokers, amazing. It was like Rolls Royces in the kitchen. I turned up and they served me smoked wings and they were smoked wings from three days ago. And yet they were taking fresh wings out. They were so scared of being busy they got themselves so booked out in advance with ordering the food and cooking on an industrial sort of level, as opposed to an authentic level. So I love delving into that authenticity.
I just recently came back from Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Thailand. I went to live with a family in Vietnam. I spent a week in a cooking school where you pay the family to stay and we went up into the mountains and you just watch and be their skivvy. We were in the sort of camp watching and tasting everything.
And so no dairy, no cream, no butter, buying produce fresh twice a day, go to local markets or the local fisher and it was just amazing. So the Vietnamese’s level of insight on food-wise I think being multi-cultural and broaden those horizons and bringing that level of no dairy is quite apt today. I think every chef in the country should cook for month with no dairy. You’ll surprise yourself.
On what the number one difficulty these restaurants face
Gordon: Most of them become static. They forget to fight to move on. They get there and they open. They trade, but then they unknown to them, they’re in a time warp from the first minute that door opened. The secret of any successful business in a restaurant is staying in front of your customers and moving on that person before with the lady in front of you. The secret is to stay in front of your customers because once you’ve opened these businesses you’re in it, the only way you can improve is by going and eating out because you can’t disappear for two months and travel and understand.
The biggest problem is they get comfortable and then they forget to fight. They forget, okay, we have to move on. Everything has to evolve. You don’t need to go fine dining crazy, but you need to work up with new ideas. The staff is going to be inspired and so they get complacent because they think that they have a restaurant, but they don’t understand what’s open within a five mile radius. And that is something they need to know on a daily basis.
And I always say running up to launching a restaurant once the restaurant is open, check out the reviews. Find what’s hot, find what’s just opened and then look for the worse review of the week in any restaurant and getting there. There is so much to learn from watching a restaurant getting absolutely panned and having a bad experience. Go and see it for yourself. There’s so much to learn and that’s what you get, I think, in a way that they—it doesn’t mean that they’re lazy. But they don’t understand the importance of having their own situation becoming stale and how trendy are restaurants now. Within six months, 12 months, you can become an old hat, depending on the energy inside those four walls.
That’s all for this interview, and as always, Ramsay was a pleasure to speak with. Don’t miss the season premiere of Kitchen Nightmares tonight at 8/7c on FOX.