NEW YORK – How did Gordon Ramsay spend his pandemic lockdown? No doubt about going crazy in the kitchen.
The chef with an astonishing number of books, restaurants and TV shows at his home in Cornwall, England, was with mouths to feed last year when he spent a series of lives on Instagram cooking meals in 10 minutes or less. The fast-moving attempt he started on YouTube the year before culminated in “Ramsay in 10,” his latest cookbook filled with recipes that are made around the clock.
“There’s a lot of fun cooking food that doesn’t take 60 or 70 minutes at a time,” he told The Associated Press in a recent interview on Zoom from Los Angeles. ‘Ramsey at 10’ was somewhat of a miracle because it’s the first time in 20 years that anyone has told me, ‘Stop. Time out.’
The world is accustomed to seeing the fast – and sometimes terrifying – Ramsay, rescuing failed restaurants, judging chefs vying for prize money, and climbing Sicilian cliffs in search of the perfect octopus. But he was not used to seeing him run around his kitchen surrounded by his wife, Tana Ramsey, and their children, who range in age from two to 23.
Instagram Live has thrilled thousands of fans with the rare pleasure of seeing Ramsay cooking in real time.
“No passports. No flights. He said about closing. “You don’t film. You would stay at home and cook breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you told me that two years ago, I would have never believed you. We had to be very creative and get started quickly, easily and without complexity.”
He had plague strains at the head of the family.
“Every doctor and nurse were on their knees, and every hospital was teeming with anxiety and stress,” Ramsay said. “So what I wanted to do was relieve that pressure.”
Among the hundred recipes he made in a jiffy: a humble omelet with mozzarella cheese and shiitake mushrooms, and another with fish sauce and shrimp. There’s the one-pan pumpkin noodles with amaretti and lemon thyme, and quick smoked haddock using precooked rice.
Ramsay filled his book—the thirty-first—with shortcuts and advice on how to stockpile a pantry and refrigerator for home cooks on the go. He calls these recipes fast food at its best – no faster than a frozen meal thrown in the microwave but faster than takeout delivery. It gives home chefs a round-the-clock blessing, recognizing his status as an experienced professional.
“The way I used to write cookbooks was thinking I would be judged by every chef on the planet. The recipes were loaded with 152 ingredients. Cooking at home is completely different, and I learned that much more,” Ramsay said.
His movie “Ramsay in 10” was released on November 2 by Hachette Book Group.
At home, it is usually Tana who does the cooking.
“She’s a great home cook,” he said. “This is the first time I have cooked properly at home. It is like running a restaurant where no one comes home.”
The 54-year-old seems to be a constant presence on UK and US broadcast and television networks with his production company, shows keep coming. There is “Hell’s Kitchen,” “MasterChef,” and “MasterChef Jr.” and “Kitchen Nightmares” and “The F Word,” to name a few. His latest movie, “Next Level Chef,” is due out on Fox in January with line chefs, home chefs, social media stars and food cart owners vying to be crowned culinary king or queen.
Among the reasons he has been watching TV since 1997 has been to promote his restaurants. With seven Michelin stars, Ramsay now owns 50 restaurants spread across the world. He is grateful to all survivors of the pandemic. His latest business is scheduled to open at the end of the year in Edinburgh.
Another thing that keeps him on screens, he said, is his lust for discovering new talent. The money isn’t bad either. His net worth has been estimated at $220 million.
Ramsay started modestly after moving from Scotland to Stratford-upon-Avon as a boy. He would wash dishes in restaurants and watch his mother toil as a restaurant chef, with a second job as a nurse. He likens the restaurant world to the competitive, high-pressure sport he tasted as a teenage footballer in England before injuries knocked him off the field for good.
“So at 18, when you’re on your knees, my mom always taught me from a very young age, never get bitter, just recover. Flick yourself and pull yourself up,” he said. “So the point of escaping from food was to drop myself into an area where no one knew who I was.”
He went to France for three years to study the kitchen there, and his career was born.
To relax, Ramsay works. Swims, runs and hikes with 2-year-old Oscar on his back. He said being fit served him well both in his fast-paced life on TV and at the top of his restaurant empire.
“I think chefs have some of the most unethical eating habits on the planet because we don’t sit down and eat properly,” he said.
“My mom was the first influencer regarding food. We were taught not only to respect food, but not to waste it. She always said all of your stomach not your eyes.”