After he went into the TV racket in Britain, that fierceness had an impact. The BBC TV guide, Radio Times, polled thousands of readers to determine “television’s most terrifying celebrity” and Ramsay came in at No 1. Cranky and sarcastic Idol judge Simon Cowell was way down the list. More recently, a Ramsay TV special in the U.K., Ramsay’s Great British Nightmare, drew many complaints from viewers. One pointed out that 312 swear words were heard in a program lasting 103 minutes.
The short temper and the swearing are part of the appeal of Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares. But, in truth, Ramsay is a compelling figure not just because of the temper and swear words. He is absolutely confident in the rightness of his methods and the validity of his attacks. He’s one of those people on TV who manages to be gripping not because of egotism, but assuredness.
Mind you, MasterChef and Hotel Hell are far better shows than theKitchen ones. They are better because they are about quality cooking and, in Hotel Hell, customer care. On MasterChef , Ramsay and his fellow judges can be sarcastic and abrasive, but the point is to make the contestants better cooks. There is the usual flim-flammery about some contestants hating each other and feuds developing, but the show is mainly about food. It’s Ramsay’s personality that drives it, the brutally frank assessments of food and the effort put into its preparation.