A British chef says that Gordon Ramsay — whose latest British TV mini-series is a self-proclaimed exposé on restaurant workers’ coke abuse — has morphed into “a terrible fucking ambassador” for their industry. Ramsay’s brand-new ITV show, literally called Gordon Ramsay on Cocaine, calls cocaine use the service industry’s “dirty little secret,” and Neil Rankin, one of England’s most critically acclaimed pitmasters, hasn’t liked either episode of it so far. The most recent aired last night, but the first episode (in which Ramsay traveled to Colombia, “the world’s biggest producer of cocaine”) is what initially generated a livid Facebook rant from Rankin when it came out two weeks ago.
In a post that’s been liked more than 2,000 times, he wrote that Ramsay should try “doing something positive” instead of starring in a TV show where he pretends to still know what’s going on in restaurant kitchens.
Most of the post’s responses gave Rankin kudos, so British trade mag Big Hospitality followed up Wednesday in an interview where the chef unleashed a second round of angry quotes. He argues that kitchens have no more of a “drug problem” than Hollywood or Wall Street or the music and fashion industries do, and that it’s “laughable” to think cooks “can be on drugs like cocaine in a work environment without someone spotting.” (“And if customers are doing that much coke in your restaurants,” he says as an aside, “you might want to look at your menus cause they ain’t eating the food.”) He faults Ramsay’s crusade in particular because he thinks it should come from someone who “still works day to day in their kitchen and is less condescending to other chefs.”
Rankin offers up Tom Kerridge, a respected British chef generally less prone to sensationalizing. But he says basically anybody would be better than Ramsay, an equal-opportunity insulter who’s actually faked portions of Kitchen Nightmares before to pump up the show’s drama:
He made his career on painting a bad light on kitchen attitudes. Swearing at celebrities in the kitchen, restaurant owners or his own staff, he’s become a caricature for all we’re trying to get away from. Am I perfect? No. But I am trying to be a better leader. The industry took a big hit with the tipping debate, immigration issues and now we’re all ‘on drugs’, according to Gordon. There is a chef crisis going on as it is. We don’t need this negative focus and especially if it’s largely bullshit.
He closes by suggesting a couple of controversial topics Ramsay could tackle to make a difference: bullying and sexism in the workplace, both of which he feels are a bigger deal than the somehow “secret” problem of “everybody” being on drugs.