Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

First, take one Gordon Ramsay, add useless chefs, then simmer

You know, to be perfectly honest, I didn’t blame Gordon Ramsay one bit for using the F-word more than 240 times during a 100-minute episode of Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares show at the weekend.

For the deluded fools and brain-donors that poor man has to work with would drive me to commit an act of violence. Never mind swearing and shouting, I would have had to be held back from reaching for the two hopeless cases that Gordon confronted last week. Two ‘restaurateurs’ who, I believe, hadn’t the first clue about food, about cooking or about interior design. Yet they resisted Ramsay’s sensible advice to the bitter end.

One infuriating chap in Devon was serving what seemed to be mass-produced, microwave dinners drenched in what appeared to be orange squash to his innocent diners. The other one thought he was running a nightclub: dishing up food from a bucket to his customers while bombarding them with feedback from some very raucous, live bands. I mean really! This pair of grade-A losers deserved to be taken to a secure unit and given a good bout of ECT to bring them back to their senses. In my opinion, in getting a mouthful of aggressive, verbal abuse from Gordon Ramsay, they were getting off lightly.

If the majority of restaurants and cafes are carrying on in this appalling way, they deserve to go out of business as soon as possible. And this is what really worried me about the programme. For I began to wonder how often I may have eaten food elsewhere which was a microwaved bag of long-life, fatty rubbish or been served stale wine, dodgy cream or ... I don’t like to think.

Aren’t there supposed to be rules about this sort of thing? God knows New Labour have all but become a police state. Interfering at every level with their speed cameras and their health and safety laws and their general spying and meddling. Yet any plonker with a dream can use a stack of credit cards to open a restaurant, shove his tragic wife or lover in as an unpaid waitress. And go swanning about the dining room like some sort of Little Hitler in a pinny. Shaking hands with the punters and smiling stupidly as the unwitting souls swallow some greyish- looking pigswill. And then cough up a small fortune for the privilege. It’s really put me off eating out. From now on, if I see a menu with 50 or more options on it, I will automatically assume that the food is entirely boil-in-the-bag or freezer-to-microwave, and probably sourced from an illegal factory halfway across Europe. A factory staffed by psychopaths with mad eyes, snarling pitbull dogs, rusty pitchforks and blood-spattered machetes. Well, wouldn’t you?

Can’t you just picture them slicing off the ‘condemned meat’ arkings and laughing wickedly as they heave the wretched carcasses into the mincer? And at the end of the conveyor belt, they get millions of pretty looking ‘organic’ Cottage pies. Organic, yes! Meaning, full of deadly organisms. Or maybe it’s just me?

Oh Gordon, why do you bother? Why do the TV producers bother? They’re not going to improve the cooking standards in this country. All they’re going to do is make us all more depressed and paranoid than we already are.

Why can’t they just show us a nice programme about a nice restaurant and then give us a list of good places to eat? I don’t want to know about some insane man or woman and their tangled personal lives. And the slanging matches and the tears and the sobbing in corners over six-figure credit card bills.

How hard can it be to fry a piece of steak and put it on a warm, clean plate with a little dollop of mash on the side? My dear departed grandmother was still able to do that when she was 85 years old and starting to wander in her mind.

So go on and let Gordon Ramsay swear his little heart out, like the cornerboy he is. The restaurant-owners deserve it. The TV-producers know they’ll get wall-to-wall coverage from Gordon and his potty mouth. And the viewers obviously can’t get enough of this dirty bucket of TV-slops. I, however, may never eat out again. I may have to start cooking my own dinner.

Right, so let me get this straight: so I go to a good butcher and buy some meat, and come home and cook it in a pan until it isn’t raw any more? Then I add a spoonful of lightly boiled carrots and possibly a small spud? Is that the gist of it? Ok, I think I can manage that. Will that make me a celebrity chef? If Nigella can do it ... Ye Gods, it’s only food. And to think women have been turning out the old ‘meat and two veg’ for over a thousand years without any real drama or appreciation whatsoever.

I wish some TV producer had given my Granny Rose £80m to film her cooking a bit of chicken or baking a Victoria sponge. She’d have put Gordon Ramsay to shame with her delicious meals. And all she had was an ancient gas cooker and a few cheap pots and pans from Wellworths. And I never heard the lady swear once in all the years that I knew her. Not even when somebody accidentally slammed a car door shut on her hand.

Ah well, they just don’t make ‘em like that any more.

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