Why Gordon Ramsey is Great: quality, honesty, tenacity and fun

One of my nicknames from people who deal with me professionally is the Hoffmanator. This name comes because most people don’t enjoy dealing with me when they are trying to pull something over my eyes or, they are having a difficult time meeting the production demands of whatever project we are working on. These tendencies of mine are well-known to my family. About a year ago my kids told me, “Dad, you should watch Gordon Ramsey on TV, you’d like him a lot!”

I sort of grumbled that most things on TV are a waste of time, and I have better things to do with my time than watch some chef cook a bunch of French cuisine. My impression of chef’s was that they were flakey, liberal, and socially worthless. However, my wife finally did get me to watch a few episodes of Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares and I’ll have to say, Gordon is my kind of guy!

For many of the reasons I have come to like Chef Ramsey can be seen in this interview.

Ramsey makes it a habit of going into a restaurant that is failing, and within a week identifying the weaknesses of the business and turning things around dramatically. It takes tremendous confidence to do this, and a unique ability to understand every aspect of a business which Gordon Ramsey excels at, and accounts for his meteoric rise to fame. He is uniquely talented, yet humbly approachable. Being one of the best in the world at what he does has not removed Ramsey from his working class roots. As seen in this next clip he is quick to cut to the chase and focus on the immediate faults that are holding back a restaurant from achieving success.

Gordon is primarily about quality. He is not afraid of hard work and despises people who take short cuts to avoid work. He is a relentless pursuer of quality as seen here where he shuts down a Mexican restaurant. His definition of quality is precisely what Robert Pirsig was conveying in the excellent book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The pursuit of something good cannot be achieved by those who scramble to hide themselves in the cover of the crowd, to live a mundane existence complacent to the world around them. Quality starts first with the mind and transcends to the actions of the individual. A person of poor quality in the mind will of course transfer all that into their daily actions. Since Gordon is a person of inner quality, it is easy for him to spot the faults of others who allow their inner faults to translate into material faults in the restaurant.

Ramsey because of his background, an abusive father who beat his mother regularly, a brother who fell to drug abuse, an athlete who almost made it pro, has the unique ability to have learned everything there is to know about food. He did not waste his life away on drugs, reckless pursuits, ego driven social status, he set out to be the best he could be, and as a result, he knows everything there is to know about his field of endeavor. He can sit down even when the cooks in the kitchen are trying to pull the wool over his eyes and immediately identify the troubles with their preparations.

In this next clip I can’t even report how many times I’ve had to do something just like this, even with people who “outrank” me, for the sake of saving whatever endeavor we’re working on. The human mind is a tricky playground, and the kinds of things that motivate people are infinite. However, a bully, a man of small inner value who seeks to redeem himself by forcing the submission of others to his rule is extremely common to varying degrees. In the case of this next clip the manager of a restaurant has allowed his own ego, his need to be in control, to get in the way of the needs of his business. To this man everyone but him is to blame, yet the ultimate problem, and all the employees know it, but are afraid to reveal it, is the bully himself…..the manager. Once Gordon learns this, he deals with it honestly.

We all know people who buy the fancy sports car to deal with male erectile dysfunction, hair loss, or whatever failing indicates a personal loss of testosterone or even personal pride. We all know the type of man who wishes he were a playboy, where women are falling all over him because he wants to be the “stud” of the herd, to live the life of Hugh Hefner, which is only an image. Such people often seek political office or ownership of stores and restaurants so they can achieve a respect that they believe will attract women to them. A dead give-away is a gold bracelet, or necklace, a hand with multiple rings on it, that kind of thing. Men like that are weak behind their flashy exterior. As a general rule, if they were happy with themselves, they wouldn’t be attempting to project a false image. There are millions of them out there, and it can be a terrible experience if you find you are the employee to a person like this.

Many times the person participating in this arrogant behavior isn’t aware of their fault. They live in a state of self-delusion where easy gold-digging women have helped them build that illusion. They often don’t have many quality people in their lives, because they push them away to maintain the illusion. That’s why when Gordon Ramsey spots it in someone; he tells them how it is. He doesn’t do it to hurt them personally, but to actually help them. People who are suffering under their own delusion need to hear it, for the sake and quality of their own lives. So Ramsey will oblige.

Ramsey has been so successful, because his unique combinations of first class knowledge and unpretentious demeanor have let millions of people into the world of culinary art. What is quite remarkable is that Ramsey has had his success in socialist countries such as England yet the principles of success do not care about political philosophy. Success only knows success. Ramsey has had so much success that he is doing multiple shows now. Here he is on Master Chief talking to another guy I like a lot and that was Albert.

I was really rooting for Albert on that show. I know a lot of Albert’s in the world and I like them very much. They are honest, do not hide what they are, and are wise because of their survival of hard living. Ramsey enjoys people like Albert too, but Albert was only a few dishes deep in creativity and to be true to the intent of the show, favoritism without results has no place.

Chef Ramsey is not some stuffy old elite. He’s an energetic boy who loves to play and have fun. He is an infinite source of energy that people find themselves drawn to. My thoughts on his success is that he has managed to find a market niche in a field that government doesn’t understand, so he has been able to apply free-market principles to restaurants. Nobody has gotten in his way because food is an industry that every human being on Earth enjoys, and other than safety regulations it has very little government interference. So the opposition to quality and creativity are not in place. I notice that the restaurant employees of America and in Europe are different. The American’s talk back a lot more. I would love to see a show where Ramsey comes up against the Culinary Union Local 226 in Las Vegas, where they refuse to do certain things he demands because of union rules. But refreshingly, in the culinary world, the kind of labor nonsense that we all have to deal with in public sector unions and other organizations are vacant, allowing people who are truly talented like Gordon Ramsey to excel.

I’m glad my wife and kids talked me into giving Ramsey a chance. I have more faith in television as a result, that everything on it is not some brain-dead monstrosity hell-bent on a progressive agenda. I’ll watch just about anything with Chef Ramsey in it these days. He has even given me an appreciation to what my wife does in the kitchen every day and night as I have been looking over her shoulder to study what ingredients she’s using in her own culinary masterpieces.

Ramsey does what any person of good quality should do, and that is selflessly improve the world around them with honesty, valor, sincerity, and innovation while enriching themselves with everything they can. As Gordon Ramsey improves on his $100 million dollar empire, he deserves every bit of it, because in his wake he builds the world up instead of tearing it down, and shows people how a simple thing such as food can improve the lives of people in every way possible.

Rich Hoffman


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