Skip to main content

While Still Tasty, Second Course of "Gordon Ramsay's F Word" a Little Harder to Swallow

One of the joys of my Sunday evenings (a dreaded time which means the return to work the following day after a far-too-short weekend) the past few months has been sitting down in front of the telly to tune into BBC America's culinary series Gordon Ramsay's F Word.

So I was happy then to discover that the network was launching Season Two of Gordon Ramsay's F Word right on the heels of the Christmas-themed first season, which wrapped up just in time for the holidays.

Hosted by Gordon Ramsay, that foul-mouthed, prickly chef who has built his reputation on the precision, perfection, and elegance of his food as much as he has by the demanding, draconian tactics he uses on sister show Hell's Kitchen, The F Word is meant to be a more, er, personable look into Ramsay's life, bringing us a kinder, softer Gordon in his kitchen and home.

The F Word is not a reality show per se, not in the traditional sense of the word, anyway. Yes, sometimes people are sent home and at times it's hard to distinguish Gordon from his usual screaming-until-his-voice-is-raw self. Sure, that letter f in The F Word's logo (both the show itself and its eponymous restaurant) is as sharp as a dagger's blade, but if I want Hell's Kitchen-style berating, I'll tune into that show. What I'm coming to Gordon Ramsay's F Word for is insight into Ramsay's style of cooking, his ethos about food preparation, some good TV food journalism (from much-missed Giles Coren), and a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into dinner service at an actual running restaurant.

Therefore, I was a little perturbed to learn that in Season Two, Ramsay and the series' producers had mixed things up a little too much, for my taste. Last season, each week Gordon invited a new aspiring chef to act as commis in the kitchen and would send one of them home and one of them onto the next round. Instead, this time around, he's inviting each week a crew of amateur chefs to act as his kitchen staff for the evening. Which makes it more than a little hard to watch as he reprimands and criticizes these guys, most of whom are cooking in a professional kitchen for the very first time. Such shenanigans have a place in Hell's Kitchen, but shouldn't here; the effect is shining the spotlight on such a specific part of the big top circus Ramsay has constructed, but it's the least interesting element to me.

So what does work? Ramsay himself is still compelling to watch, as his passion for his food still shines through beautifully. As a follow-up to last season's experiment in animal rearing (in which Ramsay and his family raised turkeys for Christmas dinner), this season he and the kids are raising Berkshire pigs, which they'll have slaughtered at the end of the show. While it might seem cruel, it is a stark reminder of where our food comes from and that, at the end of the day, it did originate from a living, breathing animal and didn't start live as a plastic-wrapped package at the supermarket.

Ramsay's interactions with celebrities dining at the F Word is also entertaining and unexpectedly funny, such as last night's rendezvous with British actress Kathy Burke, a notorious smoker and drinker who doesn't eat meat; in a funny aside, he forces her to take a blind-folded taste test to see if her palate can differentiate between what she calls poncey food and processed food. In nearly all cases, she fails, preferring even swill beer to a high-quality Czech lager.

And I do think that opening up the weekly culinary challenge to any dish (and not just limited it to dessert, as in the first season) is a good thing. Last season, the winner's dessert would be served in the restaurant that evening as the pudding course, but this time around it's simply pure competition, with the winner walking away just with bragging rights. Of course, it's usually the guest, rather than Gordon, who wins... and last night's episode was no exception, with actress and foodie Angela Griffin (Cutting It) triumphing over Gordon with her recipe for lasagna.

Plus, Gordon has expanded his mission to get Britain's women back in the kitchen to getting the entire nation cooking again and the results are as eye-opening as they are hilarious. If the F Word succeeds at anything, I do hope that it teaches people watching that cooking can be a joy as much as it can be a snap, and that in order to cook a beautifully prepared meal, one doesn't need to be a world-class chef, nor does your kitchen need to be Hell.

"Gordon Ramsay's F Word" airs Sunday evenings at 9 pm ET/PT on BBC America.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: How I Met Your Mother/The Class (CBS); Deal or No Deal (NBC); Everybody Hates Chris/All of Us (CW); Wife Swap (ABC); Wicked Wicked Games (MyNet)

9 pm: Two and a Half Men/The New Adventures of Old Christine (CBS); Heroes (NBC); Girlfriends/The Game (CW); Supernanny (ABC); Watch Over Me (MyNet)

10 pm: CSI: Miami (CBS); Heroes (NBC); What About Brian (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

9:30 pm: Old Christine.

I can't tell you why I like watching this traditional sitcom, but Julia Louis-Dreyfus is like a warm blanket of coziness after a long Monday. On tonight's episode ("Ritchie Scores"), after Ritchie's teacher (and the object of Christine's affections) Mr. Harris (Blair Underwood) tells Christine that Ritchie is having trouble making friends, Christine signs him up for soccer. Um, Christine, remember: this is the kid that keeps trying to walk through the glass door...

10 pm: Anthony Bourdain: No Reseverations on the Travel Channel.

It's the launch of new episodes of No Reservations, just in time for 2007. On tonight's episode, Tony travels to the African nation of Ghana, where Tony visits the Makola Market and enjoys a local drink called palm wine, which is actually a condensed milk-toffee drink with herbs. Yum!


Rachel Rubin said…
I like the amateur chefs. He is mean to them, but it keeps me in check to realize how very had it is to work. The aspiring chefs make it look so easy.

Those baby pigs were so cute!

I posted a summary of as well.
What I like about "F Word" is that, essentially, it is a foodie variety show. I agree that Gordon bringing in a brigade of amateur chefs just feels too "Hell's Kitchen." It's entertaining but seems out of place in this show.

Popular posts from this blog

Katie Lee Packs Her Knives: Breaking News from Bravo's "Top Chef"

The android has left the building. Or the test kitchen, anyway. Top Chef 's robotic host Katie Lee Joel, the veritable "Uptown Girl" herself (pictured at left), will NOT be sticking around for a second course of Bravo's hit culinary competition. According to a well-placed insider, Joel will "not be returning" to the show. No reason for her departure was cited. Unfortunately, the perfect replacement for Joel, Top Chef judge and professional chef Tom Colicchio, will not be taking over as the reality series' host (damn!). Instead, the show's producers are currently scouring to find a replacement for Joel. Top Chef 's second season was announced by Bravo last month, but no return date has been set for the series' ten-episode sophomore season. Stay tuned as this story develops. UPDATE (6/27): Bravo has now confirmed the above story .

BuzzFeed: "The Good Wife Is The Best Show On Television Right Now"

The CBS legal drama, now in its sixth season, continually shakes up its narrative foundations and proves itself fearless in the process. Spoilers ahead, if you’re not up to date on the show. At BuzzFeed, you can read my latest feature, " The Good Wife Is The Best Show On Television Right Now," in which I praise CBS' The Good Wife and, well, hail it as the best show currently on television. (Yes, you read that right.) There is no need to be delicate here: If you’re not watching The Good Wife, you are missing out on the best show on television. I won’t qualify that statement in the least — I’m not talking about the best show currently airing on broadcast television or outside of cable or on premium or however you want to sandbox this remarkable show. No, the legal drama is the best thing currently airing on any channel on television. That The Good Wife is this perfect in its sixth season is reason to truly celebrate. Few shows embrace complexity and risk-taking in t

BuzzFeed: Meet The TV Successor To "Serial"

HBO's stranger-than-fiction true crime documentary The Jinx   — about real estate heir Robert Durst — brings the chills and thrills missing since Serial   wrapped up its first season. Serial   obsessives: HBO's latest documentary series is exactly what you've been waiting for.   The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst , like Sarah Koenig's beloved podcast, sifts through old documents, finds new leads from fresh interviews, and seeks to determine just what happened on a fateful day in which the most foul murder was committed. And, also like  Serial  before it,  The Jinx may also hold no ultimate answer to innocence or guilt. But that seems almost beside the point; such investigations often remain murky and unclear, and guilt is not so easy a thing to be judged. Instead, this upcoming six-part tantalizing murder mystery, from director Andrew Jarecki ( Capturing the Friedmans ), is a gripping true crime story that unfolds with all of the speed of a page-turner; it