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Gordon Ramsay: Hell’s Kitchen

World famous chef Gordon Ramsay is renowned not only for his international restaurant brand, but also for his fiery temper when taking part in TV reality shows such as Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares and Hell's Kitchen.

Gordon Ramsay

Viewers tune in to see which hapless restaurant owner or contestant will fall foul of the 51-year-old's wrath, due to their inability to successfully run a kitchen or produce high-quality cuisine.

Fans may be surprised to learn that Glasgow-born Gordon almost became a professional footballer in his youth - he joined Rangers' youth football team and played friendly matches for the Scottish Premiership club. However, in 1985, aged 19, he suffered a knee injury, which subsequently ended his dreams of becoming a championship player.

Instead, he went on to earn a degree in hotel management when he was 21 and began his career serving apprenticeships at Harvey's and Le Gavroche - two of London's top restaurants. He then went on to train under top chefs Joel Robuchon and Guy Savoy in France.

After working as head chef at Aubergine in London from 1993 to 1998, Gordon launched his own restaurant, Gordon Ramsay, in Royal Hospital Road, London. This led to him opening more restaurants (including Verre in Dubai in 2001) before taking the reigns at London’s Savoy Grill in 2010.

He then extended his brand to South Africa, Australia and Canada, and Ramsey's chain of restaurants became world-famous.

While head chef at Aubergine's, Gordon made his first TV appearance in 1996, when he was invited to judge Masterchef. His culinary skills and unique personality led to more TV shows, such as Boiling Point in 1999 and Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares for Channel 4 in 2004.

He also created and presented the reality show, Hell’s Kitchen, which was a cooking competition for new chefs on ITV in 2004. The show ran for four series, until 2009. It was a big hit with viewers, as prospective chefs competed against each other in various challenges to win the ultimate prize of becoming chef at a top restaurant.

Hell's Kitchen

Although Gordon only hosted series one (with other celebrity chefs taking over in series two), the show made him a household name.

In America, Fox channel took up the brand in 2005 to make a US version, hosted by Gordon. It has run continually ever since, with series 17 premiering in September 2017 and ending at the beginning of February. Series 18 is now in the pipeline.

As with the UK version, two teams of chefs compete for a job as head chef at a restaurant. The show involves each team working in their own kitchen to complete a dinner service. Although every competitor is aiming for the individual top prize, everyone must work together with their team to complete the dinner service.

Cooking for a large restaurant full of diners, the competing chefs must work in an open kitchen. This enables customers to see how clean the kitchen is and to observe the general working conditions.

There's always a danger that individual competitors - or in some cases a whole team - will be kicked out of the kitchen by Gordon for making too many mistakes. On occasions, both teams have been kicked out of the kitchen for performing badly!

The winning team receives a prize, usually in the form of a field trip to a culinary or other place of interest. The losing team is punished, and this normally involves an unpleasant task, such as cleaning a particularly dirty kitchen. Another twist is that the teams get to nominate fellow team members whom they think have performed badly, in a bid to get them kicked off the show! As to who stays and who goes… well, Gordon has the final say!

There have been some memorable contestants over the years, such as Christina Wilson who won series 10. She was the first of the victors whom Gordon actually hired, as she was appointed executive chef for his US restaurant chain. Although he is tough on the contestants, he is equally generous to those who work hard and shine.

To thank Christina for her hard work, he liaised with the top interior design firm Houzz to refurbish her Philadelphia house. He said later that he was giving her the gift of a home makeover because she was a humble person who asked for nothing, despite her time in the spotlight.

Some contestants have been remembered for all the wrong reasons, such as Bonnie Muirhead - a nanny who had just started cooking from series three. She suffered several disasters in the kitchen, such as accidentally serving raw scallops, throwing away fresh fish because she thought it was off and signing for the wrong food shipment on delivery day. Yet she made it to the final through perseverance, and today she is head chef at Crab Farm Winery in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.

Showing his usual business acumen, Ramsey has opened his first Gordon Ramsay Hell's Kitchen restaurant at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas. Inspired by the hit TV show, the restaurant is complete with an open kitchen and enables guests to feel like they're on the studio set. It seats 300 people overlooking the bustling Las Vegas Strip. Red and Blue kitchen staff prepare lunch and dinner services, including Hell’s Kitchen specials.

Gordon received the OBE in 2006 for his contribution to the hospitality industry.

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