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Gordon Ramsay Called Me an Idiot Sandwich 

Wednesday, Mar 16 2016

In spite of his reputation for screaming at subordinates, Gordon Ramsay is quite charming in person — soft-spoken, even.

The celebrity chef has partnered with Glu Mobile, the publisher of free smartphone games (the Call of Duty series, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood) on an as-yet-unnamed extension to Cooking Dash and Diner Dash, in which a diner waitress named Flo prospers and opens up a chain of increasingly lavish restaurants.

As Ramsay was at the company's SoMa offices last week to put finishing touches on a round of voiceover work, he sat for a Q&A with Glu CEO Niccolo de Masi and the game's developer. The feared boss of 15 seasons of Hell's Kitchen also stood in front of a life-sized cardboard cutout of his video game avatar. (Apart from the creases in his forehead, he seemed quite pleased with his likeness.)

While final details were carefully guarded, there will be head-to-head chef duels, an in-game market where Glu sells stuff, and tweaks will be made down the line to align it with whatever Ramsay is doing in his real-life restaurants. We also know that Ramsay's involvement is substantial: He didn't just parrot pre-written lines and cash a check, but came up with the idea of earning "Wish-elin stars" to incentivize players to work harder at building their own empires, among other novel concepts.

"The last time I was this ambitious was opening up my burger restaurant in Las Vegas," Ramsay said. "Because you're doomed, to come over as a Brit and attempt to open up a burger restaurant in the middle of Las Vegas." (As of press time, Gordon Ramsay BurGR is still flipping.)

There are legitimate cooking tips spread throughout the game, too. It won't be about molecular gastronomy — "snail porridge" — but there might be tips on how to properly sear a slice of meat. (Ramsay also elaborated upon his famous recipe for scrambled eggs, which he perfected behind the line at age 22 and which tens of millions of people have downloaded, commenting that if you don't have uni, crème fraîche and chopped seaweed will do just fine.)

This being a character (in the video game) based on a character (the exaggerated version of himself that Ramsay plays on TV), the real Ramsay was asked if there'd be many insults hurled at players as they made mistakes.

"If it didn't, you guys would have panned me," he said. "We've gone through pages of curse words. New words... There are places in the game where, as the intensity builds, I'm going to get a little more fierce, because the stakes are high."

"'Fuck-up' is such a lovely word," he added, making the point that obscenity-laden criticism is an "industry language," and comparing his personal brand to that of Tracey Emin, the Young British Artist famed for word-pictures like No You Go Fuck Yourself, 1963. But the game will also contain "gestures of support."

As he was such a mellow, at times almost self-deprecating presence, when it was time for a photo op, I picked up two big cookies from a refreshments table and asked if he'd mind holding them up to my ears and forcing me to call myself an Idiot Sandwich, as he did in a clip from Kitchen Nightmares that went viral last year. He agreed.

"You're like bloody James Corden," he said.

And then, with the reservation under someone else's name, he was off to dinner at Saison — something which, for a three-Michelin-starred chef, is probably akin to casually dropping in on another college's chapter of your old fraternity.

"I just want to sit in the corner like a magpie, look for all the little bits of glitter, and process it," he said, knowing full well what the appearance of his highly-recognizable visage is going to do to the staff. "When we have three-starred chefs in our restaurant, it's like pandemonium."


About The Author

Peter Lawrence Kane

Peter Lawrence Kane is SF Weekly's Arts Editor. He has lived in San Francisco since 2008 and is two-thirds the way toward his goal of visiting all 59 national parks.


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