Monday, October 16, 2006

So which celebrity chef are you?

I'm a bit of a food nut. Not that I'm all poncy about food and restaurants, I just love good food and get cross about wasting money on bad food.

I'm getting better at cooking too and really enjoy myself in the kitchen. I'm from a line of chefs, so perhaps it is in the blood - except that my cheffing is purely for fun and remains mostly aspirational.

So I watch quite a bit of BBC Food - the food channel on DSTV in South Africa. Tonight was Gordon Ramsay night and featured the first episodes of "The F Word" and "Ramsay's Boiling Point." The latter was filmed when Ramsay struck out on his own as a 32 year-old two-Michelinned star chef looking for his third in 1998. The former is more recent.

Ramsay is infamous for his foul mouth and fiery temper. Boiling Point exhibits this well!

Watch the beginning of Ramsay's Boiling Point Episode 1 here From the Biography Channel

Regardless of how nice a chef is, kitchens are typically where tempers are raised. Those who have watched Jamie's Kitchen will have seen exactly this with all-round nice guy, Jamie Oliver. A friend is a chef and has told me about how she had pots thrown at her while training in one of South Africa's top kitchens!

Watching made me think about my natural leadership style. I have to admit, my natural (although repressed) leadership style is more like Ramsay's. This is not good and therefore the repression.

I wondered about this and why I have that streak. Perhaps it is because my first job was as a waiter with a boss like Ramsay! It is also because I have been bred in a high-stress environment - management consulting - over 10 years (7 longer than the average consultant lifespan). Because of all of this and my natural makeup, I cannot abide poor standards and excuses. I also demand total commitment which sometimes pushes people to breaking point. I have been responsible for my share of tears and frayed tempers although these have been evoked through my quietly stated disapproval rather than Ramsay's brand. People either sought to work on my teams or desperately tried to avoid them.

Ramsay grills a contestant in Hell's Kitchen, a game show he hosted

All of that said, I seldom lost it and don't think I ever swore at anyone. That probably wouldn't have worked with the over-achievers / prima-donnas I managed. But sometimes I wanted to! Watching Ramsay made me remember that.

Gary Rhodes Picture: BBC
It is funny how self-awareness also makes one more aware of a more appropriate aspiration. My aspirational celebrity chef? Gary Rhodes, the once-spiky-haired nice-guy chef. I'll bet he gets more out of his staff too.

Which celebrity chef are you?


Ramsay's biography
Gordon Ramsay's website
The BBC Food website
The Gary Rhodes website

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