Pop Quiz: Who’s got gold flaky hair, screams a lot, has knives and is more popular than Chris Christie among 18- to 49-year-olds?
Answer: Gordon Ramsay
Up against the Republican National Convention on August 28, MasterChef took home the night’s top numbers in the coveted demographic. Maybe the RNC delegates should have been yelling, “We Cooked That!”
With yet another ratings win, it should come as no surprise that FOX renewed Hotel Hell for a second season, prompting Entertainment Weekly’s James Hibberd to compare Ramsay to another TV superstar from across the Atlantic:
“The media often calls X Factor judge Simon Cowell TV’s biggest reality star. But you could make an argument that Ramsay deserves that title,” Hibberd wrote. “The chef is star of three series on the top-rated network (Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares and Hotel Hell), and is the lead judge on a fourth (MasterChef).”
Indeed, so popular is Ramsay, that after shooting an episode of Kitchen Nightmares in one Pennsylvania town recently, his face became practically ubiquitous on the Facebook pages of area residents.
“It seems half the people in the Beaver area have posted Facebook photos of themselves posed with Gordon Ramsay,” wrote one local columnist.
But there are drawbacks to popularity and fame. In an interview with Caterer and Hotelkeeper, British chef Simon Szymanski said too many young cooks enter the business expecting to behave like Gordo.
"You get stagiaires in and they won't sweep the floor. Because Gordon Ramsay doesn't have to do it on television, they won't do it. They even have one button hanging down on their chef's whites, just like Gordon,” Szymanski said.
And worse, fame can turn a Michelin-starred chef paranoid. Britain’s Daily Mail revealed last week that Ramsay was recently sued by his father-in-law’s former mistress. In the suit, Sara Stewart alleges that in October, 2010, a private investigator hired by Ramsay took photos of her through her bedroom window.
According to the Daily Mail, Stewart claims that later that month Ramsay sent his brother-in-law texts, taunting him about the photos. “Please tell Sarah [sic] to close her curtains in Ascot there's a footpath right outside her window,” Ramsay is accused of texting. “Shots are amazing. Happy to pass the whole ******* lot to the NOTW [News Of The World] . . . ps I've also got a [memory] stick for your PC if you want to see the most amazing footage.”
Perhaps it’s his experience with private investigators that makes Gordon Ramsay such a great detective on Hotel Hell. For starters, he travels with a black light, which he unleashed during both installments of this Monday’s two-episode season finale.
Things got pretty ugly.
“Oh <bleep> that has got to be semen. This is Hotel Hell,” Ramsay said of his bed at Milford, PA’s River Rock Inn.
Later, he noted, “It’s like a <bleep>ing galaxy.”
And then at the end when he revealed to the Inn’s staff new linens provided by the show:
“GONE are the <bleep> stains. The only Milky Way are from the skies above.”
Uglier still was the hostility between Ramsay and the owner of episode two’s Roosevelt Inn, John Hough.
The Inn was known for its monthly mystery dinners, but Ramsay didn’t see the events as financially justifiable.
“The problem with the Roosevelt is elementary,” he said after seeing Hough’s Sherlock Holmes performance.
Hough wasn’t too thrilled with Ramsay, either.
“I just want Gordon to take a long walk on a short pier,” Hough said. “I want him to fall in a deep pit … so he can’t get out.”
Ultimately, as always, they made up and the folks at Hotel Hell spruced up the joint.
And just as Ramsay and the owner always come to terms by the end of any Hotel Hell episode, any Hell’s Kitchen season includes bringing back formerly vanquished contestants to cook alongside the show’s two finalists in the championship.
Finalists Christina Wilson and Justin Antiorio were present on the tarmac as their former foes walked off the Hell’s Kitchen jet, and they must have known they’d be picking teams, but they couldn’t have known Ramsay would yell:
“It’s time to choose your brigade!”
Obviously, COOKING IS WAR.
In Ramsay’s other cooking battle, MasterChef, the final three were whittled to two last night as Christine Ha and Joshua Marks bested favorite Becky Reams in a cook-off. Before the challenge, the show’s former contestants showed up to watch (and assumedly, wait to take part in the finale).
On Twitter, season three’s original villain, Ryan Umane used the moment to hype his new business. Presenting Flavor Elevator, where you can pay to join Umane for dinner in his own home.
That’s a real thing.