Base London and Los Angeles
Adweek: What's the first information you consume when you wake up in the morning?
Gordon Ramsay: I'm 49 years of age and I try to keep fit, so the first thing I look at is the weather because if it's perfect out, I can go for a swim or a run. As far as news, I have CNN and BBC News on pretty much 24 hours.
What TV shows do you watch?
Love the new Chelsea Handler show on Netflix. She's straightforward, she's honest, and what you see is what you get. I'm a big, big fan of Deadliest Catch. I go to Iceland to salmon fish quite a lot, so I love those programs on Discovery about nature and being out in the wild.
Any favorite food magazines or blogs?
I'm a big fan of Bon Appétit and [editor in chief] Adam Rapoport. They seem to be at the cutting edge of things. And I love food blogs. I think that bloggers have sort of knocked the arrogance of food critics in a way. On the back of the blogging phenomenon, we set up a "mystery shopper" program in our restaurants where once or twice a week, we'll have a blogger come in unannounced and get their feedback. It keeps everyone on their tiptoes.
Does it bother you when diners at your restaurants take pictures of their food for social media?
Here's the thing: It pisses me off when I hear chefs getting so anal about what customers want to do with their food when they're paying for it. People travel all over the world to go to these foodie meccas and they're so excited, so chefs should take it as a compliment more than anything. Also, I think that level of instant insight and feedback from customers has helped chefs become more prolific than ever.
You actually post a lot of great food photos on your own Instagram account. Do you take those yourself?
Yes. I've got a great eye. When I'm out having dinner, normally, I'm out with Justin, my assistant, so we'll each take a shot and compare. I love photography. From a young age, I was taught how to dress plates, so I have that level of attention to detail.
I have a program in the U.K. called Cookalong Live where you get your ingredients the day before and then at 8 o'clock at night, we'll have a couple of guests in the kitchen and we'll go live. And for the last three years on Christmas Day in England, from our home in London, I go live from 10 o'clock in the morning to 2 o'clock in the afternoon. I love that stuff. Everybody's on their phone now, so we should tap into it. If I can set the bar by going live once or twice a week, I'll do it. Now, Bobby and I are gearing up for a cook-off at the end of the year to celebrate [Caesars Palace's] 50th birthday. For some bizarre reason, he keeps on chickening out. And I've offered him a 20-minute head start!
The businesses you visit on Kitchen Nightmares and Hotel Hell are pretty unbelievable. How do you find those places?
When we announce that we're doing a new series, we get feedback from local residents and customers who will recommend their worst experiences. I was on a call this morning with an interviewer, and she said, "These places must be made up. You set them up, don't you?" And I said, "Are you serious? I don't meet these people until the first time you see me walk in on the program!" What scares me more than anything is that anybody with no qualifications can open a hotel or go buy a restaurant. That's the downside to my industry.
What apps do you use?
For the last two years, we've been developing our own app with Glu [the mobile gaming company behind Kim Kardashian's Hollywood], so I got into Cooking Dash because that was the platform that we were going to be taking over to create Gordon Ramsay Dash. I don't have much time to play because I'm a busy man, but it's fascinating watching the kids do it. Chefs live and die by the Michelin guide, so for the app, we created "wishelin" stars. When you do well, you're awarded "wishelin" stars, and if your standards drop, they're taken away.
This story first appeared in the June 6, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine.