In two decades, Gordon Ramsay has gone from making food programming a staple diet for the mainstream to hard-hitting documentaries. The celebrity chef talks to Kaltrina Bylykbashi about his journey in television and what’s coming next with his new All3Media-backed studio venture
With 20-plus years in the television industry under his belt, Gordon Ramsay has gone from strength to strength, establishing as a strong and consistent presence across territories through his popular shows Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and Hell’s Kitchen. In 2017, the celebrity chef finds himself entering a new era of programming tackling new themes, platforms and territories through the newly launched Studio Ramsay.
Formed with All3Media in 2016, the studio will have a ‘global front’ as opposed to a purely UK-focused strategy, and feature a range of “passion projects” dear to Ramsay himself, alongside long-running, glossier, programming.
On one such project, Gordon Ramsay on Cocaine, the chef says: “It’s all very well doing all the glossy, shiny, high-end programming, but also we need to go back to programming with gravitas.
We need to dig deep and go back to those raw areas that everyone’s too scared – for fear of damaging a brand – to touch.”
Even more traditional formats such as 24 Hours to Hell & Back, which Fox picked up this September and features Ramsay guiding young caterers, could be expanded away from food to explore other industries.
“Because the show is like a modern version of a business in crisis, what we’d like to do is take that model and transfer it outside the catering sector,” says Ramsay.
“We rig the business with a close circuit camera, and its high-pressure as that clock’s ticking for 24 hours. We’re looking to put that model into other businesses, which will be exciting.”
The move comes from Ramsay’s tireless energy to push projects forward and keep growing. He has a strong dislike for “standing still” and gets bored quickly, at his own admission. He feels this is what’s keeping his content fresh to this day.
“When we have an idea, it’s the best,” he says. “We know it’s the best because we get copied, so we move and change the goal posts before we get copied again. So, I’ve managed to stay in front of that.
“No one thought in their wildest dreams ten years ago that food would play heavily on the mainstream television in the US – they laughed at it. The positive response for Kitchen Nightmares since 2004/2005 has been incredible. 24 Hours will do exactly the same as we did ten years ago.”
Despite his relentless march forwards, Ramsay is thankful for his roots in British TV, saying that it’s the core to his success.
“In the UK you’re under the microscope in a way that is so difficult, and in a much smaller market than the States. The US is not easier, but it’s bigger and so the support mechanism is a lot wider.
“I think I’d struggle if I was a young chef in LA trying to make it. They teach you well in the UK. You get that kind of DNA and that competitive edge in early, and you seem to work so much harder at it to make it bigger.”