Whether you love or hate him, there’s no denying that Gordon Ramsay is one of the most famous and recognizable chefs in the world. From restaurants to TV competition shows, the multi-Michelin star recipient has built an impressive empire in the culinary world while also entertaining us in the process with his flagrantly liberal use of the F-bomb. Ramsay didn’t come from a background of culinary royalty like other chefs. It took a lot to master his skills, including his signature Beef Wellington recipe. Ramsay navigated his life and career from humble beginnings. Through trials and tribulations (and one life-changing injury), Ramsay’s desire to rise from his life experiences is exactly what got him to where he is today. Because the chef is decades deep into his celebrity, we don’t hear much about the events of his life that made him into who he is. Read on as we take a deeper look into Ramsay’s life from his teenage years up to 54 years old.
Gordon Ramsay grew up in an abusive household
Growing up in Scotland and England, Gordon James Ramsay wasn’t born into a famed culinary family; in fact, the Scottish chef had the complete opposite. Ramsay wrote to CNN that his father “was less than a perfect role model” to him, as the latter struggled with alcoholism and maintaining employment. He was also “violently aggressive” towards his mother. The Ramsays moved often as a result, but the violence happening inside of the home is what separated their family. “There were instances when the police were called to take him away; mum was taken to the hospital while we kids were taken to a children’s home,” the chef wrote. Ramsay also recalled to “60 Minutes” that his brother became a heroin addict and he had to witness his drug use.
Ramsay left his family’s home at the age of 16 to move into a council flat with his sister, per Hello! Magazine. The superstar chef’s heartbreaking experiences increased his “hunger to succeed” in his career. Ramsay was so moved by his childhood experiences, he and his wife Tana Ramsay became ambassadors for Women’s Aid charity.
Cooking was not originally in Gordon Ramsay's initial career plans
Although he would become a famous chef later on in life, Gordon Ramsay didn’t plan on pursuing a culinary career. Ramsay told Observer Sport Monthly in 2002 that his initial career plan was to become a professional association football player, preferably for his beloved Glasgow Rangers team. Believe it or not, the chef made progress in his pursuit. He even played for the Rangers in “a couple of non-league matches as a trialist,” according to Reuters.
“I did very well,” Ramsay told Observer. “I was a naturally aggressive left-back, a cut-throat tackler. You may have got past once but there was never, ever, ever a second occasion. And I was fast, I was a great 100m sprinter. If you were to compare me to anyone, I guess it could be Stuart Pearce.”
Unfortunately, Ramsay’s athletic career ended tragically after he suffered a severe knee ligament injury that prevented him from making the team of his dreams (via Goal). On the bright side, Ramsay found his niche in culinary arts. Still an avid football fan on the side, he gave sports a second chance later on in life in the Half Ironman Triathlons, which is a set of events that feature 13.1 miles of running, 1.2 miles of swimming, and 56 miles on a bicycle to top it all off. Additionally, his family has competed in triathlons as well. How cool!
Gordon Ramsay and his culinary instructor didn't see eye to eye
When a sports career no longer became an option, Gordon Ramsay took his desire for success to the culinary world. After earning a vocational diploma in hotel management from North Oxon Technical College in 1987 (via Britannica), he moved to London where he began his career in the food industry. He honed in on his culinary skills with the under chefs Marco Pierre White at the restaurant Harvey’s and the late Albert Roux at La Gavroche.
Ramsay didn’t have the easiest time learning from White, according to The Independent. White’s hot-tempered approach to teaching his apprentices doesn’t deviate too much from what we see of Ramsay’s. However, White has the rare opportunity to say that he broke the 20-year-old Ramsay down. “Gordon crouched down in the corner of the kitchen, buried his head in his hands and started sobbing,” White wrote in his memoir. “‘I don’t care what you do to me,’ he said as he wept. ‘Hit me. I don’t care. Sack me. I don’t care.'”
Despite learning skills applicable to his career, Ramsay and White’s relationship went from bad to worse as tensions progressed over time. Their relationship was severed later on after Ramsay once smuggled a camera crew into his former mentor’s wedding without permission, per Express.
Gordon Ramsay became a fierce restaurateur as a head chef in France
Gordon Ramsay moved to France to (obviously) perfect his French cuisine skills after working for chefs Marco Pierre White and Albert Roux in London, per Britannica. During the early 1990s, he prepared classic native cuisine with renowned chefs Joël Robuchon and Guy Savoy. Ramsay initially struggled to learn because he didn’t speak French, according to Neil Simpson’s book “Gordon Ramsay: On Top of the World.” Fortunately, the superstar chef endured and learned a ton. “I trained my palate in Paris and learned that taste is what should be held in the memory, not what the dish looks like on the plate for the first 30 seconds,” Ramsay said.
In 1993, Ramsay made a triumphant return back to London. Thanks to Marco Pierre White’s connections, Ramsay got a job as the head chef of Aubergine restaurant (via The Independent). Aubergine successfully earned two Michelin stars in 1995 and 1997. In 1998, Ramsay left Aubergine to embark on his own restaurant endeavors. His first self-titled restaurant followed up with a string of other highly respected establishments, including (but not limited to) Pétrus, the Savoy Grill, and Maze, which have all raked in Michelin stars.
'MasterChef' launched Gordon Ramsay to celebrity status
Gordon Ramsay clearly mastered the needed skills to survive and exceed the expectations of the food industry. However, it was his on-screen appearances and acting cameos that boosted him to the true celebrity status we know him for today. Per Biography, Ramsay made his TV debut as a judge on the British version of “MasterChef” in 1996. The star would really come to our attention in the 1999 docuseries, “The Boiling Point,” which follows Ramsay’s journey to opening his first fine-dining establishment.
Ramsay’s 2004 shows, “Kitchen Nightmares” and “Hell’s Kitchen,” are staples in his TV career for its number of iconic moments. Over a decade later, he continued to pack on the pressure on competitors in the 2020 season of “MasterChef Australia.” Food may be Ramsay’s calling, but he isn’t afraid to explore different avenues. In 2020, he announced that he will be the host of a BBC game show called “Bank Balance.”
As a celebrity chef and family man of four children with wife Tana, Ramsay has accomplished several goals in his life due to his “hunger to succeed.” His story reminds us all that when life gives us lemons, turn it into the best damn lemon butter sauce ever!
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