There are few workplaces more stressful than a busy kitchen — as the old saying goes, if you can’t stand the heat, best find your place elsewhere. Over the years, reality television has found a lucrative market for drama in restaurant and restaurant-adjacent environments. From “Top Chef” to “My Kitchen Rules” and everything in between, there’s no shortage of shows focusing on the best and worst in the business, whether chefs are competing to be culinary masters or struggling to stay afloat.
There are many fascinating characters populating the reality television restaurant landscape, but British firebrand Gordon Ramsay – who’s appeared on at least four different shows, including “Kitchen Nightmares” — is inarguably the most recognizable. Known for his hot temper and no-nonsense attitude, Ramsay is loved and hated in equal measure. Although he’s a well-respected chef in his own right with years of experience in the industry, Ramsay’s outsized personality doesn’t always sit well with other culinary experts.
Jacques Pepin doesn't think Gordon Ramsay's shows respect the culinary trade
In 2011, legendary chef Jacques Pepin called out Gordon Ramsay’s show “Hell’s Kitchen,” telling Washingtonian he wasn’t a fan because good food can’t be created under conditions where “everyone is yelling.” The French-American doubled down on his comments in a scathing piece for The Daily Meal. Pepin called out reality shows “that portray the restaurant kitchen in a chaotic and negative light,” arguing they do a “disservice to our trade and to young people who want to go into this business.” Pointing to the “worst offenders” who swear constantly, Pepin reiterated that quality food isn’t made under such conditions.
Pepin continued to make his points known, saying that “the chef should be a role model, an educator who probes and advises his cooks, rather than embarrasses” people. “A good kitchen is quiet most of the time,” he claimed. The chef – who can’t stand Ramsay — further noted that the environment on “Hell’s Kitchen” — made up of “cruel rivalry and conflict” — is helpful for ratings, but does a disservice to the culinary field.
Pepin clarified on Facebook that he didn’t meant “to insult Gordon Ramsay,” describing him as a “professionally trained chef.” Pepin also acknowledged the environment purposely created on shows like “Hell’s Kitchen” is made be entertaining above all else. He stated that “the only real reason to become a chef is because it fulfills you.” But it doesn’t seem like he’s going to be a Ramsay fan soon.
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