Gordon Ramsay is many things, but shy is not one of them. Over the years, Ramsay has built a fearsome reputation off the back of his unique ability to colourfully and creatively slag off other people’s cooking. Immortal insults, including “I never ever met someone I believe in as little as you” and “this looks like Ghandi’s flip flop” have turned iron chefs into snivelling wrecks in an instant. This is not a man who minces his words.
Whether or not you conform to the Ramsay school of extreme feedback, you’d be hard pressed to argue that the chef isn’t always honest. Even if what he’s saying would often make criminals in a prison yard blush, there’s always a grain of truth to what’s being said. It’s part of what makes it so horrible to hear. So when, Ramsay proffers his opinion on a popular pearl of cooking wisdom, it’s often worth paying attention to.
This week, the celebrity chef had in his sights the commonly held idiom that you should never trust a skinny chef. The theory goes that a skinny cook can’t possibly know anything about good food since he never seems to eat anything himself. This has certainly contributed to the stereotypical image of the fat, happy chef, smiling from underneath his toque blanche and greedily eyeing a forkful of something yummy.
Ramsay, however, believes the idea to be “BS”. At a recent event announcing the Michelin starred London restaurants for 2019, he opined that in order to stay at the top of their profession, a chef must “stay fit”.
Speaking to a packed audience, Ramsay stated that, "Chefs, as you know, don't have the world's best eating habits. Any chef will tell you that they're lying if they say they sit down and eat dinner before cooking dinner. So, you stay nimble. You don't eat before service and you taste everything."
Elaborating on his theory regarding fat chefs, the “Hell’s Kitchen” star added, "It's BS when they say, 'Never trust a skinny chef. I always say, 'Never trust a fat chef,' because they've eaten all the good bits! Trust a skinny chef because you know they haven't indulged and eaten everything. It's the customers that should be eating, you should be tasting, staying fit and in front of your brigade, to set an example." Though it’s hard to argue with his logic, there will doubtless be dozens of seriously disappointed chefs left annoyed by his advice.
As celebrity culture and cooking have become more closely linked over the last few years, physical health has become more of a concern for those in the kitchen. The presence of television cameras and the rise of social media means that Ramsay is probably right when he says that the cook’s role has fundamentally changed. Whether or not you should no longer trust a fat chef is probably missing the point. What is clear is that in the modern food industry, great cooks increasingly come in all shapes and sizes.