Rare times Gordon Ramsay was actually impressed by food

If you've ever seen Gordon Ramsay in one of his several television shows, you'll know he doesn't hold back when it comes to food. Whether it be about a poorly prepared dish on MasterChef, an unsanitary kitchen on Kitchen Nightmares, or a delusional owner on Hotel Hell, Ramsay is often seen in his shows berating or insulting someone about whatever it is they did wrong. While he does tend to go easier on the particularly young chefs that appear on MasterChef Junior, he refuses to sugar-coat how he feels for anyone.

However, not every episode is so negative. From time to time, Ramsay finds a small beacon of hope and eats something he deems delicious. These moments are rare, but if you dig deep enough into the foul-mouthed chef's filmography, you're likely to find some moments where he is genuinely impressed by the food presented to him. From the simple french fry to the intensely complicated beef Wellington, here are a few of the rare moments Gordon Ramsay was actually impressed by food.

Ramsay cleans his plate

Located a stone's throw from the ocean in Brighton is Momma Cherri's Soul Food Shack, a small restaurant offering food from the American deep south that is having trouble bringing in a consistent stream of customers. When Ramsay and the Kitchen Nightmares crew first arrive, he is taken back by the sloppy décor, remarking that "it's definitely a shack from the outside." However, he is instantly charmed by the restaurant's owner, Charita, who has never worked in the restaurant business before, but proudly tells Ramsay that she comes from a long line of "big mommas."

To start his evaluation of the struggling restaurant, he sits down for a meal. First, he has Catfish Goujin with hush puppies and homemade pineapple salsa, which he calls "quite nice" and compliments the delicate nature of the fish — already viewers (and the restaurateur) are surprised. For the main dish, he has a plate that is clumsily piled high with ribs, spicy chicken jambalaya, and corn and bean succotash. While the dish didn't look well put together, Ramsay says "This might be the first time I actually go back to the kitchen with an empty plate." And to Charita's delight, that's exactly what he does, telling her it was "bloody delicious." 

French fries like mom used to make

If you've ever made french fries at home (or even ordered them at a restaurant), you'll know how hard it is to get them to all look and taste the same. Some are always too skinny and end up burnt, while others are too thick and don't cook all the way through, not to mention how impossible it is to get the salt evenly distributed. The difficulty of making such a seemingly simple dish inspired a challenge during an episode of MasterChef. However, for one contestant, Brandi, it was hardly challenging at all. She makes fries for her kids at least once a week at home, so she was already a seasoned pro.

Ramsay knows they are winners before he even tries them. He points out the perfect color and uniformity of the fries and then takes a bite, noting their perfect crunch and seasoning as well. If you had any doubt of his opinion, he puts that to rest when he calls the fries "utter perfection," which is response not many can get from Ramsay. When it comes to feel-good food, leave it to a mother to put all the other contestants to shame.

Carrot cake saves the day

Bazzini's, a failing restaurant in Ridgewood, New Jersey, is disappointing from the start of this episode of Kitchen Nightmares. Not only is the restaurant not open for lunch when Ramsay arrives, but the interior is dated and the long, skinny dining room makes the whole place feel cramped. When a very hungry Ramsay is finally served the best food the restaurant has to offer, he's brought a parade of disappointing dish after disappointing dish. Between the rock-hard chicken and the mushy risotto, he doesn't think the restaurant has anything good to offer. But when he's finally served dessert, he sees a glimmer of hope.

When he bites into the carrot cake, he can tell it's made with passion and love. He's then greeted affectionately by the creator of the delicious dessert, Sharyn, the restaurant's charming pastry chef. She's thrilled by Ramsay's reaction to her desserts and is the only one standing tall throughout Ramsay's harsh criticism of the restaurant and its food. When he asks for her recipe, she tells him he can have it… "for a price." You go, girl. 

Off to a good start with clam chowder

In an episode of Kitchen Nightmares, Ramsay travels to Mount Sinai, New York to visit Handlebar. What was once a popular spot for the upper-middle-class residents of the town has now become a run-down, dated restaurant that can barely turn over 18 tables on a Saturday night. The owners seem to have full faith in both the restaurant and their head chef, Melissa, even though she doesn't consider herself to be a real cook.

First, they serve Ramsay their soup of the day, the clam chowder. At first, he hides his reaction and calls over one of the owners, Bill. If you've ever watched Kitchen Nightmares before, you'll know that when Ramsay calls you over about something he's just eaten, it's rarely a good thing. However, to everyone's surprise, he actually has nothing but good things to say about the dish, calling it, "Nicely seasoned, quite tasty, and perfect for a winter's day." But when Bill reports back to the head chef and tells her the good news, she's surprised, claiming that she didn't think it was a good batch. Unfortunately for the owners, the clam chowder ends up being the first and only thing Ramsay likes that day.

Rice pudding reminds Ramsay of home

If you've ever watched MasterChef Junior, you'll know that Ramsay is far nicer to the younger contestants than he is to the adult ones that appear on MasterChef. However, he was so impressed by this young chef's impressive dessert, it just had to be added to our list. In a season three episode, Ramsay calls 12-year-old Jenna to the judge's stand first to be critiqued.

She brings forward a beautiful coconut rice pudding with a mango and mint compote. Before Jenna can even finish describing the dish, he takes a bite. At first hiding his reaction to the dish, he laughs at the young girl's visible anticipation and excitement. It's so good, he has to go in for another bite. When he asks her how old she is and she tells him that she's only 12 years old, he exclaims "O. M. F. G," and the kids' eyes all widen in surprise before Ramsay that the "F" of course, stands for "food." Given the famously foul-mouthed chef's reputation, you can't blame the kids for jumping to conclusions.

The redemption burger

When Ramsay arrives at Burger Kitchen in Los Angeles for an episode of Kitchen Nightmares, he finds a divided family, a chef on the brink, and terrible food. The restaurant claims to specialize in burgers, yet manage to mess up every burger they send Ramsay's way. The owners blame the chef, the chef blames the owners, and the owner's son just doesn't want to be there. However, as Ramsay investigates deeper, he discovers that the owners are not allowing the chef to create his own recipes or order his own ingredients.

So, when Ramsay asks him to make a burger completely on his own, he proves that he does have what it takes to run a kitchen. He serves Ramsay a delicious and beautifully presented burger with smoked Gruyere cheese, grilled tomatoes, spring mix, mustard aioli, a jumbo homemade pickle, a crispy bun, and a patty perfectly cooked to medium, prompting Ramsay to say "That's what I call a burger!" 

However, even with Ramsay's stamp of approval, the owners still try to find something to complain about. If Ramsay says it's good, we wouldn't argue!

The perfect sausage roll

On an episode of MasterChef, Dustin, a prospective contestant, decides to cook sausage rolls, a traditional British snack — but with a spicy Italian sausage, instead of the traditional banger sausage. However, Dustin doesn't start off on a good foot, as he refers to Ramsay's English heritage… even though he's from Scotland.

Ramsay is skeptical about all the extra garnishes on the dish at first, since sausage rolls are typically a very basic type of street food. He watches in horror as Dustin turns it into a gourmet dish, adding a spicy marinara sauce, Parmesan cheese, parsley, and a little bit of basil pesto that's "just for show." But that horror quickly turns to delight when he finally tries it and ends up leaving none left on the plate for the other judges. He high fives the chef after giving him the ultimate compliment: "That… was f***ing delicious." 

Mastering Ramsay's signature dish

On one episode in the first season of MasterChef Junior, the contestants are challenged to take on Ramsay's signature dish, the famous and notoriously difficult-to-make beef Wellington. For this particularly challenging dish, all the contestants were paired up. One pair was comprised of two incredibly talented young chefs, Troy and Alexander, both of whom had produced some impressive dishes in the past.

When they bring their beef Wellington up to the judge's stand, Ramsay immediately comments on how beautiful it looks on the outside, and the boys are hopeful that the inside will be just as perfect. They wait in anticipation as Ramsay cuts it open and they are delighted to see that perfect red color on the inside. The moment of truth comes when Ramsay takes a bite, and the boys breathe a sigh of relief as Ramsay confirms his delight. "You have just nailed one of the most sophisticated, one of the most difficult dishes anywhere in the world," he says, telling the young competitors its' a dish he'd serve at his own restaurant. 

Bread pudding looks bad but tastes great

In a season four episode of Kitchen Nightmares, Ramsay travels to Zeke's, a struggling restaurant in New Orleans. When the restaurant first opened in 2002, it was a bustling neighborhood favorite run by Zeke, the beloved owner. However, Zeke's, along with rest of New Orleans, was forever changed by Hurricane Katrina. Tragically, Zeke died in the devastating hurricane and the restaurant remained in a state of limbo until Darryl and Ellen Cortello made the decision to buy Zeke's. They decided to keep the original name, but changed everything else, including the staff, the menu, the prices… and the quality of ingredients.

When Ramsay arrives, he orders an assortment of food from the menu, including the oysters Cortello, a made-up dish named after the owners. He hates everything he's served, except for one saving grace: the bread pudding. It looks like a big sloppy mess and Ramsay assumes it will be a disappointment, but he's wrong. "It doesn't look fantastic… but it tastes delicious," he says. Emil, the kitchen manager and genius behind the bread pudding, glows with delight from Ramsay's reaction.

A flamboyant bananas Foster

One of the most popular and over-the-top contestants ever to appear on MasterChef is Tommy Walton, a fashion designer turned chef. Given his background, he always makes every dish he prepares beautiful to look at, often claiming that you have to eat with your eyes before you eat with you stomach. He's typically seen dancing around the kitchen, eliciting eyerolls from his more reserved competitors, or making up silly words about his food.

In one episode, Walton is excited to set the bar, as he is called first to the judge's table. He brings forward a beautiful bananas Foster with apples, maple-bourbon cream, and a sweetened cream cheese filling. The dish looks delicious, as it is perfectly colored not just on the top, but on all sides as well. As Ramsay takes a bite, he says, "Wow. It's rich, it's sumptuous, and it's steeped in alcohol… Tommy, delicious."

Mother Mary's red velvet cake

In this season four episode of Kitchen Nightmares, Ramsay travels to Plainfield, New Jersey. In the center of town is Blackberry's, a soul food restaurant run by Shelly Withers. Once a successful caterer, Shelly thinks she is well-equipped to run a restaurant with the help of her mother, Mary, who has invested her retirement fund into the struggling restaurant. When Ramsay first arrives, he notes the marvelous location that Blackberry's sits on in the bustling little town. However, that is the extent of the compliments he has for a while, between the confused décor, the strange outfits, and the disgusting food.

The food at Blackberry's is so bad, Ramsay ends up sick in the bathroom by the end of his first meal. However, when he comes back to his seat, he is met with something truly delicious: Mama Mary's red velvet cake. The cake is so good, he even gives the sweet matriarch a kiss on the cheek and declares, "I've been saved by Mother Mary."

The "good and crunchy" apple pie

During one episode of MasterChef, the contestants are asked to bake apple pies as part of a pressure test. Last up to the judging table is Christine Ha, the show's first and only blind chef. The usually calm chef becomes flustered during the process and fails to get her pie into the oven until there are only 18 minutes left on the clock. In addition to being under an intense amount of stress, the young cook can also not see how her pie comes out, which only adds to her stress. When she brings it to Ramsay, she assumes it looks like a "pile of rubbish."

However, she's overcome with joy to hear from Ramsay that it looks stunning, with a crisp, dark brown color on the edge and a beautiful glaze across the top. In an attempt encourage her to trust her instincts and stop doubting herself, he brushes his knife across the top of the pie crust so she can hear what a great job she has done. When he finally takes a bite, he marvels at the flavor and congratulates her on her fantastic accomplishment. A rare moment of kindness and encouragement from Ramsay, this moment will surely stick out forever in any MasterChef fan's mind.

Vegan for the night

If you've ever watched a Gordon Ramsay show, you've probably heard him talk about his disdain for vegans. In fact, in 2016, in response to a fan who asked him on Twitter if he's allergic to anything, Ramsay simply replied "Vegans." However, his aversion to non-meat eaters makes this moment from MasterChef Junior all the more special. In a season five episode, one young contestant, Shayne, brings forward a beautifully plated southwest vegan burger with avocado fries and a sriracha sauce. He explains to chef Ramsay that he used a plethora of ingredients to get the patty to bind so well together, including black beans, brown rice, peppers, onions, and tomatoes.

As both Ramsay and guest judge Mayim Bialik take bites out of the burger, they can hardly believe it's not real meat. Although the young chef has certainly proved his talent as a vegan chef, he has no intention of turning vegan anytime soon. "I never thought I'd say this but… you've just turned me vegan for the night," exclaims a delighted Ramsay.

Two consecutive wins

Another show created by Ramsay is The F Word. It's similar to his other shows except for one major difference: it's filmed live. That means that if Ramsay doesn't like your food on this show, you'll have to take his criticism live and unedited. In one episode on the first season, Ramsay calls forth the team captains of the two competing teams: Licensed to Grill and Chop it Like it's Hot. Since both teams were instructed to cook a skirt steak with chimichurri sauce and chorizo and white bean fricassee, Ramsay has to use his refined palate to judge the differences between the two dishes.

Debbie, representing Licensed to Grill is asked to bring her plate forward first. Ramsay expresses his initial worry about the dish in the beginning, but eventually reveals that he loves the rustic nature of the dish and how the heat balances out the freshness from the chimichurri. Up next is Patty from Chop it Like it's Hot. She explains that her team decided to add a quesadilla to their dish with cheese and roasted red peppers. While this is a slight deviation from the original, he admires the rich and creamy taste of the dish. After he's done judging both dishes, he's delighted by how good they both are and says that he "can't fault anything here." No faults found in two consecutive dishes has to be record for Ramsay.