The untold truth of Gordon Ramsay

Gordon Ramsay burst on London's culinary scene in 1993, becoming chef of the city's famed Aubergine restaurant when he was not yet 30. Within three years, he had been awarded two Michelin stars. In 1998, he left to set up his namesake eatery, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, which received three Michelin stars — and has held those stars longer than any other London restaurant. 

Ramsay's success was just beginning, and he ultimately opened numerous restaurants throughout the world, in locations ranging from Qatar, to Las Vegas, to Singapore. Ramsay's growing fame as a chef brought him to television, eventually starring in his own U.K. TV series. It wasn't long before he crossed the pond to become a staple on American television as well. Known for his furious temper and frequent bursts of profanity on such Fox series as Hell's Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares, Ramsay even branched out of the kitchen and into the great outdoors with 2019's National Geographic channel travel series Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted.

Despite being one of television's most ubiquitous personalities, there's a lot that even Gordon Ramsay's most diehard fans may not know about the hotheaded celebrity chef. Read on to discover the untold truth of Gordon Ramsay.

Gordon Ramsay originally planned on playing pro soccer

If not for a nasty injury, Gordon Ramsay may never have become a chef. In a 2002 interview with The Guardian, he revealed that his lifelong passion had always been soccer — or, as it's known in the U.K., football. In fact, Ramsay had enough talent for the sport that he was signed to Glasgow's Rangers. Recalling his early time on the team as being "very stressful" while the possibility of being cut constantly loomed, he admitted, "I was petrified most of the time." When he finally "made it into the squad of 18, I wet myself with excitement, I was over the moon. But I was also very, very nervous."

Ramsay's entire life changed in a heartbeat when he suffered a serious injury on the field. "I tore my ligaments, and it was a heartache," he said. When he was told he wouldn't be invited back for another season, the news was devastating. "I couldn't swallow it," he admitted. "I was gutted." Soon after he took a catering course, opening the door to his culinary success.

"I still love football, though, and I think cooking is like football," he added. "It's not a job, it's a passion."

Gordon Ramsay's kids won't be inheriting his money

Gordon Ramsay's net worth has been reported to be $220 million, with Forbes estimating that he earned $63 million in 2019 alone. With all that wealth, it would be easy to assume that cash will be eventually be inherited by Ramsay's five children — but that won't be happening. 

"It's definitely not going to them, and that's not in a mean way," Ramsay told The Telegraph. The reason, he said, is "to not spoil them. I've been super lucky, having that career for the last 15 years in the U.S. Seriously, it has earned a fortune and I've been very lucky, so I respect everything I've got."

Ramsay went on to explain that he and wife Tana have gone to great lengths to ensure their kids don't become spoiled, which is evident when they fly. "They don't sit with us in first class," Ramsay explained. "They haven't worked anywhere near hard enough to afford that. At that age, at that size, you're telling me they need to sit in first class? No, they do not. We're really strict on that."

Gordon Ramsay has admitted he's not proud of his excessive profanity

Gordon Ramsay's signature word is one that has to be bleeped whenever he says in on television — and he says it a lot. Yet with all those F-bombs exploding, Ramsay admitted that he's not particularly proud of his legendary potty mouth. 

When asked about his swearing while being interviewed for The Guardian in 2010, Ramsay referenced the ridiculous amount of profanity in his TV shows. "F***! When you saw those two Kitchen Nightmares condensed into one — last year when they had those 298 'f***s' — I wasn't proud of that. There has come a time when, at the age of 43, I'm getting a bit tired of the foul-mouthed bully chef."

Nevertheless, Ramsay was adamant in his refusal to pander to elderly British viewers by trying to act like anyone other than himself. "I've never tried to get the Great British blue-rinse nation to start falling in love with me," he quipped. "I don't want a radical change where I have to put a woolly hat and scarf on and go round every Women's Institute and improve their Victoria sponge or show them a much better recipe for spotted dick."

Gordon Ramsay asked Bobby Flay to compete against him on Iron Chef for years

In a 2017 Q&A for Quora, a fan asked who Gordon Ramsay would most like to face off against in an Iron Chef-style battle, and he didn't have to think twice. "I've been asking Bobby Flay for the last five years for that opportunity to go up head-to-head, and he still won't sign that damn contract," Ramsay revealed.

"I had this situation last year at Caesars Palace, when there was an Elton John celebrity tennis match and the stadium was set. I walked into Bobby's Mesa Grill and said, 'Bobby, let's cut the bulls*** and get in the ring, you and I for 60 minutes and if you need a 10-minute head start and extra sous chef, you can have them, but I'm going to kick your ass.' He said yes, but 24 hours later, his agent phoned up and said 'No, we haven't got the time.'"

Gordon Ramsay has admitted to plastic surgery

Unlike most celebrities who clandestinely go under the knife, Gordon Ramsay has come clean about visiting a plastic surgeon. In a 2010 interview with The Guardian, he explained that he decided to address some of his deep wrinkles — partly for television, but also for another reason. "I've got four children, and they've become 'Dad, why have you got so many wrinkles on your face when Clementine's daddy has no wrinkles?' The lines were pretty horrific, like Scarface, and I was never embarrassed by it but my children helped me become more paranoid about it," he said, adding, "You've seen the articles: craggy face, map of Wales, ugly, deflated rugby ball. There's only so much s*** you want to take."

According to Ramsay, nobody even realized he'd had any work done "until I mentioned it. When you don't say anything you're classified as a liar, so you can't win. It's got me more s*** in the past six months."

As for whether he had any more cosmetic surgery lined up, he quipped, "Am I going to have any more work done? Of course I'm not going to have any more f***ing work done."

Gordon Ramsay faced backlash for killing and eating a puffin on TV

Branching out beyond the kitchen, a 2007 episode of Gordon Ramsay's U.K. series The F Word found the chef out in the wilds of Iceland, where he sampled a rare delicacy that led to unexpected backlash. In the episode, Ramsay was shown "sky fishing" for puffins, a traditional hunting method in which a net is used to trap the adorable little birds as they fly. Viewers were horrified when the puffins' necks were snapped so Ramsay could indulge in the Icelandic custom of eating their hearts, considered a delicacy in the Nordic nation.

Irate British viewers wrote angry letters to Ofcom, the U.K.'s communications regulator, reported The Guardian. An investigation ultimately found Ramsay innocent. While acknowledging that British TV viewers may have found "the capture of puffins for human consumption" to be "unacceptable and consequently distressing," it was determined that Ramsay broke no laws by killing and eating puffins in a country where the birds are not a protected species and are actually "a popular part of the national diet."

Gordon Ramsay sued a British newspaper for libel — and won

As one of television's most familiar faces and arguably one of the most famous celebrity chefs on the planet, Gordon Ramsay has received more than his fair share of media coverage. One newspaper article, however, left Ramsay so indignant that he sued for libel. 

According to a 2006 BBC News report, Britain's Evening Standard wrote an article claiming that an episode of Ramsay's U.K. series Kitchen Disasters had committed "gastronomic mendacity" by fabricating faux culinary crises, even deliberately hiring an incompetent chef for the purpose of creating fake drama.

Ramsay took the case to court and emerged victorious, receiving £75,000 (about $98,000 U.S. dollars) in damages. "No scenes had been faked [and] the kitchen was indeed untidy and a health hazard," stated Ramsay's solicitor, Keith Schilling. "The restaurant was already in financial difficulty before the program was filmed and the chef was not installed by the claimants."

As The Guardian reported, the newspaper issued a retraction and apologized to Ramsay. "I won't let people write anything they want to about me. Even I have limits and on this occasion the line was crossed," he said in court. "I am satisfied with today's apology."

Gordon Ramsay uses an unexpected sport to stay in shape

While Gordon Ramsay's lifelong love of soccer is unabated, he actually engaged in a different sport to stay fit, and it's an unusual one. As the Daily Mail reported in 2016, he revealed to BBC Radio 4's Today that he'd begun participating in mixed martial arts (MMA) matches.

"Three years ago I started taking my first lessons. I have a coach in L.A. and it's something I love doing," he said. "I don't do it at home but I've been into a cage and worked closely with a coach and it's something I've worked heavily on in the last couple of years... I started it because it's a work of art. You're standing there in that cage and the door gets closed and you think, 'this is it.'"

Fans anticipating a Gordon Ramsay-Conor McGregor pay-per-view match inside the Octagon, however, will be disappointed to learn that Ramsay has no intention of ever battling in public. "Now I've been in 12 times and had the most amazing time, but would I do it publicly? Not really, no," he said. "But I do enjoy doing it."

The surprising reason Gordon Ramsay cancelled his own show

Forbes crunched the numbers to reveal that Gordon Ramsay's numerous television shows provide the Fox network with more than 75 hours of programming each year, with those shows bringing in more than $150 million in annual ad revenue.

One of those shows, Kitchen Nightmares, ended in 2014 after a successful seven-year run, and Ramsay told Entertainment Weekly about the surprising way it ended. "I canceled my own show on Fox, Kitchen Nightmares," Ramsay said, and explained why. "I woke up in the middle of the south of France after filming a week with a British guy I wouldn't trust to run my bath, let alone my restaurant. Because he was running a ski resort, he felt like he could take advantage of all those customers because there was nowhere else to eat. He was giving me s*** for telling him the truth and I thought, 'I'm done.'" 

As Ramsay pointed out, the network was not exactly on board with that plan. "I got a phone call [from Fox] and the call went like this: 'You know Gordon, before you take your own show down, don't you think we should talk about that together, as your partners?'" Three years later, he returned with 24 Hours to Hell and Back.

The truth about Gordon Ramsay's 50-pound weight loss

As Gordon Ramsay focused on his career in the late 1990s, building an empire that would encompass both restaurants and media, he realized that he had let his fitness slide. 

"[My wife] Tana was not impressed with the way I was," he told the Daily Mail. "I was overweight, 18 stone [approximately 250 pounds]. I looked like a sack of s***. I look at the pictures and think, 'How did Tana stay around?' Because Tana has got better-looking and more gorgeous. And there she is, getting in bed with a fat f***. 

"It was painful," Ramsay said of his wife telling him he needed to lose weight. "I used to look at myself in the mirror and think, 'Holy s***!' So it was a big wake-up call."

Ramsay, ever the extremist, decided to get in shape by training for an Ironman triathlon so intense his trainer worried, in the shape he was in, it might kill him. Ramsay trained like an athlete, competed in his first Ironman in 2000 and never looked back. "The more I train, the more normal I am, the more I feel that I'm still unchanged," he told the Mail. "It's just another little reminder of who I really am."

The five things Gordon Ramsay thinks everyone should know how to cook

In a 2016 Reddit AMA ("Ask Me Anything"), Gordon Ramsay revealed the five dishes he thinks everyone should be able to prepare. His number one item: a burger. "Everyone enjoys a great burger, so that's really important," he explained before revealing the second is "a healthy breakfast. Whether it's poached eggs, smashed avocado or an amazing omelette. Now that is crucial!"

The third dish is something braised. "Like a braised short rib because it's the kind of thing you can cook on a Monday and still eat on Friday," while the fourth is some type of chicken dish, be it "a sautéed chicken or even a delicious marinade with chicken Caesar salad."

For the fifth and final dish, Ramsay recommended learning how to make "some amazing cake. It could be a blondie or a chocolate brownie, something you can give as a gift. Taking amazing desserts, as a gift, to somebody and eating it with them ... Spending three or four hours making this thing, and spending hundreds of dollars on ingredients, and doing something magical, is far more exciting then buying a f***ing jumper that you know they aren't going to wear!"

Gordon Ramsay revealed his most devasating Hell's Kitchen insults

Any true fan of Hell's Kitchen has to admit that viewing the chefs take on culinary competitions is only part of the entertainment. The real fun comes from watching an exasperated Gordon Ramsay tear into these hapless "donkeys" with the kind of over-the-top fury usually reserved for professional wrestling and Congressional hearings. 

Chatting with Entertainment Weekly about the show in 2018, Ramsay was asked to recall his "all-time favorite rebuke of a contestant." What really gets him steamed, he responded, is when someone he's working with is dishonest. "When somebody lies to you it's worse than working with somebody who can't cook," he said. "But I think the biggest insult I would turn around and say was, 'I've forgotten more than you know,' or 'the butternut squash, would you like it diced and rammed up your backside?'"

Why you'll never see Gordon Ramsay eating a TV dinner

In a 2009 interview with Bon Appetit, Gordon Ramsay was asked to single out the one food that he refuses to eat, and his answer shouldn't be surprising to anyone who knows his exacting standards when it comes to cuisine. "Any ready meal [frozen meal]," he revealed. "It's so easy to prepare a quick meal using fresh produce, such as a simple stir-fry, but people still resort to ready meals that all taste exactly the same."

Ramsay is also not a fan or airline meals. "Airplane food isn't in a great state; so many of the airlines serve heavy, stodgy meals," Ramsay said, explaining that the dearth of decent meals while actually presented him with the idea for a new business opportunity. "Last year we opened a restaurant at Heathrow's Terminal 5 [Gordon Ramsay Plane Food], where we offer these amazing picnics to take onboard," he said. "They're light, easy to carry, and most importantly, absolutely delicious."

The surprising dish Gordon Ramsay wants for his last meal

In an interview with Bon Appetit, Ramsay was asked what he'd want to enjoy for his "last supper" before the Grim Reaper comes calling. "Sea bass is the king of fish, so my idea of the perfect last meal would be a beautiful fillet, pan-fried with a light sorrel sauce, or served roasted with artichokes and a chive crème fraîche," he revealed. 

He gave a completely different answer to the same question in an interview with WebMD. "It would have to be my mum's shepherd's pie — it's the ultimate comfort food — and a hot chocolate fondant with milk ice cream for dessert!" he said. 

Asked the same question by Canada's Globe and Mail, he offered yet another answer: "I would have a classic roast dinner — roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and red wine gravy." 

Apparently, Ramsay has been asked that question a lot. When posed the "last meal" query during a Reddit AMA, he replied, "That's a really good question, because for the last 10 years I've been asked that about 2,000 f***ing times. I'm never gonna answer that question."