The One Habit Gordon Ramsay Believes A Chef Should Never Adopt

Some say it's the stress. Some say it's just part of the lifestyle of working in a restaurant kitchen. Others say it's simply a good excuse to take a break. Whatever the reason, a lot of chefs smoke cigarettes (via Reddit).

You don't need to work in a restaurant or lurk in alleys behind restaurants to spy on kitchen staff taking their breaks to know this, either. All you need to do is watch Hell's Kitchen. Almost all of the chef contestants in this Gordon Ramsay cooking competition have been filmed unwinding with a cigarette in between challenges.

All the chefs on Hell's Kitchen want to work for the British celebrity chef in real life. Those in season 19, which premiered January 7 on Fox, are competing for a job at Ramsay's Lake Tahoe Hell's Kitchen restaurant (via Foodsided). So, you might think they would avoid doing anything Ramsay didn't like. Except that Ramsay does not like smoking, and that hasn't convinced very many contestants over the years to quit.

"I'm not a big fan of chefs smoking," Ramsay said in an interview promoting season 19 (via Foodsided). Ramsay went on to say that nonsmokers would do better during the blind taste test portion of his reality show.

Gordon Ramsay says smokers do poorly on the Hell's Kitchen taste test

While the science is still in dispute, several studies suggest that both smoking and heavy drinking impair our senses of smell and/or taste (via Penn Medicine). So chefs who smoke or drink might ask themselves, "Do I really know if what I'm sending out of the kitchen tastes right?" Ramsay wonders that, too, and not just as he anticipates season 19 hitting the airwaves. He had the same message in an interview with the New York Daily News in 2009.

"The biggest issue with chefs today is smoking," Ramsay said at the time. "The first thing I teach a chef is how to taste. If you don't understand how it tastes, you shouldn't be cooking it."

Ramsay is pretty sure he knows why some people fail the Hell's Kitchen taste test: "I guarantee 90 percent either drink heavily or they smoke. And you've got no chance of having a refined palate."

The question of whether smoking will ruin your chance of becoming a great chef remains up for debate. Emeril Lagasse is a longtime cigar smoker (via Cigar Life Guy), and Anthony Bourdain said quitting smoking did nothing for his palate (via TV Guide). Then there's the fact that a Reddit user who was paying close attention while watching Hell's Kitchen noted that at least three of the show's winners were smokers. Maybe the smokers in season 19 have nothing to fear from Ramsay, after all.