How Jacques Pépin Really Feels About Gordon Ramsay

Influential chef and cookbook author Jacques Pépin is passionate about his craft. Pépin was a pioneer of food TV, having hosted his first cooking show in 1990, according to IMDb. Several years ago, he observed a trend in food TV that he felt he had to speak up about. The Los Angeles Times reported on an essay Pépin wrote for The Daily Meal criticizing the new wave of reality cooking shows, particularly Gordon Ramsay's "Hell's Kitchen." While the L.A. Times said Pépin didn't mention Ramsay's name in his essay, the newspaper still implied the great French chef was criticizing his younger Scottish colleague. 

"The cruel rivalry and conflict depicted in 'Hell's Kitchen' may be good for ratings, but it is unjust to dedicated cooks and unfair to the trade," Pépin wrote in his essay for The Daily Meal. Real restaurants, he said, weren't chaotic and conflicted, but rather well-organized and dignified. The essay, published in 2014, wasn't the first time Pépin had made this point. In 2011, Washingtonian magazine asked Pépin if there were any food shows he didn't like. His answer? "Hell's Kitchen."

"For me food is still, to a certain extent, an act of love," Pépin told the magazine. "When I saw a show like that where everyone is yelling, everyone gets terrorized, there is no way you can produce great food under that type of condition. You cannot give of yourself." 

Jacques Pépin was critical of Hell's Kitchen, not Gordon Ramsay

The media jumped on Jacques Pépin's comments in the 2014 essay in The Daily Meal, depicting them as the start of a personal beef between him and "Hell's Kitchen" host Gordon Ramsay.

Pépin decided to set the record straight on Facebook, according to a follow-up post by The Daily Meal. Pépin clarified that he was upset about the concept of reality shows in general. He made it clear that he didn't mean to make it personal. Pepin wrote, "It was certainly not my intention to insult Gordon Ramsay, who in my opinion is a very good, professionally trained chef, or anyone else for that matter." He also said he understood that chefs like Ramsay were under pressure to create dramatic moments for television.

Pépin's point all along was that he didn't anyone to be scared away from the profession by these tense, overdramatic shows. "Aspiring young chefs who consider entering the culinary trade get a false impression from these programs which are for entertainment," Pépin wrote. "The only real reason to become a chef is because it fulfills you, and makes you happy to please people through your food."