Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted Is Facing Serious Criticism. Here's Why

It seems there are two distinct categories of Gordon Ramsay fans: those who can't get enough of Chef Crankypants' culinary wisdom, and those who can't get enough of the Michelin-starred chef-slash-restaurant emperor's cantankerous antics. Of course, there is quite a lot of overlap between the two, which only amplifies Ramsay's appeal. Never has that been more apparent than in the public's reaction to Ramsay's show, "Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted," which has been airing on National Geographic since 2019. From the very beginning — even before the show aired its first episode — the reception wasn't exactly glowing.

Ramsay may be most famous for his long-running cooking competition series "Hell's Kitchen," but he seems to draw the most fire for "Uncharted," which some say was inspired, at least subconsciously, by Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" and "Parts Unknown." All three shows depict an intrepid chef journeying to the far corners of the Earth "in search of culinary inspiration, epic adventures, and cultural experiences," as National Geographic described Ramsay's series. But unlike Bourdain's generally well-received shows, as So Yummy pointed out, Gordon Ramsay's "Uncharted" has been facing serious criticism from the get-go.

Why some people take issue with Gordon Ramsay hosting 'Uncharted'

Like fans of Gordon Ramsay, critics of "Uncharted" tend to fall into overlapping categories. First, there are the steadfast Anthony Bourdain fans who just cannot accept Gordon Ramsay as Bourdain's "successor" in culinary adventure travel — even if he's not specifically painted that way by the network. Similarly, there are also those who accuse "Uncharted" of being a "copycat" of Bourdain's famed and beloved travel programming (via EW). "Hey, remember all that great stuff people said about Bourdain? Make a show about the opposite. Zig when they zag," one Twitter user posted to mock Ramsay's show back in July 2018.

Still, others have a far more troubling complaint about Gordon Ramsay as the host of "Uncharted," which is that he's yet another white cisgender male chef getting a huge television gig. To many, this is a stale and possibly tone-deaf casting decision when it would have been easy to cast someone from any number of marginalized groups (via Washington Post). 

"If the restaurant industry is a boy's club (and it is), Gordon Ramsay represents its worst tendencies," the Washington Post wrote in anticipation of the premiere of "Uncharted." The Washington Post continued: "A woman, for example, has never hosted a major show of the 'No Reservations' ilk, in which she's allowed to freely traipse around the world satisfying all her curiosities and appetites." While since that article was published in 2018, hosts such as Padma Lakshmi have had a chance to be at the helm of shows like "Taste the Nation," critics note that it's much more common to see men have the opportunity to explore global culinary traditions for television audiences.

Some people accuse 'Uncharted' of being colonialist

The other criticism levied on "Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted" may be viewed as the most controversial as well as the most serious. And that is that the show has an unmistakable xenophobic vibe that perpetuates a dangerous legacy of colonialism, as The Washington Post noted.

Xenophobia refers to feelings of discomfort when confronted with that which is foreign. Colonialism is a practice of domination or subjugation of one people to another. This can be done through attempts to influence the way things are done outside of one's own nation or culture. As food writer Mayukh Sen explained to The Washington Post, "Uncharted" appears to push the agenda that foreign cuisine needs Ramsay to make it more palatable. 

Ebony magazine concurred with many critics, stating the series "ignores how colonization has led to the whitewashing of many cultures." An early press release for "Uncharted" explained that chef Gordon Ramsay would be exploring regional cuisine in far-flung places by creating his own takes on local dishes and pitting them against ones cooked by actual locals. However, as Eater reported, the criticism that erupted after this announcement caused National Geographic to issue another statement in 2018: "We are disappointed that the announcement of our upcoming series with Gordon Ramsay was taken out of context ... We have not gone into production on the series yet."

While Season 3 takes place exclusively in North America (due to the fact that filming took place during the pandemic), this new season of "Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted" did not escape similar criticisms. When Ramsay visited Puerto Rico in a recent episode and made the comment, "Nothing is easy in Puerto Rico," one Twitter user responded with an "Imagine how tired we are" meme.