What Working With Gordon Ramsay Is Really Like, According To Chefs

Gordon Ramsay is one of the world's most well-known celebrity chefs, but his reputation isn't exactly stellar. It's safe to say that most would assume that Ramsay is primarily a foul-mouthed, overly-harsh chef who's gained his celebrity status off of mere shock value alone. People who can't stand him report that he's "rude and obnoxious" and claim that he insults, abuses, and humiliates his team. He's racked up an impressive list of haters, including some of the world's other most well-known chefs, such as Jacques Pepin and Anthony Bourdain.

However, to those who've worked with Ramsay in the past, there's a different side to the story. Chefs who've worked under or with him give glowing reviews of his management style and personality off-camera, noting that the "bad guy" persona only comes out during certain situations.

So, want to know the real Gordon Ramsay? According to those chefs, here's the truth.

Gordon Ramsay only gets really angry when his reputation is at stake

It could be easy to assume that working with Gordon Ramsay is a nightmare — that the man is a hot fuse ready to blow at any second. However, according to Chef Christina Wilson, winner of "Hell's Kitchen" season 10, Ramsay is really quite constructive and calm during the "Hell's Kitchen" challenges. It's only when his reputation — or the reputation of his restaurant — is at stake that he gets really angry. In a past interview with Mashed, Wilson said, "The only time he really gets wound up is if food that shouldn't be going out of the kitchen is going out of the kitchen."

But Wilson notes that it's not only Ramsay's worries for his and his restaurants' reputations that get him into a tizzy when a chef sends out undercooked scallops or a rubbery steak. She says he's also worried about the diner not getting the great meal and experience that they've paid for.

Gordon Ramsay is a "puddle" around his family

Some may think that Gordon Ramsay is hard on his kids, especially when it was reported that the celebrity chef wouldn't be passing on his wealth to them with a posh inheritance (via The Telegraph). However, Chef Christina Wilson was also quick to point out in the same article that Ramsay is a "puddle" around his family, even going so far as to say that she thinks people "would be legitimately freaked out" if they saw how he acts around them.

Other reports point to Ramsay's solid parenting skills as well. Mashed's feature on the so-called "double life" of Gordon Ramsay focuses on how he's taught his children to cook, helped his daughter with filming a cooking show, and he's even implemented a no-swearing rule for his teens and himself (at least while he's at home). Ramsay and his wife have been together for 20-plus years and he currently has five children, ranging from a recent college grad to a toddler.

Gordon Ramsay is a genuinely funny guy

For all of Gordon Ramsay's serious attitude in the kitchen, previous "Hell's Kitchen" contestant Nona Johnson, née Sivley, of Season 8, says that the celebrity chef also has a seriously funny side. She told Mashed that Gordon is "really, really funny. Like really funny. And I know that, as a viewer watching, I'm laughing because the things he says are funny, but he's genuinely really funny and he cracks jokes and really one of the hardest things was not laughing when he would shout out in anger and frustration."

She goes on to detail how her fellow chefs on "Hell's Kitchen" agreed with her and it wasn't abnormal for them to talk about Ramsay's tirades, once off-screen, mentioning one moment that particularly sticks out in her mind: "The TV audience never saw this, but he was shouting at everyone saying how terrible the service went and blah, blah, blah, all of these things. And he said, 'You guys are trying to f*** me up the a** sideways from Sunday.' And we all just stood there like, 'Yes, Chef that's right. That's what we're doing. Yep.' Because we didn't know what to do. You just went, 'Mm-hmm. Yes, Chef.' But yeah, we talked about that one later."

Gordon Ramsay is almost like a father figure

Sure, if you take Chef Christina Wilson's word for it above, that Gordon Ramsay truly is a puddle around his kids, then it's easy to see how he might make a great dad — but is he really that much of a father figure to his mentees on "Hell's Kitchen" and "MasterChef"? Turns out, that answer is yes, according to Chef Kori Sutton, winner of "Hell's Kitchen" Season 19. While she admits that Ramsay does indeed yell a lot, she and her fellow chefs wouldn't attempt to actively avoid his input (or criticism). Instead, they did their best to win his approval and get his advice.

"When he's there teaching you and talking to you, like one-on-one, it's really a fatherly moment," Sutton told Mashed in a recent interview. "He truly sees something in you. And he's giving you the time of day because he knows you can do it. And it's such an amazing experience to even be in his kitchen, have your name even be in his vocabulary for some time. And when he praises you on something, it's like, wow, this is a huge compliment that this multi Michelin star restaurant chef is saying: 'Good job. This is amazing!'"

Gordon Ramsay ensures the Hell's Kitchen competition is entirely fair

When it comes to cooking competitions like "Hell's Kitchen", you'd probably assume that a little bit of mischief goes on behind the scenes. The producers probably set some things up, throw a few wrenches into the contestants' plans, etcetera, right? After all, isn't that what makes for good reality television?

However, that's actually not the case on "Hell's Kitchen", according to Chef Christina Wilson. In fact, she told Mashed that Gordon Ramsay goes out of his way to ensure the competition is incredibly fair, and, the angriest she'd ever seen Ramsay was when a contestant accused him of sabotaging part of the competition. In reality, though, there's no sabotage and there's even a lawyer on set every time there's a recorded challenge or dinner service, just to ensure no hanky-panky goes on.

"There's no funny business. It's a cash prize. It's handled just like a blackjack table would be. It has to be fair, all the way around," Wilson said.

Gordon Ramsay is "incredibly humble"

Gordon Ramsay owns multiple restaurants around the world, has earned multiple Michelin stars, and has received awards and honors such as Chef of the Year and Independent Restauranteur of the Year. He's filmed an array of television programs and mini-series beyond his two most-famous, "MasterChef" and "Hell's Kitchen", and he's a member of the Culinary Hall of Fame. It would be easy to see how he could get a big head. However, Chef Christina Wilson says Ramsay is really quite humble despite all his accomplishments.

In a Mashed interview, she said, "He's amazing. He's absolutely amazing. He's one of the most humble and gracious men, regardless of his success in life, that I have ever met ... I can't say enough how humble and generous he is." Ramsay's humble attitude, Wilson hints, could partially be credited to his modest upbringing and hardships he experienced as a child, including domestic violence and living with an alcoholic father.

Gordon Ramsay isn't as much of a badass as he appears to be

Humble attitude, admirable parenting skills, and father figure mentoring all considered, you wouldn't necessarily be wrong to still call Gordon Ramsay a badass. You would, though, maybe catch some flack about that opinion from Paula Deen.

In an exclusive interview with Mashed to talk about her appearance on "MasterChef: Legends" Deen said, "The first time I ever met and worked with Gordon, I said, 'Gordon, I'm going home and I'm going to ruin your reputation.' He said, 'How's that, Paula?' I said, 'Because everybody thinks you're such a badass, and I'm going to tell them what a cream puff you really are.'" She describes Ramsay as "sweet" and "very kind," and while he can throw around what she calls some "very saucy language," she says she can dish it right back at him. However, she did note that she wasn't able to quite match the level of critique that Ramsay is known for giving his chefs, saying she hates to "poo poo on somebody's parade."

Gordon Ramsay is very respectful of others' culinary heritages

When public figures diss a certain culinary heritage, a whole population's ire can be quickly raised to mammoth proportions (see the Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist who recently said Indian curries "taste like something that could knock a vulture off a meat wagon" and subsequently caught the backlash of Padma Lakshmi). Still, it's not every day that you come across a chef who's properly respectful of others' culinary heritages. Gordon Ramsay, though, is one of those chefs, according to Chef William Dissen, who appeared on National Geographic Channel's "Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted" and beat Ramsay in a cook-off.

Dissen told Mashed, "[Appalachia] really gets kind of a rap for being backwoods and dueling banjos country, but really has an amazing food culture and just history and heritage here. And I think that's something that Chef Ramsey saw when he was here, and we had a lot of conversations about the culture and the food, and he even made an analogy and said: 'I feel like this is such an untapped region.' He said: 'The heirloom ingredients and the heritage cooking [are] on par with places like Tuscany, Italy,' which to me was a pretty astounding comment."

Gordon Ramsay can be just as awe-inspiring as you might think

Even though Gordon Ramsay is purportedly kind, nice, humble, etcetera, he still inspires a bit of awe in his fans — including fellow chefs. Nyesha Arrington is one of those chefs. She boasts some pretty impressive culinary chops herself, having appeared on popular shows such as "Top Chef" and "Guy's Grocery Games", but it was seeing Ramsay for the first time that really struck her. She told Mashed in a recent article, "I worked for the chef Joël Robuchon, and probably this had to be 2008 maybe, or 2009. [Gordon Ramsay] walked through the kitchen where I was working, and I was like, 'Oh my God' ... He was walking around the kitchen and looking at everyone's station and I was in awe ... I just think that [Ramsay] has been a chef that really took cooking to the next level. Way back then, I said, 'Well, I'd love to work with him one day.'"

Now, Arrington is working with Ramsay, on a new show called "Next Level Chef", after connecting with him on the set of "MasterChef". She called connecting with Ramsay then a "powerful moment" and working on "Next Level Chef" the best thing to happen to her in 2021.

Gordon Ramsay isn't too big to lend a helping hand

You've probably seen the Gordon Ramsay memes that show him yelling at adult contestants and calling them such fun insults as "idiot sandwich" and then show a juxtaposed image of him comforting a crying child on "MasterChef Junior." However, it's not just the kids that Ramsay is willing to help as needed.

According to Jenny Lam, contestant on Season 13 of "MasterChef Australia," in a recent Mashed interview, she saw Ramsay's possibly scary side, as he criticized her use of salt (or lack thereof), but she also witnessed his more helpful, encouraging side. She said, "You know, some contestants would say he was very mean, but you know, I remember one of us girls [was] really struggling with the deep fryer, trying to really lift it, put oil in, and she was tiny. And he just helped her. He goes, 'Just leave it and I'll give you a hand.' Yeah, he was really nice."

Gordon Ramsay can't stand a lazy chef

We already know that Gordon Ramsay can't stand mistakes that threaten his reputation or that of his restaurants, but another thing he absolutely can't stand? According to Aaron Sanchez, who spoke with Mashed in an exclusive interview, Ramsay, as well as Sanchez, can't stand chefs who are lazy on "MasterChef".

What exactly makes a chef lazy in their eyes? If a chef repeatedly makes the same mistakes after those mistakes were pointed out to them, as well as if a chef doesn't try to take full advantage of all the "MasterChef" tools and resources to show off their skills.

"I think what ticks chefs off, especially me and Gordon ... is laziness," Sanchez said. "When we see people not trying, that's what really ticks me off — and I know it pisses Gordon off, too." Sanchez also noted that Ramsay's explosive attitudes are very authentic and not just for the cameras, but chefs shouldn't take his tirades personally, saying, "it's a job."

Gordon Ramsay works to bring the best out in his competitors

But despite Gordon Ramsay not being able to stand a lazy chef and giving them an authentic piece of his mind, Aaron Sanchez does say that Ramsay works very hard to bring out the best in the competitors that appear on his shows such as "MasterChef," working behind the scenes to ensure they're actually learning something and only giving them challenges they're ready for.

Sanchez told Mashed, "He's the one that can make the decision of, like, 'Well look, I don't think they're ready for souffles yet,' or 'I don't think they're ready for the restaurant challenge yet.'" Ramsay coordinates with producers and fellow judges to make sure shows like "MasterChef" aren't just a great experience for the competitors, but also the viewers at home. It's a trait that Sanchez says he's learned a lot from, as he's learned to be more "judicious" and "tactful" with his time by watching Ramsay at work.

Gordon Ramsay wants contestants to leave his shows having learned something

There's a reason Ramsay operates his shows the way he does. All this hard work behind the scenes on Gordon Ramsay's part is to put together a show that brings out the best in competitors and leads to contestants leaving shows like "MasterChef" having learned valuable skills that will serve them well into their careers. James Beard award-winning restauranteur and chef Nancy Silverton attests to this fact after appearing on Ramsay's "MasterChef: Legends" series.

Silverton told Mashed, "I really enjoy working with [Ramsay] not only because I think he cares, but I think he's so knowledgeable. And, that's what really matters is to give, to take these contestants who are working so hard and have them leave the show ... learning something. And, I think that Gordon provides that. And, that's what makes that show so successful and why it has been on for so many years."