Richard Blais Tells All About Gordon Ramsay's Personality On Next Level Chef - Exclusive

Were you to only watch the earlier seasons of famed chef Gordon Ramsay's show "Hell's Kitchen," to judge him only by what you find when Google searching "Gordon Ramsay memes" or "Gordon Ramsay quotes," you'd think he was one heckuva hothead who spent most of his waking hours screaming at and belittling aspiring chefs (Care for an example? How about: "This pizza is so disgusting, if you take it to Italy you'll get arrested!" via Parade). Ramsay has often given over to vitriol and outburst and insult, but according to many people who have worked with him closely, Ramsay is not a jerk out to get people — he is in fact quite the opposite.

Chef Ramsay cares so deeply about food, and about the success of people working with it, that his passion often translates as anger when witnessed on the screen, whereas it's really an outpouring of caring. And impatience, fine.

If there is one word that best describes Gordon Ramsay, it's the adjective used by chef Richard Blais (and so many others) during a recent exclusive Mashed interview: intense.

Blais had the good fortune to be chosen as one of Ramsay's co-hosts and judges, along with Nyesha Arrington, on the new FOX cooking competition "Next Level Chef," and in that capacity Blais worked closely with Gordon Ramsay for weeks on end. Asked to describe the experience of working with the chef, Blais beamed and spoke almost with reverence. 

"I mean, it was the best masterclass that I could have had for 40 days. I've been around him, I've always admired him. I think when you have someone that's — all of these great celebrity chefs, but Gordon, especially — the guy's running so many restaurants. He's a real chef that runs real restaurants, that cooks all of the time. And he's figured out a way that translates to him being a producer, a creator, running his own production company, all of those things."

Gordon Ramsay's intensity is no act, says Richard Blais

Actors leave it all on the stage, dropping character and returning to themselves after the curtain falls. Athletes leave it all on the field or the court, taking time to recover and rehab their bodies after the clash is over. With Gordon Ramsay, be he on camera, in the kitchen of one of his restaurants, or hanging out back stage, there is, apparently, no "off stage" or "off field" everyday persona: He really is simply an intense, passionate man, full stop.

"He's as intense in the kitchen as he is doing a reading before we go out on set," Richard Blais said. "And to me, that blew me away. That he just doesn't show up and turn the camera on: 'Let me do what I do, and then I'm going to leave.' He's involved in every step. So for me, as someone who can only hope to get halfway up the ladder that Gordon's climbed, it was a pretty amazing lesson."

Given that intensity, there was always a chance the more laid-back Blais and he would not connect, but the reality was, happily, the opposite. "I think the chemistry was great from the beginning," Blais said. "I can't wait to see... cuts of the show! When you're competing against Gordon in this sort of friendly way, that's pretty intense in and of itself. And then Nyesha, she blew me away. She is so laser focused and committed, and at the same time she has this incredible ability: When I'm around Nyesha, she makes everything better. She's got an aura around her that's just spectacular. She can be as intense one second, and then the most loving, caring, nurturing chef within the next half second. So I thought the chemistry was great — cracking jokes behind set, and having a good time, and just sort of, for me, pinching myself, realizing that we were in this moment."

New episodes of "Next Level Chef" air Wednesdays on FOX.