Gordon Ramsay is an interesting guy. If you know me at all, you know that I love a good profanity. And Ramsay makes swearing an art form. So right away I respect him for that.
I am, however, not a fan of Hell's Kitchen; if I want to see people being degraded and made to feel worthless, I'll spend a holiday with my family (kidding!). But seriously, the show has never been my thing. I just don't think that cooking shows work well in the competitive reality genre, mostly because food requires all the senses to truly enjoy, whereas on tv you can only see it.
Gordon Ramsay has another show. Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, airing on BBC America, is like chocolate. Addictive, sweet, and surprising. Basically, Ramsay goes into restaurants that are on the verge of failure and lights a fire under their ass to get them moving. He changes the menu, the decor, the name of the restaurant, and anything else that needs to be turned around. Sometimes the owners are completely open to change, usually they aren't. But with a little trash-talk and a little heart, Ramsay gets them on-board and so far, all the relaunches I have seen have been successful.
Whereas Ramsay's shtick comes off as just abrasive and rude on Hell's Kitchen, on Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, his generous use of profanity serves to establish him as more of a "man of the people," rather than a complete dick. And he clearly knows what he's talking about: almost every idea he has is a good one and people clearly respect his opinions and advice.
The most surprising thing about the show (and Ramsay himself) is how much he obviously cares about the restaurants and the people who run them. This is a man who is passionate about creating cuisine. He loves food, he loves the people who make it, and he loves the people who run the business and are willing to sink ever nickel they have into keeping their dreams afloat. You can tell while watching that he really wants for these places to work, sometimes more than the people who work there. One of his favorite things to tell people is, "You've got to get (bleeping) passionate about what you're (bleeping) doing or what's the (bleeping) point?" Only imagine more bleeps.
My only complaint about the show is the sometimes the advice is recycled. It's clear that Ramsay likes simple cooking with an emphasis on locally grown/caught/raised foodstuffs. He also really likes white tablecloths with light-wood tables and chairs. But that's neither here nor there. It all seems to work.
Gordon Ramsay: nice guy. Who (bleeping) knew?
Also. I think it might kind of a crime against nature, but I find him strangely attractive. Must be the combination of profanity and food.
One of Ramsay's best ideas: getting people into a newly launched traditional pub by creating the "Campaign for Real Gravy." They started a parade and led people into the pub Pied Piper style by teasing samples of gravy. Genius.