April 6 by The Running Son
TV Chef Gordon Ramsay is a Shaman… Sort of
by Jim Aldrich
“Idiot!” Chef Gordon Ramsay yells, his hair blond, his face red. “In 15 minutes this will be the biggest shit-hole in Wales!”
Sit through a cable marathon of Chef Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, and you’ll hear these words over and over again. It’s Chef in the face of someone or another, spitting his words as much as yelling them. If Gordon Ramsay is one of the top celebrity chefs in the world, why is he reduced to petty name-calling and theatrics?
As I see it there are at least two motives for his provocative, boundary-busting approach. First, looking through the cynical lens, it could be a ratings angle– pure and simple. It happens plenty, especially in the increasingly competitive satellite/cable era. It would go something like this: Chef Gordon Ramsay humiliates the restaurant front-of-house for awhile, just berates the hell out of them to within an inch of total groveling collapse. Then, suddenly magnanimous, he plays good cop and buys their forgiveness with an uber-fab restaurant remodel, and hugs all-around.
I have a rather jaded friend that tends to believe it’s all “cheese”, but not me. Uh-uh. Chef Ramsay interests me. He has a skill, and I’m not talking about cooking skills. When he is humbling some general manager in front of his staff, he’s doing it with a purpose and for the benefit of that general manager, or whomever…if you’ll bare with me.
For context on my opinion about yelling at people face-to-face, I have a big issue with the methods used by the US military in Basic Training. A big issue, and really it’s for the same reasons I have a problem with parents screaming at and humiliating a child. We may think we are inoculating our children and soldiers against future indecision, but we are really creating a breeding ground for resentment, self-denigration, emotional compartmentalization, and worse.
So in general, I don’t like a direct attack at the person. But there is something spontaneous, and at the same time intentional, when Chef inevitably confronts the proud, stubborn owner/operator of some failing Greek hole-in-the-wall. It’s true, Gordon’s time is limited. He has just a single week, the length in real-time for each episode. But what is the use of confronting these struggling owners if there is no guarantee they will see the light, drop their stupid ways and turn their money-pits around?. I’ve concluded that Chef Ramsay knows what the former radio talk-show “counselor” Dr. Laura Schlessinger knew, and what Spiritual teachers, gurus, coaches, counselors, psychologists, parents, pastors and shaman have always known…namely, that a precise, well intentioned, and timely “strike” can accomplish, in its short aftermath, what years of life lessons might never have.
And most important of all: in the end, Chef Ramsay (and any guide worth his salt) looks at his student as a whole and valued person, the human being that she is, and deftly raises her up to stand, as it were, on the weight of her own inherent strengths. Then she can finally experience and implement a set of human capacities not as much newly found as long-forgotten. Eventually, curiosity will draw her off on her own, where she will develop and execute her own unique and individual style.
TV Chef Gordon Ramsay may not be willing to describe his “craft” in this particular language, but your local Shaman might.
Man I’m hungry. 😉