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TV: Yelling and screaming is part of Gordon Ramsay's schtick

Published August 10, 2012 9:22 am

Television • "Hell's Kitchen," "Hotel Hell" star thinks we all need to be more demanding.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Beverly Hills, Calif. • Gordon Ramsay doesn't think he yells a lot. Which is, um, puzzling.

This is the guy who has screamed his way into a TV career on both sides of the Atlantic. In this country, he currently has four shows either on the air or on the future schedule at Fox — "Hell's Kitchen," "Kitchen Nightmares," "MasterChef" and "Hotel Hell," which premieres Monday.

Every single one of those shows features Ramsay screaming and yelling at people, while you will quickly lose count how many times his profanity is bleeped out.

But Ramsay seems genuinely startled to be characterized as a screamer, making you wonder if he's hard of hearing. "I don't know which shows you're watching, but we do have good days and it's not all about yelling and screaming," he said.

Nobody is saying he yells every day during production. But yelling ends up in every episode. "Do I really come across like that psycho that you're putting me out to be?" he asked.

And, the truth is, in interviews Ramsay comes off as a nice guy. He's clearly got a lot of confidence, but he's not arrogant. And he's not shy about expressing his opinions. These are his shows, but he says some of his reputation is the result of editing.

"Listen, I think for an hour's television, we film 175 hours with a bank of 65 cameras," he said. "Condense that into 42 minutes of footage."

And in 175 hours of footage, he's yelling at some point. But not in anger, he insists.

"I think it's misconstrued sometimes because that's passion," Ramsay said, comparing it to athletes yelling in "frustration."

"And I think deep down inside, I don't know any better," he said. "If you could show me a way tomorrow [to say] 'Please be so kind as to pass me the spinach salad, it's not that bruised. And finish your cigarette, don't worry about washing hands. And cook the sea bass, the customers will love it' — I'd love to go to your school of catering."

The yelling and screaming clearly works for him. He yells again in "Hotel Hell," which is a variation on "Kitchen Nightmares."

This time, instead of going into a struggling restaurant and trying to turn it around, Ramsay goes into a struggling hotel and tries to save it. It isn't easy. In the two-episode premiere, he deals with owners who are so clueless they can't see all the huge mistakes they're making.

"I don't think common sense becomes that common in those scenarios, because it's so obvious what's wrong," Ramsay said. "That's the frustrating part. We came across hotels that were charging up to $450 a night, which I think is a lot of money" for poor service.

So Ramsay — you guessed it! — yells at them. Not constantly, but he does raise his voice to get his point across.

"I didn't go in there to create havoc," he said. "I went in there to position it in a way that they have to be responsible. I came across one hotel with a duvet cover that hadn't been cleaned for 18 months."

Yeah, ick. And there's a good deal of that sort of thing in "Hotel Hell."

"The biggest worry across the whole series was the states of the pillowcases," he said. "Remove the pillowcases. Flash the black light in there for 30 seconds, and I was horrified. I mean, literally horrified. And I'm talking about some very expensive hotels."

Ramsay thinks he should be a role model for the rest of us, and we should all be just as demanding as he is.

"I don't think, as a nation, we complain enough, to be totally honest," he said.

When we try on clothes, he points out, we don't pay for them if they don't fit or feel comfortable.

"I think restaurants and hotel experiences should be exactly along those lines," he said. "So as a nation, not just here in the U.S. but in the U.K., we're too polite. We need to complain more. We need to be out there more. In order for the industry to get better and the hospitality sector to raise its game, then we need to complain more."

spierce@sltrib.com

'Hotel Hell'

The two-part premiere of Gordon Ramsay's newest TV series airs Monday, Aug. 13, and Tuesday, Aug. 14, at 7 p.m. on Fox/Channel 13.