Last Tuesday was the start of my Thanksgiving vacation, otherwise known as The Time In Which No Blogging May Penetrate. That evening, I took my parents to "A Night in ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ " at the Paley Center for Media.
Full disclosure: I’ve never watched "Hell’s Kitchen" (or for that matter, "Top Chef." I know: The nerve, I call my myself a food blogger, et. al.). And I didn’t that night, either — it was billed as a panel discussion with Gordon Ramsay, so I expected the host to ask why he cursed so much, Ramsay would call him a fucking twat and we’d go home. But first, there were a couple of brief speeches by his producers and a full episode of his other, less-successful show, "Kitchen Nightmares," as if Ramsay was a Florida timeshare and we had to be sold on his utter fabulosity before they’d cough up the Disneyland ticket.
Sounds wretched, except it was fun watching "Kitchen Nightmares" for the first time. (Your mileage may vary. Based on that one episode, the Best Week Ever takedown is dead on.) I even liked a bit of EPK material in which the producer shows off a "Hell’s Kitchen" nerve center that resembles nothing so much as NBC on election night.
However! We were there to see the chef who suffers no fools and calls them ignorant fuckers. (Which he does, beautifully: "IG-noraN-t fuckAHH!") And the panel was interesting, with the show’s executive producer calling "Top Chef" a copycat ("We’re just going to box up our tapes and send it to them") and Ramsay sneering, "The ones who don’t make it on ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ go on ‘Top Chef.’ "
(That said, Ramsay totally punted when I asked for his best and worst restaurants in L.A., saying he’d had nothing but fabulous meals at Sona, AOC and the Mozzas. As well he might, although FOX exec/fellow panelist Mike Darnell did let it slip that Ramsay was nonplussed by Saddle Peak Lodge: "It was a bad night for them.")
Evening’s over and we’re in the lobby, where there’s little lemon cakes wrapped in cellophane courtesy of the panel moderator, Hans Rockenwagner. My dad goes to the restroom and comes back with news.
"Gordon Ramsay has a bodyguard in the restroom."
According to my dad, Ramsay was tailed by a very large man dressed in black who stood at the back of the restroom, hands folded in front of him. Ramsay did his business and they headed back into the lobby where, I can attest, he was beset with fans who wanted his picture, his autograph and probably to bear his children. He did his best, then apologized to everyone else ("Sorry, luv, I’ve got to do a shoot").
All of which made me conclude what I should have realized already: Celebrity chefs have stalkers, plural. When did cooking become the new Beatlemania?