Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My Man-Crushes 2009: Gordon Ramsey

This month’s new season premiere of Hell’s Kitchen assures that Gordon Ramsey will have a place on my man-crush roll call for a long time. Perhaps the singular celebrity that actually inspired me to start such a list, Gordon has both embraced and demolished the American reality show’s obligatory British judge chair and reflects the compassion and conviction of a consummate professional. Indeed, he represents the epitome of the American working spirit in a way that should inspire any man, like so . . .

Contemporary Influence: Like I said, a new season of Hell’s Kitchen has begun just this month, putting Ramsey’s sour puss in American homes around the country once a week. Further, the contestants’ grand prize in every Hell’s Kitchen contest is a head chef position at some new prestigious restaurant -- which can only help the economy, making Ramsey himself relevant during these trying times. Of course, that his show adapts a reality game show format plays to everything successful on television nowadays, though Gordon’s gruff demeanor pits the contestants more at odds with him than at each other . . . but I’ll talk about that later.

A Practical Understanding of the Opposite Sex: Any prime time television show about cooking is bound to attract the attention of the average American housewife. That isn’t a sexist statement; it’s what a network like Fox is counting on. Further, Ramsey’s confidence in the kitchen elevates the foul-mouthed Brit implies a smoldering sexuality, as it’s indicative of life lead by passion. That he calls the female contestants in Hell’s Kitchen “dumb cows” isn’t the point; that the women have a chance to beat a team of men is. If the women decide to devolve into helpless drama queens, well . . . that’s utterly disappointing. What better pet name would they deserve?

Global Significance: I started watching Hell’s Kitchen in the first place because it represented a necessary aspect of life, food preparation and presentation. Singing, dancing, dating, and the other practices that consume reality television are not necessities for living. Eating is. So, that Gordon has come from across the pond to teach us hapless Americans how to cook properly is essential, and that a component of his instruction includes successful business management is practically historical. Huh? Oh, yes, think about it; other British reality show judges usually critique without any contextual standard for their own expertise. Yet Ramsey drives contestants to be better than him, sometimes to the point of rebellion, just as our American forefathers decided to do.

So, I dare say, when you watch Hell’s Kitchen every Tuesday night on Fox (or, like me, on Wednesday nights once has posted the episode on-line), Gordon Ramsey is holding up a mirror to America, reminding us of our entrepreneurial roots. He isn’t just feeding our bellies, but our egos, too, if we let him. You don’t have to boast a passion for cooking to strive for excellence in the field of your choice, and Ramsey’s message is based on simply taking that chance -- even if it’s a chance in Hell.

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