'Master Chef': A kinder, cuddlier Gordon Ramsay?

Guest blogger Amanda Krotki here:

"Oh bleep. Listen to me, yes? Hello! Bleep. Bleep. Come on guys! Unbelievable. Bleep. Stop it! Look at me. Bleep. Let's go! Bleep. Raw bleep. Come on! Look at me. Bleep. Come back down to earth. You may be down, but you're not out. Oh for bleep's sake! I'm worried about you. This is where it gets really bleeping painful. Wake up and talk to your team! It's bleeping cold! Serve me cold fish again, you're bleeping history. Unbelievable. Don't! Start! Panicking!"

The above expletive-laced monologue probably sounds familiar to those of you used to Gordon Ramsay's stove-side manner in "Hell's Kitchen" and even "Kitchen Nightmares." This is the Ramsay we love to loathe.

So, the concept behind "Master Chef" was a little hard to swallow. A compassionate, soft-spoken Ramsay? What's the point? Where's the fun in that? Was this show created by his public relations firm expressly to improve his image?

In "Master Chef," home cooks from all across the country have to prepare their best dish in one hour in order to earn an apron to qualify to move forward in the competition. America's ultimate Master Chef will win a quarter-of-a-million dollars and will get to publish his or her own cookbook.

The promos leading up to the show's debut, the preview of the season ahead and even the introduction to the first episode all showed a disturbing lack of passion from the normally foul-mouthed chef. I was worried. I like Ramsay at his snarliest, when he calls everyone in range a "donkey." I have long been a Ramsay sympathizer, believing he yells because he cares. Some call him verbally abusive. I call him unfairly edited. I think maybe he's just socially awkward.

In the first episode, Ramsay cracks a few smiles, gives out hugs like they're locally grown produce, talks to babies, dishes out compliments like "You move like a chef" and refrains from throwing undercooked meats at anyone.

But he also doesn't shy away for letting the contestants know exactly what he's thinking. He continues to be blunt, he still spits out food (when Tom Colicchio does that nobody accuses him of being a tyrant) and says things like "Aren't you a little old to be wearing dungarees?" to a farmer in overalls, whose dish Ramsay described as "cow dung topped with cheese." 

He even made contestants cry. Hell, I cried. But, I laughed, too. And I'm relieved to report that Ramsay's personality still shines through. He's no kitchen cherub like Jamie Oliver, but it's clear he really just wants to help people tap into their hidden talents and realize their culinary dreams. I'm hooked already! I'll be watching this all season and any other show Ramsay develops in the future, yes?


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