Interview: Ramsay’s Revival

Top chef Gordon Ramsay outlines the food trends we should look out for in 2021.

In this month’s interview, top chef Gordon Ramsay talks about the challenges of the past year and our liking for spicey food.

It says a lot that in a Twitter post published on New Year’s Day, Gordon Ramsay decided to use the opportunity to tell the year 2020 to, well… let’s just say ‘not come back’.

While the global Covid pandemic has turned a lot of us into accomplished, skilled, proficient home cooks (in our own minds, at least, if not in reality), the effect it’s had on the chefs, staff and restaurateurs of the world’s best restaurants has been less positive. Most establishments have endured almost a year of closure – Ramsay’s portfolio of high-quality restaurants included. It’s a factor that has led to something of an accidental food revolution in our homes.

“With every disaster there is an upside and a downside,” he says. “While a lot of industries have been torn apart by Covid, it has been the making of others – think about the way we buy stuff over the internet, and home delivery of goods. Think too about cleanliness and hygiene… things that have always been of interest to me as a chef – we’re now all obsessed with it.

“In the same way, the fact we’re not going to restaurants hasn’t meant we’ve stopped eating – instead, people are discovering and developing new ways to enjoy food at home. As someone passionate about food, I can only support that; even if it’s cost me millions!” he says, referencing the huge losses suffered during the repeated lockdowns the UK has suffered.

Ultimately, Ramsay has over two decades of experience, financial security and levelheadedness to call upon in navigating a path
through the greatest pandemic of a generation. What’s more, being Gordon Ramsay, he’s also stubbornly confident the food industry will emerge out the other side stronger than before.

“It sounds ridiculous to say that, but producers, hosts, retailers and everyone else involved in getting food from field to plate have really stepped up in terms of efficiencies, and it’s those changes that will serve them well in future,” he says. “We’ve all had time to sit back and redo the maths on what works for our businesses and what doesn’t, and that’s going to be of real value going forward.”
As far as creativity goes, the 54-year-old remains as ebullient as ever.

“I also see people becoming braver with their flavours,” he continues. “What I mean by this is when people are tending to their own cooking, then over time it’s natural to want to start mixing things up.

“The natural reaction is to add a bit of spice to liven food up. In Britain, we’re totally enchanted by Indian and Asian food, and as trends go for 2021 I only see this increasing. “Factor in as well that people feel hemmed in, repressed, even imprisoned in their lives at the moment. You will always get a dramatic reaction to that, and I think we’ll see that across a number of areas, food included. I’m expecting a real explosion of creativity, across the board.”

Ramsay’s own creativity – at least in the sense of being able to reopen his string of high-profile restaurants – will have to wait a while. Despite the vaccine gradually being rolled out, it seems it will be the summer, at least, before normality returns as far as eating out goes. “It’s frustrating, but we are all finding new ways to enjoy and talk about food, and that’s very important.”

While the seven-Michelin-starred chef may not often reply to every, many or sometimes any of the responses that emanate from his various social media feeds and posts – usually from devoted followers looking to show off their culinary wares or gain cookery tips – he does recognise the fact 2021 offers something of a revolution where we can all feel closer to each other through food.

“I’ve really enjoyed the extra time I’ve had to interact with lovers of food – it’s been a really unexpected thing that’s come out of Covid, and I think we’ll all be talking more and sharing more over the coming year, and beyond.”

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