British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay hopes to open second restaurant here

British restaurateur Gordon Ramsay shows Bread Street Kitchen intern Ong Sao Wee how to spread blueberry paste for the blueberry- almond tart creme fraiche. Standing behind them is the restaurant's executive chef Sabrina Stillhart.
British restaurateur Gordon Ramsay shows Bread Street Kitchen intern Ong Sao Wee how to spread blueberry paste for the blueberry- almond tart creme fraiche. Standing behind them is the restaurant's executive chef Sabrina Stillhart.ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay wants to open a fine-dining restaurant in Singapore

To say British restaurateur and celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay is nothing like his television personality would be something of a stretch.

Even in person, the star of hit shows such as Kitchen Nightmares, Hell's Kitchen, Hotel Hell and MasterChef US - has the same purposeful stride and intense gaze that has been known to reduce grown adults to stuttering fools.

The 50-year-old was in town last week to judge the inaugural Marina Bay Sands (MBS) Culinary Olympics, which was held at his restaurant there, Bread Street Kitchen.

And though the chef, whose restaurants have garnered seven Michelin stars, was warm and chatty when he sat down with The Straits Times, the din of a bartender shaking up a drink and interrupting his thoughts saw him momentarily go into classic Ramsay mode.

"I know you've got to shake your drink, but it's blowing everything up," he said to the bartender, who quickly scooted away. "Please go down the bar and shake. Thank you."

It quickly became obvious that for Ramsay, focus and attention to detail are key - evident not only by how engaged he is when speaking, but also by his thoughts on everything from opening a second restaurant in Singapore to his new online cooking programme, the Gordon Ramsay Masterclass.

"Bread Street Kitchen is an all- day casual concept and I want to turn it up a notch and do something a bit more refined - but I'm very fussy, so real estate is important," he says, citing Customs House across the bay as an area that he says has evolved beautifully.

"I'm thinking a 60- to 70-seater with fine dining. That's what I would like next for Singapore. But I need to find the right space first."

He took that same meticulous approach when he was asked to create an online video-lesson series, the Gordon Ramsay Masterclass, which launched last November.

The 20-part series walks viewers through everything - from Ramsay's personal journey in the culinary world to mastering knife skills to working with ingredients such as shellfish and herbs and classic recipes.

His YouTube channel, featuring snippets from his television programmes over the years, had hit over half a billion views by the end of 2015, prompting him to consider creating the masterclass series last year.

"What I wanted was for it to be really stripped back, shot in my home and be just me cooking from ingredient to dish - without a brigade of 25, 30 chefs. I love the idea of teaching properly, cooking from the heart and not sounding like a food snob."

The course - priced at US$90 (S$127)- had an outreach of 48 million people over Black Friday last year. Interested applicants can sign up and pay on www.masterclass. com, which will give them access to the video lessons and a class workbook.

Ironically, as much as he enjoys cooking solo, the opportunities for that vary a lot these days, given his schedule and how extensively he travels.

In the six days before arriving in Singapore, he wrapped up the finale of Hell's Kitchen, cooked for the Elton John Aids Foundation dinner for the Oscars in Los Angeles and stopped by Hong Kong to visit his restaurants there.

Still, for Ramsay, cooking and innovating on the go are part of the job.

"These days, I just do it at other people's restaurants. Just the other day in Hong Kong, I had the most delicious octopus pasta and I loved the way the octopus was sliced so thinly and braised," he says, reaching for his phone to show a photo of it he had uploaded to his Instagram account.

"So now, I want to maybe make a squid ink pasta and put the slivers of octopus into the pasta. I don't know if it'll be manageable or if it will work, but I'm dying to try it."

Even though he admits that he does not follow food trends closely, Ramsay says natural fermentation, pickling, grains and pulses are what gets him excited these days.

"It's healthier and a way to lighten the balance of cooking so it doesn't become sedated and heavy. It's a nice way of eating vegetables, without using dairy products."

It is evident, though, that cooking aside, his first love will always be spurring on younger talent to join and fall in love with an industry that has given him so much - which is why he constantly makes time to mentor and work with young chefs.

"In Asia, I think that the strong work ethic is there, but the hunger is not, which is why it is important to make this industry as attractive as possible to tantalise young talent," he says, adding that he relishes seeing young chefs grow and compete with his restaurants.

"I consider myself an unselfish chef. A charitable organisation called the Round Table is what helped pay 70 quid for my first chef's whites and knives back in the day, so now that I'm in the position to give back, I want to do it."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2017, with the headline 'Plans for second Ramsay eatery'. Print Edition | Subscribe