SEOUL • Gordon Ramsay routinely berates contestants - often in the most colourful terms - on his television shows for their poor sense of taste.
But last week, it was the celebrity chef's own taste buds that were called into question after he appeared in a television advertisement promoting a South Korean beer that has been politely described as bland.
In the commercial, Ramsay waxes lyrical about Korean food to his two dining companions before downing a mouthful of Cass, a widely sold but often derided lager. "Great beer," he says in the advertisement. Ramsay then declares the beer "bloody fresh" and orders another bottle.
Social-media users duly sharpened their knives. Ramsay cannot possibly like the "pretty terrible" beer, suggested one.
Cass is "maybe the worst beer in the world", a second wrote.
Another offered a reward for proof that Ramsay was a Cass drinker before its maker, Oriental Brewery, made him a brand ambassador.
Ramsay, who was in South Korea to film an episode of Please Take Care Of My Refrigerator - in which chefs must make dishes using the contents of a celebrity's fridge - quickly came to the beer's defence.
"I have fallen in love with Korean food and it doesn't need to have an over-sophisticated, slightly unique beer that costs a fortune," he told reporters in Seoul, according to the Korea Herald .
Ramsay said he was far from embarrassed by the advertisement and said Cass was "the beer of the people" - unpretentious, affordable and the perfect antidote to the spicy, pungent flavours of Korean food.
"(Cass is) something I drank before the call (for the endorsement) came in," he added, according to the JoongAng Daily.
"When I have Korean food, I don't look for a wine list with the most expensive beer to go with it. I want a beer that's easy, fresh and something I can drink without having to show off. I think that was the important thing."
South Korea's mass-market beers are strong on fizz, but lacking in the flavour department - their insipidness is attributed to a low malt content. They have been unfavourably compared with North Korean Taedonggang lager by Daniel Tudor, a British writer and co-founder of a craft beer pub in Seoul.
Asked about Tudor's comments, Ramsay said he "wouldn't worry much about what the British journalist said... but when I do meet him, I will give him a kick in the a***".
South Korean media covered the online reaction to Ramsay's choice of beer, according to Korea Expose, which noted that while he was not the first famous chef to endorse a product of questionable quality, "a celebrity chef like him, at this point in his career, trafficks as much in his trustworthiness as an evaluator of taste as his ability to cook".