Gordon Ramsay on Dubai plans, pet hates and Bread Street Kitchen
Greetings Gordon! What’s On chats to Gordon Ramsay ahead of his restaurant opening in Dubai.
Let’s address this old cliché about Gordon Ramsay right now: he’s not at all as scary as everyone thinks, and is actually a great big softie – just don’t add salt and pepper to your food without trying it first [read on to find out why].
The acclaimed chef is bringing his informal European concept, Bread Street Kitchen, from London to Atlantis next month and we spoke to the 48-year-old charmer all about it…
“Pulling out [of Verre] was probably the smartest thing we could have done.”
So Bread Street Kitchen at Atlantis. Sounds carby. What can we look forward to? It’ll be a cool Britannia-esque East End of London mash-up coming straight to Dubai. It’ll be big, boisterous and fun, with intimate quarters and booths. Favourites on the menu include English pea soup with spiced curried lobster or a fabulous Scottish salmon dish. It’s stripped-back, simple and vibrant food with a big emphasis on ingredients, without weird trends or frilly bits. Like micro greens [scoffs]: they will not be present at all.
You’ve got several protégés making their mark on Dubai right now. What do you make of their successes? I guess I’m like a proud big brother. Scott Price [Table 9 and Taste Kitchen], Darren Velvick [Table 9 and newly opened The Croft] and Jason Atherton [Marina Social] are all doing brilliantly on their own. I just hope that what they learned whilst under my tutelage will be passed on to new and upcoming chefs.
How much involvement will you have at the new Atlantis restaurant? Will you be in Dubai a lot? I did think about moving to Dubai for tax reasons [laughs, properly heartily too]. I fell in love with Dubai eight years ago when there were virtually no chefs in sight. Now it’s like a mini Las Vegas attracting the best chefs from around the world. I’ve been researching for the best location in Dubai for the past two years and we’re excited about Atlantis, but we’re not stopping there…
Oh, so Bread St Kitchen is the start of a big Dubai takeover? We’re already planning our second restaurant, but I can’t say where or what just yet. We want Bread Street Kitchen to be the best it can be first. But we’ve definitely got a few aces up our sleeve….
Vegans, Paleos, Vegetarians… “I love them all. When they are asleep.”
Interesting. So, since your last restaurant in Dubai [Ramsay opened with Verre at Hilton Dubai Creek in 2001 and it stayed open for 10 years], how do you feel the Dubai foodie scene has changed over the years? Back then when we opened Verre, the Creek looked like the happening place to be. Then of course the economy crashed, people were rushing out of country leaving their cars behind at the airport, and pulling out was probably the smartest thing we could have done. It’s allowed us to take stock. Now you look at Dubai and it’s thriving again. You’ve got fantastic, knowledgeable locals and residents and tourism is up 35 per cent this year. I’m really, really looking forward to being back in Dubai.
What do you think about when you’re cooking or designing a menu for the Dubai crowd? No matter what restaurant I’m cooking for, everything needs to be tailor-made to the clientele. And nowadays, your customers will tell you if they like it or not, which I think is great. It keeps you on your toes.
Is what we see on TV the full force of your temper or is it a little bit staged? No one produces me. Honestly, it’s just passion that gets misconstrued as fury. I only get angry when things are in jeopardy. It’s just because I care.
Gordon shared this family snap on Instagram recently (check out his lookalike son!)
Dubai just finished airing Season 5 of MasterChef, where Courtney won. Do you get involved much with the winners once the show is over? I help as and where I can, and we try and invite past winners back on the show. You know, despite appearances Courtney was very smart; she’s put her head down and is now learning and working at a great kitchen. Some people just milk it. Speaking of MasterChef, I’m actually in talks with bringing the show to Dubai…
You mean having a MasterChef Dubai edition? More like having an episode of our one to be filmed here. We could have a big challenge in the kitchen which will be brilliant.
Would you consider yourself a great manager or a great chef? Jean-Claude Breton recently described me as a fine wine – the older I get, the more mature I become. That couldn’t be more spot on for me. I would never call myself a ‘great chef’ that’s for others to bestow upon me but a great manager? Well, if I look at the talent of the people who I’ve tutored I guess that would speak volumes.
What brings tears to your eyes in the kitchen? Do you know what really gets my goat in my restaurant? When I’m working the line and the food goes out, and someone puts salt and pepper on their food straight away. Now that gets on my nerves. My mum always does it and I swear if she does it one more time in my restaurant, I’m going to ban her.
Last weekend on earth. What city are you eating in? I’d be at the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo inside Le Louis XV-Alain Ducasse à l’Hôtel de Paris indulging on the terrace.
Vegans, Paleos, Vegetarians. Love them or hate them? I love them all. When they are asleep.
Bread Street Kitchen is taking bookings from November 1 at Atlantis The Palm.