Food is passion. Those who know how to cook can rule the world. Fortunately, today recipes offered by some of the greatest chefs in the world are easily available and with a little bit of effort we can also produce some great dishes at home.
In this episode you will listen about life stories of two great British cooks, I will be talking about some controversies connected with them, there will be titbits and recipes for success as well.
Who knows, maybe among you there is a future superstar of cooking?
WE 006: Two chefs – Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey
Hello podcast listeners. It’s good to be back, again. I’m very glad that you like spending time with the World of English podcast, and I guess you are wondering what today’s episode will be about. Well, today we’re going to talk about cooking. So you’ll find out what it takes to be this great cook, there will be a comparison of two great British cooks who are super famous in Britain, but also worldwide, you will find out some tidbits about them. Of course, they’ll be some language to pick up, some useful vocabulary and also this personal touch to it because I feel personally attached to this very subject of cooking – I am this great eater, I love food, I love celebrating life with family and friends, I love eating, so I’m this huge fan of these two British cooks. Let’s rock and roll simply.
Cooking – what does it take to become a great cook? Well, I guess we can look at it from two different perspectives. So, this very first perspective is what it takes to become this great cook who is acclaimed among family and friends. I guess everybody knows such people, these wonderful people that we love to spend time with because every time we go and visit them, we’re sure to get some fantastic food. And the other perspective is how to become this worldwide known chef and when it comes to this other perspective, well, in my opinion what it takes is this years of practice, enormous passion, super talent, extremely hard work and a little bit of luck.
I told you at the beginning of this episode that we’re going to talk about these two great British cooks. I wonder if you know who I am talking about, but I guess it is not a secret, right, because when we think about British cooks, I’m sure instantly we think about these two great gentlemen. And the first one is of course, Jamie Oliver.
I’d like to tell you a few things about him, about his life, some information from his biography, how it all started, where he learnt how to cook. We’ll also discuss some of his greatest achievements and there will be a little bit of controversy about him. There will be this recipe for success. There will be tidbits, as I mentioned, and later on we’ll move to Gordon Ramsay – another super famous, another super interesting man, who knows how to cook, right.
So, let’s start with Jamie Oliver. Jamie Oliver was born in the United Kingdom and as a child he worked in his parents’ restaurant and this very moment, I mean this experience of working at his parents’ restaurant influenced his career path, like for the whole life, because his parents ran a pub called The Cricketers. And in this very pub he cut his teeth as a chef. His break into television came when he appeared in a documentary while working at the River Cafe in London, and he was noticed by a British television producer. From then on he gained fame and he started hosting his great show the Naked Chef and because of his great popularity, because of his great fame he also got an invitation from Prime Minister Tony Blair to visit him at 10 Downing Street and to prepare some food for him. So, he cooked for Prime Minister, a great honor I think. Not many people know that Jamie Oliver became a Member of the Order of the British Empire so he holds this MBE title, as I said, not many people know about it because he’s got this very laid-back style. He’s very approachable but he’s got this title.
When it comes to his greatest achievements, there are a lot of them, but I’ll just present a few. What I particularly like about his career, apart from this TV star and TV celebrity, is the fact that he is very much committed to communities. He is very much committed to teaching people how to eat better, how to eat healthy food. And this is one of his programs because he went to schools and he taught school children how to eat better food. Whether the program was successful or not, you’ll find out later on, but the idea, to my mind, is a brilliant one because I think and well, I’m sure and I know you will agree with me, because the way we eat, it influences our whole life – our health, our habits, our lifestyle, but how to eat proper food and how to cook properly, it is something that we learn as children, right. Because we observe our parents, our grandparents, we look around and we see people around us who eat certain types of food and we just imitate, right. So, if we have this opportunity to meet people who eat good food, if we can taste different flavors, if we are invited to try out different foods, then the chances are that when we become adults, we will simply have this habit of eating good food. If we don’t have this opportunity, very often people just end up eating fast foods, very simple food, ready-made food, that is not only bad simply in terms of quality, but it’s also very bad for them, for their health.
Another achievement and another idea of Oliver is opening this restaurant called Fifteen, Jamie’s Fifteen. And here comes this personal touch that I was talking about at the very beginning of this episode, because I had this chance to visit Jamie’s Fifteen, his restaurant in London, have to tell you that I didn’t know much about this initiative before actually I went there but when I went there, I visited the place, I read and I was informed about this whole idea, I was super surprised and super glad that he came up with this idea.
And what is this idea about? So, he opened a restaurant called Fifteen where he trained disadvantaged people to work in the hospitality industry. And each year 15 young adults from difficult families, from disadvantaged backgrounds, people with criminal records or some history of drug abuse are trained in his restaurant and those people who take their chance, they have this great opportunity to change their lives forever. Not many people have this courage to trust the problem people, disadvantaged people and not many people want to help them but it proved right. I mean, there are many people who have been trained thanks to this program, thanks to this restaurant and they have used their chance and they have changed their lives completely.
A super fine idea and the food that they offer there is just great, I had this chance to eat this full dinner. But what I remember most of all is the dessert. I remember the very surprising taste of lemon marshmallows. Absolutely fantastic. Super tasty, something I wasn’t expecting and if you ever have a chance to go there, please do, please have a try, a great place, a great initiative and the success of this original restaurant in London was copied, so to say, because Jamie Oliver also opened that kind of restaurant in Amsterdam, Fifteen Amsterdam, in Cornwall and in Melbourne. I guess this restaurant in Melbourne wasn’t that popular because it has been closed but still the initiative is something worth following for sure.
Now we are going to move to the controversies because there is a lot of controversy connected with Jamie Oliver. I’ll present just a few of them, of course, controversies and some gossip. It sells best. So, everybody knows Jamie from TV, from his books, as this great cook. But not everybody knows that there are some controversies connected with his life, but on the other hand, if you are so famous, so well-known, it is only a matter of time before some controversies just happen in your life and Jamie Oliver is just one example of such a celebrity with some controversial decisions.
So, the first thing is that he was very much criticized for slaughtering a fully conscious lamb on his TV show. So, all the people connected with animal protection groups, they were very unhappy about what they saw and there was a lot of controversy, a lot of hate I would even say against him and he had to explain himself and his decisions.
Another problem that people saw in him and in his food and the food that he served was that he served under-cooked meat that might have been contaminated with the E.coli bacteria, not a very lovely thing you must agree.
When it comes to this program of teaching school children how to eat better food, well, it actually, it was very popular. And I guess I can say that it was successful. But unfortunately, it did not change the attitude of all the people because some parents did not like this idea, and what they criticized was that they felt that their children needed to have this chance to decide between good food and bad food or this fast food that used to be served in schools. And when Jamie came to schools, there was only one type of food offered and it was this healthy food. Of course, his idea was fantastic and, from my perspective, it is a great thing to follow but from the perspective of the parents, they felt that they did not have a choice or their children did not have a choice. And this program also failed because, and this is what Jamie says, what he thinks, in Great Britain this eating good food is the preserve of middle class. And of course in public schools there are children gathered from different types of classes, from different backgrounds, and this way of thinking in Britain that you should concentrate on the type of food you eat, on what you eat and how you eat, that it is very, let’s say, popular among people from middle class and that it is not something very important for people from lower classes. Well, he was very surprised with such a development because he says that in other communities, in other countries, some of the greatest food comes from the poorest communities and this is something that he did not like very much but, I guess, he has learnt his lesson from this experience and definitely he has left a trace in schools and he has definitely changed this attitude. If not the attitude of all the people, if not forever, he has definitely made people think about their decisions.
Enough of the controversies, now I’d like to talk about his success and the things that made him successful. So, that is the question that I asked at the beginning of the episode – what does it take to become a great chef and there are some factors that made Jamie Oliver very successful.
So, first of all the success of his career lies in the simplicity of his dishes and this relatively short time of cooking. I don’t know if you are aware of it, but actually I believe you are, because a lot of his cookbooks have these titles, like how to cook well in 15-20 minutes. So, this is this great approach because most people do not have that much time and they also do not have that much knowledge. So, if you can follow a recipe that will tell you what you have to do, step by step, in 15 minutes to produce this great dinner, you will be loved by everybody instantly.
He is a very cheeky chef, so he is not afraid to present his opinions, to speak his mind and he’s also this chef with a great heart, with great passion and just to illustrate and show you what it means, where the passion is, I’ll tell you about this little episode from his career when he was filming in Italy because he produced a few books and some programs about Italian food, Italian cuisine. He went to this Italian friend, also a great cook, and together they went to a market. They visited this famous market to look for inspiration. And this is where they met a great lady. The lady, it turned out, was 80 years old. She hand-picked the produce that she was selling there, she came to the market at four o’clock and she shared this unique knowledge about the food, about the ingredients, about vegetables.
So, Jamie is surrounded by people who love food, whose passion is connected with cooking and who tell us that cooking is not only collecting some random ingredients and putting them in one pot, but there is this whole history, there is this whole background behind it. And when you look at a lady who is 80 years old, and who is ready to come to the market at 4 o’clock, and who handpicks the vegetables because they will taste best, it is an absolutely wonderful thing.
The tidbits. I told you we will also talk about the tidbits. The thing I found out and I found it very surprising is that he abuses the word pukka when talking. Pukka means, authentic, super real. Yeah, so that’s a tidbit, something special about him.
His wife is Juliette Norton. I mean her maiden name was Norton, now she is of course called Juliette Oliver. And Jools, as she is called, also cooks because they’ve got this special channel on YouTube. It is called Family Food Tube where she presents how to cook this comforting type of food, simple recipes for families. She’s a mother of four and she needs to know how to prepare food for the whole crowd, for the whole house. Of course, the food has to be super tasty, but it also has to be simple. And it has to be liked by children. Jools Oliver herself is a super warm, sweet woman. So, if you ever have a chance, just have a look and watch her program Family Food Tube. A great thing to watch.
Right, so this is it about Jamie Oliver. But as I said, we are going to compare him to another great cook and this other great person, this other great chef is Gordon Ramsay. Gordon Ramsay, in my opinion, well, he does not need any introduction but I’ll just say a few words about him.
I’m super sure everybody knows him. Everybody knows his programs because when he started appearing on TV, and later on he started to appear on Polish TV, he was the sensation, right, his style, his energy, his knowledge about food, cooking, but also his language, his great character, passion.
Well, all of these things are well known to viewers, but of course just to make everything right, I’ll just tell you a few things about him. So, he is this international superstar, super chef, renowned all over the world. The restaurants that he runs, they were awarded with Michelin stars many times. He is Scottish by birth, but he was brought up in Stratford-Upon-Avon and here comes the tidbit – he wanted, as a boy, as a young boy, to be a professional footballer. So, he wasn’t thinking about cooking. He wasn’t thinking about becoming this great chef, but he was thinking about becoming a footballer. However, fortunately or unfortunately, hard to say, but I guess for him it was a fortunate thing and for all of us also a very fortunate experience because he suffered an injury and this injury put an end to his career as a footballer on the pitch. He went back to college to complete a course in management, hotel management and his natural talent, this super flair for cooking made him train with some of the world’s leading chefs.
And from then on he has been learning and developing his skills as a cook, as a chef. And now he is who he is. He is Gordon Ramsay. He is a TV star both in the States and in Britain. We know him from such programs as Hell’s Kitchen, MasterChef, MasterChef Junior and he was also awarded with a title, his title is the Order of the British Empire awarded by Queen Elizabeth II.
Now I’d like to present some tidbits about him, not connected with cooking straight on. And something that really surprised me, and interested me at the same time, was that he was forced to get in shape, to lose weight by his wife because his wife threatened that she would leave him because he was becoming too fat.
He claimed, right, that he was fat after he got this enormous weight of 250 pounds. But of course because of this great motivation, his wife Tana said okay do something about yourself because, otherwise, I will leave you, he shed 56 pounds, and this makes me think about his character. So, this TV personality that we know from all kind of shows, this great chef who is super scary for people working under him, he uses this very bad language, he is so strong and then he comes back home, and there is this wonderful woman who says do this and that, otherwise, you will be in trouble and this is what he did.
So I’m very surprised that he actually did what he did. But at the same time he said, on many occasions, that he is this great chef, he is this boss at work, but when he comes back home, there is another boss and this is his wife.
Gordon Ramsay also revealed that apart from winning the Michelin stars, which made him very proud and very happy, he paid a very big price for this because being this chef and winning the Michelin stars meant that he had to stay long hours in the restaurant working and because of that he did not eat properly and he snacked a lot instead. And because of this, because of the snacking he became too big in his opinion. He also has these famous friends who are David and Victoria Beckham, and he said once that when they went on holiday together, and when he saw himself next to David, he felt very self-conscious. He did not feel self-confident at all. So he decided to do something about it.
And how did he do it? How did he lose the weight? So, he lost this weight via a military-style regime and he was guided by a former army captain but it paid off because he achieved his goal and today he weighs 192 pounds, and he does Ironman competitions with his wife, which means that he has to swim 1.2 miles, he has to ride a bike for 56 miles and he has to run 13.1 miles.
Of course, because of the things that he did, because of this achievement of losing weight, he kept the romance alive with his wife, but there was also some health issue connected with his decision. He simply wanted to be around for his children. So, he is also a father of four and he is worried or he was worried that he might actually follow the steps of his own father, because his own father died from a heart attack at the age of 53, and that was something that he didn’t want to experience. And that was this wake-up call for him that he should do something. Otherwise, he would end up in the very same situation. And when revealing the reasons of his decision, he also talked about something very secretive, I guess, because when we look at the chefs, when we look at these great people, great cooks, we think that they are super successful and they do not have much trouble that they have to face, and definitely that they eat proper food. But because of this hard work that they do, and because of these responsibilities that they have to carry out, they don’t eat that well actually and that is very surprising, he said that he knows a lot of unhealthy chefs and there is a lot of stress involved, there is obesity which leads to heart attacks and cocaine habits and even to suicide. So, when his wife just made him realize that there was a problem he started changing his habits. Now he is in a much better shape and he is very grateful for all that.
Gordon and Tana Ramsey, they have their own foundation. They are also involved in these charity actions, which is a great thing. So, they also help the underprivileged people. He teaches on masterclass and this is another thing I would like to tell you about. I don’t know if you’ve seen a trailer of the masterclass but it looks absolutely fantastic. I guess Gordon Ramsay was simply born to be a TV star and to be a teacher, because the way he talks about food, the way he presents how to make proper dishes, it is something that instantly makes you follow him. And there is this passion for food, love for good life, passion for great ingredients and he can even make a show out of preparing scrambled eggs.
I watched him preparing scrambled eggs, a very simple dish, and I’m sure everybody knows how to do it, but it turned out that he made it in such a way that would make you think that you actually know nothing about cooking, because first of all, he said that you do not salt scrambled eggs at the beginning and I guess that this is the mistake that we all make because it ruins the egg.
So, you do it later on and also he did not prepare the food the way we do, like in a standard way, but he put scrambled eggs in a pot, he left them on the flame, on fire for some time and then he got it off the flame and this is what he did like a couple of time. So, it was on the flame and off the flame, on the flame and off the flame, and he said that because of these actions the scrambled eggs have this unique flavor, and they have this this unique structure. Of course, he added some milk or some cream to it, which produced a lot of air inside, but I don’t know, maybe you know this technique, but for me, it was the first time I had ever seen somebody preparing scrambled eggs just like that – so on the flame and off the flame, on the flame and off the flame.
When you look at him cooking, you get hungry instantly and this is what you can see on masterclass. So, I encourage you to watch it. I encourage you to watch his YouTube recordings, to watch his programs. And I also encourage you to cook. and to eat good food. And, as I said at the very beginning, food plays an important part in my life. I love to celebrate life this way with family and friends, with some good food because it simply makes this life better, in my opinion.
I hope you have enjoyed this episodes. Maybe you have become hungry a little bit. I wonder what kind of food you like, what kind of food you cook yourselves, whether you like Gordon Ramsey and Jamie Oliver, whether you follow their advice, whether you watch some programs about cooking and preparing food, whether you have your favorite YouTube channels where you can learn a lot. I’m thinking about all of that and I would like to know, so, please let me know, how are things with you when it regards food and cooking.
I guess it’s time to finish. I’m very happy that I have spent this time with you, that I have shared with you a little bit about myself, my life and my personal choices, and also, I hope you have picked up some language, some phrases and you have found out something about these great chefs. So, later. Bye. Bye.
tidbit/ titbit – ciekawostka
(to) pick up a language – nauczyć się języka
acclaimed – uznany
cut his teeth – zdobywać doświadczenie/ próbować swoich sił/ wprawiać się
laid-back – wyluzowany/ zrelaksowany
approachable – przystępny
committed to – oddany/ zaangażowany w
flavor/ flavour – smak
initiative – inicjatywa/ pomysł
disadvantaged – biedny/ ubogi/ niezamożny
hospitality industry – przemysł hotelarsko-gastronomiczny
criminal records – rejestr karny/ przeszłość kryminalna
marshmallows – pianki
(to) slaughter – zarzynać/ ubijać (zwierzę)
conscious – świadomy
lamb – jagnię
under-cooked – niedogotowany
contaminated – zarażony/ zakażony
preserve – domena/ specjalności
(to) gather – gromadzić/ kolekcjonować
cheeky – bezczelny
(to) hand-pick – zbierać ręcznie
renowned – znany/ sławny
flair – wrodzony talent/ smykałka
(to) shed – zrzucać/ pozbywać się
self-conscious – skrępowany/ niepewny/ zakłopotany
obesity – otyłość
underprivileged – żyjący w złych warunkach/ mający mniejsze prawa
scrambled eggs – jajecznica
(to) encourage – zachęcać/ namawiać