Chef Gordon Ramsay may breathe fire in his restaurants' kitchens and have a new book and TV show, and a restaurant planned for Melbourne, but, as he tells Celia Dodd, he swears by the simple life and a faith that has sustained him.
It's no accident that Gordon Ramsay's latest cookbook, Healthy Appetite, kicks off with porridge. It's a reminder of his tough Glaswegian roots and his father's view that "only poofs" add sugar rather than salt.
Gordon learned about healthy living the hard way, from his father, who died of a heart attack at 53, while his mother, who cooked healthily but smoked heavily, had a quadruple bypass two years ago. "I get so frustrated today when everyone blames children for eating badly,” he says. "It's not kids, it's parents. They should be fined for letting their children get out of control because it's our discipline, our standards that they follow."
Intriguingly, Gordon, 41, as famous for his foul language as for his 12 Michelin stars, doesn't emphasise this point by swearing. Indeed, he uses only a smattering of F-words in our two-hour conversation, which ranges from his battle with his weight and his old-fashioned views on parenting, to addiction — his brother's to heroin and his own to perfection — and the religious faith that has seen him through his struggle with infertility and the premature birth of his twins, now aged eight.
Gordon's language gets a tad fruity only when he has a pop at fellow British foodie Delia Smith. One look at Delia’s How to Cheat at Cooking was enough. "I was horrified," he says. "I'm embarrassed for her. I don't expect cooking from tins and frozen food from one of the nation's most precious individuals, who gave so much hope and security to domestic cooks. I'm bitterly disappointed, but more importantly, concerned that, as a nation, we're going backwards and people will continue being lazy."
It could be that Gordon’s language is tempered because we're talking in the front room of his home in Wandsworth, South London, with giant fur-covered beanbags and a cosy domestic hum in the background. Words fly out of his mouth in a breathtaking stream of consciousness, but there is no hint of the martinet who makes mincemeat of American chefs in the Nine Network's Kitchen Nightmares USA or the UK's provincial ones in Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, also on Nine. Another TV show, Hell's Kitchen, hit our screens in April. For the full story on Gordon Ramsay, pick up a copy of the June issue of The Australian Women's Weekly — out now!