Gordon Ramsay Gets Fired Up for Fox’s New Competition Show ‘The F Word’

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James Dimmock/FOX

Get your mind out of the gutter! According to international superchef Gordon Ramsay, the F in his new Fox series, The F Word, stands for “food” and “family.” But we’ll see about that. With this latest TV venture, the hilariously temperamental potty mouth—whose string of hits includes Kitchen Nightmares, Hotel Hell, Hell’s Kitchen, MasterChef and MasterChef Junior—is boldly going where he’s never gone before. This is live TV, people! And the stress and anxiety will be off the charts. Each episode pits two groups of amateur cooks against each other—they’re families, friends, coworkers—and they must take over a state-of-the-art restaurant and prepare a dazzling meal for over 80 nitpicky guests. The winners pocket $100,000. But will they survive the wrath of Ramsay? We corralled the bodacious Brit to get a taste of what he serves up best: hot dish!

Plenty goes wrong on all your TV shows. In fact, you’ve made a fortune yelling profanities at cooks who screw up. What makes going live so different? It’s uncharted territory. I’ve never been this excited about a show! This is the first time the public will truly experience the electrifying buzz of a happening, functioning restaurant. Professional chefs go live every night—and it’s so theatrical! Our restaurant opens half an hour before we hit the air so that, at exactly five seconds past 9 o’clock, the viewers will be thrown right into the energy and excitement. [Laughs] We’re also live because I enjoy putting people on the spot.

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Censorship alert: What’s more worrisome than Gordon Ramsay on TV? Gordon Ramsay live!

Admit it. You also love to torture the censors. I like nothing better than when I do a cooking segment on one of the morning shows and they say, “We’re live! Please watch your language!” It gets me very excited.

covery storyIn the U.K. version of The F Word, which doesn’t air live, you are free to let the F-bombs fly. We’re not so progressive here in the U.S. You’ll be bleeped. Which is so weird. I’m trying to talk with [Fox] Standards and Practices about that. I don’t understand it! You can go on Bill Maher’s show or Howard Stern’s and get away with murder. Yet you can’t say “f—” when something goes horribly wrong in the kitchen? But I will be ready with alternatives. I can certainly say “fruc!” as in “fructose,” which is a form of sugar. Or “shiitake mushrooms!” They don’t dare bleep that.

So the contestants on The F Word have no interest in going pro? Does that mean you’ll go easier on them? Not at all. Very few are looking to get into the business. They’ve only prepared big meals for family parties or Thanksgiving, but never for this many guests who are demanding the very best. Now they must cook like they’ve never cooked before—with a vengeance, with hunger and determination.

Brits who make it big in the U.S. often say their success is met with resentment back home. Ever experience that? All the time, but I consider it a badge of honor. I’m not one to blow my own trumpet—I enjoy my U.S. success rather than reveling in it—but I do get a lot of criticism in the U.K. over how much time I spend working in America. They really have my nuts in a vice over that. And every time I land back at Heathrow Airport, I can feel that vice squeezing me tighter.

Your children, who often appear on your TV shows, have also experienced backlash. It’s rough on them. My kids will say, “Dad, they’re criticizing me in the press because of my genes!” They went after my 15-year-old daughter, Tilly, claiming she was “a messy cook.” I said to her, “Opinions are like a–holes. Everybody’s got one.You’ll be faced with this all your life. How you respond is up to you.” Of course, Tilly will also go on TV and get back at me! She recently launched her cookbook, Matilda and the Ramsay Bunch, on the Good Morning Britain show and claimed that I’m really tough on her.

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And are you? I’m tough on all my kids, not because I’m nasty but because I want to set them up for success. I want them to walk around with thick skin and eyes wide open. I want them to know you can’t make everyone happy, but you can indeed create your own happiness. All I ask is that they find their passion. If they do that, they have my support, 100 percent.

You recently made headlines when you appeared on a TV show in the U.K. and pretended to mangle your hand in an electric blender. You were even gushing fake blood. Now aren’t you sorry you didn’t save that prank for The F Word? Yeah, I guess I can’t try that one again. But I’ve got something even better cooked up for this new show. I’ll be doing some [pretaped] segments where I go undercover to stir up trouble as a 480-pound fat f— named David. I’m unrecognizable, so I can be as naughty and mischievous as I like. People thought I was horrible on Kitchen Nightmares. [Laughs] This is going to be so much worse!

The F Word, Wednesday, May 31, 9/8c, Fox