Gordon Ramsay on Uncharted, Scrambled, and entertaining during quarantine
The hotheaded chef tells us how he keeps cool in crazy situations on his wild National Geographic travel series.
Most of the world is moving at a slower pace these days, but television chef Gordon Ramsay has a jam-packed summer on the horizon.
"I'm actually still very busy every day," he tells EW on the phone from his home in Los Angeles, where he's practicing social distancing with his family. Between making Instagram videos that teach viewers how to prepare simple recipes at home, overseeing plans for the safe reopening of his 35 restaurants around the world, and taking turns with his kids to whip up the family's meals, Ramsay's quarantine is pretty full. Before international lockdowns kicked in, the hotheaded chef was jet-setting around the globe picking up cooking tips in the most obscure (and sometimes dangerous) ways and places for the second season of his National Geographic travel series, Uncharted, as well as helping other celebrities master quick and easy egg recipes on his YouTube series Scrambled.
Working with eggs is nothing new for Ramsay, who first discovered his love for the ingredient as a young chef in Paris. “I got this obsession back when I was getting my arse kicked in the kitchens,” he tells EW. “I taught myself how to perfect scrambled eggs.” He may have honed his techniques in Europe, but thanks to the series you can appreciate his breakfast skills without the air miles. “We wanted to see how far we could shoot for the stars with just eggs,” says Ramsay, who invites celebs like the Bella Twins, Zedd, and Steve-O into his kitchen to whip up their own eggy recipes. "Zedd was incredible," he says. "Everyone thinks DJ'ing is some sort of party-animal, drug-fueled, crazy setup, but these guys are some of the most sophisticated, articulate individuals on the planet. They use food to fuel them, so it's very important to them.”
Teaching celebrities to scramble, fry, and poach is just one facet of the job, however. While Ramsay is clearly a pro on the cooking front, when it comes to interviewing stars, he looks to a pal for tips. "James Corden is a great friend of mine," he says. "Working on The F Word together and watching his technique — how he can engage with the guest and focus on the next question while they’re answering the first question — that's a tough gig, and he makes it seem so easy. So I try and learn from him." On most occasions Ramsay channels Corden, but sometimes he deliberately doesn't. "If anything, I try my hardest to put them off," he says of his guests, which is savvy considering his creation is judged against theirs at the end of each episode. "But then I put them off so badly that they either end up losing a finger or they set the kitchen on fire."
Ramsay also took his eggs-pertise to new heights while traveling in Peru for Uncharted. “We captured this incredible grub and made a worm omelet on a clifftop,” he says. “I flambéed them in cognac.” While we don’t recommend trying that at home, you can catch season 2 of Uncharted starting in June. This time around, Ramsay dives for giant crayfish in shark-infested Tasmanian waters ("They were the size of Labrador puppies!"), wrangles a herd of reindeer in Norway, and cooks for a Zulu chief in South Africa while an angry hippopotamus watches. “I love getting to the source and touching ingredients you’ve never seen before,” says Ramsay. “But, yeah, those hippos weren't f—ing around.”
Then there are the tarantulas. "We were out in the depths of the jungle and there was a massive rainstorm, so we had to take shelter and literally had nothing to eat," Ramsay recalls of his time in Guyana. "The minute the sun came out, seven hours later, we're poking tarantulas as they were coming out of the tree and frying them. You’d probably think we were just doing it for film, but no, this was real!"
At the end of each adventure, Ramsay challenges himself with a final cookout with a local food legend by his side, as they prepare a meal for locals he's encountered during his journey. "We get to meet great characters and chefs that are about to break through along the way," he says. "That kind of discovery makes it all the more important for me."
While big cookouts back home might look a little different this summer, the chef has some tips on how to successfully get together to eat and drink this sunny season. "Do your meet-and-greets, but have people be responsible for their own BYO," Ramsay says. He adds that when smaller gatherings are permitted once again, it'll still be important to ensure "we're not all congregating around the central buffet or grill." Rather, "It's going to go back to the beginning — enjoying amazing picnics and bringing your own, whether it's a cocktail in a flask, whether it's homemade tabbouleh or hummus, or your own fruity drink," he says. "And if you’re the host, be smart and delegate."
Uncharted season 2 premieres June 7 at 10 p.m. ET on National Geographic.
Get more Entertaining Weekly: Summer’s Served recipes, tips, and ideas in the June issue of EW, which you can order now. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.