Gordon Ramsay Takes An ‘Uncharted’ Culinary Adventure Around The World
Gordon Ramsay is a culinary genius with a fiery reputation to match. The smart, stubborn, 54-year-old celebrity chef and athlete also loves adventure, and it shows in the new season of his hit National Geographic series Uncharted.
I was fortunate to dine with Chef Ramsay before the pandemic and enjoyed an internationally inspired feast he had prepared for the evening. He was enthusiastic about the series, giving him the chance to create new dishes while traveling around the world and cooking with local chefs. “I’m used to everything arriving in my kitchen early in the morning, but to actually go out and source items yourself is amazing,” says Ramsay. “I have that responsibility as a chef for sustainability, and I’ve tasted ingredients across this show that I’ve never tasted before. To be a pupil with these local chefs, stripped of everything I know and putting myself into that area of their expertise, is a dream come true.”
Ramsay is currently ranked as the only chef on Forbes 100 World’s Highest Paid Celebrity List, and has his hands full of projects, including 35 restaurants worldwide, with at least eight new locations to come, a homewares collection with WWRD, and a new Hell’s Hard Seltzer brand launched this year.
Continuing the Uncharted journey, Ramsay traveled to 7 destinations for the cooking expedition series. Acclaimed chefs in each location give Ramsay an introduction to their country and sent him on an adventure to dive deeper and fully understand their local cuisine. In traditional Ramsay fashion, he competed in a final cookout after each episode with a famed local chef, as they prepared a meal together from scratch.
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The multi-Michelin-star chef traveled through Portugal, Croatia, Mexico, Texas, Maine, Puerto Rico, Iceland, and the Smoky Mountains, to explore local cuisines and customs. Rapelling waterfalls, freediving, and kayaking rapids are among the challenges he faces in the new season.
I spoke with many of the legendary local chefs on the upcoming season about what their experience was like working with Gordon Ramsay.
Gordon Ramsay visited south-central Texas and ended up herding cattle via helicopter, hunted venomous rattlesnakes in the backcountry, and went on a night hunt for feral hogs. He joined forces with James Beard Award-winning chef Justin Yu who runs the Houston restaurant, Theodore Rex.
It was important for Chef Yu to incorporate local flavor into the episode, “I cook a lot of very slowly braised or stewed items,” he said. “I wanted to show that even with the very rugged types of ingredients that we have here in Texas, with a little patience and a little skill, you can coax out fantastic flavors. I snuck in my high school chili cook-off recipe and brought back a Texas chili (no beans, of course) and worked it into the show.”
Chef Yu recalls one of his favorite memories of working with Ramsay, “I really enjoyed cutting down a mesquite tree and splitting wood with Gordon and then using that hard, sweet smoke later on while cooking with him.”
Gordon Ramsay explored the rugged landscape of Portugal, where the simple way of life is evident in the country’s incredible cuisine. He chased black pigs across a farm to feed them, braved pounding waves searching for barnacles along the rocky coastline, and fished for iconic sardines. Ramsay joined up with local chef Kiko Martins, who runs the famed restaurant A Cevicheria, to create an epic feast for the Mayor of Nazaré.
Ramsay discovered why Maine is called the “lobster capital of the world.” Along the rugged coastline, he struggled to keep up with a team of lobster fisherwomen, went diving for clams, harvested oysters, foraged in freezing waters, and tested his lumberjack skills. Ramsay used his culinary skills against two-time James Beard award-winning local chef Melissa Kelly, who runs the New England restaurant Primo.
Gordon Ramsay traveled to the raw peninsula of Istria, Croatia, for ingredients that rival the best of Italy. He went freediving for local mollusks, fishing for rare cuttlefish, and chased after goats for cheese and donkeys for milk. He learned the secrets to finding exquisite truffles and making olive oil before testing his newly found skills against local celebrity chef David Skoko, who runs Batelina restaurant in Banjole.
Chef Skoko made sure to incorporate local flavor into the episode, “I wanted to show Gordon the simplicity of life in Istria, the luck we have to still live in partnership with nature from which we draw inspiration both for life and food we eat. To experience fishing, hunting, and foraging, and to prepare food in the same way as our grandfathers and fathers did, and hopefully, our children will continue doing. I was glad that I could cook Brudet for him, the dish that fed the generations of fishermen.”
His favorite memories of working with Ramsay were out on the water, “My favorite moment was when Gordon pulled out the first conger eel he caught and the expression on his face as large conger eels began to arrive on every other hook. It was a good day and a good catch! Cooking with Gordon was an adventure in itself. I am an extremely fast cook, but Gordon is a real beast! Although this was not a cooking competition, the rivalry between us was just fierce.”
Chef Ramsay traveled over the Mackinac Bridge to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where he uncovered the culinary secrets that originated from the miners. He went diving into Lake Superior in search of burbot among the shipwrecks, navigated the forest to hunt woodcock, and helped a monk build a fence for his thimbleberry jam bushes. He worked with local Chef James Rigato, who runs Mabel Grey restaurant in Hazel Park.
Chef Rigato made sure they spent a significant amount of time in the Keweenaw Peninsula. The copper mine, the monastery, and mountain biking were all elements he really wanted Gordon to see. “My favorite memory was connecting with Gordon about how crazy the restaurant industry was during Covid,” he said, “It was a pretty difficult year overall, and for a few hours, we were just hanging out, cooking next to Lake Superior, enjoying the day. Not a bad afternoon.”
Chef Ramsay explored the sprawling wetlands of Lapland in Northern Finland at the height of summer to learn its culinary secrets. He played swamp football, navigated fierce rapids in a raft, fished for whitefish, and cooked in a sauna. After sampling tar and ant’s urine and foraging in swamps, he ended up cooking against Michelin-rated chef Kim Mikkola, who heads up the Asian-inspired restaurant Inari in Helsinki.
Ramsay explored Puerto Rico, learning about Hurricane Maria’s devastating toll on the island and how food shortages have prompted locals to push for food independence. Gordon went spearfishing, took a helicopter ride to an organic coffee plantation, and rappeled down a waterfall for river shrimp. He was hosted by surfer-chef José Enrique, who runs Condado restaurant in San Juan throughout his journey.
Ramsay rappeled down a wild waterfall, kayaked through raging rapids, and trekked deep into the forest, attempting to find the most delicious ingredients in the stunning mountain range. His culinary rival was local chef William Dissen, who runs The Market Place restaurant in Asheville.
Chef Dissen felt it was essential to include a lot of local experiences while foraging food, “I suggested that we go fly fishing close to a beautiful waterfall near my home in Asheville, NC, and that escalated into an epic scene where Chef Gordon rappels down the waterfall and meets me to go fly fishing in a scenic mountain stream.”
The meal plans also focused on honoring the local communities, “I mentioned the use of wild ingredients and the Cherokee Native American heritage here in the region,” he said. “We both focused on using the “3 Sisters” of Native American cooking in our recipes (corn, beans, squash). This led to a beautiful showcase of our region’s heirloom ingredients and heritage cooking styles while providing a modern look into each chef’s interpretation of the cuisine. We ate country ham, drank good bourbon, and cooked up a feast. I think he was impressed with the quality of our ingredients, and I think I gave him a “run for his money” in the final cookoff!
Gordon Ramsay headed to the land of fire and ice during the Icelandic summer to learn secret cooking techniques utilizing the volcanic landscape. He fished in a glacial river for wild salmon and cooked bread in geothermally heated soil before heading north to the sparsely populated Westfjords. After sampling fermented sharks and diving for scallops in the freezing fjords, he created a feast with Iceland’s first Michelin-rated chef, Ragnar Eiríksson, who runs the famed Vinstukan restaurant in Reykjavik.
For Chef Eirkisson, it was an honor to have Ramsay visit his country. “I took Gordon around the west fjords and educated him about the flavors that surround us up here. I immediately thought about my friend Hakon that lives on a little island located in the middle of a glacier river where he fishes for salmon. Getting there is a short but intense boat ride, and he always greets his guests all dressed up in a shirt and tie. Not only is the salmon there amazing, but the surroundings are as simple and honest as you can imagine.”
Ramsay took the journey to Mexico to discover the culinary secrets of the country’s legendary Oaxaca region, where mole reigns supreme. In addition to learning to make the popular chocolate and chili-infused sauce, Gordon rappeled down a cliff in search of delicious butter worms, harvested the honey sacs from burrowing ants, fended off angry wasps in search of their coveted larva, and harvested agave plants to make mescal. He joined forces with acclaimed Mexico City chef Gabriela Cámara, who runs Contramar restaurant.
UNCHARTED will premiere Memorial Day, on Monday, May 31, at 9/8c, and will air globally in 172 countries and 43 languages. The series will air weekly on Sundays and available the next day on Disney+.
Published at Sat, 08 May 2021 16:06:01 +0000
Article source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimdobson/2021/05/08/gordon-ramsay-takes-an-uncharted-culinary-adventure-around-the-world/