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PLAYBOY: You like Ferraris?
RAMSAY: I love Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Maseratis. I love the precision and the speed. But you can get into trouble. I was in my brand-new Maserati GranTurismo the other day and turned down the wrong side of the road. I thought I was back in England. The LAPD is suddenly on my ass with flashing lights. I get out of the car, and the cop goes crazy, pulling his gun out. “Get back in the car!” It’s half past midnight, and I’ve got no ID on me. He’s going bananas thinking I stole the fucking Maserati. A bunch of girls from a pizza place come outside and start going, “Hey, chef Ramsay, we love you!” The cop’s like, “Who are you?” I say, “Chef Ramsay,” and I have my life back again.
PLAYBOY: It sounds as though it was a little tougher getting out of trouble in Costa Rica this year.
RAMSAY: Yeah, that was a little bit hairy. I was doing a documentary on the illegal shark fin trade. Shark fin tastes like nothing, but it’s a sign of wealth and power in Asia to have it in your soup. It’s a billion-dollar industry built on pure arrogance. The fishmongers have these armed guards patrolling fortress-like towers, so we tried to get in but ran into a guard. Our cameraman fell over, they poured petrol all over my hair and neck and tried to set us on fire. One stupid chef with a documentary crew was never going to stop these assholes from decimating this population of fish, but I thought, Why the hell not try? It’s like drugs or anything else. If you don’t take a stand, who will?
PLAYBOY: Anthony Bourdain has written about rampant drug use among chefs. What’s your experience with drugs?
RAMSAY: I’ve never touched a drug in my life. Watching my father drink himself into a stupor and become an alcoholic and watching my brother turn into a heroin addict, I always ran from it. I lost a chef to cocaine once. We had another chef from Kitchen Nightmares last year who jumped off a bridge. How you handle pressure in life is different from person to person. It’s so unfair to generalize or criticize. Do chefs need cocaine to handle the pressure? Far from it. It’s not rock and roll. It’s cooking, for fuck’s sake.
PLAYBOY: By the way, do your friends panic when you come over for a dinner party?
RAMSAY: I hate dinner parties. Hate them. I really try not to go—mostly because I can’t sit there and pretend everything’s delicious when it’s not. The food is so often shit. It’s just too hard to be diplomatic.
PLAYBOY:What’s one simple thing everyone can do to cook better?
RAMSAY: Use a blindfold. I teach my chefs in an unorthodox manner. My chefs rarely sit down and eat what they’ve just cooked, so I like to blindfold them. It’s amazing. It creates this level of intimacy with the food. All the senses start to rev up and you begin to salivate and get excited. There’s a level of temptation, of expectation. Do it for a month when you sit down to a meal, and your mouth, your tongue, your senses will be so much more connected to flavor. The palate opens itself to pleasure.
PLAYBOY: You make it sound so erotic.
RAMSAY: Cooking is a lot like sex, actually. If you want to maximize it, you have to be selfish. You have to be the biggest selfish bastard ever to wear a chef’s jacket. I’m selfish for great flavors and for perfection of the experience, and I think that’s what makes me a great fucking chef. There’s also something quite sexy about confidence, and that’s such a big fucking part of being a chef. Confidence but also subtlety, control, awareness, heat, execution, visual impact, hunger, satisfaction. Absolutely, cooking is like sex. Fuck yeah.
PLAYBOY: What is it with you and the word fuck?
RAMSAY: It’s a beautiful word. When you tell someone to fuck off, it really is “Get out or disappear.” Straight to the point. And don’t kid yourself. Everybody uses it. The queen swears, for God’s sake. People have to stop being prudish.
PLAYBOY: Your hair—shouldn’t it be more age appropriate?
RAMSAY: I’m going gray, so using a little color has been my one concession to vanity. Then again, I look at Rod Stewart at fucking 66 years of age playing like there’s no tomorrow and producing babies, and he still plays with his hair. Why shouldn’t I? I don’t think I’m pampered, but I do take care of myself and how I look. Am I plucking my eyebrows? No. Am I having a manicure? No. Do I sit in the fucking sun bed? No. My hair is where I draw the line.
PLAYBOY: You nearly became a professional soccer player. How would your life have been different?
RAMSAY: That was a long time ago, when I was 17. I loved it and was good at it. But even if I had gone all the way, I’d be long gone by now, retired and on the shelf. I suppose I might be a player-coach nowadays. I’m a great teacher, and I enjoy teaching. But I’m glad I got injured and ended up turning to cooking. It was an accident but the happiest one of my life.
PLAYBOY: Would it bother you to be remembered as TV’s screaming chef?
RAMSAY: I don’t think about that stuff, to be honest. I’m the same guy I’ve always been and always will be. I’m no different than I was 10 years ago. I have the same values. Of course, I have to do voice-overs now, but I’m fortunate that everything I do revolves around what I love most, and that’s food. If I’m remembered as someone who got to do what he loved and did it as well as anyone on the planet, then fucking hell, I’ll take that.