Gordon Ramsay Hopes His Show ‘Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted’ Wil Make Him a Better Chef

Chefs love to cook with fire, but celebrity Chef Gordon Ramsay is known as much for breathing fire as he is preparing food with it. Many an internet meme depicts him with mouth wide open, berating some hapless soul.

Now, Ramsay is looking to shake up more than the contestants on his shows. His newest, Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted, aims to change up his image a bit. Instead of a reality show, this is a documentary series presented by National Geographic. 

However, controversy can’t help but follow the chef, with the new show generating some before it even went on the air.

Gordon Ramsay
Gordon Ramsay | Amy Sussman/Getty Images

What’s the gist of ‘Uncharted?’

National Geographic’s press release stated, “the celebrated chef will embark on anthropology-through-cuisine expeditions to unearth the most incredible people, places and flavors the world has to offer.”

In the show, Ramsay visits various countries, meeting with prominent local foodies and finding out about their local customs and traditions. Because it wouldn’t be a Ramsay show without some element of competition, a la Hell’s Kitchen or MasterChef, he also pits his own dishes against those of the locals. 

“My passion for adventure has made me not only a better chef but also a fearless apprentice of all cultures, which makes it so exciting for me to work with National Geographic, who’ve been taking exploration to the limit for their entire storied history,” said Ramsay in the press release. 

An earlier attempt at this sort of show, called Gordon’s Great Escape, didn’t fare very well. The Guardian’s story on the show led with, “The third episode of Gordon Ramsay’s new series Gordon’s Great Escape aired last night. You probably didn’t watch it. Why would you?” 

Would things be different with the new show? 

‘Uncharted’ found trouble right away

The first hints of trouble came when, according to Mashed, the show was accused of trading on the memory of Anthony Bourdain, who was famous for his cuisine-infused travel shows cuisine before sadly taking his own life last year. 

The Washington Post criticized the concept of the show, calling it a “colonialist mess,” saying the show degraded world cuisine. This prompted National Geographic to respond: 

“We are disappointed that the announcement of our upcoming series with Gordon Ramsay was taken out of context … We have not gone into production on the series yet, so this perspective is premature.”

There was even some talk that parts of the show would be staged, although as any reality TV veteran will tell you, no reality show is completely natural. Mashed suggested that Ramsay’s temper tantrums were something of a facade. 

Ramsay himself defended the project to Entertainment Weekly, saying, “God, the feeble warriors that sit in their dungeons and spout negativity without understanding what we’re doing.”

How has ‘Uncharted’ been received? 

Now that the show has finally made it to air, viewers have noted a different Ramsay. Stuff critic Tim Carman wrote. “Three episodes into the debut season, which launches Sunday on National Geographic, and I’m ready to issue some opinions: Uncharted presents a cuddlier, self-deprecating version of Ramsay to the public, a Michelin-starred chef who willingly turns the tables on himself so that he’s the neophyte suffering for the sake of something to eat.”

And yet controversy still follows Ramsay around, with some decrying him shooting a goat on one episode, causing people to label him “the worst.” 

Ramsay hoped the experience would make him a better chef, telling the Associated Press, “find joy in being vulnerable, in a way. It’s about gaining knowledge and that’s never left me in two and a half decades. There’s a lot of chefs with one Michelin star, or two stars or even three stars that want everything perfect everywhere they go and I’m the opposite. I want to go there and get stripped of those highfalutin accolades and become a local.”