This post has been updated.
Gordon Ramsay, the celebrity chef more famous for his irascibility than his horseradish Yorkshire pudding, and National Geographic announced this week that they will team up for a new reality TV series that aims to combine the globe-trotting traditions of Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” with the David vs. Goliath cooking competition of “Throwdown With Bobby Flay.”
A press release described the forthcoming “Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted” in terms more excitable and excessive than the namesake chef in the presence of a bumbling line cook:
Each episode of UNCHARTED will include three key ingredients: unlocking a culture’s culinary secrets through exploration and adventure with local food heroes, no matter where they may lead him; tracking down high-octane traditions, pastimes and customs that are specific to the region in hopes of discovering the undiscovered; and, finally, testing Ramsay against the locals, pitting his own interpretations of regional dishes against the tried-and-true classics. The series moves beyond conversation to truly immerse Ramsay in all aspects of the local culture to better prepare him for the final friendly cooking competition with local chefs and foodies.
The official announcement also called the program an “anthropology-through-cuisine expedition.”
The sound you hear is Bourdain, who died in June, trying to convince St. Peter to give him a day pass so he can come back and slap some sense into Ramsay, who apparently didn’t read the Columbusing memo on white men “discovering the undiscovered.”
Back on Earth, the critics lined up to take their shots at Ramsay on Twitter. They were particularly harsh in comparing Ramsay, best known for his vein-pulsating rants on his “Hell’s Kitchen” series, to Bourdain, a former chef who never made the mistake of upstaging the cultures or people he featured in his programs.
Ramsay’s fans pointed out that the fiery chef came across as genuinely curious and engaging in his 2010 U.K. series, “Gordon’s Great Escapes,” which explored the food and culture of India and Southeast Asia. Some Ramsay supporters also noted that his “Great Escapes” shows predated Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown,” apparently unaware that the late author of “Kitchen Confidential” had debuted “A Cook’s Tour,” a food and travel show, in 2002 on the Food Network.
National Geographic sent a response to this post and the early online reaction to Ramsay’s new series:
“We are disappointed that the announcement of our upcoming series with Gordon Ramsay was taken out of context. With National Geographic’s storied history of exploration, our plan with this series is to celebrate and learn about local cultures around the world. In partnering with Ramsay — a well-known adventure enthusiast — we are going to fully immerse viewers and give them a glimpse into surprising and unexpected cultures and local flavors. We have not gone into production on the series yet, so this perspective is premature. We’re looking forward to working with Ramsay, who’s been making food and travel documentaries for well over a decade, to share the series when it premieres sometime next year.”
“Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted” is scheduled to debut next year on National Geographic in 171 countries and 43 languages — unless Twitter kills it off before then.