I’ve just finished the first chapter of Gordon Ramsay’s autobiography, Humble Pie. It makes for pretty sobering reading and casts light upon the upbringing that made Ramsay so determined to make a success of his life.
Right from the book’s introduction, Gordon takes off the brash, aggressive mask he wears on TV and in the glossies:
“My life, like most people’s, is about keeping the wolf from the door. It’s about hard work. It’s about success. Beyond that, though, something else is at play. Is it fear? Maybe. I’m as driven as any man you’ll ever meet …When I think about myself, I still see a little boy who is desperate to escape, and anxious to please. Where am I trying to get to? I wonder … Work is who I am, who I want to be. I sometimes think that if I were to stop, I’d cease to exist.”
Chapter one focuses on Gordon’s father, a pipe-dreaming, part-time country and western-singing chancer, philanderer and wife-beater. As Ramsay senior lugged his family from town to town, up and down the country, to avoid arrest or to seek employment, Gordon’s feelings for him “hardened into hatred”. Yet the chef is disarmingly honest about the confusion of emotions he felt upon meeting his father many years later, an old, broke and broken man; and then upon hearing of his death soon afterwards.
It’s very revealing that Gordon sped straight back to his London restaurant, Aubergine, after his father’s funeral. For so many chefs, the kitchen seems to offer safe haven from the outside world:
“I was there, on the pass, working as hard as ever, trying not to think … I don’t think I’ve ever needed my kitchen so much in all my life”.
Interesting trivial fact: Gordon’s father had dreams of turning his family into a country version of the Osmonds, but Gordon refused to get involved.
I’ll let you know what I think of the rest of the book once I’ve finished it.