There are few easier ways to cook meat than grilling. However, although it’s a difficult thing to get wrong, there’s one person guaranteed to say when you’ve messed up. Indeed, notoriously opinionated TV chef and restaurateur Gordon Ramsay made a YouTube video revealing exactly how you should be making your burgers.
Gordon Ramsay is famous for his fiery temperament on shows such as Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares. In fact, his put downs and insults have been turned into numerous memes across the internet, and they’re as hilarious as they are scathing. Moreover, the famous restaurateur is never short of an opinion on other chefs’ cooking techniques.
What’s more, with cooking being his obvious passion, Ramsay rarely holds back when critiquing food combinations he deems to be unusual. For instance, late-night viewers of the British chat show The Nightly Show may recall when the contentious issue of pineapple as a pizza topping came up. Ramsay was standing in as a guest host in 2017 when he called up for delivery.
When Ramsay looked at the audience for their input on toppings, someone suggested pineapples. Interrupting the call, the chef turned to the audience member and said, “You don’t put f**king pineapple on a pizza.” When the order was complete, he turned to the offender and added, “What the f**k are you doing?” But his opinion of junk food doesn’t stop there.
Indeed, McDonald’s have felt the rough edge of Ramsay’s tongue, too. As he told U.K. newspaper The Independent in April 2007, “Strip a Big Mac back of everything it’s filled up with and you’ve got two bland basics: fat and fodder. When you think of how exciting it is to make a hamburger from a chef’s point of view… then why do you have to buy that crap?”
Certainly, Ramsay seems like more of an In-N-Out man, having obsessed over the southwestern states’ fast food chain in 2009. However, since 2012 the outspoken chef has operated his own burger joint in Las Vegas. And in 2017, he made a video for Good Morning America demonstrating how barbecue enthusiasts should be making their own at home.
However, home cooks shouldn’t be too disheartened by criticism from the celebrity chef. In fact, Gordon Ramsay often has choice words for his peers. He once claimed that many hosts of cooking shows “get away with a lot of s**t.” Moreover, he said, they wouldn’t be able to cope in a professional environment.
Indeed, as a guest on boxing promoter Frank Warren’s Heavyweight Podcast in May 2020, Ramsay served some knockout blows to other TV chefs. The Hell’s Kitchen star reckoned that many cookery hosts were made to look good in the editing room. What’s more, the public had no way of knowing whether their cooking was actually any good.
Ramsay told Warren, “If I didn’t have any TV and wasn’t producing those shows, behind all that I’m a real chef so that’s the difference. I’m 53 years of age, I got my first Michelin star at 33 so I’m a real chef, not a TV chef.” What’s more, Ramsay was mentored by some of the best chefs in Europe.
“There are TV chefs out there who wouldn’t last an hour in a professional kitchen,” Ramsay claimed. “Because you’ve got the power of the edit, you’ve got the power of the producer. And, to be totally frank, you’re not going to taste any food we cook on TV [because] you can’t f**king smell it.”
Indeed, in August 2009, Ramsay claimed that chefs lack proper skills. He told Australian newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald, “The problem in kitchens today is the lack of discipline. Suddenly cooking is one of the very few jobs anywhere in the world that you don’t need qualifications to become a chef.”
Ramsay continued, “You… could walk down Sunset Strip tomorrow morning and get a job as a commis chef washing salads in the bistro, brasserie without even producing a form of certificate… [to say] that you are a trained chef. That’s the bad news… I mean, it’s a very sad scenario.” The TV star’s criticisms, however, aren’t reserved for those within the profession.
Ramsay can even be critical of Tana, his wife’s food whenever she dons the chef’s apron at home. He admitted, “When Tana’s roast potatoes are stuck to the tray or the Yorkshire puddings haven’t risen, I get a little bit impatient… Of course, I want to jump in there and do it myself because I’m starving, and I want to move things on a little bit quicker.”
Now, you may think that Ramsay’s kids might be safe from his scathing feedback. Indeed, more than one of them look as though they’re prepping for a career in the kitchen. For instance, the Kitchen Nightmares star posted an image of one-year-old Oscar on Instagram playing with a toy kettle and a kids’ play-stove.
Perhaps there’s a certain amount of parental influence on Oscar at such a young age. But Ramsay’s 18-year-old daughter, Matilda — or Tilly — is an upcoming chef in her own right. Indeed, not only has the teen hosted her own cooking show, Matilda and the Ramsay Bunch, but her dad sought her input into the kid-friendly menus at his restaurants, too.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean Ramsay’s kids are immune to his harsh professional critiques. You see, his 20-year-old daughter, Holly, shared a cookery video on TikTok in August 2020. And when her father saw it, he couldn’t help but post a response to her effort. And, well, his words weren’t exactly encouraging.
You see, Holly attempted to cook potato gnocchi, which is among her father’s signature dishes. But her TikTok showed that the vegetables weren’t thoroughly peeled before adding them to salted water for boiling. In his response, Ramsay said, “What are you doing, young lady? Peel the potatoes, c’mon. Really?” Then it came to mashing the potatoes.
Indeed, Ramsay playfully chastised his daughter for not having fully cooked the potatoes before attempting to mash them. He said, “Young lady, you should know better. Shame on you, Holly!” What’s more, the short TikTok clip was posted with the caption “Holly!! I thought I taught you better.” And it’s the same sort of criticism Ramsay originally served his followers on Twitter.
Certainly, in May 2020 singer Zara Larsson tweeted, “When this quarantine started I said imma be a really good chef and here we have the result. Exquisite.” Then she tagged Ramsay for his critique, and he wasn’t as enthusiastic as the pop star. He responded, “Slightly concerned about what’s growing on top of your chicken, Zara…”
However, TikTok appears to be the new natural home for Ramsay’s cooking appraisals. Users get the chef’s attention with the hashtag #RamsayReacts for his review of their cooking videos and dish inventions. For instance, that time TikTok user maxthemeatguy made a glizzy Wellington. Essentially, that’s Max’s version of a beef Wellington.
Things appear to start off well as Ramsay watches maxthemeatguy grill a large sausage — or “glizzy,” a slang term for hot dog. But things head rapidly south as the TV chef watches the glizzy get wrapped in ham, then pastry and baked. “If that’s a Wellington call me Jamie Oliver,” Ramsay said. “That is a sausage roll, you donut. That’s it: a posh sausage roll. Oh boy…”
“It’s time I taught you how to cook a proper Wellington by the looks of things,” Ramsay offers maxthemeatguy. Indeed, the famous chef has shared his professional wisdom and cooking skills with more than 15 million YouTube subscribers for more than a decade. And some of his most popular videos feature the humble burger.
However, it was in a video Ramsay made for Good Morning America that the chef reveals the perfect way to grill a burger. You see, according to the irascible Scotsman you’ve been doing it wrong all this time. So he shared his the recipe and technique for what he calls his “F Word” burger, available at his gourmet burger joint in Las Vegas.
First, keen grillers need to get their patty recipe right. As Ramsay explains, “The secret to the perfect burger is a blend.” And for this, amateur chefs should invest in quality meat over cheap cuts. The restaurateur uses a mix of chuck — from around the shoulder — then adds “the most amazing ground beef” with a “little bit of brisket.”
According to Ramsay, the next mistake home cooks make is not giving the patty enough time to set. Now, the meat mixture is held together with an egg. However, the chef recommends advance preparation. He says, “Try and get it done the day before and set them in the fridge so they stay nice and firm. That way they don’t fall apart when you get them on the grill.”
After the patties have been left to set overnight, Ramsay recommends taking them out of the fridge to rest before cooking them. He says, “Let the meat relax a little bit. Don’t take them out of the fridge ice cold otherwise they’ll be dry on the outside and raw in the middle.” Bringing them up to room temperature ensures they cook evenly all the way through.
Now, a common problem for grillers is that patties are prone to falling apart. However, as well as refrigerating the burgers overnight, Ramsay has more tips to stop them disintegrating while cooking. He explains, “Once you put the burger on the grill, the secret is to move it as less as possible. The more you move it the more chance you’ve got of breaking the burger.”
Indeed, where you place your burger on the grill can make a difference, too. As Ramsay says, “Find the hottest spot — normally two thirds of the way up.” Then, with the lid down, just leave them to sizzle. He explained, “That incorporates the heat, gets a great sear on the bottom so when we come to turn those burgers they don’t stick.”
In fact, the only reason you should touch the burgers before turning them is to smother them in butter. As Ramsay describes, “Now, at my burger restaurant in Las Vegas, we baste the burgers with Devonshire butter.” This adds another dimension to the flavor. The chef continued, “The flame caramelizes the butter and puts this wonderful color on top. It makes the burgers so tasty.”
Now, there’s not much that’s less appetizing than soggy buns. However, with all the juices and butter of the delicious patty, there’s a high risk of your bread becoming saturated and mushy. This is, in fact, a source of irritation for Ramsay. So, of course, he’s thought of a solution to keep the buns dry and crisp.
As Ramsay suggests, you should grill the buns for a couple of minutes on each side before the burgers are cooked. “Why do we toast the buns?” the TV chef asks rhetorically. “Because there’s nothing worse than a soggy bun. If you toast the bun it gets nice and crisp and protects the burger.”
According to Ramsay, how you dress the burger makes all the difference. It’s not a simple case of a patty wedged in between to halves of a toasted bun. Toppings matter, and one that he advocates is onions. However, raw onions are off limits in his Las Vegas restaurant. So how should they be prepared?
Well, as Ramsay explains, the onions should be barbecued alongside the patties and baps. After they’re peeled, sliced and lightly seasoned with oil, salt and pepper, toss them on the grill next to the burgers, but keep them whole. He said, “Fresh grilled onions on a burger, trust me, delicious.”
What’s more, timing is everything when it comes to assembling your burger. As Ramsay describes, “You don’t cook the burger and then set it up for dressing, you get set up first. So while the burger’s cooking you get everything done first. It’s a really important tip. Why? It stops the burger going cold and also you want to eat it while it’s piping hot.”
Ramsay goes on to suggest the correct way to build the burger. He said, “Think about how you’re going to assemble this. Think about when it’s clutched in your hand.” Then, 30 seconds before the burgers are ready, he throws a slice of rich cheddar cheese on top of each patty while it’s still cooking.
To put the burger together, Ramsay slathers each half of the bun with mustard mayonnaise. Then he layers lettuce, tomato and a touch more mayonnaise before removing the patty from the grill, oozing with melted cheese. When the chef has placed the patty, he asks viewers, “How do we elevate it even more? How do we take that to another level?” Of course — grilled onions.
“Look at these,” Ramsay exclaims. “Come on. Seriously. Freshly grilled onions to absolutely die for.” Now, there’s a reason the chef recommends grilled onions over raw. He explains, that left uncooked, they can be “too harsh, too acidic, and they blow the flavour.” However, grilling them is “easy to do and absolutely phenomenal.”
What’s more, Ramsay is a big fan of seasoning. He seasons the patty before placing it on the grill as well as before layering the cheese. He adds salt and pepper to the onions and the baps before grilling them, plus the tomatoes while assembling the burger. And it’s a step that’s not lost on the video’s viewers.
YouTube user Brennan X Bones suggested, “No wonder [Ramsay’s] always calling other people’s food bland, his food is 90 per cent seasoning.” Meanwhile, Ollie French quipped, “That plane was dropping another supply of salt and pepper,” as an aircraft interrupted the chef’s video. However, Jack P noticed he didn’t season everything, joking, “Did he really just flip those burgers with an unseasoned spatula?”
The Good Morning America video has received more than 57 million views to date. However, to celebrate 10 million YouTube subscribers on his own channel, Ramsay shared another video with more ideas to elevate the humble burger. In July 2019, he suggested adding bacon, rocket and sriracha mayonnaise to the stack, and topping it off with a baked egg in a flat cap mushroom. Which amounts to a mouthful for even the most outspoken of chefs.
So, you can sort of understand why some of us haven’t quite been hitting the nail on the head when it comes to cooking burgers – well, according to Ramsay, anyway. But there’s one kitchen staple that you’d think would be too simple to mess up, and that’s pasta. And yet TV chef Alton Brown says that we’ve been preparing it all wrong – and he shared his preferred technique for everyone to try.
Even the most culinarily challenged among us could probably cook up a batch of pasta. Most recipes advise simply dropping the staple into boiling water and waiting until it goes suitably soft. But while this may seem like the preferred method, according to TV foodie Alton Brown it’s all wrong. As a result, he’s put forward a controversial cooking technique which, he claims, makes the perfect pasta. And it may just change the way that you prepare the food forever.
But who is Brown? And why does he have the authority to tell us where we’ve been going wrong when it comes to cooking pasta? Well, it’s probably fair to say that Brown knows a thing or two about food. In fact, he’s been on top of the culinary game for over 20 years, first coming to the public’s attention in 1999 with the launch of his show Good Eats. That program was picked up by the Food Network, and it featured Brown taking a more scientific approach to cooking as well as investigating food history and techniques.
Prior to launching Good Eats, however, Brown was a relative newcomer to professional cooking. In fact, he’d previously studied film at the University of Georgia and had embarked on a career as a cinematographer, working on music videos. One of his best-known credits from this time was the video to R.E.M.’s 1987 hit “The One I Love.”
But Brown’s life changed course in the late 1990s when he became frustrated with the quality of American cooking shows. Explaining his problem with the series of the time, Brown later told the digital publication Bitter Southerner, “I remember I was watching food shows, and I was like, ‘God, these are boring.’”
Continuing his critique, Brown said, “I’m not really learning anything. I got a recipe, okay, but I don’t know anything. I didn’t even learn a technique. To learn means to really understand. You never got those out of those shows.” So, Brown seemingly endeavored to do better.
Clearly, Brown felt that he could greatly improve the format of cooking shows. So after trying to come up with one of his own, the foodie eventually landed on an idea that he described as equal parts “Julia Child/Mr. Wizard [and] Monty Python.” And the future TV personality later explained how these three seemingly very different references had come together in his head.
Brown told Bitter Southerner, “If I could come up with a show to combine those three things… not only the practical knowledge that Julia Child was so good at handing over, but she was also great at making you feel you could do it… Mr. Wizard, [from] the old science show, to explain how everything works and why it works. And then Monty Python because it’s freaking funny.”
Summing up his vision, Brown added, “I wanted to make a show that was funny and visually engaging. It’s got enough science to teach people what’s really going on and give them recipes. That was the mission. Then I knew I had to quit my job and go to culinary school.” In 1997, then, he graduated from the New England Culinary Institute.
Then, after Brown’s show Good Eats was picked up by the Food Network, it was nominated in 2000 for the James Beard Foundation’s Best TV Food Journalism Award. And in 2006 the series won a prestigious Peabody Award, which celebrates enlightening, powerful and invigorating stories that are told in the media.
Now, each episode of Good Eats followed a certain theme. The central motif was often a particular cooking technique, such as smoking, or an ingredient, like potatoes. The subject matter of the show was sometimes more general, however – looking at Thanksgiving from a culinary angle, for example.
Yet while each installment of Good Eats had its own distinct focus, a recurring theme throughout the series was the science behind food and cooking. Brown was also often critical of single-purpose kitchen gadgets such as margarita machines and garlic presses, calling them “unitaskers.” As a result, then, he often showed his audience how such utensils could be used for multiple purposes.
Good Eats would run for 14 seasons before airing its final episode in February 2012. By then, it had become the Food Network’s third longest-running series. The only shows that had been airing for a greater amount of time on the channel were Barefoot Contessa and 30 Minute Meals.
Alongside starring on Good Eats, Brown served as the commentator on Iron Chef America: Battle of the Masters from 2004. Over the years, he has also continued to appear on the show’s various spin-offs. And Brown has even fronted Feasting on Asphalt – a mini-series that ran from 2006 to 2007 and explored the history of food on the move.
Brown’s TV stints don’t end there, though, as a year after Good Eats aired its final episode, the screen chef started hosting Cutthroat Kitchen. The cooking competition encourages participants to sabotage the culinary efforts of other competitors in order to boost their own chances of winning. And, astonishingly, the show ran for 15 seasons, coming to an end in 2017.
Aside from his TV endeavors, Brown has also embarked on a series of live shows. That’s right: Alton Brown Live: The Edible Inevitable Tour kicked off in 2013 and ran until 2015. These performances featured a mix of chat, live music, stand-up comedy and food preparation. In his later Eat Your Science tour, however, Brown returned to his passion for combining scientific research with his passion for food.
With a string of television shows and books under his belt, then, it’s fair to say that Brown was a big star and a well-respected figure in the food world in 2015. But that’s not to say that some of his cooking techniques couldn’t raise an eyebrow or two. And some were particularly shocked when he took on everyone’s favorite store cupboard staple: pasta.
Pasta, you see, is a great go-to for cooks of all skill levels. It is traditionally made using durum wheat flour, which is combined with eggs or water to create a dough. This mixture can then be molded into all manner of shapes that are boiled in water. And the staple carb comes in two different varieties: fresh – which is usually cooked more or less straight after it’s been created – and dried, which can be stored and prepared for eating at a later time.
For most people, pasta is also synonymous with Italy. And it seems that the Italians are rather proud of their country’s tradition with the food, with some even claiming that it has formed part of their Mediterranean diet since before the Roman era. Historians beg to differ, however, suggesting that the nation’s love of pasta was instead born in the Middle Ages.
And from the 13th century, pasta – and its various incarnations – were increasingly referenced in sources from the time. But back in the Middle Ages, the dish was different from what we know today. Recipes often included a mix of spicy, savory and sweet flavors, and fresh pasta was typically cooked for longer, making it softer than modern-day tastes tend to dictate.
Yet while pasta was considered the food of the rich in Renaissance Italy, by the late 17th century the dish was a staple for the common man – in Naples at least. In comparison to other foods, pasta was cheap; it was also a good alternative to meat on days when religious practices banned the eating of animals.
Soon, pasta had become the food of choice among Naples’ beggars, who were otherwise known as “lazzaroni.” According to a National Geographic article from 2016, a traveler at the time observed, “When a lazzarone has gotten four or five coins together to eat some macaroni that day, he ceases to care about tomorrow and stops working.” As we mentioned previously, though, the love for the food wasn’t restricted to the lower classes.
In fact, King Ferdinand IV of Naples was said to have a ravenous appetite for pasta. And National Geographic claims that the aristocrat “picked [the shapes] up with his fingers, twisting and pulling them, and voraciously stuffed them in his mouth, spurning the use of a knife, fork or spoon.”
Then, in the following centuries, pasta dishes came to resemble those we know today, with sweet flavors dropped in place of savory ingredients such as vegetables. Interestingly, Italians resisted tomatoes for a long time, believing they were too exotic. But they had seemingly come around to the fruit by 1844 – when tomatoes were paired with pasta for what appears to be the first time.
Today, pasta with tomato sauce remains a classic combination that many of us will be familiar with. It’s also one of the variations of the dish that Italian immigrants brought to the United States following the waves of immigration between 1870 and 1920. But, in fact, pasta didn’t really take off in America until after the Second World War.
Yes, following the end of the conflict, American soldiers returned home from Europe with a real appetite for Italian food. So, to meet this new demand, many Italian-Americans opened up restaurants and delis selling traditional fare from their homeland. And soon pasta had become a much-loved meal throughout the States.
It appears that this is still the case, too. According to 2019 statistics from the International Pasta Organisation, the U.S. now consumes a whopping 5.95 billion pounds of pasta every year, while the average American apparently wolfs down approximately 20 pounds annually. To keep up with this demand, then, the States produces 4.4 billion pounds of the foodstuff per year, making it second only to Italy.
And being a trained chef, Brown is clearly no stranger to pasta. In fact, during the first season of Good Eats in 1999, he dedicated a whole episode to the food. In the intervening decades, though, it seems that his approach to cooking the kitchen staple has somewhat changed.
Yes, Brown confirmed that he’d tweaked his pasta cooking process in a blog published on his website in 2015. And while he’d previously told Good Eats viewers that he’d “never cook pasta in anything less than a gallon of boiling water,” it seemed that he had now lived to eat his own words.
There’d been nothing out of the ordinary about Brown’s previously preferred method of cooking pasta. In fact, it’s long been accepted that the staple should be dropped into a pan of boiling water and cooked until soft or “al dente.” But Brown was about to throw a time-old tradition out the window with his new take on making pasta.
Before Brown completely tore up the pasta-cooking rulebook, though, he acknowledged that many traditionalists wouldn’t agree with his updated method. Nonetheless, he wasn’t one to let tradition stand in the way of progress – especially when it came to food. So, he set out to convince his readers that his way was in fact better.
And while Brown had previously accepted the usual way of cooking pasta, he claimed that he had since opened his mind to new possibilities. On his blog, Brown said of his former self, “I had not yet developed the instinct to question the classically held notions that had been pounded into my head by people with tall hats and funny accents.”
Telling how his method of cooking pasta had since evolved, Brown explained, “I’ve learned that the big-pots-of-boiling-water paradigm is quite simply… a myth. Sure, large amounts of water may be necessary for long strands of dry pasta like spaghetti and bucatini, but when it comes to short shapes like farfalle, macaroni and rigatoni, less is definitely more.” Then, he dropped his bombshell.
Yes, crucially, Brown wasn’t only encouraging people to cook their pasta using less water, but also that boiling the pan first wasn’t necessary. The Good Eats star even confessed, “Although I may be blocked from ever entering Italy again for saying this, I have come to prefer the texture of dry pasta started in cold water.”
Expounding on his technique, Brown suggested using 64 ounces of cold water to one box of pasta. Then, rather than bringing the liquid to the boil first, he advised combining all of the ingredients together in a pan before boiling. After that, the chef said, the heat should be reduced to a simmer for four and a half minutes.
Brown was very particular in the way that cooked pasta should be retrieved from the water, too. Specifically, he advocated the use of a spider strainer to lift the food from the pan rather than draining the contents of the vessel with a colander. Explaining his point of view, Brown wrote, “That hot, starchy water is magical stuff.”
Brown added that this liquid was perfect for reheating pasta prior to serving; alternatively, it could be used to thicken up the sauce. And because Brown’s pasta-cooking technique uses less water than other methods, that magic ingredient was more potent than usual.
Writing on his blog, Brown explained what made his pasta water so special. He said, “The secret is the starch, which is greatly concentrated when you cook the pasta in small amounts of water. In fact, I often ladle a cup or so into another pan, reduce it by half and pour right into my tomato sauces. But that’s another show.”
However, after Brown’s novel way of cooking pasta went live on the internet, it seemed that some were not convinced. Writer Bryn Gelbart, from Insider, was one of the people who decided to put the technique to the test. And he later shared his finds with his readers online.
Gelbart reported that Brown’s process resulted in a “slightly more al dente” texture than the method he typically used. He added, “The noodles did have a better texture, as Brown said they would, and they were more comparable to fresh pasta than the first batch.” Even so, Gelbart concluded that he wouldn’t be changing his ways.
Elsewhere online, people praised Brown’s method as a game-changer when it came to making pasta. On Reddit, for instance, users insisted that the technique cooked noodles quicker, thus saving both time and energy. And with that in mind, Brown’s hack may be worth a go – as long as you don’t mind the potential wrath of Italian grandmothers everywhere.