British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s upcoming television show has already generated quite a controversy even before its production.
Last week, National Geographic announced the new show called “Uncharted” which will take Ramsay to different parts of the globe “discovering the undiscovered,” a fancy way of saying “Columbusing dishes from different cultures.”
The show’s premise has generated backlash on social media with many berating it for gearing more towards cultural appropriation than appreciation.
the last thing the food world needs right now is Gordon Ramsay going to foreign countries showing “locals he can cook their cuisines better than they can” pic.twitter.com/dqD3dW5Lnc
— Eddie Huang (@MrEddieHuang) July 27, 2018
me watching people drag gordon ramsay’s colonizing ass over shitty pad thai he made 8 years ago pic.twitter.com/ePgWsxUPyn
— Gabe Gonzalez (@gaybonez) July 27, 2018
There were those who also criticized it for being a clone of Anthony Bourdain’s globe-trotting shows “No Reservations” and “Parts Unknown.”
Some have pointed out that the only difference is Ramsay’s approach is set on proving that he can beat locals doing their specialties while Bourdain’s method is anchored more on his personal curiosity. Bourdain’s humility is also seen as a complete contrast to Ramsay’s often brash on-screen persona.
“Ramsay now wants to parachute into foreign food cultures and show the locals he can cook their cuisines better than they can.”
IOW: remove all the curiosity & respect with which Anthony Bourdain approached other cultures and replace with unbridled ego.https://t.co/93ocJpPFGA
— Michael Arnovitz (@MichaelArnovitz) July 27, 2018
In response to the negative reaction, National Geographic released a statement to Eater:
“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.”
While the statement hints at a possible kinder, gentle Ramsay this time around, the idea of him trying to outperform local chefs doing their own cuisine is still textbook Western culinary elitism and hopefully gets abandoned.