Sometimes when things have been a bit quiet, you need to liven things up with a big silly news story. I haven't blogged for a few months now, but this morning Gordon Ramsay handed me a gift. Thanks Gordon, how did you know it was my birthday?
I've never been a real fan of the man, mainly because his media persona is objectionable. I know this is a character that he's created, but all that means is that he's getting what he's asking for . . . objection. My other concern is that I like top chefs to be innovators. I'm sure Ramsay's food is delicious (Ben says so), but it's not exactly interesting. A while ago now, he jumped on the 'local and seasonal' bandwagon. Hugh-Fearnley Whittingstall had been banging on about this for ages and mid-range restauranteurs and gastropubs around the country had also been adopting this ethos for a while. Late to the game, in his last couple of TV series, Gordon was suddenly talking about simple, fresh, seasonal, local produce . . . not quite the same as his haute cuisine style would suggest, but maybe it was down to the fact that he was launching a series of gastropubs.
This morning, on Radio 4, I heard Gordon saying he had met with Gordon Brown to suggest that fines should be levelled against restaurants that didn't serve local and seasonal produce. This was for taste and sustainability reasons. There are problems with both these points.
If it's taste you want, are you going to pick a British pigeon or one from Bresse? And some frozen veg is good . . . . many chefs will prefer frozen peas over fresh ones. And does it follow that you should spurn tropical fruit in favour of British ones? More rhubarb crumble then . . .
A quick glance at Gordon's online menus shows that he's a bit of a hypocrite too. Sticking to fruit and veg, the obvious culprits are all over the dessert menus. Pineapples, bananas and oranges all over the place. Maybe he grows them at the Eden Project?
The worse offenders in terms of sustainability are at the Maze Grill where you can get fine Creekstone prime USDA beef and Wagyu imported from Japan (I'm guessing this last but as you can get Wagyu from Australia and the US, either way . . .)
Don't get me wrong, I think sustainability is a worthwhile concept and some is better than none. I don't think you can pick and choose though and it's fairly ugly to see it used as merely a PR stunt.
There's a good set of comments on this over on the Guardian's Word of Mouth site.