The celebrity chef, famed for his fiery temper and meat cleaver frowns, was positively sugar-coated as he smiled in the sunshine to promote the upcoming opening of his first Irish eaterie.
Ramsay will open a restaurant at the exclusive Ritz-Carlton Hotel in the grounds of Powerscourt Estate, Co Wicklow, in October and he popped over yesterday to meet some of the local producers of the organic vegetables and craft meat and cheeses he plans to use in a menu he says will have a distinctly Irish flavour.
“The closest I have ever got to living or working in France is here in Ireland,” he declared, licking away crumbs of homemade sausage and sheep’s milk cheese. “The lamb, the beef, the oysters, the smoked salmon from Cork — it’s a bit of a chef’s dream really.”
The man regarded as a bit of a kitchen staff’s nightmare was not living up to type or hype. Powerscourt was an “oasis”, he enthused. Better still, it was a “mini Versailles”. Dublin, with its wealth and sophistication, had become a bit of a Monaco, he drooled.
His menu would be vegetarian-friendly, he assured cheerfully, brushing aside previous comments that seemed to suggest he had a fatwah on non-meat eaters. And yes, unlike another well-known Dublin restaurateur who had a Mount Etna-like eruption recently when a diner asked for chips with his haute cuisine, Gordon would swallow his pride and oblige.
“Our customers are what keeps us in business,” he said meekly. “Although I would rather they order chips from room service than in my restaurant.”
Ah, was the buttery soft Ramsay finally beginning to stiffen into the more familiar figure from TV reality shows Hell’s Kitchen and The F Word?
He said he was planning an episode of his Kitchen Nightmares programme in Ireland soon to chronicle some local dining disasters.
“We’re doing it in Patrick Guilbaud’s,” he grinned, taking the name of Ireland’s most admired chef in vain. “Only joking.”
Tongue now firmly in carving knife mode, the craggy chef got stuck into Girls Aloud members, Cheryl Cole and Kimberly Walsh, who took part in a recent episode of The F Word. He wasn’t impressed by either their efforts or their appearance. “I don’t do skinny minnies,” he said.
And then at last it came out. Handed a microphone to do a promo for a TV show, he promptly forgot his words and filled in the blanks with a loud, large, ebullient expletive. But he quickly recovered himself, trotted out his lines, and handed back the microphone triumphantly.
“See,” he said “I knew I wouldn’t f**k it up again.”