Are professional chefs nasty?

If you watch “Hell’s Kitchen” with Gordon Ramsay or “Chopped” hosted by Ted Allen, perhaps you’ve noticed that a fair number of the contestants on both shows present themselves as badass competitors who will wipe the floor with the scum they’re competing against.

Ramsay, of course, is well known for his volatile, profanity-filled approach to the show while the “Chopped” host and judges are unfailingly polite.

What my wife and I wonder is this: in “real life” away from the TV shows, are the chefs who appear nasty, or are they simply posturing like school-yard bullies on TV? For all I know, maybe the shows’ producers force them to act like people raised in a bad-neighborhood gang.

I know one thing for sure: If I go to a fine restaurant, I don’t want any of these chefs getting close to my food. As best I can tell, Gordon Ramsay and the judges on chopped really know how to cook, though they do like meat that’s too rare for me. Many of the contestants, who hold chefs’ jobs around the country, seem to know how to cook as well.

But the language, the arrogant posturing, and the excessive number of tattoos are a turnoff. Yes, I know, at my age I’m out of sync with everyone who’s 40 years younger.  But I do know how to cook without making what happens in the kitchen sound like a gangland activity.


Pat Conroy knew how to cook, and you can find evidence of that in his novels. I can’t cook at Conroy’s level, though I still hope you enjoy my books.


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