03 March 2009

why worry when it's warm over here?

I just watched an episode of Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares by accident, thinking it was Kitchen Nightmares (same chef, different country) and not realizing the channel was BBC America and not one of the FOX channels we get (I think we get more than one? I'm no good with the tv). 

Wow, what a difference! Tree likes Gordon Ramsay, so we periodically watch Kitchen Nightmares and weekly watch Hell's Kitchen. In both of those (US) shows, Ramsay throws plates of food, mercilessly insults participants, and screams obscenities at everyone. About a quarter of what he says is masked by a beep. 

But in the UK version of Kitchen Nightmares, he's almost pleasant. He still drops an f-bomb here and there, but he's more willing to listen to and actually help his fellow chefs and restaurant owners, and he's much more forgiving with the waitstaff. He didn't call anyone a failure, didn't throw anyone out of the kitchen. In the episode I watched tonight, he circulated through the dining room, personally handing out comment cards to the patrons. In the US version and in Hell's Kitchen, he's rarely not raging in someone's face, let alone interacting with the patrons.

What does this say about US vs UK culture? Is it that (aspiring) American chefs are more dimwitted and therefore more deserving of having food thrown at them when a customer sends it back? Or is it that Ramsay has to be more over the top, more obscene, more shocking, in order to satisfy the American audience? 

After the show, World News came on BBC America and I watched a little and felt sad. It made me think of BBC International, which was shown 24 hours a day on a huge television directly in front of my desk in Baghdad. Of all the 24-hour news channels we monitored (Pentagon News Channel, FOX, CNN, Al Jazeera English, CNN International, BBC-I, and Sky News) BBC-I was my favorite. They'd do longer pieces than the others, and I enjoyed watching the features that focused more on telling the story rather than jamming as much information as possible between commercials. I miss BBC-I, among other things...

"you've got so much to say,
say what you mean
mean what you're thinking
and think anything"

- Cat Stevens "Can't Keep It In" -

No comments: