The Naked Chef

The UK’s TV Channel 5 is perhaps not a place to expect quality programming. After all, it’s owned by Britain’s most successful pornographer, Richard Desmond, who is more associated with his offerings such as “Ben Dover’s Loose Women” and “Amateur British Lesbos”. However, it contains a few gems such as “The Hotel Inspector” in which Alessandra “Alex” Polizzi of the Forte hotel dynasty tries to fix broken hotel businesses. Her upperclass accent counterpoints her astute obervations which are occasionally bitchy (“whoever designed these rooms, she deserves to be bitch-slapped”), yet she is wonderfully empathetic with the hopelessly misguided hoteliers it is her mission to help. And it produces a strange frisson of delight when a profane word comes uttered from the charming mouth of this charming woman.

When it was announced that Gordon Ramsay was going to star in a shameless American rip-off of the format, I was initially thrilled. It obviously meant that Ramsay had fixed all the dodgy restaurants in America (“Kitchen Nightmares”), had found a new chef for his Las Vegas restaurants (“Hell’s Kitchen”), found America’s best amateur cook (“Masterchef US”), reformed the UK’s prison population (“Gordon Behind Bars”) and managed to teach the whole of the UK how to cook delectable dishes (“Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course”). Not for a moment did I think he was spreading himself too thin.

My second thought was that Ramsay has never run an hotel in his life. It would be about as appropriate for Ramsay to proffer advice on running an hotel on the basis of having stayed in some as it would be for me to regard myself as an expert on how to run a restaurant having eaten in a few over the years.

My third thought, however, was far more disturbing: in The Hotel Inspector, in one recent episode, Alex Polizzi appeared naked. It was when she was trying to fix a naturist hotel in Birmingham where clothing was verboten. It took her a few days to pluck up the courage to undress for the camera, and everything was photographed oh-so-tastefully; there was always a potted plant strategically positioned to hide her modesty. Heaven forfend that Ramsay’s Hotel Hell should feature a naked Gordon Ramsay! Who would want to see the 45 year old’s wrinkly sagging flesh? But it was to come to pass.

In week one the viewers were treated to a sight of a naked Ramsay’s derrière as he entered a bathtub. I assumed this was a one-off and continued watching.

In week two, we were again regailed with Ramsay en déshabillé. Surely an aberation. But no! Weeks 3 and 4 both featured Ramsay au naturel. Is there no limit to the starkers chef that the viewing public is expected to stomach?

One curious feature, though, is that Chef Ramsay appears to have a large tattoo of a draughtsboard on his buttocks – either that, or the offending parts were pixelated by the TV company. Personally, I hope never to find out.

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