Ramsay’s explanation may not entirely account for his enduring infamy as an explosive TV tyrant — it wasn’t Oliver, after all, who named Ramsay’s signature series “Hell’s Kitchen,” and he hardly forced Ramsay to bludgeon countless chefs and restaurant owners with colorful jeremiads for the past 25 years on air. But that Ramsay still brings up old rivalries when discussing his reputation is revealing, a glimpse of the competitive intensity that has been crucial to his continuing success.
That competitiveness is one reason that the host of roughly two dozen shows over the years, including “Next Level Chef,” returning on Sunday for its third season on Fox, still devotes so much of his down time to watching other food shows. It’s why, during the pandemic lockdown, he threw himself headlong into social media. And it’s also why, at 57, Ramsay has no intention of calling it quits.
“When I started this career, it was nothing to do with money — it was passion and the drive to be the best,” he said. “The longevity comes down to not taking anything for granted.”
If Britain was ever truly skeptical of Ramsay, it’s safe to say that it and much of the world have come around. Today, he is one of the most recognizable names in television, the producer and star of popular reality shows on the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 in Britain and on the National Geographic network and Fox in the United States. “Hell’s Kitchen,” the competitive cooking series he has hosted on Fox since 2005, just wrapped its 22nd season on Thursday; Ramsay estimates he has shot over 1,200 hours of content for Fox alone.
“Next Level Chef,” one of his newest shows, is a kind of cooking gantlet in which a mix of home cooks, social media influencers and professional chefs compete across an elaborate three-tiered arena. Ramsay called it a “smorgasbord of all the best bits that have worked on various shows,” combining the rapid-fire live services of “Hell’s Kitchen” with the extreme scrutiny of “MasterChef.” It also displays Ramsay’s softer, more encouraging side, seen on shows like “MasterChef Junior,” where he is more paternal hype man than shrieking despot.