Getting to know Gordon

There are few dull moments in the company of award-winning chef GORDON RAMSAY.

Words: Barry Shelby

I feel as it' I've disappointed Gordon Ramsay. After our 45-minute ‘conversation' hel'ore an attentive audience of some 1le people at Edinburgh‘s West lind Waterstone's. he says in the taxi that he expected a harder grilling from me. his interlocutor. ‘You sounded much tougher on the phone.’ he says.

As he is in town to promote .l ('lir'l‘l'iir .-l// Seuvniis. a

new hook which he is clearly proud of. I had no intention of spoiling his day with inipeitinence. But the outspoken chel

thrives on the smell of gun powder. liqually. he needs no prompting from me to push various hot huttons: whether vegetarians. women or. perhaps his favourite target. other chef's. 'l‘he Glasgow-horn. former-Ranger squadie-turned-A- team-chel loves getting a rise out of people.

More often than not. however. his harhs are issued with a wink. When they appear in print. this is not always obvious. In the course of an anecdote ahout .-\uherginc. the London restaurant where he first made his name. he says: if you want to stop a restaurant. steal the

'Everything I ever got has been done through hard graft, not passed down on

a silver spoon.’ course it‘s Nick \airn’s.

because he doesn't have any reservations.‘ Alter pausing for

the chuckles at \Vatei'stone's. he adds: '1 didn't mean that.’

Later its other TV chef‘s. ‘Rick Stein l lind educational] he says charitahly. lie is ohsessed with cooking great lish. I haven't seen any of Jamie‘s stuff and (iary [Rhodes] . . . well. it’s fine until he runs past a hairdresser.’ .\lore titters in the audience.

‘Anyone else you want to slag‘.” I ask. sensing he may he on a roll. 'l don‘t think that‘s a slag. I am just trying to he

Hove your Christmas of the best vegeforion restaurant in Edinburgh.

Dinner 6 - 10.30 Mon - Sof I l-ii At :i<i ‘t‘l/‘W; we. : f 3‘ )I’\li" lth z-i 5 i i ?

Lunch menu 12 - 2

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I Sunday 6 - 10.30pm

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reservation hook. l'nless of

Ramsay is ready to return to Glasgow

honestf If he has annoyed the puhlic with his various opinions. it doesn‘t show tonight. Questions come from the floor and he is paiticularly impressed by one regarding how restaurateurs justify their mark-up on wines. Books are sold and signed.

But I wonder if he doesn't tire of the media locus on his personality and his views. Recently. quotes in a Sunday newspaper were lifted by a tahloid and republished under the lurid headline: ()t'lRAGli ()VliR SCOTS SliXlS'l‘ R.-\.\"l'. lo the degree that it hurts his family. he most certainly does not like the attention. ‘I quite enjoy heing poked and prodded: and the odd attack.’ he says. ‘\\'hen you expose yourself in the way I have. speak your mind. you are going to open the doors to an amount ol‘criticism.

'I don't really give a fig because I am very confident ahout my product. I know exactly what goes on every day lat the restaurant] and I know how I get my hands dirty. Secondly I know where I come from. Everything I ever got has heen done through hard gral‘t. not passed down on a silver spoon.'

We in Scotland are likely to see and hear more from

Gordon Ramsay rather than less. liollowing months of

rumour. speculation and innuendo that he concedes has 'slightly cheesed ol‘l" people. he says a concrete announcement ahout a (ilasgow restaurant may come hel'ore the end of the year. ‘I want to do something special] he says. 'I wouldn’t do it if it wasn‘t. I have the team in place. my management structure in place. I am really focused on a cracking site in the heart of the West Iind. l've heen looking at it for nine months and we have just ahout

put a deal on the tahle. I think we may have some form of

confirmation around (‘hristmasf

I I tend to believe Ramsay on this I one. Although I suspect he has planted some of the previous press notices on this imminent expansion north. he seems sincere. But you never know. Alter our excellent. nearly three-hour long meal at Martin Wishatt in l.eith. he cannot resist one last wee dig at me. When the chef comes to the tahle. Ramsay introduces me as a critic from the New York Times. It's late. we’ve tinished all the wine. my taxi is on the way. I've got a train to catch. and I don't hother correcting him. let him

We take the piss: it‘s his day. alter all.

I A Chef For All Seasons is published by I Quadrille, priced £25.


Side dishes

A Ladle-full of news FOLLOWING ON THE heels of trendy coffee bars, the late 90s ushered in soup bars, places to sup traditional broths and more exotic concoctions, occasionally in designer surroundings Glasgow seemed to have a lump on Edinburgh \‘Jlil‘. Naked Soup on Byres Road and Banana Brothers, which celebrated its t'irst anniversary on 21 September in the City Centre.

But the capital has seen the recent opening of two spots specialising in warm nourishment in a bowl All cream and riwoclta-coloured walls, Chocolate Soup, the latest addition to Edinburgh's Hunter Square, resembles those temples to all things frothy and caffeine-packed The brainchild of the owners of Off The Wail cafe, the upmarket sandmch shop in St Andrew Souare, it reflects their desire to expand the s0up side of the business Four selections, whicl‘ change daily, come from two suppliers Covent Garden Soup and Real Soup They range from the old-faithful vegetable to Chicken shobar and cOurgette. For £2 95 the ‘soup lover‘s lunch is available, consisting of soup, sandWich and a choice of chocolate or crisps Teas, coffees, porridge and hot chocolate the 'SOup' from which. the bar gets its name are on offer, too

Stir, Yocateo :n the West End, serves up sai.ioiiry taste bud teasers conceived by EFXeCtliI‘JO c'ief Richard Smith, made fres" on the premises 'We felt that there was a gap in the market in Scotland for premium-quality soups,’ says Operations director Chris Moole Hence yoo'li find the likes of that Scottish delight the smoked haddock cnoi.'.icier, cullen skink, as well as Oriental lemon chicken soup Prices range from El 20 to £3 20 There is also a breakfast bar at \‘JlllCll ‘ustonters can hep themselves to a range of early 'iior'wng mainstays. After 10 30am this becomes a salad bar lDa‘.‘."‘ Kofie 1* Chocolate Soup, 2 Hunter Souare, Edinburgh, 0737 225 7669, SM, 248 "/lorrison Street, Edinburgh, 0737 22.l .7 755, Naked Soup, 706 Byres Road, Glasgow, Oldl 334' 6200, Banana Brothers, 92 St Vincent Street, G/ng():'/, 074i 572 2072

Chocolate Soup