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September 2, 2014

On the Scene at 'Gordon Ramsay Cookalong Live'

by Allyssa Lee, posted Dec 16th 2009 9:13AM
It was a kindler, gentler Gordon Ramsay on display in this Los Angeles-based kitchen set. The famously hard-nosed, expletive-spewing foodsmith donned a casual plaid button-down shirt and jeans and didn't utter a single bad word during Fox's 'Gordon Ramsay: Cookalong Live,' in which the chef showed the nation how to cook a three course meal all in the span of one hour. (In fact, the star of 'Hell's Kitchen' cheekily reminded those of us in the studio audience to mind our language.) There were no dishes cracked, no spit showers to "piss off, and no berating. The only thing that was remotely threatening about the program was the fiery flambé -- well, that, and the chef's tendency to lean uncomfortably close to his female guests.It was a kindler, gentler Gordon Ramsay on display in this Los Angeles-based kitchen set. The famously hard-nosed, expletive-spewing foodsmith donned a casual plaid button-down shirt and jeans and didn't utter a single bad word during Fox's 'Gordon Ramsay: Cookalong Live,' in which the chef showed the nation how to cook a three-course meal all in the span of one hour. (In fact, the star of 'Hell's Kitchen' cheekily reminded those of us in the studio audience to mind our language.) There were no dishes cracked, no spit showers to "piss off," and no berating. The only thing that was remotely threatening about the program was the fiery flambé -- well, that, and the chef's tendency to lean uncomfortably close to his female guests.

Ramsay brought along some celebrities to spice up the hour. Country singer LeAnn Rimes, 'How I Met Your Mother' star Alyson Hannigan and actor and comedian Cedric the Entertainer all gamely joined the chef in the studio. Jay Leno poked fun at Ramsay's cuisine ("English food?") in a taped man-on-the-street segment. And coming in on live feed were Whoopi Goldberg and her daughter Alex Martin on location New Jersey, a pair of Marine wives from Oceanside, Calif., and 16 other wannabe Ramsays cooking along via Skype in around the country.

Ramsay went through each dish in lightning speed, and he himself seemed a little manic throughout, reducing the chit-chatting time to a minimum. (But maybe that's what happens when you have to talk through cooking a three-course meal, engage with guests, the studio audience and the rest of America in the process.)


The starter course was the Angel Hair Pasta, with shrimp, chili and tomatoes, helped along by one of the Original Kings of Comedy himself: Cedric the Entertainer. Cedric proved to be, well, entertaining throughout, shadow boxing and doing jabs during commercial break, getting jiggy as he whisked his whipping cream for the dessert, and asking the studio audience "Who wants some grilled cheese?" during a break. And props to the entertainer for hilariously playing along with the unintended double-entendre that occurred when the chef instructed Cedric to get his pasta bowls out. Turns out "bowls out" in Ramsay's British accent sounds a lot like "balls out," thereby changing a request to fetch some dinnerware into some kind of manhood-comparing throwdown.

Then there was the main course of Steak Diane With Sauteed Potatoes and Peas, with Alyson Hannigan standing by as copilot. Hannigan was adorably befuddled by the breakneck pace of the cookalong, and was seen mouthing "Don't eat this" after her angel hair pasta dish was finished. And it was the actress who had the only muted word of the program -- when she said "Oh, Jesus" during the touch-and-go Worcestershire sauce part of her main course preparation. Ramsay tried unsuccessfully to joke like it was 1999 by slipping in not one, but two ancient 'American Pie' band camp jokes during this segment. Hannigan promptly got him back by stealing his chopped parsley (put that in your flute and smoke it).

Everyone in my section recoiled just a little when the chef brought out the brandy bottle to set fire to his Steak Diane sauce, and it was as if the air in the studio had been sucked out when it was quickly realized that each guest would, in fact, do their own flambé (where were the firefighters when you needed them?). Luckily, there were no pyrotechnics on the set beyond the steak pan (and Hannigan was seen patting her hair in relief afterward during the break).

At this point, the delicious smell of steak and flambéed sauce had wafted its way back to the bleachers where this reporter was seated. So where were the little helpers to dish out these plates to the studio audience? Sure, Hannigan's husband Alexis Denisof got to try some of her Steak Diane (and deigned it "delicious"), but we in the rafters could only watch and smell and imagine, stomachs rumbling, how "delicious" it really could be. Isn't this considered some sort of torture in certain parts of the world? If not, it should be.

Finally, dessert. Knock knock: Who's there? Tiramis. Tiramis-who? Exactly! LeAnn Rimes was front and center for this one, and Ramsay wasted no time exchanging a couple of saucy and somewhat awkward exchanges with the country singer during this segment, even taking a quick mop of her chest area after she spilled some ingredients. Perhaps that's why he thought her tiramisu was the best?

What did you think of the program? Tasty treat or bland bore? Did anyone else try and cook along at home?

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