I'm coming back to India: Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay

Gordon Ramsay (File Photo)

Gordon Ramsay will soon be touring India and the celebrity chef says he is looking forward to his visit.

"The good news is I'm coming back to India, and I can't wait," Ramsay told PTI.

The British chef-restaurateur, who has earlier been to the country on culinary adventures, said his love for the Indian subcontinental cuisine dates back to his childhood.

"We lived in a council house in the middle of Birmingham in the Midlands growing up and my parents' landlord was from Pakistan, and so I fell in love with not just the Indian/Pakistani cuisine then, so my ambition was always to travel to India to understand.

"From the north to the south, even 50 km from the Burmese border, Nagaland, again completely off-pieced and understanding what it was like with those communities in the depth of that jungle, and cooking incredible food," Ramsay said in a select roundtable interaction from Los Angeles over the phone.

But the highlight, he said, has been Kerala.

"It's the land of the spice and the fragrance. I didn't think vegetarian cuisine could be that good in an ashram cooking with 55-60 women, preparing the most amazing meals," he added.

The world-renowned chef will feature in summer culinary adventure series "Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted", which premieres on July 29 at 10 pm, on National Geographic and Hotstar.

As the name goes, the show will see Ramsay treading the road less travelled -- from Peru, Laos and Morocco to Hawaii, Alaska and New Zealand – which will keep him on his toes as he explores valleys, oceans, forests and mountains while tasting culinary brilliance.

But even before "Uncharted" aired, many compared the upcoming show's format with that of late chef-travel documentarian Anthony Bourdain's.

It was during his 2010 UK series for Channel 4, "Gordon's Great Escapes," that he came to India and Southeast Asia to taste both food and adventure.

Ramsay said he would never go on to "copy" anyone in the field, let alone, Bourdain, who was a great friend.

"Tony was a great friend of mine, and we shared many a time across the table with a glass of wine, and such a tragic loss. I would never, ever attempt to copy anybody in their profession."

The chef admitted it unsettled him when the series came under "a little bit of flack" as it was announced a year ago.

"Back in 2004 I started my journey from visiting Cambodia, the most amazing Southeastern Asian islands, Vietnam, and then spending three months in India from north to south, and a week in an ashram in Kerala, and understanding how to perfect vegetarian cuisine, and so I was more upset with people criticising ‘Uncharted’ without having seen it," he said.

"Now that the programme's out and clearly been successful and rated very well, I’m at peace now, because it's good for them to see there’s no comparison. It’s completely different," he added.

He said, as a person, he doesn't like things all mapped out for him and the series put him in unknown waters, which was a new high.

"… It's me doing what I do best, an adventure with food, understanding cultures, and from becoming an amazing prolific chef, to becoming a teacher, to becoming a pupil, stripped of everything I know, and putting myself into that area of their expertise, for me was a dream come true."

Sharing one of his takeaways from the show, Ramsay said "Uncharted" was about diving into unknown secrets without being touristy and "embedding myself in that community" and from a chef's point of view, it was about "getting close to the source".

"I've spent the last two decades with the most amazing ingredients arriving on my doorstep, so to turn that in reverse and to go to the source. We also have that responsibility as a chef for sustainability, and I think I've always been a big advocate with seasonality, and some of these ingredients that I came across in many countries, they stay there, and well done for that.

"I've tasted ingredients across this programme that I’ve never tasted before. The high altitude fruit farm, tiny farm in the mountains of Peru, the intense flavour was extraordinary. We'll never get to buy that ingredient in London. It was so nice to see new ingredients tasting incredibly different to what we’re used to from a chef’s point of view," he said.

The multi- Michelin-star chef also revealed a second season of the show is in the works and he is excited about it.

"We're now planning countries as far as Tasmania, Indonesia, Jamaica, South Africa, and again, places that are incredibly culturally laced with some of the most exciting cuisines ever," he added.

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