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I spent time in a kitchen with Gordon Ramsay — and I survived

I was in a kitchen with Gordon Ramsay and I did not get yelled at.

The Michelin-starred celebrity chef was in town this week ushering in his new restaurant Ramsay’s Kitchen, which opened at the Mandarin Oriental on Boylston Street in Back Bay last month. The spot represents a new concept for Ramsay — “a hybrid of everything I’ve learned coming into one,” he told me.

I visited the restaurant on Monday and sampled items from the menu, which he described as “the first of its kind.” It’s seafood-heavy, with New England-inspired staples like jumbo lump crab cake, lobster rolls, pan-seared scallops, and mussels bouillabaisse. It also features Ramsay’s signature beef Wellington, braised lamb shank, and filet mignon.


(I have to shout out the tuna tartare and the jumbo crab cakes. The tuna was cured ever so lightly and paired with sour cream — a touch of flavor inspired by the UK — chef’s kiss!)

Ramsay, who is from the UK but owns restaurants all over the world, and 12 in the United States, said the menu will “definitely” be changing as he settles into the scene here.

“The more frequent, the more dangerous,” Ramsay said of switching up the menu. “That makes it the most exciting for the customers. ... I pride myself on trying to be seasonal. Keeping the kitchen on their toes.”

And that he does.

Ramsay is known for being a bit of a force in the kitchen — a bully, some might say. Through his many chef-berating, profanity-spewing reality television shows — including “Hell’s Kitchen,” which just wrapped up filming season 21 — Ramsay strives for perfection, and has no problem chastising anyone or anything that doesn’t meet his standards.

(Idiot sandwich, anyone?)

But Ramsay calls it “tell[ing] people straight” — an “essence of passion” he likens to Boston.


“It’s salt of the earth,” Ramsay said of the city, calling it a hard-working, enthusiastic, and vibrant town with a “don’t [expletive] with me” energy he can get behind.

Ramsay said he “fell in love with Boston” in 2005 when he first came here. He said the city has everything a chef could possibly dream of “without the arrogance.“

“This burgeoning culture with that incredible underbelly of product from oysters to lobsters to shellfish to halibut — it’s extraordinary,” Ramsay said.

He highlighted Row 34 in the Seaport and chef Jeremy Sewall, who he met back in the ′90s at his flagship restaurant in London. Ramsay also mentioned Mahaniyom in Brookline as a Boston-area favorite.

“Breathtaking,” he said of the intimate Thai eatery. “It’s like going to eat in someone’s front room.”

Ramsay touched on some of the neighborhood pushback he’s received opening a restaurant in Boston when so many local, independent spots are struggling. Ramsay’s Kitchen occupies prime real estate in a 5-star hotel — the former Bar Boulud space, which closed in 2020 after six years, another casualty of the pandemic.

“We have to come out of this pandemic strong. We need to reaffirm the importance of breaking bread and enjoyment in restaurants. Two years have been devastating for everybody,” Ramsay said. “Why are we doing this now? Spending millions of dollars? Because I believe in it. . . . Sometimes when you’re tied to a hotel, everyone thinks it’s this sort of name above a door. ... It’s not a label slap. It’s the real thing.”


Contrary to his TV personality, Ramsay was a delight to talk to, and he humored a series of rapid fire questions I thought readers might enjoy hearing the answers to. (Quotes have been condensed.)

Q. Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?

A. Milk. Definitely.

Q. Favorite pan to cook with?

A. Hexclad.

Q. Favorite item on this menu?

A. The bouillabaisse is to die for.

Q. Best all-purpose seasoning for meats?

A. Rubs. Depending on what the cut is. Some cuts don’t need anything because it’s a bit of an insult when you have A1 grade filet.

Q. Are there any restaurant trends popular in the UK that haven’t made it to the US yet?

A. Europe now is focused on Scandinavia. Foraging, marinade, curing. It’s very hard to bring that over here because there are certain botanicals, herbs, and sea grass that can’t be found anywhere else but in that location. The whole Scandinavian impact is going to be around for a long time. We’re all going vikings.

Q. Last meal on earth, what is it?

A. Start off with the tuna, then the bouillabaisse, followed by a Wellington, and then a sticky toffee pudding.

Fitting. One can find all of these items on the Ramsay’s Kitchen menu.

The bouillabaisse at Ramsay’s Kitchen.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff
The beef Wellington at Ramsay’s Kitchen. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff
The fish & chips beside the Witches Elixir and the bouillabaisse at Ramsay’s Kitchen.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff
Jumbo lump crab cake.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Brittany Bowker can be reached at brittany.bowker@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @brittbowker and on Instagram @brittbowker.