Gordon Ramsay may have risen to fame as a result of this talent in the kitchen -- his eponymous London restaurant was awarded three coveted Michelin stars in 2001 -- but these days he's better known for his scathing remarks and hot temper on competitive reality shows like Hell's Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares, and MasterChef. In the second season of Hotel Hell, he trains his perfectionist eye on revitalizing troubled inns, resorts, and hotels around the country. While Ramsay has already earned the posh title of Sir Gordon from the Queen of England, his next goal is a decidedly more physical one -- competing in his second Ironman in October. The London- and L.A.-based father of four talked to WebMD about early-morning training, truffles, and travel.
If you were a contestant on MasterChef, what challenge would you be most excited to get and which would you like least?
"I'd say the mystery box -- reminds me of when I was training and the excitement of just putting ingredients together and seeing what happened. I'm not sure there is one I'd least like; I'm always looking for the next challenge, so I'd happily get involved in anything that was thrown at me."
When you stay in a hotel, what is the first thing you notice?
What one piece of kitchen equipment should people invest good money in?
"A pasta machine. You don't need to spend a lot of money on one, $45 to $50, but the diversity across it is extraordinary."
What is the most overrated ingredient?
"Truffles. We have an obsession with these rare fungi that only grows in very short periods of time of the year. Plus, the smell!"
If you had to choose one, what is your favorite course of a meal?
When you do get a chance to relax, what meal do you like to prepare and eat?
"I don't necessarily have a specific meal that I like to cook. I love cooking all sorts of dishes. … That to me is relaxing. On weekends I like to go to the local market with the kids, pick up fresh produce, and make a big dinner for the family."
How do you stay inspired in the kitchen?
"By experimenting with new ingredients. The smallest tweak can change the entire taste of a dish."
Do cooking disasters still happen to you?
"Every chef no matter how good or how experienced will make a mistake some time -- you never stop learning."
What advice do you have people who aren't that confident in the kitchen?
"Keep it simple! People make the mistake of trying to do too much, too soon, or they use too many ingredients. Sometimes the best dishes are ones with only a small number of (great quality) ingredients. And always cook with family. Make it a social thing to do."
You seem pretty tough physically. You ran 10 marathons in 10 years, ending in 2009. What's the attraction?"
"Everybody has different ways of decompressing. I enjoy going for long bike rides or going for a run. Eventually I got into marathons, then triathlons, and now -- Ironmans!"
What do you consider to be the most underrated cuisine?
"Vietnamese food is underrated. They don't use dairy, cream, or butter, so it's a nice challenge for chefs, and it's very healthy as well."
If you had one last meal on earth, what would you eat or cook?
What is your best health habit?
"I stay active."
What is your guilty pleasure?
How do you unwind and relax from the stress and business of your life?
"I'll go for bike ride or a run."
What is your fitness routine? Any races on the horizon?
"I wake up at 4:30 in the morning to get in a good training before everyone gets up and the workday begins. I'm currently training for my second Kona Ironman in October."
Do you have a health philosophy?
"It's just to keep moving. I don't like to stand still for long, and I think that's a good sentiment to live by. Always find time to get up and do something, no matter what it is."
It can be hard to be thin when you taste food for a living. Any advice?
"Believe it or not, I was once a fat chef -- it happens when you spend all day in a kitchen tasting. These days I eat small amounts and train often. I've done my first Ironman, and some of my trainers were amazing. It's absolutely okay to enjoy yourself when it comes to food, but find that balance."
Where do you hope to travel someday, that you haven't already been?
"I've been fortunate enough to travel all over the world, but I would love to go back and spend more time in India. It is such a rich and beautiful country."
What lifestyle habits would you most hope to instill in your children?
"To be active."
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