Don't mess with Gordon Ramsay. The no-baloney supercook and restaurateur launches Season 5 of Fox's MasterChef on Monday, May 26 (8/7c) and will try to keep his cool as he takes the contestants out of the kitchen and into the field for an array of epic challenges. He gave TV Guide Magazine all the dish.
TV Guide Magazine: This season you have your competitors preparing food for hundreds of U.S. servicemen, catering a lavish beach wedding and taking command of a hot Hollywood restaurant. Isn't this a bit much for home cooks?
Ramsay: We're really pushing our people this season by making it real — not reality TV. Cooking for more than 500 Marines on a military base out in the desert would be a tall order for anyone trying to break into the restaurant trade, like the people on Hell's Kitchen, and it's even more difficult for our home cooks. We don't want them to perfect just one dish. We want them to perfect an entire Michelin-style restaurant! But those who can't take it don't make it.
TV Guide Magazine: But why is it so important to pile on the stress?
Ramsay: Because the level of talent on this show just gets greater and greater. Many of our home cooks this season are so bloody good it's scary! They could step into any number of top kitchens around the country right now and give those famous chefs a run for their money. As a result, we have to amp up the competition and the adrenalin rush.
TV Guide Magazine: It sometimes seems the contestants boast more neuroses than actual skill. Would you agree?
Ramsay: There is so much psychology going on! Egos get inflated but that's what happens when you film on a lavish set at Paramount Studios and people are doing your hair and makeup and asking what you want for lunch. We've had cooks who've asked to have their hands moisturized.
TV Guide Magazine: Does that make you laugh or cry?
Ramsay: Both! These people have it so much easier than I did when I was young and starting out and getting my ass kicked. I didn't have all this fantastic equipment and a state-of-the-art kitchen. I made crème brûlée using a pilot light because I couldn't afford to turn on the oven.
TV Guide Magazine: Your judging gig on MasterChef Junior confirmed what we've long suspected: You're a closet teddy bear!
Ramsay: God, I loved those kids. So sweet. They come with no fear, no complaints. They're quick learners and their level of confidence is extraordinary. And they made me sharper! By the time I got back to the adults on MasterChef, I was tolerating no bulls--t. [Laughs] Not that I ever did.