OK, first things first. The “F” in the The F Word with Gordon Ramsay, the new competitive-cooking show debuting on FOX on Wednesday, May 31, at 9 p.m. ET/PT, does not mean what you think.
“‘F’ stands for ‘food,’ ‘fun’ and ‘family,’” says Ramsay, who’s better known for tossing around a different kind of f-word, especially on one of his other popular FOX shows, MasterChef (Season 8 of also premieres on Wednesday).
But Ramsay’s new program, based on his popular British version, promises all three of those things (and likely an occasional bleeped-out f-bomb). Each live, hour-long episode will feature two teams of foodie family and friends duking it out to serve a dining room filled with discerning VIPs, including celebrity guests, from Andy Cohen and Kai Penn to Jaimie Alexander and Miranda Kerr.
The set features a large open kitchen, allowing the diners a front row seat for the drama that’s sure to unfold as the teams navigate the challenges of restaurant service. Sure, competitors are talented home cooks, but Ramsay predicts they’ll quickly discover that a restaurant kitchen is nothing like cooking at home.
Unlike MasterChef, in which contestants are mentored by Ramsay and other judges throughout the competition, these home cooks have just one night to demonstrate their culinary chops. Teams will arrive the day of their competition, learn the menu, prep the ingredients and then cook dishes to order in an hour-long service, just like in a real restaurant.
“For them to be dropped in the middle of a restaurant and go from that domestic platter to a professional plate is going to be the big challenge,” says Ramsay. He predicts consistency and timing will be their biggest hurdles.
“We can’t just serve one table, stop, and high five,” says Ramsay. “It’s 15 tables. As one leaves, as one takes flight on the hot table, the next one is two minutes away. And it becomes systematic like that. If it doesn’t, it’s going to break down.
“If someone throws a spanner in the works, we’re f-cked,” he notes. (There’s that f-bomb.)
Each episode’s winning team will be determined by one question asked of each diner: Would you pay for this meal?
“If the guest is happy to pay for it, the team wins a point,” says Ramsay. By the end of the season, the top two teams will compete for a cash prize in the finale.
“I love the energy of a live kitchen,” says Ramsay of the drama that’s sure to be cooked up. But the show also touches on something else that’s dear to him: family cooking. “We’ve never had a chance to focus on families,” says Ramsay, who scoured the country to find families that love to cook — and eat — together.
Most of all, he hopes The F Word inspires viewers to spend more time in the kitchen with their own families. As Ramsay was building his restaurant and television empire, he reserved weekends for his family and brought his own four children into the kitchen with him. Even if they have no ambition to cook professionally, he says, it’s a life skill everyone needs.
“Cooking together is crucial,” says Ramsay. “The kitchen is a great place to communicate.”