On Friday night, National Geographic sent a statement to EBONY to address our critique of the upcoming series Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted. In the response, the network said the show was “taken out of context.”
“We are disappointed that the announcement of our upcoming series with Gordon Ramsay was taken out of context. With National Geographic’s storied history of exploration, our plan with this series is to celebrate and learn about local cultures around the world. In partnering with Ramsay — a well-known adventure enthusiast — we are going to fully immerse viewers and give them a glimpse into surprising and unexpected cultures and local flavors. We have not gone into production on the series yet, so this perspective is premature. We’re looking forward to working with Ramsay, who’s been making food and travel documentaries for well over a decade, to share the series when it premieres sometime next year.”
Original Post: 7/27/2018
Television chef Gordon Ramsay is working on a new culinary show that will not include judging American competitions and yelling at the owners of failing restaurants. According to Variety, the National Geographic channel green-lit Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted, a series that has the chef traveling the world to investigate other food cultures and try to show locals he can master their food better than they can.
In a press release shared on July 25, the episodes are described as Ramsay’s attempt at “unlocking a culture’s culinary secrets through exploration and adventure with local food heroes; tracking down high-octane traditions, pastimes and customs that are specific to the region in hopes of discovering the undiscovered; and, finally, testing Ramsay against the locals, pitting his own interpretations of regional dishes against the tried-and-true classics.”
Despite the series’ attempting to showcase international cuisine, its premise ignores how colonization has led to the whitewashing of many cultures. The language used to describe the components of the show, including “discovering” and “unlocking a culture’s secrets,” can be linked back to the pillaging of various countries by European entities.
Several commenters had negative reactions to the direction of the show, critiquing the White privilege. One user wrote, “Who thought, ‘Let’s send a belligerent, angry white man to school local chefs about their cuisine,’ would be a good idea?”
@NatGeo This is contrary to everything you’ve stood for. Who thought, “Let’s send a belligerent, angry white man to school local chefs about their cuisine,” would be a good idea? This is appalling. No. Shut it down.
— AllMyWordsAreDisgusted (@DarlynneReads) July 27, 2018
Another mentioned how the network was taking an approach of “assumed superiority” to teach about other food cultures.
Yeah..They could’ve approached it from the opposite direction of “learning about other food cultures” and trying to replicate or cook it better after that, instead they’re going with assumed superiority for dramaticism. It’s pretty sad
— CareVader (@MeitanteiMidori) July 27, 2018
No. This is opposite what every chef should ever do. For great inclusive and education cooking, try No Passport Required, hosted by the elegant and eloquent @MarcusCooks or the shows by the adventurous @andrewzimmern, or, well, any Bourdain show.
— Lisa (@GibbsGirlAbby) July 27, 2018
In April, a clip from the U.K. show The F Word went viral after Ramsay’s pad thai was rejected by Chef Chang, the executive chef at The Blue Elephant, a highly rated Thai restaurant in London. After tasting Ramsay’s version of the traditional dish he made a sour face before saying, “This is not pad thai at all.”
Uncharted is scheduled to begin production in the fall.
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Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.