How Gordon Ramsay Taught Me to Be a Better Cook

Surprise: It was kinder, gentler Gordon Ramsay giving me cooking advice

gordon ramsay master class
MasterClass

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New Yorkers eat out nearly 60 percent of their meals on average, and since moving here I've been a proud part of that statistic. With a 50-square-foot kitchen that doubles as a library and home office, my oven is more likely to have books in it than a pot roast. I've never had much of an opportunity to flex my culinary muscles, but when I had the chance to learn from Gordon Ramsay one-on-one, I decided it was time to whip out my non-stick pan and measuring cup and get cooking.

The Hell's Kitchen chef wasn't actually visiting my studio apartment—I was taking his MasterClass, an online educational platform founded in 2015 that offers video lessons and assignments from world-renowned instructors. For just $90, you get intimate instruction from greats like Serena Williams, Martin Scorsese, Christina Aguilera, Mira Nair, Jodi Foster and Neil Gaiman.

Log onto the MasterClass website to get started today.

The production values in the video lessons are high: Ramsay's class features sweeping, cinematic pans through a gorgeously appointed kitchen; buoyant violin vibrato underscoring the action; and Ramsay himself in 4k display. His MasterClass begins with a clip from MasterChef Junior in which he praises a young child's (very professional looking) dish. That gave me a boost of confidence, but also made me a little nervous.

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Gordon Ramsay Teaches Students in his MasterClass MasterClass

"What you're going to see for the first time is real detail, great understanding and finesse brought together from start to finish," he promises. There are 20 lessons in Ramsay's MasterClass, none of which are more than 20 minutes long. They include kitchen techniques (like how to sharpen your knives), recipes (like beef Wellington) and personal anecdotes (like how he opened his first restaurant).

The course covers some of the basics of cooking, as well as more advanced methods, so there's information for home cooks and fledgling professional chefs alike. Like how you should score salmon so it doesn't buckle under the heat and how uglier vegetables like celery root can have the most flavor.

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MasterClass

One technique I tried out was Ramsay's trick for the perfect poached egg—a task many home cooks would avoid as it can go very wrong very quickly. He instructs how to create a whirlpool in the boiling water, allowing centrifugal force to wrap the egg white around the yolk once it's lowered in, so you don't have to worry about destroying the whole concoction.
Overall, the series is engaging and informative, with slick production values that never stealing focus from the videos' educational value. Slow-motion shots add an epicness to quotidian tasks, but also practicality, letting the viewers see the proper technique for things like kneading pasta dough.

Ramsay inserts anecdotes about his children into his commentary, which adds personality to the class but also provides insight on how to cook with little ones present. Even when he's chopping shallots at lightning speed, Ramsay is quick to tell us not not to worry about speed.

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MasterClass

I was fascinated by how he broke down a chicken, deftly using his knife and fingers to slice it into sizeable portions of breast, thigh, and drumstick. As I spent hours watching his lessons, hearing refrains of, "Let the knife do the work," and "That's your 'get out of jail' card," I realized I was learning a lot through osmosis. Even a few hours later, I still remembered how to break down a chicken—a skill that, as a vegetarian, I probably wouldn't ever use.

Of course if I were to take on that task, I'd need a refresher—luckily, MasterClass provides a PDF with each lesson, distilling down what the teacher has said and giving you an assignment. In the lesson about knife skills, the assignment was to practice on soft vegetables, like zucchini, then work up to harder ones, like carrots. The class notes included articles and quizzes to round out your knowledge of the subject.

Register for a class with Gordon Ramsay on the MasterClass website.

One drawback is how extra Ramsay can be: On the lesson for "elevated" scrambled eggs, one of the first recipes in the course, he explains how adding sea urchin and shaved white truffles will enhance the creaminess and flavor of your dish. Ramsay doesn't mention, however, that that it'll also enhance your grocery bill by a couple hundred dollars. "My only critique is that a lot of the ingredients and techniques aren't engineered towards home cooks, which is what I believe a lot of the people enrolled in these courses are," said one commentor.

You can definitely still glean techniques, but a helpful addition would be to suggest cheaper or more readily available alternatives to some premium ingredients.

But, honestly, Ramsay's not really teaching you how to make scrambled eggs—he's telling you what he knows, and letting you apply what you want in your own kitchen. It's more work on the student's part, but that's what makes MasterClass special: Make the effort, and your entire persective toward your craft will change.

Head to the MasterClass website to get cooking with Gordon Ramsay today.

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How Gordon Ramsay Taught Me to Be a Better Cook | Culture