Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has revealed how he used to poach salmon in Scotland when he was younger.
While the 52-year-old chef has created many mouth-watering recipes with the UK’s No1 food export, when he was younger, it was all about stealing salmon.
Born in Johnstone, Renfrewshire, he moved aged five to Stratford-upon-Avon. But he admits he and his dad, also Gordon, used to go fishing in Scotland to feed the family.
He said: “Growing up, fishing for salmon in Scotland, my father couldn’t afford fishing rights.
“So we were poaching, we were stealing salmon. And so, it was like playing hide and seek in the wood and then when the line went crazy and the reel was screaming, we came out, unhooked the fish and ran home and gutted it and ate salmon for the next three or four days.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have that abundance of salmon in Scotland anymore.
“But there’s something adventurous about spending time out in the wild and having to depend on what you’re getting from the river, whether it’s the grayling, a beautiful sea trout, or a salmon. And then, that sense of adventure once you’ve connected.
“There’s an articulated way of fly fishing or fishing with a lure that is about patience.
“And so, for me, growing up with that kind of love and respect for the outside, nature, from a chef’s point of view, it’s the only time you get to yourself, because you’re completely cut off.”
Gordon’s new series Uncharted airs in the UK in September and he revealed how he has always tried to instill the love of nature in his children. His fifth kid, Oscar with wife Tana arrived in April.
Gordon said: “This time a week ago, I was in Reykjavik. I take a group of young chefs every year into the mountains and we scale these incredible glaciers then hike all the way back down to the beginning of the river and catch the fresh salmon coming out of the Atlantic – days old – up into the river.
“All catch and release. There’s salmon in abundance.
“And what that does with them, it connects them with nature, that gives them a sense of purpose. They become less wasteful but they understand the environment, of how important it is to see this stuff grow in abundance.
“So, that kind of little adventure, in many ways, I’ve tried to instill in our children without overindulging in video games and iPads, where they don’t want to go outside because it’s raining or it’s windy.
“You get them outside, you get them comfortable with the seasons and having that energy outside of a home and going off that beaten track.”
Uncharted has already been commissioned for a second series and has caused some controversy. In the first episode, Gordon is seen eating a guinea pig.
Defending himself, Gordon insisted: “You have to look beyond that furry, cuddly pet thing, because this is a means to an end and a way of not just surviving but an incredible protein.”
In Laos, he’ll be seen drinking a shot of whisky marinated in a jar full of geckos.
He’ll also eat a giant water bug known as a toe-biter and intestines of a seal. Surely none of those will be seen on his menus?
He said: “The toe pincher’s a little bit bizarre. The snails were delicious.
“It was this incredible larder we were unearthing every time we walked into a different corner of the world.
“There will be little influences popping up across several menus without a doubt. I’m not too sure about the blown-up small intestines of the seal, how well that would go down for Sunday lunch at the Savoy Grill, I don’t know.
“Ask me that question next week when there’s a riot outside the hotel.”
He’s not just tested with the food on offer. In south-east Asia he kayaks for the first time in the Mekong river. In Hawaii, he held his breath on the ocean floor egged on by free diver Kimi Werner.
Gordon said: “She got me to two-and-a-half minutes within two hours of spending that time in the water. All of a sudden, you’re uninterrupted.
“You’re down, visibility is 35, 40 meters. There’s fish in abundance. It was like being in the middle of Finding Nemo.
“And that’s where you take a minute and think, ‘S**t, I’m the luckiest chef in the world’. Because this has always been a passion. I know it seems like work but it was an incredible position to be in.”
While Gordon has one of the most recognised faces in the world, the places he visited in Uncharted meant he became an unknown again. And loved it.
“Not being recognised is a dream,” he said, “because they’ve got no idea who the hell you are. Just this 220lb guy with blond hair and white skin and doesn’t bend down enough to fit in the hut.
The fascinating thing about not even understanding their language and talking through food was a massive connect for me.”
Not knowing who the sweary man is has its enjoyment for viewers whose ears are still ringing from years of Gordon’s yelling on TV shows like The F Word.
In Peru, Gordon is told he wasn’t cooking the alpaca hearts correctly. For once, the man usually shouting at people for getting it wrong is the one mucking up.
He said: “I thought the alpaca hearts had to be served pink. We used to have liver and kidneys at school and they were so overcooked. I took it from the local. I listened and I bedded myself down but they were a little undercooked.
“And I thought they would be used to that but obviously not. And it’s good to have that food thrown back in your face from time to time.
“I’m not a delicate soul. I have thick skin. It does hurt, having your food sent back or getting a bad review. You take it personally.
“I think that’s the whole thing about food, right? If I didn’t feel for it, then I wouldn’t be here, right? I do feel for it immensely.”
Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted launches in September on National Geographic.