More and more these days, I find that some films really do get to me. Burnt is one such film. Starring Bradley Cooper, it is apparently based on ‘celebrity’ chefs Gordon Ramsey and Marco Pierre White, both famous for throwing their toys out of the pram along with the occasional roasting pig and accompanying oven.
Bradley Cooper as the macho chef
Cooper plays a two-star Michelin chef recovering from alcohol, drug and sex addiction plus trashing all the fooderies he had worked at in Paris, leaving behind drug debts and many enemies. Now clean, arriving in London and wanting to make amends for his shortcomings, but really because he wants to achieve the elusive third Michelin star, he manages to manoeuvre his way into a top London restaurant.
The remainder of the film is a catalogue of cliché, sentimental music and plot points so obvious that it is like reading extra-large motorway signs. Cooper’s treatment of his staff comes straight out of the Ramsey school of diplomacy – abuse, humiliation and fear, with the result of reducing everyone to gibbering wrecks, thus gaining control, coupled with yet more saucepan-throwing episodes and childish tantrums. Intercut this with endless extra-HD orgasmic shots of immaculate dishes being prepared, resembling a minimal Miró on a plate, all of which you could polish off in five minutes, setting you back £70 a course.
Ramsey in charm offensive mode
It is not surprising that Gordon Ramsey was involved with the film (he was credited as an executive producer and his company featured in the end credits), as it glorifies his approach to running a fear-driven kitchen and will no doubt increase his already massive ego and blond-highlighted, sticky-up hair. And to remind you just how unpleasant Ramsey can be, take a look at this clip from an undercover Channel 4 documentary from 2007, with much of his expletives edited out when shown on BBC America. As much as people were horrified by his behaviour, he went on to create an industry out of humiliation television, which sadly seems to have infected almost every area of TV programming today. While Ramsey shouts his way across America balling out restaurateurs, his old mentor, Marco Pierre White, the original enfant terrible of British cooking, is increasing his credibility by advertising Knorr stock cubes, expecting us to believe he actually uses them in his restaurant kitchen.
As for Burnt, it’s a definite “No, chef” from me.
And even more of Ramsey humiliating his staff here