Interview: Gordon Ramsay Gets Frank in Doha

In Qatar to visit his Doha restaurants at the St Regis, the celebrity chef talks fine dining, the alcohol ban at The Pearl and Doha’s path to the World Cup
ByDawn GibsonThursday , 16 January 2014
Interview: Gordon Ramsay Gets Frank in Doha
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Gordon chatted to members of the Qatar media before hosting them for brunch at his Opal restaurant

Not known for his shy persona, Gordon Ramsay certainly didn’t hold back when he came to Qatar this week to host a series of dinners and brunches at his restaurants in the St Regis Doha.
During a casual meet and greet with the local media, he explained why he thought Qatar would change in the lead-up to the World Cup, why shutting down his Maze restaurant at The Pearl was a good move and what he’d eat on his last night on earth. And, yes, he dropped the F bomb.

How do you think your Doha restaurants, Gordon Ramsay Doha, and Opal by Gordon Ramsay, are performing?
They’re in growth, which is the most important thing. We’re still tweaking. I think it takes 18 months to really iron out all the creases and we are making headway.
Opal is the light-hearted, family-style modern day bistro – the burger nights have been a huge success. [Gordon Ramsay Doha] is fine dining, so we’re very lucky to be given that opportunity.
Closing down the Maze and relocating to the St Regis was a smart move financially, with the obvious reason being the alcohol ban [on the Pearl]. Obviously, customers come for the experience and having that sensible combination between food and wine is paramount. 

With the World Cup approaching, do you feel things will have to change?
With the excitement of the World Cup, the focus of the world’s media will be on Qatar. I am just trying to imagine an English fan celebrating with Perrier!
Things will change, I am pretty confident, but time will tell. As a nation, it’s making great inroads and developing rapidly, as you know.

You’ve got restaurants all around the world as well as your TV shows. Both roles must be very different…
Yes and no. In both, you have a chance to nurture young talent, whether it’s through Junior MasterChef or through our restaurants. Our own modern day apprentice scheme, having been operational for the past few years, has had extraordinary results. You need to understand that level of unselfishness when you are educating these individuals. It’s critical. It’s not just for your business, but for the future of where food is going. I am very lucky I get a chance to mentor with the TV side as well as the professional side, though I do have my moments, as you’ve seen in the programs. I do get somewhat f….ed off at times. And that’s not my fault – it’s the muppets I have to work with.

If you were to take part in a Middle East Master Chef, what would you cook?
That’s a very good question. I would do something traditional. Something rich, so that the longer you cook it, the deeper it gets in terms of flavour.

What about camel?
No. I wouldn’t go there with camel, definitely not, no.

If you were on death row, what would your last meal be?
A, it would be with the family.
B, I’d keep it British with a prawn cocktail to start and a fillet beef wellington for main course. Then, for dessert, a beautiful, rich, sumptuous chocolate fondant with icecream.

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Chef, television personality and restaurateur