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TCA Press Tour: Gordon Ramsay coaches critics for 'CookALong Live'

August 6, 2009 |  4:52 pm

Baked alaska1

Gordon Ramsay is revealing his softer side. Call it his Rachael Ray side.

In the live, one-hour special "Gordon Ramsay: CookALong Live," Ramsay will help hundreds of domestic cooks across the U.S. prepare a three-course meal from scratch. Viewers will be prepped in advance with a list of ingredients and utensils and cookware they'll need to keep up with Ramsay.

To hear Ramsay tell it, the special will "remove the intimidation" from cooking and "keep it fun."

Ramsay showed up without his chef's whites on, looking relaxed, and ready to convince critics that he wasn't only the crazed taskmaster of Fox's "Hell's Kitchen." He's a man still passionate about food, and "CookALong" would be the opportunity to showcase that.

"That journey starting off with raw ingredients and taking them to something phenomenal in 60 minutes is an adrenaline rush," he said.

Amir1 Outside of "Hell's Kitchen," "I don’t act like that when it’s Sunday lunch at home. I get a little impatient sometimes," he said. "Yes, I am a hard-ass, driven, self-confessed perfectionist, but in the domestic scene, I have excitement with that journey as well."

One journalist wasn't buying it. Addressing Ramsay as "Mr. Potty Mouth," she asked if he was really going to be able to restrain himself for the special. He explained that if she experienced the unsanitary conditions that greeted him at the restaurants on "Kitchen Nightmares," she'd have more empathy.

But he added, "Of course, I'm not going to swear in an unpressurized environment," he said. "Or unless I've got journalist asking me [expletive] hard questions!"

Another critic asked if there was any food that made Ramsay happy. "Do I really come across that grumpy?" he asked. His answer: In-N-Out burgers. Animal style.

But now to the challenge: We're making Baked Alaska!

Our task was to whip up egg whites and sugar into a meringue, stiff enough so you can hold it over your head without it falling. But while he was able to whip his whites up in no time -- with the assistance of a large bowl and whisk -- critics were struggling with the tiny whisks and bowls we were provided.

Amir2 "Ladies and gentlemen, you were supposed to stop whipping 5 minutes ago," Ramsay told us. 

After a good, long while and a sore wrist, my neighbor Amir Kenan achieved perfection, holding his bowl over his head in triumph. He coated his cake and his ice cream into the traditional igloo shape and brought it for Ramsay's inspection.

"That looks very cool," Ramsay told Kenan while blow-torching his creation. As for me? My arm got too tired, and I failed. Fortunately, there was champagne served afterward to reward our efforts.

"CookALong Live" will air Dec. 15 at 9 p.m.

-- Denise Martin

Photos: Our equipment (top); Amir Kenan of with his egg whites (right); the finished Baked Alaska (bottom). Credit: Denise Martin