Gordon Ramsay vs. Simon Cowell

You probably wonder what the heck a chef and a record producer have in common. Well, they are both British and both became television personalities and book authors. Both earned a reputation for nastiness, and both will tell it like it is.

They have vastly different personal lives and made different romantic choices. We won’t guess who might win in an insult contest or if they duked it out, but we will provide you with all the biographical information you can handle.

Table of Contents

Gordon Ramsay, OBE

What does a hot, young soccer player do when he blows out his knee at age 18, only three years into his career? If you happen to be Gordon Ramsay, who joined the Scottish Premier League Glasgow Rangers at age 15, you decide to go to college and become a chef. Ramsay played for the Rangers until age 18 when he suffered a knee injury that ended his soccer career.

The year was 1985 and the young athlete segued into school after recovering from the injury. Ramsay threw himself into his studies, earning a degree in hotel management in 1987 from North Oxon Technical College.

Gordon Ramsay demonstrates seafood cooking techniques at BottleRock 2016 in Napa, CA.

Quick Facts

Birthdate: November 8, 1966

Birthplace: Johnstone, Scotland

Citizenship: British

Twitter: @GordonRamsay

Instagram: @gordongram

Youth and Education

Although born in Scotland, his family relocated when he was age five to Stratford-upon-Avon, England, once home to William Shakespeare. There he learned soccer and played association soccer or amateur level soccer, for Oxford United, a youth league team. At 21, he moved to London, taking a job under chef Marco Pierre White at Harvey’s, then under chef Albert Roux at La Gavroche. France proved the next destination in his hands-on learning.

He spent the early 1990s working in the kitchens of Master Chef Joël Robuchon and Master Chef Guy Savoy studying classic French cuisine. His years of apprenticeship paid off in 1993 when he landed the head chef post at London’s Aubergine restaurant. In a matter of fewer than three years, Aubergine earned two of a possible three Michelin stars. The feat in 1996 produced the first two of Ramsay’s 16 stars.

A Bevy of His Own Eateries

Gordon Ramsay's Bread Street Kitchen restaurant in Singapore.

Two years later, in 1998, Ramsay opened Gordon Ramsay, his first restaurant. After compiling knowledge and testing it at Aubergine, he created one of the best restaurants the world over, not in his or this publication’s opinion, but according to the esteemed Michelin Guide which awarded the restaurant three stars in 2001. His second establishment, Pétrus, opened in 1999, earned its first Michelin star in just seven months of existence.

In 2001, Ramsay opened Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s which had its first star by 2003. The restaurant closed in 2013, but numerous others have taken its place. The Master Chef opened other Michelin star-earning restaurants following this, including the Savoy Grill, the Boxwood Café which closed in 2010, Maze, and La Noisette which closed in 2008.

Ramsay also traveled to Dubai in 2001 to launch Verre his first venture outside of Europe. The restaurant still operates in the United Arab Emirates, Ramsay ended his association with it in 2011.

In 2006, he decided to take Manhattan, opening his first American restaurant, Gordon Ramsay at the London, which closed in 2014. Two years later, he skipped the tango, but opened a restaurant outside Paris in Versailles, called Gordon Ramsay au Trianon. Since that year, a multitude of ventures in Australia, Japan, and South Africa opened as well as further ventures stateside.

Cute Chefs Belong on TV

Gordon Ramsay at the American Idol Season 10 Top 13 Finalists Party.

The BBC, a British television station, first brought Ramsay to television in 1996 as a judge on the cooking competition MasterChef. Three years later, he became the subject of a documentary, “Boiling Point,” covering the opening of his first restaurant. The documentary did so well that producers followed it up with a miniseries, “Beyond Boiling Point,” in 2000.

Forget your typical cooking show. Ramsay attacked television the way he went at earning Michelin stars. While the fine dining set got to know his exquisite culinary skills by dining where he opened eateries, the average Joe discovered him when he became a television star.

Great Britain decided to feature the chef on the 2004 series “Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares” which ceased production in 2014. The premise of the show had Gordon Ramsay visit failing restaurants and work with its owners and chefs to turn them profitable. He followed it with “Hell’s Kitchen,” which saw him career coach aspiring chefs using a hands-on approach. It ceased production in 2009.

The US spotted the UK shows and rather than airing the Brit version, decided to have the chef film American versions beginning in 2007. This included “Hotel Hell,” a show that extrapolated the formula of “Hell’s Kitchen” to lodging. It began production and first aired in 2012, while the US’s “Kitchen Nightmares” ceased production in 2014. The always busy Ramsay continued filming on both sides of The Pond. His UK show, “The F-Word,” began in 2005.

The title plays on the word food and the chef’s love of the four-letter expletive, f*ck. In 2010, US television debuted “MasterChef,” a competition between amateur cooks to win a cash prize and cookbook contract. Ramsay serves as co-host of it and “MasterChef Junior,” a youth cooking competition, which hit the US airwaves in 2013.

In the late 20-teens, he began charting new television territory. Ramsay hosted a two-part UK documentary in 2017 “Gordon on Cocaine.” No, there’s not a food sharing the name of the illegal drug. Ramsay is anti-drug use, mostly from personal experiences related to close family and friends. His older brother, Ronnie, has an addiction to heroin. Ramsay lost his best friend, chef David Dempsey, in 2003, due to cocaine.

Dempsey fell to his death while high on the substance. The loss hit Ramsay hard. He has crusaded in his own restaurants to keep them clean, having surfaces including the toilets tested for residue. In the US, drug testing of those in restaurants is legally required. Ramsay says it should be in the UK, too.

In 2019, perhaps taking inspiration from the late Anthony Bourdain, the chef launched the show “Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted,” in which he travels the world tasting cuisines and partaking in their larger culture.

Paperback Writer and Hardcover and E-book, Too

Roasting in Hell's Kitchen: Temper Tantrums, F Words, and the Pursuit of Perfection

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You can’t really take the world by storm if you leave a media outlet unaddressed. Ramsay began writing in 1996, authoring “Gordon Ramsay’s Passion for Flavour.” Since then, he has authored numerous cookbooks, including:

  • Gordon Ramsay’s Home Cooking: Everything You Need to Know to Make Fabulous Food
  • Gordon Ramsay Quick and Delicious: 100 Recipes to Cook in 30 Minutes or Less
  • Gordon Ramsay’s Healthy, Lean & Fit: Mouthwatering Recipes to Fuel You for Life
  • The Hell’s Kitchen Cookbook: Recipes from the Kitchen
  • Ramsay in 10
  • Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Home Cooking
  • Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course
  • Gordon Ramsay Makes It Easy
  • Gordon Ramsay’s Fast Food: More Than 100 Delicious, Super-Fast, and Easy Recipes
  • Gordon Ramsay Ultimate Fit Food [Hardcover] [Jan 04, 2018] Gordon Ramsay
  • MasterChef: The Ultimate Cookbook
  • Gordon Ramsay’s Great British Pub Food
  • MasterChef Junior Cookbook: Bold Recipes and Essential Techniques to Inspire Young Cooks
  • Cooking for Friends
  • Ramsay’s Best Menus.

Gordon Ramsay’s Great British Pub Food

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The prolific chef, restaurateur, TV star, and author writes about a book per year, focusing each tome on his favorite cuisine of the moment or the television show currently in production. Any attempt at an exhaustive list would become inexhaustive almost immediately. In 2006 and 2007, he released two autobiographical tomes, “Humble Pie” and “Gordon Ramsay’s Playing with Fire,” respectively.

Personal Life

He married for life when he married schoolteacher Cayetana Hutcheson, nicknamed Tana. The couple married in 1996 which culminated a longstanding romance. Ramsay had to wait in line for his chance to ask out Tana. When he met her in 1992, she was 18 and dating one of his close friends, a sous chef. After his friend and she broke off their romance, he waited the requisite amount of time and asked her out. The couple never looked back.

Gordon Ramsay with his family at the 2010 Teen Choice Awards.

They have five children and one of the strongest marriages in the restaurant industry. The children range in age from toddler (Oscar) to 23. The four oldest children range in age from 19 to 23 — the eldest Megan, 21-year-old twins Jack and Holly, and Tilly, 19. Throughout their lives, their dad has needed to travel for work. To provide stability to their lives, they remained in the UK to attend school with their mother staying with them.

Ramsay moved to the US alone whenever he had to open a restaurant or film a TV show. Tana Ramsey transitioned from her teaching career temporarily to stay at home mother. In 2011, she opened a salon. She also has appeared on a few television shows, including “Dancing on Ice,” “Market Kitchen,” the US “MasterChef,” and “Matilda and the Ramsay Bunch,” a show created by her daughter Tilly.

The couple owns a home in London and rather than up-end the family when they need new space, Ramsay petitions the local council to allow changes as he did in early June 2021. The home will receive a basement makeover that adds a bedroom, wine cellar, plant room, and a full bath.

The Upshot of the Deal

Ramsay earned a reputation as a foul-mouthed tough guy on TV because it shocked people that someone who creates fine dining experiences would talk like a normal person with a “sh*t” here and an f-bomb there. He’s actually a nice guy, a doting dad who even TikToks with his daughters and plays in the kitchen with his son.

In order to get to spend more time with his family, he had a full-restaurant kitchen built into the London house. It allows him to shoot his UK TV shows at home. He still believes in hard work and prolific achievement, and he has found ways to balance the two biggest parts of his life.

Simon Cowell

Bad boy Simon Cowell did not turn into a spoiled brat. His parent threw up their hands at trying to get him to appropriately behave as a young man. They sent him to boarding school after boarding school to try to get him to behave appropriately, but he simply got expelled from each and every one of them. The wild, uncontrollable teen did manage to cobble together enough credits to graduate.

He didn’t tackle the work world with any greater fervor than he had school. He entered the record business largely because he knew it well. His father had worked at EMI for years and Cowell tried to follow in his footsteps. That did not work out the way he intended it to do so, and he ended up changing jobs a few times before a TV producer noticed the record producer’s talent for quips to describe performers.

Cowell didn’t just judge talent well; he makes it entertaining. Noticing that, the producer cast him on the UK TV show “Pop Idol.”

Simon Cowell at FOX's "The X Factor" World Premiere Screening Event.

Quick Facts

Birth Date: October 7, 1959

Birthplace: Lambeth, London, England, UK

Citizenship: British

Twitter: @syco

Instagram: @simoncowell

Wild Beginnings

Born in Lambeth, London, England on October 7, 1959, to a prominent businessman in the music industry, Eric Philip Cowell, and a ballet dancer and socialite, Julie Brett. Cowell grew up privileged. His wild behavior and ill-mannered countenance got him repeatedly in trouble with his parents. His older step-siblings, brother Tony Cowell and sister June Cowell, along with step-brothers Michael Cowell and John Cowell did not cause trouble.

Neither did his younger brother Nicholas Cowell. So, it was Simon who bopped around boarding schools for years, finally graduating from Radlett Preparatory School, Hertfordshire. He moved on to attend college but dropped out of Dover College because while film and music interested him, studying did not. He did later return to school, attending Windsor Technical College.

A Bumpy Start to a Fabulous Career

Simon Cowell at the press conference for the season finale of Fox's "The X Factor".

Life as an unemployed dandy or fop did not suit his family or upbringing, so Cowell had to obtain a position to earn money after leaving college. He tried a few odd jobs including working as a runner on Stanley Kubrick’s movie ‘The Shining,’ and he actually thwarted some interviews his father arranged for him. Finally, Cowell’s dad helped get him an interview at EMI Music Publishing where his father was an executive.

The elder Cowell made his son start humbly. The job Simon landed was a clerk in the mailroom at EMI. At 20 years of age, in 1979, he worked his way up to assistant to one of the A&R executives at EMI. Yes, Simon Cowell was a mail carrier, then a personal assistant before he worked his way up to a position as a talent scout.

Just like school, Cowell did not like working for another person. The rules of EMI and his own burgeoning ambition led him to leave that company in the early 1980s to found his own company. He left with the man who he had worked for, Ellis Rich, and the duo formed E&S Music as business partners. While the business succeeded, Cowell quit in the mid-1980s “by mutual agreement.” He formed Fanfare Records in 1985 with a partner.

It did well but still closed in 1989. The financial problems caused Cowell to move back in with his parents. At 30, Simon Cowell became the proverbial adult kid living in his parents’ house, if not exactly the basement.

It turns out, eating crow and moving back in with mom and dad provided the turning point that Cowell needed. He landed a job with BMG Records as a consultant that same year. The salary let him move out on his own again and his ambition took over. He began ascending BMG’s chain of command by signing a series of successful recording artists to the label. Cumulatively, artists he signed sold more than 150 million records and logged 70 UK and US top-charting singles.

Taking Over Your Television in Many Countries

Simon Cowell at the America's Got Talent Judges photocall at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium.

His biting wit and irascible, to put it nicely, nature became legendary at BMG and among the music community. In 2001, ITV, a British television station, cast him as a judge on its music competition show “Pop Idol.” The show ran until 2003 and introduced the UK to his bluntness and brutal honesty.

The show might not have lasted long, but it opened new doors for Cowell. He launched a joint venture with Sony Music Entertainment in 2002, called Syco Entertainment which handles digital content, music, television, and digital content as well as producing television shows including “The X Factor” and “Got Talent”. In the US, producers who had watched “Pop Idol” decided to launch a US version, “American Idol.” The show hired Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson as judges. In later seasons, they added other judges but kept Cowell, who appeared on the show from 2002 to 2010.

In 2004, Cowell created the music competition called, “The X Factor” which became such a success that many countries adapted it to suit their culture. The original aired in the UK. Two years later, he founded the “Got Talent” franchise which began in the US with “America’s Got Talent.” The main draw of this show was that it included comedians, instrumentalists, magicians, vocalists, etc. That made it more diverse than the Idol series.

Full of ideas and now with the clout to make them happen, Cowell followed those shows with others he created including 2006’s “American Inventor,” 2008’s “Rock Rivals,” and 2011’s “Red or Black?” While handling many TV shows, he branched out to partner with YouTube, to create the video-sharing competition, “The You Generation” which debuted in 2013.

Five years later, he launched his first BBC show, “The Greatest Dancer.” Its first episode aired in January 2019. So, unless you live in a cave somewhere with no electricity, no TV, no Internet, no cellphone, no computer, and no tablet, you have probably watched at least one episode of a TV or mobile video show that this prolific producer created or appears on.

Yes, He Writes, Too

Of course, you may not watch a lot of television. You could read his book. In 2003, Cowell came out with a tome titled “I Don’t Mean to Be Rude, But…: Backstage Gossip from American Idol and the Secrets That Can Make You a Star” which made it sound like a tell-all book.

The book provides advice on how to tell if you have what it takes to make it in the music business. Like he does in person and on TV, he bluntly states facts. There is no glossing over the hard truths, so Cowell simply states facts. He lays it all out for those who want success in the music business and explains the inherent traits and personality that will help potential singers, songwriters, and instrumental musicians make it if they have the talent.

Oh, What a Personal Life

Simon Cowell & Eric Cowell at the Hollywood Walk of Fame Star Ceremony honoring Simon Cowell.

Simon Phillip Cowell had no intention of marrying. At 60, he felt he still had not met the right woman although he had dated the same woman since 2013 and they have a child together. Yes, the man nicknamed Nasty Simon, Mr. Nasty, Judge Dread, and Sarcastic Simon is a dad. He had his son Eric Cowell with his fiancée Lauren Silverman. Eric was born on February 14, 2014.

But wait. I’m getting ahead of myself. His fiancée means that he did propose and to Silverman. Cowell’s favorite hobby, motorcycles, got him in trouble. He wiped out his motorcycle in August 2020, breaking his back in the accident. Rushed to the emergency room, Cowell underwent five-hour emergency surgery to save him from paralysis.

He required constant care for months and underwent excruciating physical therapy to regain his health and re-learn walking. Silverman’s devotion to him and the way she stuck by him when he had to step away from everything for his health proved the turning point in their relationship. He told friends that he planned to propose and that the accident made him realize how much he loves her as well as how much she loves him.

The Upshot of the Deal

Cowell remains blunt and brutally honest. He also has a loving relationship with his young son and his fiancée. He’s living proof though that the bad boy kid can straighten out and find their perfect career. It turns out for Cowell that following in his dad’s footsteps started the way. Then, he found his own career which contained one element – music – of his dad’s but otherwise consisted of his own creativity and ideas.

He became an author, producer, director, creator, businessman, talent scout, and TV show host. Don’t despair if you just hit 30 and you had to move in with your parents. That happened to Cowell, too, and now he owns his own empire valued at about $600 million, so things could work out for you.

That’s a Wrap

The two television personalities and authors have dissimilar talents, but both are Brits and worked their way up. Ramsay has the more diverse experience, having worked in multiple industries, while Cowell has diversified within the entertainment industry. Both went to college. Both channel their creativity by creating on multiple fronts.

They work in different areas although both have hosted numerous TV shows. They’re both blunt and to the point, a likable trait. Both are also doting dads. It’s not really a competition since you would choose between them based on whether you wanted to watch a food show or a music show.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you had a few questions arise while reading this article, read on and learn a few important terms of the culinary world and Europe.

What does OBE stand for?

OBE stands for Officer of the Order of the British Empire. It is one of two levels of knighthood in the British realm. The other, Member of the British Empire, or MBE, requires the individual to be addressed as Sir if male or dame if female.

What is a Michelin star?

The publication, the Michelin Guide, visits hotels and restaurants to experience them firsthand, then ranks them. An establishment can earn up to three stars. The guide began as a value-added marketing tool for tire manufacturer Michelin, so, yes, the Michelin Man provides you with restaurant advice in a way.

What is a Certified Master Chef?

Currently, there are 67 living Certified Master Chefs in the world. Think of it as a master’s degree in the culinary arts. All chefs earn an initial degree, typically in culinary arts or hotel management. A chef earns their CMC status by completing a program and testing offered by the American Culinary Federation. To qualify to take the exam, the candidates must already have advanced levels of education and experience. The CMC exam requires eight days of testing that covers a multitude of cuisines, cooking methods and styles. Six of the CMC teach at the Master Chefs’ Institute.

Where Can You Buy Ramsay’s and Cowell’s Books and Videos?

You can pretty much do one-stop shopping for the products of both of these gentlemen at Amazon.com. You can also shop your local bookstores for their books. Most of the seasons of their respective television shows have come out on video, so you can purchase DVDs or digital files from Amazon. You can also find these products at eBay, Walmart, and Target.

References:

Master Chefs Institute: What Is A Certified Master Chef?

IMDb: Bobby Flay

Letstyle: Gordon Ramsey vs. Bobby Flay – who is the better chef

Amazon: Bobby Flay

Mashed: What These Celebrity Chefs Looked Like Before The Fame

Mirror: Inside Gordon Ramsay’s £7m London mansion as he plans wine room in huge renovation

TheNetline: The untold truth of Gordon Ramsay’s wife, Tana Ramsay

Britannica: Gordon Ramsay

Biography: Gordon Ramsay

Gordon Ramsay: About Gordon

Twitter: Gordon Ramsay

Instagram: Gordon Ramsay

Gordon Ramsay Restaurants: Gordon Ramsay Restaurants

The Sun: WHAT AN HONOUR What is an OBE and what does it stand for?

Daily Record: Gordon Ramsay on Cocaine: ‘It’s not glamorous, I lost my best mate to it’

Amazon: Gordon Ramsay Cookbook

WoodGram: Simon Cowell Bio, Age, Height, Wife, Son, Net Worth, TV Shows & Wiki

Heavy.com: Simon Cowell Health Update: How Is His Back Today?

CNN: Simon Cowell broke his back falling off an electric bicycle

Biography: Simon Cowell

IMDb: Simon Cowell

MSN: Simon Cowell Ready To Get Married To Longtime Girlfriend Lauren Silverman: Report

Page Six: Simon Cowell set for charity walk after recovering from broken back

MSN: Simon Cowell Ready To Get Married To Longtime Girlfriend Lauren Silverman

Amazon: Simon Cowell

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