Graham Kibble-White learns about fiery tempered chef Gordon Ramsay's new F-plan...
Gordon Ramsay's late. He's always late for press interviews it seems, but no-one really minds. That's because when he arrives he's disarmingly charming, fiercely intelligent and, best of all, an apparent advocate for the long lunch.
Settling back at a private table bedecked with Scottish langoustines, swordfish and other tasty-looking delights in Maze, his latest London restaurant, he lets rip with that familiar clipped, machine-gun delivery.
"I'm very much looking forward to The F Word," he says. "It's been in the pipeline for 12 months and it's very topical, very of the moment.
"For me, I think the biggest comment from customers has been: 'Kitchen Nightmares, great, we love it, but we want to see you cook more'.
"So, in the programme I run a proper restaurant while I'm also hosting the show. It's a chance to display a bit of the method behind the madness in the sense of what makes me tick, and how I put food together."
Pausing to take a breath, the 38-year-old chef then continues: "I think back to the days of Keith Floyd and the Galloping Gourmet. They were extraordinary guys, buoyant, fun, and they removed the intimidation out of cooking, really.
"At home, you don't want to be methodical, you want to be inspirational. I don't have a long-winded style of cooking anyway. I suppose it's just a very natural way, which no-one's ever really got to see properly on TV."
At the very least, it should prove interesting to see the infamously foul-mouthed chef trying to curb his language to meet the strictures of a pre-watershed slot in the TV schedules. When challenged on this he looks genuinely surprised.
"God, I don't swear that much, do I?"
When assured that, yes, in fact he does, he continues: "I'm not trying to make excuses for my inadequacies - far from it - but, it's the nature of the beast unfortunately.
"When things go pear-shaped in the kitchen I do get annoyed, but I mean, when things are running normally I'm fine.
"I'm just being too honest, that's all, and that's what it's like in each and every restaurant I've ever worked in.
"I don't think it's ever going to be any different, but I don't go out of my way to use bad language."
One area where he never fails to stint on the expletives is in his ongoing rivalries with other ' celebrity' chefs.
"I think that banter's quite healthy, really," he says when asked to comment on this competitive streak.
"There are a lot of celebrity chefs out there who don't run restaurants and depend entirely on their television persona. I'm very fortunate that I've got a serious business behind me.
"That's not me being arrogant. I'm not trying to say I'm better than anyone else, but I don't really see someone like Antony Worrall Thompson as a rival, to be honest. If I woke up one morning and thought he was, I'd be one sad git."
At home, despite being a devoted husband to teacher-turned-TV presenter Tana and children Megan, seven, twins Jack and Holly, five, and three-year-old Matilda, he's equally as uncompromising when it comes to his craft.
"Tana's not allowed in my kitchen," he says. "It's a lifelong ban. But she's got her own.
"Wouldn't you do the same? You've got his and her bathrooms. You know what men are like, when they shave they don't clean the plug hole out. It's the same with me. I don't want her in my kitchen."
Gordon's so demanding when it comes to culinary matters that it comes as little surprise when he admits: "I'm not very good at dinner parties.
"It just doesn't really sit well with me," he explains. "You arrive and then nothing happens for an hour. So you just feel like getting up and saying, 'Look dear, sit down, let me do it'. It's terrible.
"The last one I went to I was served a gratin potato dish and they'd left the garlic in there. Trust me to get it first. I was sat with this great lump under my tongue trying to get it out. It wasn't even a slice, it was a whole clove.
"And then they ask you what you think of the food, which again is a trial. 'It's a pile of rubbish, really', I tell them, which annoys everyone else who thinks I'm being an arrogant swine. But if they ask for the truth, I'm going to give them it.
"I try to avoid dinner parties now, but Tana's getting very fed up of going around to her mates' houses on her own."
Aside from ruining the odd home-cooked meal, the hot-headed chef admits he's also put his foot in it inside his own establishment on at least one occasion.
"A few weeks ago I was in the dining room at my restaurant in Claridges. The maitre d' asked me to go out and say hello to table seven, who'd just booked a room and were celebrating their engagement.
"They were about 30 and they'd been seeing each other for seven months, so it was all very vibrant and new. Pink champagne had just been served, they were on the chocolate fondants and I went over and congratulated them.
"'It's really good news,' I continued, 'and I'm glad you're staying here. I'm so pleased you enjoyed dinner'. All the time, the guy was just looking daggers at me - he hadn't actually asked her yet.
"When I found out I was just like, 'Oh, God'. So I didn't know what to do. Then, when he went to the bathroom I cornered him at reception and said, 'I cannot believe I just did that'. He said, 'Look, you know, don't worry. She's going to let me know in the morning'."
* The F Word is on Channel 4 from Thursday October 27