Live TV is always a risky venture. One wrong move, misstep, or curse word and the whole thing can come crashing down around you. (Just ask Mariah Carey, La La Land, or Adele Dazeem for further proof.) But when someone pulls it off without a hitch, it’s remarkable—and audiences love it.
So when Gordon Ramsay, a chef not exactly known for censoring himself, announced that he’d be taping a live cooking/competition/variety show called The F Word every week in primetime, it certainly seemed like a risky undertaking. But with a few episodes under his belt already, things have sailed so smoothly we’re actually starting to wonder just how he pulls it off. Luckily for us, Eater has the scoop.
Eater senior editor Greg Morabito attended a taping of Ramsay’s new show on its opening night in order to see how exactly the sausage gets made. (Don't take that literally: the night he visited the entree was Alaskan salmon.) His notes revealed a few interesting behind-the-scenes facts you might not have guessed otherwise.
1. The Restaurant Is Actually a Soundstage in a Studio Backlot
Despite the look and feel of the restaurant on screen, the actual dining room in The F Word has been built in a studio, filled with lights, cameras and a whole lot of action. Floating where the ceiling would be, you’ll find “studio lights hanging from the ceiling and the crane rig swooping through the room” instead, says Morabito.
That’s not to say the restaurant isn’t real per se—the kitchen and restaurant are all fully functional, it’s just not sitting in the middle of a crowded Los Angeles block as the atmosphere might make it feel.
2. Not Everyone Eats the Food Cooked by the Competitors
If you’re not familiar with the way the show works, two teams of amateur home cooks face off in the kitchen each week preparing the same dish for 50 diners in the restaurant. Whichever team has the most satisfied customers "wins" and moves on to the next round. However, if you’re not one of the lucky (or unlucky?) 100 diners on the ground floor of the restaurant, your dinner is prepared in a separate kitchen by different chefs.
3. The Restaurant Staff Has Some Serious Food Industry Chops
During a live taping there’s a lot at stake, so Gordon and his team have to keep the restaurant running like a well-oiled machine. To that end, “the rest of the restaurant operations are being carried by staffers plucked from high-end restaurant groups—a gaggle of ‘absolute thoroughbreds,’ in Ramsay’s words.” Many of The F Word's staff, from the kitchen to the main floor to the bar, have worked with some of the industry's top talents. Two of the chefs are veterans of Joël Robuchon’s restaurants, while another team member previously worked with Wolfgang Puck. The mixologist is a bar manager at Roku, a trendy Japanese restaurant in L.A. What The F Word's location lacks from not being a "real" restaurant, it seems to more than make up for it in real professionals.
Though there’s still plenty of season left, Ramsay & Co. have managed to keep the show running without much of a hiccup (at least to the outside viewer)—or even a stray curse word.
Here's hoping it continues, at least for the sake of the person in charge of the bleep button.
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