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‘Humble Pie’ by Gordon Ramsay

(Harper Collins, $39.99)I can’t say I was a big fan of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay before I started this book, so at first all I did was look at the pictures. He’s no Dan Carter, more’s the pity! But he was an adorable four-year-old and I was intrigued to find out he’d nearly been a professional footballer. This was enough to get me started and before I knew it, I had finished the whole book and developed a strange understanding of its fairly objectionable author.

Humble Pie is the story of Gordon Ramsay’s life, from his poverty-stricken childhood as the hen-pecked son of an abused mother and a bullying father, to the foul-mouthed “flash bastard” he is today. I never studied psychology but, in my inexpert opinion, Gordon seems to me to be your run-of-the-mill lonely little boy all grown up yet still seeking the approval of a father who never gave it to him when he was alive so sure as heck won’t be giving it to him now he’s dead and buried.

Luckily, Gordon never studied psychology either because if he had I’m sure he wouldn’t have written in such an honestly transparent way, which is what makes Humble Pie so thrilling. Clearly not the most self-aware person in the world, he doesn’t seem to think he’s a bully himself, although that’s sort of what he’s famous for.

As he recounts his life, we learn more and more about what absolute knobs and toss-pots everyone else is and what a hard-done-by decent sort of a chap he is. Don’t ask me why, but this is strangely endearing. He doesn’t come across as mean, just a bit under-developed (half-baked?).

And while some of the stories he tells are truly dramatic, the fact that they often occur in the kitchen among a bunch of pots and pans sometimes made me laugh when I’m not sure that was the intention.

“Another time, there was an incident involving a leek terrine,” are not usually words that inspire great tension. And “The truth was, I liked making the jugged hare more than I did having sex with the boss’s wife,” was another one that had me in stitches.

If you already like Gordon Ramsay, my pick is you’ll like him the same amount after a bit of Humble Pie. And if you didn’t already like him, you’ll at least learn that he’s fought tooth and nail for his hard-earned success. And that he’s very good to his mum.

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