Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Volume 3, Number 4: Gordon Ramsay's Famous Ultimate Culinary Kitchen

(Note: I originally posted this entry in January 2008 to my Yahoo! GeoCities blog.)

Here's a silly but potentially hilarious idea I've been kicking around for about a month: You know all those children's shows where several young adults are recruited to fight some evil force, like the Power Rangers series (or for that matter, the Japanese Super Sentai series on which they are based)? One fine morning, I imagined a cartoon or comic book where Chef Gordon Ramsay recruits such a team to help him carry his fight against restaurants that keep rotten food, cook sauces and soups out of mixes rather than from scratch, have 85 dishes on the menu when they can't really do more than a dozen, and so on.

The kicker is the title: Gordon Ramsay's F.U.C.K. (Famous Ultimate Culinary Kitchen). It is a play on the word he's notorious for using so much. It is also the name of the restaurant that is located directly above the base for Ramsay's anti-bad restaurant operations.

Setting:

The Hammersmith borough of London, England, in the present day. According to Wikipedia, this part of London was host to the 1908 Olympics, and the main facilities of the BBC are there as well.

Regular characters:

Chef Gordon Ramsay - Overcame a crappy father and a failed football career to become one of the greatest chefs of all time, winning 12 Michelin stars to date. But lately, he's uncovered an insidious plot by a seriously deluded French chef, a plot get British restaurants to serve nothing but mass-produced pre-packaged food, and he'll do whatever it takes to stop it. Thing is, he's already busy running a bunch of restaurants around the world and doing several TV shows, so he has to recruit a team of cooks to help him fight the good fight. In addition, he is a skilled practitioner of ninjitsu (as evidenced in his disarming of Amanda Barrie in episode 8 of the 2004 season of the UK Hell's Kitchen).

Chef √Čtienne Villeneuve - Feels that France should be the exclusive country for haute cuisine, and because Chef Ramsay has been countering that belief, he considers Ramsay an enemy. For example, Chef Ramsay has been leading a crusade to get British homemakers to cook again (instead of simply microwaving frozen stuff), and Chef Villeneuve is squarely in the corner of "ready-made" meal manufacturers.

The following characters are the teens/young adults recruited by Chef Ramsay for F.U.C.K. They aren't fully "fleshed out"; this is just what I have at the moment:

Colin Twentyman - Inherits a vacant building from his recently deceased father, and dreams of turning it into a restaurant with the help of a few friends. But he needs money and additional staffing help, both of which a certain French chef (Villeneuve) is all too happy to provide... in exchange for a degree of control over how the restaurant operates. When it does open, Twentyman's Restaurant has a number of issues, not the least of which is that of the 85 dishes on the menu, all are prepackaged, leading customers to be disappointed tastewise (while a few, presumably with poor palates, favor Twentyman's variety and quick service). Colin is pressed into duty as the general manager after Chef Ramsay reveals how Villeneuve is trying to undermine him, and not long afterwards, Twentyman's Restaurant changes its name to--you guessed it--Gordon Ramsay's Famous Ultimate Culinary Kitchen. Colin is known to support the Hammersmith Hornets, a local soccer team, who are to the English Premier League what the Chicago Cubs are to Major League Baseball--lovable losers.

Lena Grädler - Hails from East Germany. She's been simply dying to work for Chef Ramsay in some way or another, ever she saw him visit the restaurant she was working at in Berlin (he had considered expanding his restaurant empire, and wanted to see the restaurants he'd be competing against, but changed his mind; anyway, seeing Chef Ramsay motivated her to go to Britain and work for him there). Ramsay puts her to work as a spy, infiltrating Twentyman's to find out what's going on. She hates when people turn on the lights in the morning, cold weather, and boiled sausage (she once went to Frankenmuth, Michigan, to see how well they did German food over there, and said, "They boiled my bratwurst and put it in a bun; I wanted to vomit"). Chef Ramsay ultimately promotes her to replace the original head chef at F.U.C.K. (who had been part of Villeneuve's operation, and who has fled). Station: Saute/meats.

Callum (Cal) McCrimmon - Somewhat timid, occasionally prone to doing things that just don't make sense (like giving out a coupon for a discounted dinner at Twentyman's to a homeless man digging in the dumpster behind the restaurant) and has confidence issues to overcome. But he's great at thinking out of the box, and is the first to discover what Villeneuve is up to. He suggests a local vegetable vendor to the original head chef (the one Lena ultimately replaces), but his suggestion is quickly rejected without any consideration whatsoever. He is quick to blame the rejection of his idea on some pre-existing corporate agreement, which not only turns out to be correct, but helps lead his fellow chefs and Chef Ramsay straight to Chef Villeneuve and his sinister operation. Ramsay rewards him by promoting him to sous-chef. Station: garnish (side dishes, vegetables).

Shannon Buscemi (that's pronounced boo-SHAY-mee) - A food critic from the United States, and also the granddaughter of famous Italian-American restauranteur Hector Buscemi, she was sent to review Colin's restaurant, expecting to get a big paycheck in exchange for delivering a glowing review (not knowing that the financing would come from Villeneuve). Joins the team after Chef Ramsay reveals the truth to her about Villeneuve's operations and encourages her to "make the right choice between what is right and what is easy." Because she had never been to London and didn't expect to live there for an extended time, she is less familiar with British culture and slang, and this unfamiliarity is used for laughs. Station: appetizers.

Sara Cosworth - The only British woman on the staff, she is far more familiar with such traditional British cuisine than Lena or Shannon. She is more conservative than those two and will stubbornly resist their attempts at adding American or German desserts to her repertoire. She'll be a character foil to Lena and Shannon just as much as Lena and Shannon are for each other. Station: Pastries and desserts.

Secondary (recurring) characters:

Jake Rutledge - The dishwasher/trash removal man, he's a jack of all trades (electrical systems, appliance repair, and all the electronic goodies populating F.U.C.K.). Tall and gangly in appearance. I'm toying with the idea of him becoming another chef in the future (first joining with Villeneuve due to feeling underappreciated at F.U.C.K, then later re-joining F.U.C.K.)

Chef Marco Pierre White - Serves as a "double agent"--on the one hand, he continues to play up the long-standing rivalry he's had with Ramsay, but on the other, he will also give Ramsay "inside information" to help him beat Villeneuve. Years ago, he was a mentor to Chef Ramsay, but a "student vs. teacher" competition turned into an all-out rivalry after Ramsay framed White for the disappearance of a reservations book.

J.B.P.T.S.T. (Jake's Butler, Porter, Treasurer, Sommelier... Thing) - A robot built by Jake out of a broken Segway. Looks like a cross between Jean-Baptiste Requien (Gordon Ramsay's maitre d' at Petrus) and... a broken Segway.

Waiters/waitresses - These initially don't appear (the way Twentyman's had been set up, customers could simply come to "the pass" to pick up their food, no differently than a fast food restaurant), but at least two are hired in after Gordon kicks out Villeneuve and his cronies.

There are a number of levels on which F.U.C.K. can be funny:
  • It could parody both the aforementioned "pro-social team" shows (Power Rangers, A.T.O.M., W.I.T.C.H., Get Ed, etc.) as well as various incidents depicted in Ramsay's books and TV shows.

  • People already laugh at certain moments in Hell's Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares to begin with, so it'll be cool to replay them--in some form or another--in F.U.C.K.

  • The juxtaposition of Ramsay's foul language with comic books, which normally don't have any dirty words in them, is just as funny as juxtaposing it with that children's toy, Lil' Gordon Ramsay's EZ-Bake Cupcake Oven. Chef Ramsay will swear at his team (e.g. they botch certain recipes in the kitchen) as well as his enemies.

  • Hey, when's the last time you saw a comic book that dealt with cooking? Or a comic book that had any kind of cooking in it, for that matter?

I still have a lot of work to do as far as development goes, and I still have a day job, but if I do have the creative energy to develop these ideas further, I'll let you know.

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