Fox Broadcasting Co. will be dining out with Gordon Ramsay for a long time to come.
Network has cut a mega-renewal deal with the celeb Brit chef that calls for him to host at least two more seasons of his top-rated “Hell’s Kitchen” and “Kitchen Nightmares.” Fox has also given Ramsay a blind commitment for a third series; in addition, the new pact calls for him to host a live cooking spesh in the upcoming season.
Mike Darnell, Fox’s prexy of alternative programming, said he was eager to expand the Ramsay footprint on Fox.
“He’s been unbelievably good to this network,” Darnell said. “He’s as much a staple for us now as Simon Cowell or Hugh Laurie.”
“Hell’s Kitchen,” produced by Granada America and A. Smith and Co., logged its highest ratings to date in its fourth season this year (running from April-July), ranking as summer’s top-rated show with a strong 5.1 rating/13 share in adults 18-49 and an average of 10.1 million viewers. Fox already has the fifth season of “Hell’s Kitchen” in the can; the new pact covers seasons six and seven.
“Kitchen Nightmares,” also from Granada America and A. Smith, was a solid performer for the net in the tough Wednesday 8 p.m. timeslot in its debut last season. Sophomore season of the show, which bowed Thursday Sept. 11 with a two-hour seg, will run in the even tougher Thursday 9 p.m. slot opposite ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” and CBS’ “CSI.”
“They let me be me — that’s the key to our success,” Ramsay told Daily Variety. “And we properly understand each other: Fox wants to run a show, and I want to run a restaurant. I want to search for chefs. I try hard to keep it real, and I’m someone who takes all this very, very seriously.”
According to Ramsay, the new series will be based on a show he’s now doing for Britain’s Channel 4. “Man Camp,” which Ramsay will host, is a kind of boot camp for men whose “ladies are slightly concerned about how feminine they’re becoming,” Ramsay explained. The series will put a group of men through physical and intellectual challenges, and by the time they’re done, “They’ll know how to cook for a living” too, Ramsay said.
The live spesh will be patterned after a similar live program Ramsay hosted for Channel 4 in January in which viewers were encouraged to cook a meal along with Ramsay at home.
Darnell promised that the special will be promoted as a “big event,” with the recipes for the dishes promoted in advance so viewers can have the ingredients ready to go. (It also lends itself to sponsor tie-ins.) The special is targeted to air in winter or spring, he said.
“This will not be for the blue-rinse brigade, or the Martha Stewart crowd,” Ramsay assured. “This is cooking for the young, the vibrant and the tenacious.”
Darnell said he’s not worried about Ramsay wearing out his welcome with viewers or overextending himself with a possible third skein added to his Fox roster. He cites the chef’s track record of hosting several U.K. series and overseeing a growing portfolio of Ramsay-branded restaurants, including his new eatery at the London West Hollywood hotel.
“This is a hard-working man,” Darnell said. “I honestly feel incredibly lucky to have him here.”
Granada America prexy and CEO Paul Buccieri praised Darnell for championing Ramsay and his shows. “He’s been committed to Gordon from day one,” Buccieri said.
For Ramsay, his TV gigs on both sides of the Pond have become a “passion,” but he also sees it as an extension of his culinary calling.
“I’m a chef, for God’s sake; I’m not standing there trying to act,” Ramsay said. “It’s no longer a job — it’s part of the faith (in cooking) I’ve kept for 20 years.”
Ramsay is repped by Endeavor.