You may be getting a full dose of chef Gordon Ramsay on MasterChef USA, but if you still want more of him, there’s another programme you can watch. It’s called Hotel Hell (TLC) and it has the blond terror of the culinary world on a mission to turn around struggling hotels and save them from closure and ruin. The show mostly consists of Ramsay striding about some poor chap’s property, barking expletives at the hapless owner and staff and then, in a magical U-turn, becoming a fairy godmother (godfather?), and doing a makeover that is supposed to change the fortunes of said property. (Alas, that — as we shall see — doesn’t always happen).
In the episode I saw, we are introduced to a couple called John and Tina Imhof who run the Cambridge Hotel in upstate New York. Ramsay checks in and discovers that the hotel (a) is allegedly haunted by the ghost of a little four-year-old-girl — hardly the sort of thing to attract droves of guests from far and wide (b) has “horrible, rough, nasty” linen (c) cold food, including a signature apple pie dish which is a soggy mess and full of raw apples and (d) an owner — John — who is $ 750,000 in debt and yet has a positive attitude (to which Ramsay says that there’s a difference between being positive and being “full of c**p”).
Many more cuss words later, Ramsay gives the rooms a makeover, buys fresh linen and introduces a great apple pie recipe to the menu. The episode closes with everyone beaming at everyone else — guests are pouring in, everyone loves the apple pie, and all is well (you may surreptitiously wipe a tear at this point). But this is a reality show, not real life. What actually happened was that despite all of Ramsay’s flourishes, the hotel could not be saved and shut down even before the episode aired (and if you really want to know, John Imhof moved to a job at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base). But the question is: today, is Ramsay a bigger chef or a bigger reality TV star who thrives on his ‘I’m So Bad!’ reputation?
Far away from the world of cooks and hotels is the world of Aartiji and Yashji, the couple in Punar Vivah (Zee), whose love story has come to a proverbial happy ending. But now there’s a Punar Vivah Chapter Two, in which Yashji and Aartiji meet a new couple, or rather, a new triangle that will form the next leg of the serial’s journey. Raj and Divya love each other but Raj was forced to marry Sarita. Things get complicated when Divya comes looking for Raj ten years after they were separated. To make matters even more complicated, Divya is played by the actress who played the role of chhoti bahu in a serial of the same name on Zee. So is this season 2 of two separate serials or two-serials-in-one-serial? It’s all a bit confusing (and not particularly interesting).
Gordon Ramsay is much easier to figure out.