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I am a huge fan of Scottish chef Gordon Ramsay and any of his televisions shows. I have a friend who calls them the "Morse Code Shows" because BBC America "bleeps" just about every other ..-. .-. .. -.-. -.- .. -. --. word out of Ramsay's mouth.
What do I like about Ramsay?
- He has an excellent sense of management. His style? Well, opinions differ, but I find it thoroughly effective -- and entertaining.
- He has an amazing ability to "see the forest and the trees" in a wide variety of situations.
- He teaches the importance of understanding other cultures, be it in the diversity of a restaurant's staff or the culture in which a restaurant is operating or the culture of food that they prepare.
- He gets directly to the point and tells it like it is. And smart restaurant owners listen to him and learn -- and change.
- He understands the relationship of agriculture and stewardship of our planetary resources to the food that we eat and our health
I've mentioned that I'm not a fan of reality television. But, as an international education professional, I learn something from Ramsay every time I watch one of his programs. I'm going to be particularly interested in the upcoming series of Kitchen Nightmares, in which he works with restaurants in the USA. That ought to be an interesting cultural mix.
So here I am in England but, alas, absolutely no Gordon Ramsay sightings. But there was something even better.
Last night, I had the joy of re-connecting with a childhood school chum from Britain (I'll call her "C."). We became good friends when she came to my elementary school in the USA while her family lived in the States. Since returning to the UK as a teenager, she and I stayed in touch sporadically. In all those years, we have seen each other only once -- for a coffee at?Waterloo Station on a previous visit I made to London in the mid-1990s.
C. is one of the reasons that I am in international educational exchange. Over the course of five years and a young age, she and her family introduced me to another culture in ways that I would never have been able to experience it otherwise. They welcomed me into their home. She taught me British terminology for American words (e.g., "lift" vs. "elevator"). She loaned me every book in her Enid Blyton collection. I particularly remember the ones about British boarding schools. C. used to say to me, "You should come to England someday and I will show you castles." Pretty heady stuff when you're an American pre-teenager...
Last night, I got off the train in her town in Kent. We recognized each other instantly, greeted each other with a warm hug and started walking to her home. And would you believe there was a castle along the way just walking down the High Street?! C.'s invitation had been true all along!
I had the delight of meeting C.'s family and reconnecting with her that evening. Thank goodness the Internet and email makes future contact easier than ever before.
But the icing on the cake was to come. Before I left, she presented me with a parting gift of a box of Gordon Ramsay's "Just Dessert" chocolates. I'm going to sincerely try to get that box home to the States without opening it so that I can eat a chocolate or two while watching Chef Ramsay on the telly and remembering my friend. Perfect!
UPDATE: The chocolates made it back to the States in an unopened box. They did not last long, but the final pieces have provided me with a fun way to test a new polling feature I installed on my blog. So, thank you C. and Chef Ramsay!