Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted – The Cliffs of Ireland sees irascible chef at his most cuddly as he enthuses over Irish food and landscapes

Television: Show features celebrity chef touring the world to try out the best local foodstuffs

Gordon Ramsay made his reputation as the original of the shouty chef species – but when he visits the west of Ireland in the new season of Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted, the only thing on the menu is cuddliness, baked to perfection. This is Ramsay doing his best to be likable and offering himself up to the charms of Connemara, the Aran Islands and the Cliffs of Moher, from where he takes part in a cook-off against London-based Dublin chef (and former Ramsay understudy) Anna Haugh.

Uncharted is Gordon Ramsay delivering his finest Bear Grylls impersonation. He romps around the world, having adventures and sampling local foodstuffs. Seasons one through three are already on Disney Ireland, while the fourth series (including The Cliffs of Ireland episode) is streaming on National Geographic in the US before presumably crossing the Atlantic in the near-ish future.

Anna Haugh - Chef Patron: Myrtle

When an international celebrity touches down in Ireland, there’s always that fear that we’ll end up with the equivalent of that Alan Partridge episode where Steve Coogan argues that Sunday, Bloody Sunday is a lament about weekend plans ruined by annoying children. But things are starting to change. Conan O’Brien poked gentle fun at us without leaning too far into stereotypes for his Conan O’Brien Must Go HBO documentary. Ramsay, for his part, appears genuinely struck by the beauty of the Connemara coast (to be fair, it is unseasonably sunny).

He’s kept busy, too. He bumps into Haugh by a shipwreck on the Aran Islands, where a playful ribbing ensues over the origins of whiskey (Ramsay is nominally Scottish, though you’d never guess from the accent). “The Irish created whiskey,” points out Haugh. “You guys don’t even spell it right.”

READ MORE

Then, it’s back to the mainland, where he visits Connemara Abalone and its mother-and-daughter duo of Cindy and Sinead O’Brien (an abalone being a mollusc related to oysters). Cindy has an American accent, so viewers will assume she is from South Dublin, when she in fact grew up in California. Then it’s further inland. He takes in the Roscommon farm run by Derek and Lisa Allen before calling on oyster farmer Diarmuid Kelly and Micil Distillery, where he samples whiskey and Poitín.

Unlike traditional Poitín, the whole thing goes down easy, with Ramsay radiating eye-popping levels of enthusiasm every second he’s on screen. He’s delighted by the oysters, blown away by the abalone and waxes lyrical about the whiskey. He goes on to describe the Aran Islands as a “timeless embodiment of the spirit of Ireland” and Haugh’s cooking as “simple, elegant but mind-blowing”.

It all ends with that cook-off on the cliffs where he and Haugh rustle up a feast while the food producers he’s met in the episode do the judging. It concludes with Haugh’s abalone receiving bonus points, and she is declared the victor. But the real winner, you suspect, is the domestic food industry, which does well out of this unabashed love letter to Irish cooking delivered with knock-out pep by Ramsay.

Ed Power

Ed Power

Ed Power, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about television and other cultural topics