Top chef shows soft side

Thulani Gqirana

FOR the first time in more than a decade, a Port Elizabeth woman did not cry on her late mother’s birthday this year – and it was all thanks to celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.

Yvonne Batista was blown away by Ramsay’s kindness, even though he is generally known for his foul mouth rantings on his cooking shows.

Not only did she share a stage with Ramsay at the Good Food and Wine Show in Cape Town at the weekend, but she also got to sample his food.

“I could not believe it. Gordon Ramsay himself cooked for us and served us and asked if the food was OK. This internationally renowned chef asked us if his food was OK,” Yvonne said yesterday.

“He is warm and nice. Not like he is on TV. And he has a great six pack.”

The Summerstrand mother of three fell in love with cooking and Ramsay’s shows after she was diagnosed with sleep apnea and had to limit her physical activity.

Her husband, Emidio, 55, gifted her a VIP ticket to the show to celebrate their 34th wedding anniversary so she would be as close as possible to the stage because she battles to hear.

During the show, Ramsay asked three children – aged nine and 10 – to join him on stage.

“That was an electrifying moment for everyone at the show and I’m sure he created future chefs right there,” Yvonne said.

Ramsay then told the crowd he needed two more volunteers.

“Me, Meee … pick me, take me,” Yvonne shouted.

The 52-year-old woman said Ramsay then asked her why he should pick her. She told him she had travelled seven hours to attend the show.

“Two guys then said they travelled for 16 hours. I couldn’t let them win so I told Ramsay that I cooked every day for my husband,” she said.

“He then asked me where my husband was, and I told him we only bought one ticket so my husband was waiting outside.

“He was shocked and told me to get my husband on the phone and get him in there. He [Ramsay] would pay for his ticket.”

They then joined Ramsay, who cooked and served them a calamari starter, steak with vegetables and roast potato as a main and apple tart for dessert.

“It was the most divine food. You could taste that it was made by someone who knew what they were doing. You could smell the fresh herbs he used when cooking the steak,” she said.

Yvonne said the demonstration – and meal preparation – lasted an hour.

“He was amazing. He hugged me, kissed my cheek and made me feel so amazing. After he was done demonstrating, he called me backstage and signed a cookbook for me and took pictures with me and my husband,” she said.

“When we were done, I sneaked back onstage for another taste of the apple tart, it was that good.”

Yvonne said they were honoured to have shared the stage with Ramsay.

“Not everyone can say Gordon Ramsay, who has just been inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame, cooked for and served them.”

She said the show coincided with her late mother’s birthday.

“It is the one day of the year when I’m always sad and just depressed. I never really got closure when she died and I still mourn her to this day,” she said.

“This was the first year in 12 years that I managed to smile. I made new memories and I really believe it was my mother in heaven who was making things happen. That day was just blessings on top of blessings.”

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