The Hell’s Kitchen star traded in his chef’s hat for a hard hat on an episode of My Houzz to surprise Wilson, who won season 10 of his show
Though Gordon Ramsay is best known for his vitriolic spews against beleaguered contestants on shows like Hell’s Kitchen and MasterChef, he can actually be quite the tender boss. To surprise his group executive chef, Christina Wilson—who was also the winner of season 10 of Hell’s Kitchen—Ramsay partnered with remodeling and design site Houzz to gut-renovate the first floor of Wilson’s historic Philadelphia row home. The whole process is documented in the latest episode of My Houzz, an online series executive produced by Ashton Kutcher, which follows a celebrity secretly upgrading a house for a loved one. Ramsay and Philadelphia-based designer Matthew Ferrarini worked together on a new open floor plan, trading claustrophobic smaller rooms for one large space that’s now flooded with light. And while the chef generally approved of Ferrarini’s industrial-chic kitchen design, he, of course, had no problem with honesty. To wit: Ferrarini’s choice for an overhead dining room light? “That looks f**king stupid,” Ramsay pronounced. So why was Ramsay drawn to this design project in the first place? We chatted with the chef to ask about his own style, essential kitchen elements, and more.
Architectural Digest: Have you always had an interest in design?
Gordon Ramsay: That’s a good question. Design is crucial when opening a restaurant; it has to make sense and you want to create the right atmosphere for your guests. It’s integral to the dining concept. I also spent a lot of time designing my kitchens at home. To me, that’s my version of a “man-cave”—it’s where I spend most of my time.
AD: What would you say your design style is?
GR: My design style goes with the area and the space. So, my style in London is different to my house in Los Angeles. I wouldn’t say I have an exact style.
AD: What attracted you to collaborating with Houzz on this project?
GR: I’ve seen the work they’ve done and wanted to do something special for Christina, as she means so much to our whole Gordon Ramsay Group family. So, while she’s been working in Las Vegas opening the first Hell’s Kitchen restaurant, I used Houzz to help find a local Philly designer to do the renovation. We surprised her with a new kitchen, dining, and living room.
AD: What design tips did you learn from this project?
GR: The genius extending counter space—a game changer!
AD: What similarities do you see between working in a fast-paced kitchen and completing a renovation under a time constraint?
GR: It’s very similar actually! I like being in high-pressure situations, and I’m bored to tears when I’m not. Knowing how to manage your time and prioritizing is important. In my new show, 24 Hours to Hell & Back, we bring failing restaurants back from the brink of disaster—all within 24 hours. So, I’m no stranger to time constraints! And an important part of the show is the complete interior redesign of each.
AD: Do you think you were a tough boss with the renovation team?
GR: We butted heads a few times on the redesign, but in the end we were all on the same page with an amazing result.
AD: What do you think are the three most important elements in a kitchen?
GR: Ample prep area. If you enjoy cooking for large groups, having two ovens is helpful. And, of course, a large gas cooktop that can accommodate multiple pans!
AD: Anything you think is unnecessary?
GR: I think a walk-in pantry is great to have but not necessary as long as you have enough storage space.
AD: What are your favorite features of Christina’s new kitchen?
GR: One of the features we created in Christina’s new kitchen is a living garden. Philadelphia is a four-season city, so I wanted Christina to have herbs all year round, which designer Matthew Ferrarini worked in perfectly. Another great feature we added was a pull-out cutting board. It’s a smart use of a small space. She can just pull it out when she needs it, and it doubles as prep space too.
AD: Were you nervous she wouldn’t like it?
GR: I’ve worked with Christina for a long time and she’s been an integral part of my restaurant team, so I have a great sense of her likes and dislikes. I, of course, had a good feeling of what she would want in her kitchen.