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Education

A short-staffed lunch lady needed help feeding 300 kids. Gordon Ramsey stepped in to help.

gordon ramsay, tina clarke, lunch workers

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.

Celebrity Chef Gordon Ramsay is notorious for having a bit of a temper on his shows “Hell's Kitchen” and “MasterChef.” But that doesn’t mean he can’t have a big heart, too.

Ramsay was being interviewed on the BBC's "The Radio 2 Breakfast Show" last week when kitchen manager Tina Clarke from Edward Peake Middle School in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, England jokingly called in to ask for help. She said she was "cooking on her own here" because two of her co-workers were out sick.

She had to prepare 300 meals for the students while short-staffed.

"I'm cooking here on my own, I work in a school kitchen and my chef has gone off sick and I have another one off with COVID, and I just wondered if Gordon would help me today and give me a hand?” Clarke asked jokingly.


To her surprise, Ramsay agreed to help. "If I did have the time I would be in Bedfordshire, I promise you in a heartbeat, I can send a chef if you wish?" he asked.

How could Clarke refuse the help of a chef that works with Gordon Ramsay?

Ramsay called a cab and sent over a member of his team, chef Rob Roy Cameron from Ramsay's Lucky Cat restaurant in London, to help. Lucky Cat is in a wealthy neighborhood and is known for Asian-inspired small plates and sushi.

Clarke had no idea that Ramsay would send help so she was a little worried the school administration wouldn’t be too pleased with her inviting a stranger into the kitchen without permission. But she couldn’t have known that Ramsay would say yes to her half-hearted plea.

"When I got a message saying your chef will be with you in an hour, I thought, 'Oh my God, I'm going to have to fess up to the head and I hope she doesn't give me detention or lines,'" she admitted.

However, the headteacher, Miss Linington, said it was fine with her and a jolt of excitement went through the halls of the school. When Cameron arrived, Clarke put him to work immediately making cauliflower cheese. "I'm sure he was terrified by having three menopausal women around him in the kitchen all day," Clarke joked.

Clarke said that the food tasted “amazing” even though Cameron was shocked to learn he couldn’t use any salt. The students were happy about their visitor, too. "The kids were so excited,” Clarke said. "We've never had so many visitors [in the kitchen],” Clarke said.

The next day, Clarke got the chance to personally thank Ramsay on the radio. "It sent a huge buzz around the school. So, thank you," she said through a pretaped message. She also thanked “her loyal staff," Andrea, Mandy, Sharon and Louise.

"Anytime, Tina," Ramsay responded.

Ramsay’s generosity shows that when you have a true love of food and cooking, a kitchen is a kitchen, whether you’re preparing a meal at a 5-star Michelin-rated restaurant or you have hundreds of hungry students to feed.

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