Gordon Ramsay visits Hunts restaurant as part of F Word show

IN the restaurant world there are difficult customers, there are harsh critics and then there s Gordon Ramsay, a celebrity chef with a reputation for being fiercely critical. So when he walked into The Pheasant at Keystone for his lunch, the staff may hav

IN the restaurant world there are difficult customers, there are harsh critics and then there's Gordon Ramsay, a celebrity chef with a reputation for being fiercely critical.

So when he walked into The Pheasant at Keystone for his lunch, the staff may have been forgiven for being a little apprehensive.

The restaurant was being filmed as part of Mr Ramsay's F Word show, which is broadcast on Channel 4 - The Pheasant is fighting it out in the show's competition to find the country's best local restaurant.

But there was no shouting and swearing at the venue owned by Tafetta Scrimshaw and her husband Jay.

Instead Mr Ramsay gave his compliments to the chef and "was very nice, charming," Mrs Scrimshaw said. "He didn't swear. He seemed to have remodelled himself. We got the feeling that he was very much on our side. He was one of the team rather than a big celebrity."

Mr Scrimshaw added: "We didn't know Gordon was coming here. All the waitresses came running in saying that Gordon had just walked through the door.

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"Everyone's hearts started going, it's not every day you get to cook for Gordon Ramsey."

The Pheasant was filmed in October for the Christmas edition of the F Word which will be shown on Tuesday, December 22. It will battle it out with The Swan from West Malling in Kent in a contest which includes cooking challenges carried out in front of the television cameras.

However, the first part of the competition involved the Pheasant's chefs aiming to impress on home territory when Mr Ramsay turned up unannounced to test the menu.

"He chose off the menu that day," said Mr Scrimshaw. "He had pork rillettes with green been chutney and roast partridge. When he came in the kitchen he said the rillette was really good and he said he loved the partridge"

He added: "We knew that our customers had nominated us for the programme but we didn't know that there would be enough to get us noticed and when Gordon turned up it was a real surprise.

"We are ecstatic and so are our customers. It is so exciting that there is someone out there looking out for independent restaurants.

"It could not have come at a better time. Last year people were worried about the recession and they were holding back not spending anything. But you can feel the difference this year, whether the recession is over or not, people are fed up with not going out and they want to live a little."

The final say on which of the two restaurants will win the F Word head-to-head challenge rests with a group of 50 diners who the teams will cook for in front of the TV cameras.

The Pheasant already knows the result, but the secret is not being given away.

And until next Tuesday it's business as usual, which means cooking with local ingredients (including game).

Mr Scrimshaw, who has worked in a number of restaurants in London and Australia including Bibendum and Chez Bruce, added: "We've got good suppliers around us, we get everything locally. We've got cattle, sheep and pigs in the village so we work quite closely with the farmers to try to source the best stuff. I think that makes us stand out a little bit, no one else in the area is doing that.

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