Page last updated at 10:47 GMT, Friday, 9 May 2008 11:47 UK

Ramsay orders seasonal-only menu

Gordon Ramsay says he does not want to see asparagus served in December

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay says British restaurants should be fined if they serve fruit and vegetables which are not in season.

He told the BBC that fruit and vegetables should be locally-sourced and only on menus when in season.

Mr Ramsay said he had already spoken to Prime Minister Gordon Brown about outlawing out-of-season produce.

He says it would cut carbon emissions as less food would be imported and also lead to improved standards of cooking.

'Out of control'

The TV chef said it was "fundamentally important" for chefs to provide locally-sourced food.

"Fruit and veg should be seasonal," he said. "Chefs should be fined if they haven't got ingredients in season on their menu.

"I don't want to see asparagus on in the middle of December. I don't want to see strawberries from Kenya in the middle of March. I want to see it home grown."

HAVE YOUR SAY
The best food is seasonal and it should certainly be encouraged
Alex, UK

Ramsay, whose London restaurants include Petrus, The Savoy Grill and Maze, added that Britain had become a nation of lazy eaters, following trends and fads, rather than substance.

He also said chefs became "lazy" when excited by "frills", and making out-of-season produce illegal would raise "levels of inspiration".

"There should be stringent laws, licensing laws, to make sure produce is only used in season and season only," he said.

"If we don't restrict our movements within this industry of seasonal-produce only, then the whole thing will spiral out of control."

Following the chef's comments, Oxfam's head of research, Duncan Green, said he was sure "the million farmers in east Africa who rely on exporting their goods to scrape a living would see Gordon Ramsay's assertions as a recipe for disaster".

Canned insult

Mr Green added: "He [Ramsay], like all of us, wants to tackle climate change, but it is vital that we ensure that poor people who are already hit hardest by climate change are not made to suffer even further."

Meanwhile, Terry Jones from the National Farmers Union (NFU) said that, while he agrees with the chef's complaint, legislation would be going too far.

He said: "We've almost got too much legislation in food and farming as things stand.

"Really what we need to see is that passion and that commitment to seasonality being pushed into consumer education and into this commitment on menu transparency."

And the Soil Association's Food for Life Partnership director Emma Noble said the celebrity chef was right to suggest that "seasonal menus are a key step in cutting the environmental impact of our food".

UK FOOD IN SEASON
Spring: broccoli, spinach, watercress, asparagus, rhubarb
Summer: tomatoes, salad leaves, courgettes, berries, apricots
Autumn: aubergine, beetroot, butternut squash, apples, pears
Winter: apples, brussel sprouts, leeks, cauliflower, celery

Famous for his bad temper, Ramsay also spoke passionately about another environmental concern - plastic bags - saying they simply "did not make sense".

Speaking to the BBC before the start of the fourth series of his Channel 4 show The F Word, the father-of-four said he plans to get the nation back into the kitchen, cooking healthy, wholesome fare.

He says the obesity problem in the UK could soon rival that of the States, and he blames parents for giving into children and not having the discipline to say no.

He also vented his anger at fellow TV chef Delia Smith, whose latest book, How to Cheat at Cooking, encourages people to mix together ready-made food rather than cook from scratch if they are short of time or on a tight budget.

He said: "I would expect students struggling on 15 a week to survive eating from a can but the nation's favourite, all-time icon reducing us down to using frozen, canned food. It's an insult.

"And it makes our lives, from a chef's point of view, a lot harder. Here we are trying to establish a reputation across the world for this country's food and along comes Delia and tips it out of a can. That hurts."




SEE ALSO
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