Stream It Or Skip It?

Gordon Ramsay‘s American Road Trip is actually an edited version of the 2nd season of Gordon, Gino & Fred’s Road Trip, a series that aired on ITV in Britain and is on the UK version of BritBox. That’s important to note, because it means this wasn’t just a random road trip for Ramsay and his buddies Gino D’Acampo and Fred Sirieix, it was a well-planned season of a food and travel show. But, by taking a four-episode, 3-plus-hour season and whittling it down to 82 minutes (without ads), does the show still make sense?

The Gist: Gordon Ramsay, whose shows seemingly fill up half of Fox’s primetime schedule, took his two best friends, Italian chef Gino D’Acampo and French maître d’hôtel Fred Siriex, in a souped-up RV on a road trip through the western United States and Tijuana. Gordon Ramsay’s American Road Trip is the result.

Actually, as mentioned above, this is an edited-down version of the second season of the ITV series Gordon, Gino & Fred’s Road Trip, where the trio took the RV, nicknamed “Betty,” on the road from Tijuana to Las Vegas and Arizona, back to Los Angeles, up to San Francisco, and then back down and over to Texas. Along the way, the friends do different American things, like work on a dude ranch, race buggies on a track (where Gino somehow crashes into Betty, inexplicably parked near the track), go fishing, and try their hand at real Texas barbecue for a crowd or rodeo workers.

But, the special — edited in a way so that they start in Las Vegas, go to AZ, then LA, then SF, then Mexico and Texas — also shows the years-long friendship between Ramsay, D’Acampo and Siriex. They make silly bets with each other; at Gordon’s LA mansion, Fred and Gino bet Gordon that the burger that Gordon’s mom likes better will have to dive into Gordon’s pool buck naked. They bust each others’ balls, as Gordon scares Gino with the stuffed deead animals adorning the cabin they stayed in after fishing.

They also discover the west via various cuisines, like when they race to make fortune cookies in San Fran’s Chinatown, or when they go to Snow’s BBQ in Texas to talk to pitmaster Tootsie Tomanetz.

Photo: Fox

What Specials Will It Remind You Of?: A goofier version of Ramsay’s other travel series, Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted.

Performance Worth Watching: Gino D’Acampo readily admits he’s not the manliest alpha male around, but it’s fun watching him get scared in a helicopter over the Grand Canyon or duck into the gondola of a hot air balloon over Napa.

Memorable Dialogue: After Gino tries to wedge the RV down Lombard Street in SF, he tells Gordon he could have made it. “Just because you’re the king of the kitchen, doesn’t mean you’re the king of the street.”

Sex and Skin: Besides seeing these three middle-aged men skinny dipping in Texas, or Gino wearing assless chaps (appropriately blurred out for American network television), there’s nothing.

Our Take: The disjointedness of Gordon Ramsay’s American Road Trip made me wonder if this wasn’t intended to be a special, and my suspicion was confirmed when I found that it was the second season of Gordon, Gino’s and Fred’s Road Trip. That season was only four 45-50 minute episodes, but that also means that more than half of the trip was sliced out to accommodate the 85-minute (without commercials) running time for Fox. The rejiggering of the order, as well as the seeming incompleteness of the trip, makes the special tough to watch.

There’s also the fact that, like in Uncharted, Ramsay uses his locales and the people in it more as a backdrop for his cooking and the shenanigans of him and his buddies than as a deep exploration of the people and culture of a region, and how it’s communicated through its food. Not that it’s a bad thing; not everyone needs to be the late Anthony Bourdain or, as Taste The Nation showed, Padma Lakshmi. But there are points during the special where they come off as Ugly Europeans, picking off the most stereotypical of American experiences but not digging any deeper.

Because of his experience in the States, Ramsay seems to be more interested in the deeper American culture than his buddies, no matter what they say about always wanting to be cowboys or some such. It’s a bit jarring, but a lot of that may be hyped up for the cameras.

What we liked the most about the special was the friendship between Gordon, Gino and Fred. Yes, it’s pretty immature at times, given the fact that all of these men are well into their 40s and 50s. But they also keep each other in check, and any program that shows Ramsay on a human level instead of a mouth yelling curses, which seems to be how Fox wants him to look, is a bonus. But there’s too much about this special that made us cringe.

Our Call: SKIP IT. If you can get hold of Gordon, Gino & Fred’s Road Trip, watch that instead of the Frankensteined version of it. Gordon Ramsay’s American Road Trip doesn’t say enough about Ramsay, his buddies or America to be worth your time.

Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon,,, Fast Company and elsewhere.

Stream Gordon Ramsay’s American Road Trip On