I Tried Gordon Ramsay’s Masterclass and It Was Surprisingly Awesome

updated Nov 26, 2020
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Credit: Grace Rasmus

You’ve probably heard of Masterclass, an online school offering classes with celebrities teaching you what they know best. Natalie Portman teaches acting. Steve Martin teaches comedy. Anna Wintour teaches creativity and leadership. Gordon Ramsay teaches (what else?) cooking. That’s the one that piqued my interest the most, because this class isn’t just any kind of cooking — it’s cooking “Restaurant Recipes at Home.” No grandma’s roast chicken or feed-a-crowd lasagna, which you can find all over the internet for free. (Here and here.)

My preferred cooking style is probably closer to Rachael Ray than Gordon Ramsay. (I was an editor at her magazine for years, so I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon.) That tends to mean loose measurements, realistic shortcuts, easily sourced ingredients, and nothing too fussy unless it’s REALLY worth it. That said, I love “project cooking” on the weekends, and the recipes on chef Ramsay’s syllabus definitely fell into that category. Rack of lamb? Fried branzino? Duck? Clear my schedule; let’s do this.

The class itself is broken up into 15 lessons, including one short intro and one short conclusion, which means there are 12 full dishes to make, ranging from appetizers to mains and desserts. The class costs $90, or you can sign up for an all-access membership to use on all the classes (acting, business, etc!) for $90/year for your first year, then $180/year after that. With this class, of course, you also have to pay for the ingredients to make the recipes, which aren’t exactly cheap.

Sign up for the class: Gordon Ramsay Teach Cooking, $180 for two annual memberships

Each lesson features a video of chef Ramsay making the recipe and a very necessary workbook PDF with full recipes, ingredient tips and swaps, and notes on what can be made ahead of time. You also have access to the lesson discussion, where other home cooks around the country share photos, comments, feedback, and tips. It’s similar to other commenting communities on recipe sites, but you definitely feel a we’re-all-in-this-together vibe here. Given that the recipes in the lesson plan were all deemed restaurant-quality, there are no real shortcuts or one-pot wonders on the list (at least not for the dishes I made). We’re talking a main and a side and another side and a sauce and a glaze and a citrus salt. Elaborate would be an understatement. (But this class isn’t about learning how to get quick dinners on the table — it’s about cooking restaurant dishes at home!)

Credit: Photo: Getty Images; Design: Kitchn

Let’s start with Ramsay himself. If you’re expecting a Hell’s Kitchen-esque battering from Chef Ramsay as you improperly sear your tuna, that is certainly not the case. The studio kitchen setting is airy and quite relaxing, actually — as is his demeanor. You’ve already seen this side of him if you’ve ever tuned into MasterChef Junior, but some may be surprised at just how nice the man is. There’s something incredibly soothing about listening to chef Ramsay say “this makes an incredible purée” while gliding his sharp knife through several asparagus stems at once to make perfect rounds.

The only times he seemed less-than-thrilled, it was never about you, the home cook, the novice — it was always in reference to mysterious other “chefs” doing something questionable. In reference to picking off baby spinach stems (wrong) instead of leaving them on (right), he goes: “Don’t take off those stalks. Leave them. They’re [chuckling, shaking his head] — they’re so full of flavor. The amount of times I see chefs picking [the stalks] off … THAT’S the money.” Even if you’ve been a stalk-picker your whole life, he says this in a way that makes you nod your head along and go, “Yeah! Those chefs! So silly to be leaving all that flavor behind!” and then continue on your merry way feeling like Chef Ramsay is in your corner.

Let’s get into the recipes! I made four dishes over the course of two weekends (again, these are definitely not weeknight recipes), and I selected them based on ingredient availability, the dietary needs of the guests I was serving, the kitchen equipment I was working with, and, of course, what sounded good to me. 

Credit: Grace Rasmus

1. Red Wine Poached Egg, Asparagus, and Mushrooms

“Learn how to sauté and purée to make this vegetarian main course, plus get tips on how to prep vegetables and poach eggs ahead of time for quick assembly when you’re ready to serve.”

I’m going to address the elephant in the room: I know this looks completely awful. I know that. I think it was a combination of trying to find my groove with the teaching format, substituting lots of ingredients for availability, not following directions closely enough, and a smidge of bad luck. This first recipe was a total visual failure and that makes me sad, but life goes on. (I promise, I get better at this, so stay with me.)

I had some trouble sourcing ingredients for this one. First of all, white asparagus is out of season, so that wasn’t happening. (The workbook says green is a fine substitute if you can’t find white.) Trumpet mushrooms also weren’t an option in my area, so I went with oyster mushrooms (a totally different thing!). For this particular recipe, big, thick asparagus would’ve been much better than the thin stalks I ended up buying, so I had to alter the cook time a bit to adapt to that. 

The thing that looks like an animal organ? That’s supposed to be a wine-poached egg. I was using older eggs, which isn’t recommended for poaching because those guys tend to spread out as soon as they hit the water, regardless of how perfectly you’ve copied Chef Ramsay’s swirly-water technique. And have you ever tried to scoop a splotchy poached egg that probably lost its yolk out of a pool of dark-red Cabernet Sauvignon? IT’S HARD. When I was down to my last two eggs, after multiple failed poaching attempts, I decided just to fry them sunny-side up so I at least had something delicious to feed myself and my patient dinner guest. 

Credit: Grace Rasmus

And, thankfully, delicious it was. While the recipe felt incredibly laborious for what ended up being asparagus, mushrooms, and a fried egg, the work I had put in up to that point was totally worth it. The sauce (which was, ahem, intended to be a bright-green purée) was the star here. It’s made mostly from tender asparagus “middles” — what you get right after you’ve trimmed off the woody edges, but before you get to the classic tipped stalks — which you sauté with shallots, herbs, vegetable stock, and heavy cream before whizzing it up in a blender. It was so, so good, and I saved the leftovers to spoon over crusty bread for the next few days.

I cook asparagus pretty regularly and I never would’ve thought to do something separately with the middle part, but that’s exactly why I’m taking a class from a professional chef, to learn the tips and tricks that make restaurant meals so much more spectacular than what you would’ve come up with on your own.

  • Difficulty: 9
  • Taste: 8
  • Presentation: 1
  • Restaurant-worthy? Maybe
  • Make again? No
Credit: Grace Rasmus

2. Roasted Eggplant with Basil & Feta

“Gordon shares his tips for extracting the bitterness from eggplant and roasting it in its own skin for this vegetarian side dish that quickly comes together. Learn how to incorporate aromatics and Turkish spices for a surprising flavor profile.”

Out of all the recipes I made, this one is the one I’m most likely to repeat regularly. It’s the only one I would categorize as actually kind of easy, if you could call it that — mainly because it relies on relatively few ingredients: eggplants, crushed San Marzano tomatoes, onions, garlic, feta, basil, and Turkish spices.

The main lesson here was the importance of transforming the bitter eggplant into something sweet and delicious. He repeated this so often that, after my asparagus fail, I was certain that it was still going to be the worst and bitterest eggplant dish I had ever tasted, due to my own incompetence. (It wasn’t! Although I did manage to drop a perfectly cooked eggplant on the floor in the final stretch, which was definitely a low point. Thankfully, I had extra.) 

Credit: Grace Rasmus

The cheffiest move in this recipe actually felt a little Rachael Ray to me — after cutting the eggplants lengthwise and scoring them, you stick garlic cloves into the cuts and then roast everything skin-side down in a cast-iron skillet, so you not only perfume the eggplants with garlicky goodness deep into its fleshy interior, but you also get delicious roasted garlic out of it that gets pulsed up with the rest of the spread. Dare I call it a shortcut? You then combine it with crushed tomatoes, caramelized onions, and Turkish spices for a Mediterranean meal. This made fantastic lunch leftovers, as you can serve it hot, cold, or at room temp, and it would be a great dish for a party.

  • Difficulty: 3
  • Taste: 8
  • Presentation: 7
  • Restaurant-worthy? No
  • Make again? Yes
Credit: Grace Rasmus

3. Sesame Crusted Tuna with Cucumber Salad

“Gordon says to ‘treat tuna like you would an amazing wagyu steak.’ Learn how to cook such a delicate meat, quick-pickled vegetables, and make cucumber ‘noodles’ finished with a bright, yuzu dressing.”

This dish falls under the category of Things I Order All the Time but Never Make Myself. If there’s some sort of ahi tuna app or burger on the menu, I’m probably ordering it. But I don’t think I’ve ever tried to make it at home. I’ve been intimidated by the thought of overcooking the fish (ruining the taste) or undercooking it (ruining my night; what if that fish market isn’t as fresh as I think it is?). That changes now! When your pan is at the right temperature and you’re following Chef Ramsay’s instructions, it’s hard to mess it up too terribly.

This recipe in particular was a fun excuse to buy a bunch of ingredients I don’t normally use, like yuzu extract, a Japanese citrus juice. I also rediscovered my love of quick-pickling, something I never really think to do. For my own ego, I need you to know that there is a bed of super-delicious pickled cucumbers underneath the delicately seared rare tuna, but you just can’t see it in the plated photo. Here they are after a delicious pickle bath.

Credit: Grace Rasmus

These cucumbers were supposed to be spiralized, but I didn’t have the right machinery, so I julienned them instead. I searched for a YouTube clip of Gordon Ramsay teaching someone how to julienne a vegetable just to keep with the theme. The clip I landed on, from the short-lived 2017 show Culinary Genius, put into perspective just how nice it was to watch the Masterclass programming instead of a high-stakes lesson with dramatic lighting and even more dramatic music. I much prefer his quiet, serene kitchen, thank you very much.

  • Difficulty: 6
  • Taste: 9
  • Presentation: 9
  • Restaurant-worthy? Yes
  • Make again? Yes
Credit: Grace Rasmus

4. Crispy Duck with Red Endive and Spinach

“Gordon teaches you how to cook duck breast in its own rendered fat for a crispy skin and tender flesh. Then make a quick cherry glaze and learn Gordon’s techniques for wilting spinach and caramelizing endive.”

This is the recipe I was most excited to make and the one where everything really came together — taste, execution, presentation, extra-special-ness, and so on. I really feel like I nailed it. And more importantly, I never would have nailed it, or even thought to attempt to nail it, if I hadn’t taken this class. I mean, really, who makes duck at home on a casual Sunday? For this recipe, you season duck breasts with a homemade Chinese 5-spice seasoning (yes, you toast and grind each spice yourself), sear it for a crispy skin and then finish it in the oven, make “caramelized” endive (or radicchio, in my case), and baste it with fresh-squeezed orange juice, then make a cherry-orange glaze, a simple sautéed spinach salad, and finish things off with orange citrus salt.

I could’ve lived without the radicchio, which didn’t get as caramelized as I would have liked it to and was, overall, a bit bitter and watery. But everything else was a win, even though I had to convince my dinner guests that, no, it’s not like chicken so, yes, it’s OK that it’s pink. Once they dug in, they were impressed too.

I don’t eat duck regularly enough to know if this was extremely good duck or just normal-good duck, but I was very proud of myself here and the flavors that came together in a relatively short amount of time. The next time I’m in the position to spend $34 on two duck breasts (gulp), I will definitely make this again.

  • Difficulty: 7
  • Taste: 10
  • Presentation: 10
  • Restaurant-worthy? Yes
  • Make again? Yes

My Final Thoughts on Gordon Ramsay’s Masterclass

Even though I haven’t finished this lesson plan yet, I would definitely recommend this course … for a certain type of cook. You have to know yourself and be aware of what you’re getting into: professional-level recipes with an emphasis on ingredient quality (and the prices that come with that) and over-the-top levels of detail best appreciated by a formal dinner party. Because the only thing that tastes better than crispy duck skin is crispy duck skin with a chorus of oohs and aahs of people who will probably help you with the dishes later.

If you’d rather learn tricks and recipes to feed your family on the regular, there are other places to get that (like this very website!). And you have to assess your own skill level, too, and/or be eager to improve in a self-sufficient manner. Chef Ramsay was certainly a capable teacher, but he’s not obviously sticking with you until you really “get it” — he’s moving on with the video, so it’s on you to check yourself and make sure you’re doing things right.

One important note for anyone thinking of tackling this class: The recipes in the workbook are not written in the order you’re supposed to make them in. Don’t be a fool (like me my first few attempts) and try to do it that way! On the bottom of the first page, there’s actually a handy little map for which order you’re supposed to prep and cook the dishes in for maximum efficiency, but it’s easy to miss. Also, don’t feel like you can just watch the video and ignore the workbook — you absolutely can’t.

My recommendation is to read the written recipe a bunch, as you should with any recipe, then watch the video while you’re prepping or on your train ride home (each video is about 20 minutes). Read the comments to see if there’s anything extra-tricky you should look out for. Then, when you’re actually cooking, follow the written recipe and tune into the relevant part of the video if you need a refresher on how he’s doing certain things.

Would you try this Masterclass? Let us know in the comments below!