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Gordon’s gastronomic guide to America

As one of the world’s most prolific chefs, there are few places Gordon Ramsay hasn’t been, or foods he hasn’t tried. This month, the discerning cuisinier takes us on a mouth-watering tour across his vast second home: North America. Napkins at the ready


01/08/2021

Dolsot Bibimbap – Korean rice served in a stove-hot stone bowl – at Cote (Gary He); New York’s Flatiron district (Toms Rits)

Korean BBQ in New York

New York is both an incredible city and an incredible food destination, bringing together so many cultures into five distinct boroughs. One of my favourite spots to go to is Cote in the Flatiron district, which has elevated Korean BBQ to Michelin levels. The service and design is on point, but what stands out is the quality of the meat. I was blown away with my first visit there and always suggest my team stop there if they’re in NYC! The city isn’t all about fine dining, though. Take Wildair on the Lower East Side – it’s more casual than Michelin-starred sister restaurant Contra and has a more relaxed vibe, with a great wine list. Brooklyn also has some of the most amazing food collections – try show-stopping Italian at Missy Robbins’ Lilia, a restaurant converted from a former car repair shop.

Take off to New York

A catamaran navigates peaceful waters in Maui, Hawaii (Logan Armstrong); banana bread is Hawaii’s best-kept secret (Shutterstock)

Banana bread in Hawaii

These islands are absolute magic! I spent some time spear-fishing off Maui, snacking sashimi-style on fish we caught right there on the boat. The quality was incredible! But the dark horse of this trip was the banana bread. Yes, you heard me – banana bread. The bananas that grow here (commonly known as apple bananas) are much smaller than you get on the mainland and much sweeter. There’s a little shack on your way to Hana that reads ‘Halfway to Hana’. You have to pull over and get as much banana bread as your luggage can fit in!

Take off to Hawaii

Roasted bone marrow, courtesy of Bestia (Ren Fuller); the foodie paradise of Los Angeles (Alessandro Guarino)

Roasted bone marrow in Los Angeles

LA is my second home, and a place where the restaurant scene sets a high bar for food trends in the US. There’s Bestia’s Ori Menashe – an Israeli chef putting out some of the city’s best Italian food. His roasted bone marrow with gnocchetti is one of the best dishes in the city and a must order (though leave room for his wife Genevieve’s incredible desserts). Not everything is ‘California Influenced’. Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo have Jon & Vinny’s, a West Coast take on East Coast American Italian; their spicy fusilli has become an LA mainstay dish now. You can also get some of the best tacos in the US in LA. Head for shrimp tacos at Mariscos Jaliscos or cochinita pibil at Guisados. This shredded pork taco is braised with sweet red achiote and served on an incredible tortilla!

Take off to LA

Colourful Oaxaca, Mexico (Getty Images); the legendary El Mole at Alfonsina

Moles in Mexico

When I travelled to Oaxaca, I didn’t know I was going to unearth such an incredible food culture. Moles are a must, especially from the legendary El Mole at Alfonsina. But, for a taste of the earth, get off the beaten path and try some delicious insects! Chicatanas (flying ants) and chapulines (grasshoppers) are staple garnishes and snacks there! 

Take off to Mexico

Tomatoes with frozen sherry and orange pearls and gazpacho at Alinea; Chicago has a dynamic food scene (Benjamin Suter)

Dessert in Chicago

I’ve always loved the Midwest. It’s full of hardworking, kind people who love their food. Chicago is home to a really dynamic food scene that offers everything on the spectrum. It’s also home to one of my favourite American chefs, Grant Achatz. He’s doing some cutting-edge stuff at Alinea. I got to see his work first hand last year on MasterChef and it’s amazing – a once-in-a-lifetime type of experience. And, trust me, wait until you get to dessert. It’s chefs like Grant that help set the stage and inspire others to really develop and innovate. Stephanie Izard with her infamous Girl & the Goat is one such chef – she’s producing some of the city’s most creative dishes. Of course, it wouldn’t be Chicago without some beef, so you must go to Au Cheval for its legendary cheeseburger. It’s worth the wait!

Take off to Chicago

Miami’s Little Havana is a melting pot of Latin American flavours (Alamy); pan con minuta – fried snapper sandwich – from La Camaronera 

Fried fish in Miami

Let’s be clear, Miami has it all: it has South Beach, the Design district, the clubs, art scene and shopping – and it’s so culturally diverse. The food here is an unbelievable melting pot of Latin American flavours. Smoky, sweet and spicy come together in the most incredible Cuban food you’ll ever taste outside of Havana. In the streets around Little Havana, stop by La Camaronera for an iconic pan con minuta – a sandwich of fried snapper in a delicious soft Cuban roll. Head out into the buzzing neighbourhoods to taste street food such as delicious flaky empanadas, crunchy yucca fries and fragrant croquetas, or an incredible rabo encenido (braised oxtail stew). Wash them down with an ice-cold mojito.

Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips opens August 2021 at Icon Park, International Drive, Orlando, FL 

Take off to Miami