Ramsay set to launch 'Cook Idol' format on Channel 4

LONDON - Following a £1.5m deal with Channel 4, Gordon Ramsay is to launch 'Cook Idol', a 'Pop Idol'/'Hell's Kitchen' hybrid that will search for the nation's top amateur chef.

The celebrity chef will test amateur chefs, then invite the best candidates to work in a tough restaurant kitchen before deciding the winner.

According to reports , the show is being lined up for next year. A Channel 4 insider said that Ramsay is looking at various formats following the deal, and one of these is to create a star chef.

Ramsay is also reported to be launching a prime-time food show with the channel, called 'The F-Word'. Channel 4 was unavailable for further comment.

The news follows Ramsay's defection to Channel 4 from ITV in a £1.5m golden-handcuffs deal. He said that he did not want to do another 'Hell's Kitchen' with ITV because of the time commitment involved.

However, the former Rangers footballer and restaurateur is preparing to launch 'Hell's Kitchen' in the US, having signed a deal with Rupert Murdoch's Fox TV, which has echoes of 'The Apprentice' in it.

Unlike the UK programme, the US contestants will not be minor celebrities but members of the public who want to make it as chefs. The winner will receive their own Hollywood restaurant worth more than $2m (£1.12m). The show is to be screened in the UK on ITV1 later this year.

Ramsay, who is behind restaurants such as Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's, has a carved himself a media reputation as a foul-mouthed, bad-tempered and very watchable TV star earlier this year in shows such as 'Hell's Kitchen'. One of the classic one-liners from the fiery chef included a stern dressing down for contestant Edwina Currie.

"One minute you're shagging our prime minister and now you're shagging me from behind," he told her.

The ratings-winning show saw former 'Coronation Street' actress Amanda Barrie and Brooksider Jennifer Ellison learning how to cook in a real restaurant.

Ramsay had already had a successful crack at reality TV when he starred in Channel 4 show 'Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares' earlier this year.

In that show, he went into fledgling restaurants, giving advice on how owners can improve their businesses. In one episode, he described a chef as a "lazy slob who lacks inspiration" and said that he cooked like a "twat".

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