Gordon Ramsay, set to open first Chicago restaurant, answers 11 questions on ketchup, hot dogs, and how he perfects burgers at home

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Gordon Ramsay plans to open his first restaurant in Chicago in the River North neighborhood.

Gordon Ramsay Burger will take over the former Wahlburgers space on the northeast corner of Ontario and State streets. The new celebrity burger joint is expected to open in late 2021 or early 2022 with 120 seats, 5,000 square feet and a full bar.

It’s the British chef’s second eponymous burger restaurant in this country, after Las Vegas, and his third in the world, in addition to one in London. The American menu features thick patties (with plant-based options), fries, milkshakes and hot dogs, including a Straight Up Dawg ($16.99), with a footlong hot dog, pickles, onions, mustard and ketchup.

The Michelin-starred chef, who has 35 restaurants worldwide, may be best known as a reality television personality with a controversial temper. In 2018, he clashed with Chicago chef Jen Gavin on “Hell’s Kitchen.”

Ramsay answered questions via email and declined a phone or Zoom interview through his publicist, who cited the chef’s travel schedule. The interview has been edited and condensed.

How did you choose Chicago for your next Gordon Ramsey Burger?

Chicago is such an incredible city for restaurants, and I know Chicagoans love their beef. So it was a no-brainer to bring it to River North.

When was the last time you visited Chicago?

I’ve been to Chicago so many times over the past decade. I vividly remember being at the opening of Blackbird with Daniel Boulud many years ago, and it’s when I really fell in love with the city. I was supposed to come back in 2020 after Grant Achatz appeared on “MasterChef,” but then the pandemic hit. But I can’t wait to be back.

What are your thoughts on the Chicago-style Big Baby burger?

There are so many amazing burgers in Chicago, and the Big Baby is definitely an interesting one. It seems like a relic of another time of burger making and a Chicago classic. I’ll have to try one when I’m out for the opening.

Will you come to Chicago for the opening?

Fingers crossed when the borders open. I wouldn’t miss this opening and I’d love to see Grant, Stephanie Izard and the other incredible chefs there.

What are the most popular menu items at your Burger restaurants in Las Vegas and London?

The Backyard Burger (known here in London as the American burger) and the Hell’s Kitchen burger have been our top sellers. The Backyard is the American burger combo — melty American cheese with lettuce, tomato, pickles and onion. The Hell’s Kitchen burger brings some great heat and complexity with the roasted jalapeños, roasted tomatoes and asadero cheese.

How do you order your burgers at a restaurant?

At mine? Just as we’ve perfected. Anywhere in America? The way the chef wants it, and medium-rare. I absolutely love a burger after a really productive day.

How do you cook burgers at home?

Great question. Usually over the grill, and I put a little bit of frozen butter into the patty so that it gets extra juicy. I’ve even shown this buttery secret ... on my YouTube channel.

Will there be any Chicago-exclusive specials, possibly a beef Wellington burger?‎

Of course there will. We’ll definitely be making local Gordon Ramsay Burger specials to feel like we’re part of this incredible city. I’ve already been talking to the team about burgers dedicated to some of Chicago’s best chefs and legends. As for a Welly burger, stay tuned.

Will you offer the Straight Up Dawg in Chicago with ketchup?

I know in addition to pizza and burgers, Chicago loves a hot dog. It’s my homage to baseball parks and stadiums across the U.S. that serve this classic.

What would you say to a Chicagoan who traditionally says no ketchup on hot dogs? In fact, some stands will tell you to “GET OUT!” if you ask for it.

Like I have with vegans, give it a chance.

Any plans for future restaurants in Chicago?

Chicago is a great city, so I hope this is just the start.

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