Editorial

Gordon Ramsay Uncharted Smoky Mountains: Where to watch, a show synopsis

Gordon Ramsay is easily one of my all-time favorite celebrity chefs. 

So when I found out he had recently visited the Great Smoky Mountains – my home turf – as part of his latest show, Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted, I couldn’t wait to tune in.

Read Also: Why are they called the Smoky Mountains?

First things first, Uncharted is unlike any of Ramsay’s other cooking shows. 

Instead of being filmed primarily in a kitchen with prepped ingredients, this show goes straight to the source.

Uncharted takes Ramsay on a trip around the world to places that he’s never been before. 

Each episode features a different location. And at each stop along the way, Ramsay meets local chefs, butchers, foragers and fishers who teach him not only how to cook like a local but how to actually source the food. 

On Uncharted we get to see Ramsay as we’ve never seen before as he hikes, climbs and dives his way around remote parts of the world in search of the freshest ingredients.

I always hesitate to comment on a celebrity’s personality when I don’t actually know the person in real life. But I have to say, even when seemingly out of his element, Ramsey seems to have a natural wonder, curiosity and excitement about him. He even takes his many wipeouts in stride.

Over the past few seasons of Uncharted we’ve watched as Ramsey visits exotic locations in Peru, New Zealand, Hawaii, South Africa, Tasmania, India and Guyana just to name a few.

And in season three episode six (S3E6) we finally get to see Ramsay explore our neck of the woods – The Great Smoky Mountains.

Gordon Ramsay (L) and chef, William Dissen, discuss community, food culture and cuisine while fly fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. (photo by National Geographic/Justin Mandel)

Where was this episode filmed? Is Gordon Ramsay in Asheville?

Editor’s Note: The following section contains spoilers. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

This episode, which originally aired July 4, 2021, was largely filmed on the North Carolina side of the Smokies near Asheville. This is essentially where the Smokies blend into the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

Read Also: Are the Blue Ridge Mountains and Smoky Mountains the same?

The episode starts off with a dramatic scene as we watch Ramsay rappel off the side of a waterfall where he meets fellow Chef William Dissen.

Dissen is an award-winning chef and owner of The Market Place in Asheville. 

Dissen challenges Ramsey to a cookoff while the pair show off their fly fishing skills (or lack thereof) in a lake at the base of a giant waterfall.

If Ramsay proves to be the winner Dissen agrees to hand over the keys to his Jeep. If Dissen wins, Ramsay agrees to fly him and his family out to London first-class. 

And just like that, the scene is set and our journey begins.

Gordon Ramsey learns how to make moonshine
Gordon Ramsay gets a crash course in moonshine while visiting the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. (photo by National Geographic/Justin Mandel)

Local experts, chefs and dishes featured on the Great Smoky Mountains episode

Ramsay makes a few pitstops as he prepares for the big cookoff.

He kayaks with hand paddles down river rapids to catch crayfish (also known as crawfish) in homemade traps with Chef Keith. 

He forages for mushrooms with expert forager Adam. 

And then comes my personal favorite segment – watching Ramsay learn how to make moonshine the old-fashioned way from the owner of Howling Moon Distillery, Cody Bradford, and his father, Derrick.

Howling Moon Distillery is based in Asheville, NC.

If Howling Moon Distillery sounds familiar – there’s a reason. This isn’t their television debut. They were also featured in an episode of “Ride with Norman Reedus” back in 2016 on AMC.

That’s a Distillery with an impressive knack for public relations if I’ve ever seen one.

They let Ramsay have a swig of 100 proof shine – otherwise known in these parts as white lightnin’. Seconds later he does a spit fake and exclaims “I feel like a flamethrower!”

He does however take a shine (moonshine joke) to the Apple Pie flavored variety.

Read Also: Is Moonshiners real? Does the TV show make real moonshine?

Ramsay learns how to make livermush
Matt (L), a local butcher, teaches Gordon Ramsay (R) how to make livermush, a food staple of Western North Carolina. (photo by National Geographic/Justin Mandel)

Next, he meets up with Matt Helms from The Chop Shop Butchery (also located in Asheville, NC) who teaches Ramsey how to make livermush.

Side note – I grew up on the Tennessee side of the Smokies and have to admit I’ve never heard of livermush. I’m guessing it’s mostly a North Carolina thing. 

Livermush is compromised of pork shoulder, liver and pigs feet. The ingredients are combined with cornmeal to create a patty-like texture before it’s slapped on a fluffy breakfast biscuit. 

Ramsay’s final stop was the Cherokee Indian Reservation inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to meet up with Malea who teaches him how to make Hominy – a traditional Cherokee Indian dish.

The final cookoff
Gordon Ramsay (standing left) and chef William Dissen (standing right) serve their guests during the final cook in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. (photo by National Geographic/Justin Mandel)

The final cookoff menu items

At the end of the episode, Ramsay and Dissen meet back up to prepare two southern dishes for the experts and guests who appeared throughout the course of the episode. 

The guests serve as the final judges in this friendly cooking competition.

Gordon’s final menu included:

  • Livermush on a “scone” (aka a crispy biscuit) with pickled onions and fried quails egg
  • Hand foraged mushrooms
  • Hominy with smoked ham
  • Crayfish finished with apple pie moonshine

Dissen’s final menu included:

  • Sunburst rainbow trout
  • Griddle cakes
  • Crayfish with sour corn and country ham relish
  • Wild mushrooms with gratin

Ultimately, Dissen, the local favorite, wins the competition. 

That’ll teach ya not to make our fluffy Southern biscuits crispy Ramsay … don’t say you weren’t warned about that. But we love you anyway.

Livermush biscuits
Gordon Ramsay’s livermush on scones topped with pickled onions and fried quail eggs. (photo by National Geographic/Justin Mandel)

Where to watch Gordon Ramsay Uncharted: The Great Smoky Mountains

You can watch a free behind-the-scenes clip from Gordon Ramsay’s Unchartered: The Great Smoky Mountains in the embedded video below courtesy of Gordon Ramsay himself.

The full episode is available now on Hulu (with live TV add-on) and Disney+. You may also be able to catch the occasional rerun on National Geographic. Check your local listings.

Did you catch The Great Smoky Mountains episode of Uncharted? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.

Is there a blue tree path in the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee?

There’s yet another wild rumor making its way across the Internet about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee.

It involves an image of what appears to be a park trail surrounded by blue and purple trees. It usually appears alongside the caption: “Blue Tree Path in Tennessee”.

I first happened upon the spectacle on Pinterest. And there’s no doubt that it’s a beautiful image. But is it real?

For years, I believed that the classic Coen’s comedy O Brother Where Art Thou? was real life. 

No. I didn’t believe the Soggy Bottom Boys, Pappy O’Daniel or Big Dan Teague were real characters, but the golden Mississippi foliage caught on film or digital camera by the Coens? I assumed that was real. 

I’ve got to go to Mississippi, I told myself. 

Then, I went to Mississippi on other business and realized that not only was there no Santa Claus, but Mississippi itself wasn’t a golden foliage wonderland. 

So I fired up the Google machine and found out the Coens took plain old green Mississippi trees and digitally changed them through a fairly laborious process, adding to the allegory or the irony or some other such thing that you need when you’re adapting Homer’s Odyssey into a Great Depression-era, bluegrass-tinged screwball comedy. 

As the years have passed and photo editing technology has reached the masses, I have tried to hone my skeptical radar. 

Is it real or is it fake?

“Wow. There’s a picture of a giant fish swimming through a mall in a flood,” they say.

“Photoshop,” I reply. 

“Look at this photo of a manbearpig racing through an Arkansas bog,” they say. 

“It’s Photoshop,” I reply, adding a little sing-songy thing. 

“Hey. Look at this photo of a diver next to a shark that’s bigger than a bus,” they say. 

“Photoshop, or forced perspective or some other dang trick that I am not going to fall for,” I explain. 

“Have YOU seen this Smoky Mountain trail where the foliage turns bright blue and purple?”

“Oh, for the love of Mike.”

That’s when the old Facebook feed starts chiming in. 

“Is that real? That’s amazing.”

“No. Not real. It’s Photoshop.”

“But it’s on Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook. It’s one of the latest trending pins on Pinterest. It has multiple shares. I mean, 20,000 blue tree path fans can’t be wrong. Look there’s even a YouTube link.”

“It’s fake news. The YouTube link doesn’t even go to a blue tree path video, it’s some kind of weird trap-beat music which, according to the comments, goes hard as heck, bro.”

“But it’s so beautiful. It has to be real. I want it to be real.”

“It’s a Smurf fever dream. Somebody took a photo of a mountain trail, played with the hue and saturation and is out here selling you a version of reality that doesn’t exist. Gargamel is not walking through that door.”

So is there really a blue tree path in Tennessee?

Friends, I am sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings. There is no such thing as a blue tree path in the Smoky Mountains. I’m fairly certain there’s no such thing as a blue tree path outside of James Cameron’s Avatar sequels and quite possibly a Grateful Dead black light poster.

The funny part is, the world is full of wonders, as is the Smoky Mountain National Park. You don’t need a forest path colored like wicked elves broke loose at night and spray-painted the trees unnatural colors. 

A couple of years ago, I finally found the beauty the Coen brothers had teased me with in Mississippi, but it wasn’t in the Deep South. 

In fact, it was about a 30 minute drive from where I grew up. 

We don’t need blue, we’ve got gold

As you’re climbing the mountains to Cades Cove, when you’re in the tall trees not far before you get to the picnic area, there’s a spot where a certain kind of tree has taken over the forest. If you’re there at the right time, under the right conditions, those tree leaves turn a vibrant shade of golden yellow. 

When the sunlight hits that part of the forest just so, everything lights up like you’re suddenly inside a painting. You’re living artwork.

Blue? We don’t need blue. We’ve got gold, baby. 

Read Also: How to visit Cades Cove, 7 things to know before you go

Of course, truth is often stranger than fiction.

Here in Tennessee we don’t have blue trees but in the mountains of Kentucky, where the grass is blue, there were blue-skinned people. The Fugates of Troublesome Creek suffered from a genetic blood condition that turned their skin blue.   

Why we tend to fall for Internet hoaxes

I’ve never understood the impulse to perform such a mundane Internet hoax.

Attention, I suppose. Clicks. But I think what people are drawn to is beauty, not reality. Maybe engaging their skepticism keeps them looking at it longer. 

“What? Is that real?”

Read Also: Are there volcanoes in Tennessee? Your burning questions answered

Taking the natural world and adjusting it, even digitally, is a form of art and we are drawn to that beauty, even if we know it is an adjusted version of our world. 

Artists have made their living selling idealized versions of the natural world for years. I don’t think we need blue tree truthers to get people to examine your art.  

Have you ever fallen for a Photoshop hoax regarding the Smoky Mountains? Let us know in the comments!