Gordon Ramsay Says This Snack Was His Comfort Food When He First Came to the U.S. 20 Years Ago (Exclusive)

Ramsay reveals his history with Welch's Fruit Snacks to PEOPLE after partnering with the brand (as the Chief Fruit Officer) all these years later

<p>Leon Bennett/Getty </p> Gordon Ramsay

Leon Bennett/Getty

Gordon Ramsay

Early in his career, Gordon Ramsay got through long nights working as a chef thanks to one classic (and surprising!) snack.

In an interview with PEOPLE, the restaurateur opened up about his "first foray into the U.S." back in 2004 — and how Welch’s Fruit Snacks played a part. (Ramsay is the brand's new "Chief Fruit Officer.")

“Would you believe it? This month [it will be] 20 years ago” since he first set up his second home in the U.S., he recalls.

“Chefs never eat before going into service because you need to keep that level of lightness and excitement, and so first thing that I went for was a Welch's Fruit Snack because it was just such a lovely little pick me up and a treat, but also was balancing on the healthy side as well,“ he adds. "So that's how long I've been excited about them."

The dad to six says that his latest partnership with the 23-year-old company couldn’t be more perfect. Ramsay is the face of Welch’s Fruit Snacks first-ever TV commercial (rolling out this summer), which “aims to raise awareness around the difference between real fruit snacks, those made with whole fruit, and fruit-flavored snacks made by competitors,” per a release.

<p>Welch's Fruit Snacks</p> Gordon Ramsay for Welch's Fruit Snacks

Welch's Fruit Snacks

Gordon Ramsay for Welch's Fruit Snacks

And who better to assume the new role of “Chief Fruit Officer” or CFO, than Ramsay, who’s known for his tough critiques.

Plus, even though his affinity for the treats began 20 years ago, Ramsay says he still carries them “at the bottom of my rucksack” at all times to “fill in those gaps between meals.”

“You’ll see about five or six packs floating around,” he says. “They're easy to carry and they're freaking delicious.”

Out of all of Ramsay’s kids, — Megan, 25, twins Jack and Holly, 24, Matilda “Tilly," 22, Oscar, 5, and Jesse, 6 months — whom he shares with wife Tana, his 5-year-old is the most thrilled about his new CFO role.

Related: Gordon Ramsay’s Wife Tana on the Gordon She Knows: ‘I Still Get Butterflies’ (Exclusive)

<p>Welch's Fruit Snacks</p> Gordon Ramsay for Welch's Fruit Snacks

Welch's Fruit Snacks

Gordon Ramsay for Welch's Fruit Snacks

“I mean, CFO. Oscar is beside himself,” Gordon says with a laugh. “So the Chief Fruit Officer, it's really exciting.”

Even his older kids are getting in on the fun. Tilly, who judges MasterChef Junior with her famous dad, has been experimenting with Welch's Fruit Snacks on top of many sweet desserts at home, Gordon says.

"With our sixth baby…we have a house full of kids that are equally as excited. So Tilly's been one of the most inspirational ones because she's been super creative,” he explains. “We had some fun on Easter with the Welch's Fruit Snacks on top of cupcakes, on top of frozen yogurts, berry smoothies.”

<p>Tana Ramsay/Instagram</p> Gordon Ramsay with sons Oscar and Jesse

Tana Ramsay/Instagram

Gordon Ramsay with sons Oscar and Jesse

And since the “Ramsay household is very competitive,” all the kids are “enjoying every minute of it,” he adds.

Lucky for him, none of his kids have ever been too picky when it comes to eating healthy foods.

<p>David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty</p> Gordon Ramsay with his wife Tana and their older kids

David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty

Gordon Ramsay with his wife Tana and their older kids

Related: Gordon Ramsay’s Daughter Tilly Says Her Younger Brother Oscar, 4, Is 'Cooking Already' (Exclusive)

“With the kids, it was really important that they became unfussy. And so back in the early days, we would disguise spinach, blend it in soups,” he recounts. “And then if I showed them the bowl was spinach, they'd turn their nose up against it. And so we were very smart with lots of soups with vegetables right at the very beginning of that journey.”

For someone who runs 77 restaurants worldwide, it’s no surprise that Gordon's kids are now open to all different kinds of food.

“And so now we have six — even though one's still on milk — five very unfussy eaters. And then fingers crossed, Jesse's going to follow the same lines as the rest of them,” says Gordon.

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