Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares

Did he ever have a success with any of the people? I saw a few episodes on BBCAmerica this summer, and it was always the same drill:

1.) Ramsay comes into the restaurant and identifies the lazy habits the owners/operators had fallen into that are threatening the business.

2.) He counsels them on how to turn it around, and shepherds them through one really successful night of business.

3.) He rides off into the sunset.

4.) He comes back in a month or two, and finds that the original lazy habits have returned, and the restaurant is about to close down for good.

5.) He gives them a tongue-lashing.

I recently read that he’s going to bring the show to America. Any likelihood that it’ll be any different? If not, what reason is there for watching it? Just because Americans like to watch trainwrecks?

I think you might be stuck in a small time warp. The first series already aired. You read a brief recap of what happened to all the restaurants here.

I can’t remember off the top of my head the restaurants name, but I remember a Soul Food place in London that turned into a big sucess after Ramsey did Kitchen Nightmares with them. There were a couple of others that worked out too on the British series.

He has already brought the series to America, it’s on Fox and in it’s second season. They don’t do the follow up at the end of the episode though and it is much more like a “REALITY SHOW!” with ominous music and gottcha editing. I don’t like it half as much as I liked the BBC version.

Hm? I think I’ve watched every episode they’ve shown on BBCA and almost every restaurant has been saved. I can only think of two that ultimately failed.

Also, they’ve covered a bunch of different ways to fuck up a restaurant
-chef can’t cook
-chef is an alcoholic
-owners think the whole thing is a groovy hobby, not a job
-owners create bad/scary atmosphere with their constant domestic disturbances
-appalling hygiene
-trying to be way too fancy-pants for market
-menu too incomprehensibly large for kitchen to manage (common problem in almost every episode)

Also, I’m almost certain the U.S. version is beginning its second season.


Well, thanks.

Was the show any good? The US show, that is?

He’s already done two series in the States.

I like the British series better. It focused more on the food and the actual operation of a restuarant.

While the American version seemed to be edited more to focus on the drama, the tension and the verbal spats between Gordon and the restaurant owner.

I agree with GreedySmurf that the UK version is better in its focus on the food. Also, the American version almost always seems to feature an expensive makeover of the restaurant by the production team and some sort of goofy charity event (like a “fun run”) designed to introduce the newly remodeled restaurant to the community.

But the cluelessness on the part of the chefs and owners is astonishing. And on the American version, the owner/chef always seems initially reluctant to listen to him, which I don’t understand. First of all, this is after they specifically asked for the help. Second, presumably they’ve seen the show, so they should be aware of the generally positive track record. And he’s one of the biggest celebrities in their business. I would think they would be eager to spend as much time learning from him as possible.

I couldn’t agree more.

I’m flummoxed almost every episode when these owners, who have come to Gordon for help, they’re the ones who have put up their hands to say my restaurant is failing please help me, than come back pissed off at Gordon, and telling him to bugger off! WTF is that?

Are some of these people that deluded that they don’t think they were the problem?
Also, while the American Series One episodes generally don’t have a “follow-up” segment at the end. The first episode of series 2 was basically a big catch up with 5-6 of the restaurants from Series One. Which was interesting in some cases.

The simplest explanation for the attitude shown by the restaurant owners/chefs is that it’s drama manufactured for television purposes. Because it would be boring to watch them just quietly and eagerly listen to Ramsay for a week. (Which what I imagine would really happen.)

Exactly. Plus all the edited exclamations of variants of “fuck” make for quality viewing…especially given how often that word is tossed around in real restaurant situations.

Goodness no, that is sadly not true. I love this show (discovered it only last year but have become sort of an addict thanks to BBC-A) and have kept track of various sites that reveal the fates of these restaurants. Here’s a rundown, plus reminders of the relevant episodes.

Series 1:

  • Bonaparte’s Restaurant: Closed

This is the one with the restaurant above the pub and the crappy young chef who couldn’t cook eggs or tell the difference in a blind taste test between lamb, pork or chicken. The owner sued Gordon and lost.

  • Glass House: Open

The one with the two young chefs (including Claire, a parttime bookstore employee who was just helping out her boyfriend) who were snatched up by Gordon for his restaurant

  • Walnut Tree: Closed

Snobby owner who refused to lower his prices or promote the more talented assistant chef as Gordon recommended.

  • Moore Place: Sold

Massive purple grape of a building. I believe this is the one that’s related to a golf course, and where Gordon had the staff carving roast chickens at table for a Mother’s Day meal.

Series 2:

  • La Lanterna: Closed

Italian restaurant with crappy chef w/his own personal license plate; infamous scene where the arrogant staffer knowingly gives a pizza w/ham to a vegetarian.

  • D-Place: Closed by the end of the episode, yet

The one where the chef lied about having flash fried his potatoes rather than baked them.

  • Momma Cherri’s Soul Food Shack: Open but under administration

“Soul in the Bowl.” Gordon came back like three times to help this soulfood restaurant run by a likeable woman with woefully poor judgment. Each time they kept overpreparing and pre-preparing their food like a fast food restaurant. Finally opened a huge expanded restaurant and ended up under administration.

  • La Riviera: Open

Run by a fast food magnate who brought KFC to Scotland; Gordon told him he was too pretentious for the area and should keep the cozy ambience. Instead when Gordon returned the owner had reverted to hifalutin’ ways and renamed it Abstract. He opened a second restaurant for lunch, which was more along the lines Gordon wanted. Sure enough, it was more popular than the first.

Series 3:

  • Oscar’s: Sold

Sad episode with the woman who hired her son as a chef, and gradually Gordon realized he had a drinking problem. Son went into rehab, so somewhat hopeful, but the restaurant closed.

  • Sandgate Hotel: Sold

The pseudo Fawlty Towers episode. Had a Japanese restaurant in the basement; Gordon arranged for an eating contest between this restaurant and a French counterpart.

  • Clubway-41: Closed

Lancashire restaurant renamed Jackson’s by Gordon.

  • La Gondola: Sold

The large, very old fashioned restaurant with the waiter who made flambe desserts at table. Run by a woman who had happy memories of the place before her divorce.

Series 4:

  • La Parra de Burriana: Open

Spain and the Donkeys! How can you forget the donkeys. :slight_smile: Plus Gordon’s disgust at the chef’s chicken and banana dish and chocolate ‘n’ prawns… urgh.

  • The Fenwick Arms: Open

Campaign for Real Gravy and the obsessive compulsive chef with a dish fetish.

  • Rococo: Closed

Former Michelin star chef who was depressed about his current circumstances. Gordon renamed the restaurant Maggie’s (because it was near a church called St. Margaret’s, I believe).

  • Morgan’s: Apparently sold

Clueless mother and two daughters, only one of whom had any kind of work ethic. Female asst. chef specialized in sticky toffee pudding, yum. Gordon named the good sister as manager over the mother, who had been buying supplies in a tiny grocer’s.

Series 5:

  • Ruby Tate’s: Open

Run by overemotional actor Allan Love with hideous art. Gordon pushed this non-fish-eater to focus the menu on fish and chips and renamed the restaurant Love’s. Seems to have been quite successful.

  • Piccolo Teatro: Closed by the end of the episode

Another infamous episode, this was the Paris ep with the incredibly spoiled brat of an owner who used her dad’s money to run this place into the ground. Nutty chef who seemed to threaten Gordon with a knife.

  • The Priory: Open

Originally a church, their customers used cheapo coupons for the restaurant’s carvery. Filthy place. Gordon tried to push them away from the carvery but by the time he returned later it was back on weekends.

  • Fish and Anchor: Open

Boxer with every cookbook known to mankind (including Gordon’s) and his harpy shrew of a wife. Thanks to Gordon there was an amazing turnaround with their restaurant (using the boxer’s Italian heritage) and apparently their married life, since they stopped arguing in public at last.

  • Curry Lounge: Open

Indian place with eighty billion dishes; Gordon had them cut this number significantly.

  • The Granary: Not just closed but burned down!

The former exclusive club owned by a millionaire and with several ex-cons working in the restaurant. Destroyed in a suspicious fire, allegedly arson.

So that’s 9 out of 22 that are still open. Seems that the later restaurants have a better survival rate, but of course it’s early yet.

I don’t think this is so much a reflection on Gordon – his advice is certainly solid – but these places are in such dire straits by the time they seek help that I guess it’s too late for his efforts to make a difference. Plus, of course, most restaurants fail.

I always found that in the British version, Ramsay made do with what he had: he would play to the chef’s strengths, teach new and simpler dishes, narrow the menu, emphasize fresh local food, and so on. Generally, the physical location was left alone, possibly unless it could use a coat of paint or a good cleanup or similar. The American version was, I found, a little disappointing precisely because of “Ramsay’s Design Team” completely remaking interiors and too much time spent on Fun Runs and family picnics to launch the new place. There wasn’t enough emphasis on the food, IMHO.

That’s too bad, I was rooting for this one, and it seemed to be doing ok when he did his first return visit. I remember Ramsay and the head chef getting into a shouting match and then Ramsay backing down (a bit) the next day when he saw how straitjacketed the kid was by the owner’s piss-poor management. He ended up working as a sous chef while the assistant became the new head.

This one pissed me off so much because I know useless sponging jack-offs just like the owner, who make exactly the same excuses for everything they fuck up. I felt a sinking deja-vu the minute she opened her mouth, and it just killed me to see how she pissed away everything that everyone else was giving her. At least Ramsay rescued that talented young (non-nutcase) chef and hired her at his restaurant.

I like the BBC version much better. Mostly because it shows that Ramsay reall does have a good grasp of how to run a resturaunt, from buying local food, to advertising, preparing a simple to cook menu…all of those things aside from just being able to cook.

Going back to the recap of the American first season, they didn’t show what happened at the restaurant that I most wanted to see. The one in California, with the owner/actor who felt the ‘concept’ mattered more than the fact that everything they served was defrosted airline food. :rolleyes:

You know – pick one of 21 ‘flavor combinations’ and then decide is you want it based on beef or chicken or fish…

My guess is that the owner when back to his concept the second the camera crew was gone, and the place closed in a few months.

Anyone know?

choie I stand corrected - however, as of the end of the show most had made a dramatic turn around and I’m pretty certain that only one or two had failed. That’s what I meant (I didn’t know about the long-term results).

And I’m not sure I would count a ultimate result of “sold” as a failure - I mean, at least the owers didn’t lose their homes, etc, which is the situation they were facing (on average) when Gordon arrived.

Oscar’s was a sad case. And if I ever started punching that girl from Piccolo Teatro, I don’t think I’ve ever be able to stop.

Thank you for the summary. It’s unfortunate that so many restaurants failed, bbut perhaps you’re right that his help came too late. But you would think that any restaurant owner in similar circumstances would be able to watch the show and learn enough to improve things.

Was that Sebastian’s? I just Googled for an update on Sebastian’s and all I could find were forum and blog-type postings to the effect that the restaurant closed because the owners (according to the owners) felt the need to move to Boston.

Yeah, that guy seemed seriously deluded, talking about franchising his concept and getting his food into supermarkets when his one existing restaurant was failing.

That would be ‘Sebastian’s’ and from Googling around, it looks like it closed for good on January 20th. Sebastian and his wife moved back to Boston for ‘family’ reasons.

If he has reopened there, it would have to be under a new name as it seems there is a Sebastian’s already there, which is a successful casual dining/catering resto there.

Too late certainly - but I think the thing to remember is that the reason most of them were in trouble in the first place was that the owners were either mad, bad, or idiots and shouldn’t have been allowed to run anything, never mind a place serving food to the public :smack: