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Kitchen Nightmares... reoccurring theme???

I watched 11/7/07's episode of Gordon Ramsay's "Kitchen Nightmares" and am beginning to notice a common denominator in all the episodes: The overwhelming majority of restaurants featured are Italian owned & operated. Anyone else pick up on this?

I gotta say, though, this most recent episode was a laugh riot. This dude's menu was a hot mess. It had something like 20 different combinations... one of which was a plate of diced up steak which Gordon so eloquently referred to as "dog food" and then asked for a "sick bag". Ha! Gordon was particularly brutal with this guy, I have to say. Ouch. I was cringing through much of the show. Not that it wasn't well-deserved.

I also noticed that Gordon did a lot less to spruce up the restaurant. No new & shiny kitchen equipment. No redesign of the front of the house. All he did was develop a new menu and verbally berrate the owner. Oh, and drop an extrordinary amount of f-bombs!

I enjoyed it nonetheless tho.

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  1. This was the first episode of this series I've seen. Man, that restaurant owner was a LOSER! All he could think about was franchising and being famous. What about servining decent food, dude? You have a wood-burning oven and you're not using it and instead you're serving frozen pizza dough to save a few cents? You are the enemy of all chowhounds!

    I'm not a fan of exaggerated rhetoric (like asking for a sick bag), but even though I didn't like the style of the critique, the substance of the critique, as harsh as it was, was totally justified.

    So, are the restaurants always that bad? Are they bad in the same way? In different ways?

    8 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      Ruth, sometimes it's a clueless (Big Bad) owner(s), such in this week's episode (and in the first episode); sometimes it's a clueless chef or one who no longer cares; sometimes it's several clueless managers (as in Purnima in NYC). So the Bad Guy in the Black Hat is shown from the very beginning.

      Gordon comes into the restaurant on his white horse, knowing it's going to be tough to turn the place around. But our Hero is always game to try.

      Usually Gordon always chooses some sort of seafood to start and asks if it's fresh (they always say yes; it never is), and several other items to try a sample of the menu. The kitchen can be filthy, the food can be old, rotting or all frozen, as in this week's episode - yet still be served to anyone brave enough to eat there. Gordon rarely eats more than a mouthful of each dish, knowing the Wicked Witch or Warlock is attempting to poison him so he cannot continue his rescuing ways throughout the Land.

      Ramsay tells the chef/owner(s) and staff what's wrong with the place after a day observing how things work in the BOH and FOH, and has a sit down with them. Sometimes it gets a little fractious at that point, other times the owners/staff/chefs break down and cry (or a family member who's involved in the restaurant does when they realize how much in the hole the restaurant is). Sometimes the closing of the restaurant for a full cleaning happens (often making the staff the scullery maids and making sure they scrub the fireplace and pots and pans until their fingers are raw and backs are broken) and/or spruce-up of the place (again, either BOH or FOH).

      The owners/staff come back the next day and are walked into a beautifully renovated restaurant (think of going from B&W to color in the Wizard of Oz ) with everyone oohing and ahhing over the changes. Sometimes it's just the FOH; once (I think) he completely renovated the kitchen and walk-in. Gordon also revamps the menu, throwing out all of the bad food, as he doesn't want any other accidental poisonings to happen in the Kingdom. Most often the staff *likes* the changes to the menu that Ramsay's made; and other times, the chef and/or owner doesn't like the "simple" food (again, as in this week's episode).

      Then, the staff/chef/owners get to deal with the new menu with a full house (those subjects of the Kingdom who are "paid" for their trouble in eating at the establishment). Usually, there's a problem - usually the kitchen gets backed up because of screw-ups by the FOH or by the owner/manager not doing their job.

      Gordon then has it out with the chef/owner(s), the owner tries to get all tough and get back up in Gordon's face (this is usually the heaviest "bleeping" time period, as Gordon gives it right back) - and the owner then storms out, swearing like a dockworker, and all of a sudden, has an epiphany that Gordon is right, goes back in, and gets to work doing exactly what Gordon has been asking he do all along. So The Bad Guy in the Black Hat earns his *own* White Hat and becomes a semi-Hero to his subjects (staff and family and neighborhood).

      A (usually) successful evening happens; everyone is happy from owners, to chef, to line cooks, to managers, to waitstaff, and you hear happy music and almost see little animated birdies flying around the room as everyone is all smiles when Gordon says goodbye.

      And they all live happily ever after. The End. :-)

      (OK, I mixed a lot of genres in having fun with this, but you get the picture. :-) )

      1. re: LindaWhit

        Hey Linda, you wouldn't happen to be a striking writer for the show, eh?

        1. re: lynnlato

          LOL! "Reality shows" don't *have* reality, lynn - they're REAL, doncha know that? <vbg>

        2. re: LindaWhit

          Something that was left out of from the formula for this week''s episode: Gordon baring his manly chest as he takes off his shirt and puts on his chef's whites.

          1. re: ChinoWayne

            Ahhh, SHOOT! I forgot the gratuitous G-rated sex scene in my scenario!

          2. re: LindaWhit

            Linda, this was posted aboout a month ago on a TV board I follow, the poster said "look, anybody can write an episode, just follow this outline" --

            ACT I: Show owners crying that their restaurant is losing money.

            ACT II: Gordon shows up and tells everyone that it's nice to see them.

            ACT III: Gordon orders food. Gordon hates it AND the service.

            ACT IV: Chef and owner(s) get insulted.

            ACT V: Gordon thinks it's important to see a dinner service in action.

            ACT VI: Gordon mentions how the food AND service are horrible.

            ACT VII: (optional) Gordon inspects kitchen and complains that he found some moldy substances that were used in his meal yesterday.

            ACT VIII: Gordon insults the owners while he tells them their restaurant is doomed.

            ACT IX: Gordon revamps menu and interior.

            ACT X: (optional) Gordon has owner fire chef, and Gordon brings in a new one that he scoured from the local community.

            ACT XI: First dinner service with new menu. Show staff, chef, and owners in chaos as the first customers arrive and the kitchen immediately gets backed up.

            ACT XII: Show Gordon changing his shirt.

            ACT XIII: Gordon goes outside and shares his thoughts to some invisible person off camera.

            ACT XIV: Dinner service ends.

            ACT XV: Next day, Gordon declares all the problems solved, and gives everyone hugs.

            ACT XVI: Gordon organizes a BBQ or fun run sponsored by the restaurant.

            ACT XVII: Narrator mentions how, despite Gordon's improvements, the restaurant continues to struggle or was sold.

            ACT XVIII: Credits and preview for an even BIGGER nightmare next week.

            1. re: Scrapironchef

              Now THAT'S a brilliant synopsis, Scrapironchef! LOL And absolutely true. Although Act XV and XVI need to be optional as well - especially with this last show at Sebastian's. :-)

          3. re: Ruth Lafler

            LindaWhit did a nice job of summarizing the formula for this show. Pretty much every show that I've seen follows that general format, and it's highly edited to heighten the drama. Either the owner, the manager, or the chef is the comical villain who goes up against Gordon only to see the light or get fired. One manager who was nearly fired (he quit when he sensed it coming) actually sued Gordon (or the show?), but I don't think anything came of it. Most of the show centers around the conflict and the villain's character, and the miraculous transformation happens in a Hollywood heartbeat.

            I was entertained by this show at first, but the repetitive format is getting tiresome. It would be nice if more attention was given to some of the other characters (like the female chef at Sebastian's) for us to get a more complete picture. The first few shows had updates at the end, but lately they have skipped this which leaves me hanging. I'm assuming that these were all filmed about 6-12 months ago, and I wonder how they are doing now. I'll often check their website after the show to see what's going on, if they are still running, if they maintained Gordon's menu, etc.

            I just can't imagine this show being good for the revamped restaurant in the long run. And Gordon is not there long enough to change deeply-rooted habits. Obviously, this show is not about saving a restaurant but showcasing dysfunction for pure entertainment. I actually like Gordon, and I wish I got the BBC version.

            To the OP: They did quite a bit to spruce up the place from what I could tell. The nice banquette, the orange-cushioned chairs outside, the Hobart mixer. I suppose that many of the owners have been Italian, although there was the Indian guy in Manhattan.

          4. Actually, there was a redesign of the front of the house, the patio room, and the house furnishings, and the addition of a humongous dough mixer! Not to mention, getting the wood burning ovens working! It was more than he deserved. What a putz!

            1 Reply
            1. re: mnosyne

              Ha! Yeah, he was a putz. The redesign just seemed minimal compared to previous shows. I noticed these dawdry curtains still hanging after the redesign and it just wasn't a huge transformation.

              You know, now that I think of it... I'm tired of the f bombs and the over the top frankness... it's as if he's trying to pull off Bourdain. Now if Tony did it, THAT would be entertainment!!!!

            2. I'm hoping they'll do a follow up series as they have with Gordon's original BBC incarnation of Kitchen Nightmares - the aptly named "Kitchen Nightmares Revisited." I'd love to see what's happened with the Godfather from the first episode, as well as see where Sebastian is in six months.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Suzy Q

                Agreed. The show always ends and I'm left wanting more info. Same thing with that show "intervention" (which is completely unrelated here... ha).

                1. re: Suzy Q

                  Links to the NY health inspection record aren't allowed on the board but a little google-fu will show you that Purnima, the indian place in New York, didn't exactly stick with the program after Gordo left.

                2. I just got to watch my first two episodes of Kitchen Nightmares on Fox. I'd say there's a reoccurring theme alright. After watching the first show I knew exactly what was going to take place in the second. I'm going to stop TIVO on the Fox version, but keep the TIVO on the BBC version, which appears to me much less contrived.