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Kitchen Nightmares vs. Kitchen Impossible

I suppose it was eventually going to happy, the Food Network ripping off yet another show idea.

I like Robert Irvine, and think he will probably do an okay job (as long as he refrains from screaming all of the time) but does anybody else think this is lame?

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  1. The series is called "Restaurant Impossible" and is a slightly different premise, with only a $10,000 budget and two days to do it.

    I don't think it's lame at all - I'm looking forward to it, but then I'm a fan of Irvine's.

    BTW...Ramsey's show was actually a spin off of another show in the first place.

    5 Replies
    1. re: SmartCookie

      I like Ramsey's show. His comments need a little refreshing: rustic and simple for every restaurant gets old, but I get the point, people tend to get too fancy and too complicated.

      I can't see Irvine doing anything different than who he is, which can be good or bad, depending on how you like his personality. Not a big fan of the guy, so I am not going to be watching. The best part about Ramsey's show is the way he tears the owner/chef apart and build them back up, and the longer time spent there makes the changes more than just a cursory cosmetic change. This seems like something that is like the TLC home improvement shows, everything will revert back to the way it was much sooner.

      1. re: SmartCookie

        Am I the only one who notices that $10,000 seems to be the prize or whatever for every FN Show?
        Cup Cake Wars
        Restaurant Impossible
        All their other Food Network Challenge shows....

        1. re: monku

          You know I guess I never paid that much attention to it but you have a very good point. So I guess the question is now, is your business worth more then the $10,000 and the horrible footage that is going to be shown of you. Maybe their adds should read something like ( $10,000.00 to make a fool of you and your business on national television even if what we show is only a little scripted for good tv! Wonder how many people would apply I guess the same amount that already did.

          1. re: snojen

            At the end of every Restaurant Impossible they're looking for "failing" restaurants. Irvine and his people must pick and choose and know what they're capable of doing for that $10,000 and 2 day time limit.
            What have they (restaurant owners) got to lose besides their dignity.

        2. re: SmartCookie

          Sorry some of the make overs make it look much worse then they did to begin with. Look at the wooden chairs with Leather, he had them paint part of it white left the black leather and the rest of the stain wood stained. What a mess, I bet money that they either had to replace or repaint the entire chair.

        3. I actually watched the rerun this evening as the restaurant is in my general area and mom remembers going on dates there in the 50s. Two days is not enough time and $10,000 is not enough money. I don't think I'll watch again.

          1. Interesting Irvine is making a comeback as FN's poster boy with DInner Impossible, Worst Cooks In America and now Restaurant Impossible.

            Watched the premiere Restaurant Impossible and every moment I'm comparing it to Kitchen Nightmares. The $10,000 re-model budget is the "impossible" part from the show title.

            1. I just read Irvine's biography and I'm trying to figure out his expertise in redoing restaurants. He's a cook but as far as I can tell he has never operated his own restaurant. He was going to open at least one restaurant in Florida a couple of years ago but his financial backers apparently backed out when news broke that he wasn't really discovered by Prince Charles when he made his and Di's wedding cake or that he really wasn't the White House chef and he wasn't a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order.

              I kind of liked him on Dinner: Impossible except for his misuse of the word 'done'. He meant to use the word 'completed' but since he went I to the Navy at 15 I guess I could cut him some slack.

              16 Replies
              1. re: John E.

                I just read Irvine's biography and I'm trying to figure out his expertise in redoing restaurants.

                Expertise or not, he's got a show.
                As far as his questionable past, he's got shows.
                Whatever he did, got his foot in the door with Marc Summers (Executive producer of Dinner Impossible and host of Unwrapped on FN).

                1. re: monku

                  I wasn't questioning his credentials as a television personality or cook. I was questioning his experience in turning around failing restaurants.

                  1. re: John E.

                    That's my point, he's a personality...he doesn't need experience in turning around a failing restaurant.
                    Are we ever going to see the successful or unsuccessful results down the road like on Kitchen Nightmares?

                    1. re: monku

                      He doesn't need experience in turning around a failing restaurant in order to be on a Food Network TV show but he really should have some experience in turning around failing restaurans if the goal is to turn around failing restaurants. Since the goal of the show is not to help the restaurants but to get viewers for a half-assed TV show, I suppose you are correct after all.

                      1. re: John E.

                        Experience or not, I don't think he can do anymore damage than has already been done, whether it makes for entertaining TV is the question.

                        I read some recent posts on CH they're looking for restaurants in the Los Angeles area to feature on the show. I think one of them is going to be a pizza place that I've been to once that is close to where I live. Same scenario, old 50+ year family run Italian restaurant.

                    2. re: John E.

                      I think any one of those celebrity FN chefs could go into a resturant and make a go of any failing restaurant experience or not.
                      Look at what Irvine does on his Dinner Impossible show, looks like he does some amazing stuff while on the fly.

                      1. re: monku

                        Gordon Ramsay could, though. I remember a bbc kitchen nightmares where ramsay served and cooked a vegetarian lunch at a veg. restaurant by himself and made more money then the restaurant would in several days.

                        1. re: TheFoodEater

                          In another series Ramsay did well in a one-day stand as a Calcutta street vendor, specializing in foods the the far NE corner of India. Of course we only have his edited show as proof. :)

                          1. re: TheFoodEater

                            I remember that! That was the Piccolo Theater, I believe. Dad was footing the bill..... Now closed and last I heard owner is in a very "alternative" career. I think the cook they hired, India (??) , ended up working for Ramsey, he was so impressed.

                          2. re: monku

                            "I think any one of those celebrity FN chefs could go into a resturant and make a go of any failing restaurant experience or not. " Very doubtful. Most of them have no real world experience.

                            Irvine was a cook in the navy specializing in serving groups of people. Why he's telling restaurant owners what to do I don't know.

                            1. re: Withnail42

                              While I never been there its been open and closed several times by the same owner. its been renovated several times. I really didn;t know it was open when they had FN there.

                      2. re: John E.

                        Watched one episode and won't watch again. For all of Ramsay's ego, on Nightmares you have the feeling he really does teach the owners and chefs something useful. On Impossible, it seemed to be all about Irvine ... and how everyone else fails to do what he wants. There was barely any cooking ... mostly the show was arguing about the idiotic repainted chairs.

                        1. re: Siun

                          Those chairs were hideous to begin with and even worse when his decorators were done with them.

                          1. re: monku

                            Those unredeemably ugly repainted chairs actually elicited a queasy visceral reaction in my gut, and I had a moment of dire existential dread for humanity's sense of aesthetics; that one of the 'decorators' responsible for those eyesores took umbrage for being called out, was unintentionally hilarious. Causing me to actually sympathise with Robert Irvine was no small feat. They seriously would have done better to stack red (to match the room's color accents) upside down plastic milk crates as chairs and be done with it...

                            1. re: silence9

                              Yes, when he said he would walk out if Robert used the (admittedly cheesy, but at least presentable) rental chairs over those atrocities of black leather, brown wood and badly painted white spindles left my bottom jaw unhinged.

                              My question for this low budget program was: OK, you ruined their existing chairs, you opened with rental chairs, now what? Is Villari's now stuck with a bill for 100+ new chairs?

                              1. re: gaffk

                                I wondered precisely the same ... and Irvine whinged on about them and on and on but didn't fix it until too late, leaving them with those rentals (which were better) and then didn't even make sure there were enough of those ... gosh, and this guy is in charge of the makeover?

                      3. Yeah, I don't see how a guy with no restaurant experience can go into a place and tell them how to run it. Irvine has never had that responsibility. He's always been working in some kind on in some kind of institutional work being told what to do by others. He has no leadership skills. Seriously why would anyone want a guy with no experience telling them how to save their business?

                        Ramsay love him or hate him has the credentials. He's been in the restaurant trenches at all levels.

                        And yes this is clear rip of of Ramsay's show. FN isn't even pretending to create new shows these days.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Withnail42

                          I think Kitchen Impossible is going to be about "putting lipstick on a pig", how much can you do with $10,000. Remember, they pick and choose the restaurants and there's editing. They're in and out of a place in 2-3 days and as we sW the pAint didn't even dry on the chairs.
                          Irvine appears to have some kind of leadership skills which he exhibits on Dinner Impossible.

                          1. re: Withnail42

                            I thought he identified two major problems with the restaurant-- no chef and that the owner was doing too much and not concentrating on managing the restaurant. He helped hire a new chef and shortened the menu and looks like it was a step in the right direction. The formula was not very different from that of Ramsay's except for the shorter time --which seemed to make it gimmicky when they used rented chairs and the customer got paint on his pants from the painted chairs.

                            1. re: lenwood

                              In every episode of Kichen Nightmares Ramsey revamps the menu, in Kitchen Impossible it will be the same.

                            2. re: Withnail42

                              One of my favorite Kitchen Nightmares is when Ramsey took the owners of a restaurant, I think it was an Indian place in Manhattan, to his own restaurant just to show him how everything is done, and how much cleaning they do and the amount of effort that goes into the restaurant. When you can show that kind of example, it certainly does wonders for the credibility of the person trying to convince the owners of the errors of their ways. Irvine can't come close to that.

                            3. Restaurant Impossible is an awful show, awful concept. I'm not sure if the $10,000 is because Food Network is being cheap or because they're trying to make it more of a challenge, but limiting the budget to only $10,000 does a MAJOR disservice to the restaurants that are putting themselves on the line.

                              Sure any free work and exposure will help the restaurant but I was very unimpressed with the remodel on the first show on that shoestring budget. Rental banquet chairs and tile carpeting made that restaurant look like it was set up under a tent in a parking lot or something an event planner would put together for a wedding. There's not enough emphasis on the food, too much emphasis on the construction.

                              Kitchen Nightmares focuses too much on the usual Ramsay vs owner drama, but showcases the menu/food/staff pretty well and you get a good feel for what the restaurant was about, and what it will be about at the end. The physical remodel is shown in a fast forward time lapse that takes about 10 seconds and you just see some before/after shots. Restaurant Impossible takes those 10 seconds and stretches it out to about half of the show content, and does a poor job of it. I don't want to watch a show on Food Network, or any network for that matter, and watch people lay down carpet or paint chairs.

                              I watched the first episode and that's it, it's off the DVR list.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Bunson

                                I am surprised by all the comments about the $10K budget.
                                The original BBC KN - does not include any budget as far as I know. Decor make-vers are only done for the American version, and while it may be of a help, I still think the general focus is on changing bad habits, practices, and food - not bad decor!
                                (Ramsey is also much more calm and sensible in the BBC version)

                                1. re: NellyNel

                                  The 10,000 is for Kitchen Impossible (on the Food Network) not for Kitchen Nightmares.

                                  That and the shorter time are the only things that make it different at all from Kitchen Nightmares, (although I'm not sure that that's enough if they were sued for stealing the concept)

                                  1. re: NellyNel

                                    If what you are saying is that the U.S. Ramsey show is a typically, overhyped unwatchable Fox piece of dreck, I agree. No question the BBC version is better.

                                2. So how is this different from their 24 hour restaurant show?

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: paulj

                                    While not good, the 24 hour show at least shows the food and makes it a focus. This new one sells carpet tiles when they're not picking a head chef just a few hours before opening.

                                  2. I can tolerate neither show whatsoever (and I have tried!). Just give me a show about the FOOD, not a personality.

                                    1. Irvine does own a restaurant- Eat - Hilton Head, SC.


                                      I was in HH this spring, but never got to the restaurant. Plus,I never did ask anyone what they thought about it.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: hummingbird

                                        must be good, he has ' naturally raised tomato havarti grits' on the menu! :)

                                      2. Several years ago Food Network had a similar program called Restaurant Makeover. It was a half hour program in which a chef came in and redid the menu but they also remodeled the kitchen and dining area. The owners had to put in some of their own money and FN matched it. The chefs were not FN regulars and varied each episode. I believe this was before the days of Gordon Ramsey.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: LikestoEatout

                                          It was a Canadian show and not produced by FN that's why no FN 'personalities' appear. In it's original format it was an hour which tended to drag. FN showed an edited 1/2 hour version..

                                          1. re: Withnail42

                                            I think it is fair to say that KN is at least as much a ripoff of Restaurant Makeover as KI is of KN. Futhermore, the premise of KI seems closer to that of RM, with a separate design team, limited time and a limited budget. I also think you are mistaken about editing down the show--my recollection is that the first couple of seasons--the only ones to be aired on U.S. TV (they were, I believe, produced by Food Network Canada)--were originally 1/2 hour. The later shows, which have never aired in the U.S. (as far as I know, at any rate) are an hour.

                                        2. Just read an article in the Wilmington News Journal. They did a local restaurant. The owner talked about how they moved the trash and dropped carroway seeds to make the place look nasty. He said there was "discussion" about the menu and portion size. Robert wanted "upscale" tiny portions when the area is sit back and burp when your down size. The place he did, Rascals on Dupont Hwy (route13) doesn't even open everyday and the owner might lease it out. Waste of airtime.

                                          8 Replies
                                            1. re: jenscats5

                                              Irvine up to his old tricks again?

                                              Like the way Irvine had to add a catering men. After all that's all he knows.

                                              1. re: Withnail42

                                                After watching the episode, the article has been refuted. No way that could have been staged.

                                                1. re: lenwood

                                                  The comments to the article from locals certainly agree with you -- the place was a class A dump.

                                                  1. re: Bob W

                                                    The place was literally a dump.
                                                    The owner was a slob. Give them time and the place will be the same.

                                                    1. re: Bob W

                                                      But, in these days of companies launching "AstroTurf" campaigns online to imitate customers,etc, could some of the "locals" just be employees of the producers, trying to protect their brand, Irvine. It's a strange time we live in when we have to ask these questions. :)

                                              2. re: Just Plain Craig

                                                I watched about half of that episode last night and seriously, my little kids could give the owner some advice. Microwaved crabcakes (the "highlight" of the menu when Robert showed up)? Piles of trash everywhere? A hideous stench when you walk in the door? I was actually shocked this place was still open for business.

                                                1. re: Bob W

                                                  Reminds me of the before and after pictures of dieting ads.

                                              3. IMHO I can't stand Robert Irvine and I don't watch his shows.

                                                As mentioned by another poster, Restaurant Makeover was a great concept for "revitalizing a restaurant" TV (I still watch the reruns). The UK Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares was terrific as well. In reality most of the restaurants are so far down the drain that even "dramatic makeovers" can't save them and most often by the time the episode airs to generate interest, the establishment has closed.

                                                10k and a host with dubious credentials isn't going to give a restaurant much of a chance.

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: piano boy

                                                  The substance with Ramsey's show is the time he spends with the chef and the waitstaff. It is interesting to see him interact with the actual workers and push, prod and cajole them into shape, well, his definition of being in culinary shape. The makeover and the temper tantrums are all part of the flash and style. I suspect of lot of footage are not shown, where he is working out the problems with the staff, only the loud bits gets shown, mainly because he has the allowed time to get the work done.

                                                  1. re: Phaedrus

                                                    I can take GR much more in Kitchen Nightmares cuz his tantrums are at a minimum (even less so on the BBC ones). I feel like the editing shows him fairly collected during the whole show. On the other hand, I can only watch Hell's Kitchen if someone from Boston is on.

                                                    And speaking of Boston, the accent of one of those brothers at Davide was embarrassing, I'm very thankful not to have picked that up all my years living here.

                                                    1. re: Joanie

                                                      That seemed like more of a lisp he had that made him sound that way. He reminded me somewhat of Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man.

                                                      1. re: Bunson

                                                        Perhaps but there was definitely a kind of high pitched Boston accent mixed in there too.

                                                  2. re: piano boy

                                                    Watching the last episode, I get the feeling that Irvine's ego is huge. He was telling the designer that he wanted a certain color on the wall and the designer had a different opinion. If you bring in a designer, someone who does this all the time, you would think that they would make the final decision.
                                                    I also didn't like that he had the owner practicing knife skills. Chef Ramsey treats owners with more respect than that, especially when it seemed like the owners knife skills were not that bad.

                                                    1. re: lenwood

                                                      I agree that Irvine was wrong for making the owner practice his knife skills with his own staff but I disagree that his skills were not bad. He was slow at it and didn't cut anything the same way or size. Big chunks of onions don't cook well and also give you alot of onion taste!

                                                      1. re: lenwood

                                                        I kind of wonder, how much is his ego really like that, and how much is it a designed act for the show. producers may be wanting the extra ego, thinking "hey, over the top works for Ramsey, it'll work for us too.".

                                                    2. I thnk that is the problem, it seems that America is ready to remake past hit movies or take other show ideals and do nothing more then a second hand version of it instead of finding something good something new. Chef Ramsey is succeful and has opened and ran his own business for several years and yes he has even had to close restraunts. All I know about Irvine is he is a TV show host and that he has a past of lying about who he has cooked for. So when watching him insult hard working Americans who are trying to save their businesses( when we all know after watching some footage ) they will never recover from I am not interested. I think reailty tv is something that was bound to happen but to be honest I think it is more scripted then the shows that are stated to be scripted. I want the major producers to do just that come up with an oringal ideal and produce it do not copy it. What is so funny is they have now remade the A team which failed to live up to the tv show, the Karate Kid was pretty good but the oringal was great, and now Dirty Dancing is being remade what happen to all the writers? Hey there is a show Writers needed!!!!

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: snojen

                                                        I think there are several great differences between the two. Ramsey takes genuine joy in seeing a restaurant suceed. I love to see him jump up and down when something good happens. If you really watch he gives reasons something should change or why its wrong. Not just its wrong.
                                                        Also when the restaurant is redesigned he has nothing to do with it because it happenes at night. Most likely someone has been there several times to get a feel of the place how best to improve the appreance.
                                                        After this last Restaurant Immpossible I find that I don't like Irvines style. Don't critize in public and praise in private. Its the reverse. Pushing the design teams every show. Worry about the food and service. Most chefs have someone design thier restaurant for them anyway. Ramsey has the experience to know what and what doesn't work.

                                                        1. re: snojen

                                                          Every place Irvine goes he is asked. Waivers and contracts are signed and owners should know what they are getting into. Many of these owners shouldn't even be in the restaurant business and they are losing everything they own. If that isn't the time to jump in their shit then when will it be? Desperate times call for desperate measures. Don't like the show? Easy solution don't watch it.

                                                        2. Will anyone defend owners who keep a restaurant stable for its regular clientele? I love my old "diner", which has had one design upgrade in at least 40 years, and that one required an explanation to notice the changes -- dark green booths for light green booths and so forth. The food is ok and consistent, but that's not why the place is packed all the time. People go there because it's a home away from home. The tacky seasonal decoration is a conversation starter, and if the tree didn't have seasonal trimmings we'd worry about the owner's wife! It's comfortable -- everyone prefers booths guys, I hate to tell you! The waitresses know all about you, and the boss is always there schmoozing. There's a small counter area for the single guys to chew the fat. Workers come in in teams off the job or before, kids are enjoyed. Remember Cheers? Remember the diner in the movie Empire Falls? It's NOT about the food.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: Anniebird

                                                            As long as the place is "packed", I don't see a problem. All the places on RI and GR's shows are dying as businesses (or at least, that's the premise).

                                                            If you're making money, you wouldn't invite a "reality" show in to make you look a fool and remodel your place with cheapest-means materials and hurried methods.

                                                            1. re: Anniebird

                                                              And they don't need any help. What is your point?

                                                            2. Irvine's show is more focused on the design and upgrade and he seems to enjoy the same drama each show on arguing with the designers about how long the floor is taking to fit and about knocking out walls and so on. Ramsay seems to get it all done overnight - maybe there isn't the 2 day deadline that Irvine likes to keep telling us, plus the $10,000 budget. I am bored with Irvine's show.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: smartie

                                                                I enjoy both shows but Kitchen Nightmares is not done in a day or two. It also is not the same format each time, they will do a remodel it it is needed, or throw in a "POS System" if that will help. The "BURGER KITCHEN" episode went on for days and was more about get the family to work together.

                                                              2. What I find most annoying in all of these "makeover" shows, but "Restaurant Impossible" in particular, is the artificiality of the rush...the panic to do it all in two days. I believe that it's done that way to add to the dramatic narrative arc; to get the viewer worried so that there can be a feeling of relief at the (inevitable, yet highly suspect) "happy ending". It's manipulative and unnecessary.

                                                                Watching Mr. Irvine lambasting the decorators is highly annoying, they're only given enough time to do a slipshod/rushed job, but we get to watch him attempt to tell them how his 'vision' isn't being fulfilled...it's not fair to the owners, the decorating team, or the viewer.

                                                                As for the food, in my opinion that should be the focus of the show, but that too is done in a massive rush, and it's hard to believe that any changes are sustainable in the long run; particularly when there are staff changes. The concept of doing the "impossible" is badly flawed...by definition, the impossible cannot be achieved. It's like giving "110 percent", a false imperative. Why not do "Restaurant Rescue" or something, and take the time to do it right?

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: SherBel

                                                                  A show with that title has already been done by FN/CA and run on FN, but the concept was identical.

                                                                  If you can take all the time and money you need, there's no drama, in the eyes of the producers. They think they need to amp up the stakes because we're too stupid to be interested otherwise. I know these people and this is how they think.

                                                                  1. re: SherBel

                                                                    I agree with the time issue with all the shows. I've seen him bring people into a restaurant where the paint hasn't dried. I'm sure the smell of wet paint goes well with customers. But again the time deal, same with cooking shows. You have 30 minutes to make a delicious meal from Gumby Bears, Soda Crackers, Diet Pepsi and Spam. Don't get me started on Sweet Genius,

                                                                    1. re: PattersonTweed

                                                                      Back when TLC was full of flipping programs, when the housing bubble was still a bubble, those programs got sued or had some really unhappy home owners because they all did a pretty fast but crappy job in order to get the house done for the show, and then left the job half done. Even Extreme Makeover got sued. Those shows ended up coming back and finishing the job after the filming to kepp from the legal actions. of course they also were contractually obligated to come back and undo what they did if the homeowner hated their renovation job.

                                                                      1. re: PattersonTweed

                                                                        Ron ben Israel tastes every component. You get to watch him. He freaked me out in the beginning but now I think he's adorable in that weird troll-doll way.

                                                                    2. He screams too much and he sticks out his tongue and retches too much, Irvine does.

                                                                      Besides, Ramsey's way cuter.