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Why is Chef Robert Irvine hosting Restaurant: Impossible?

  • f

Took a chance, turned it on (nothing else on LOL), watching my first episode. And I'm wondering...
If Chef Irvine has NEVER opened nor run a restaurant, how on earth can he give advice about how to turn around a failing restaurant into a profitable one? Where is his management/business expertise in this arena? Chef Ramsay has the history of restaurant opening, closing, profitability and so on. I'm sure I'm missing something, but has Chef Irvine EVER opened or run his own restaurant?

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  1. I don't know if Irvine has a history of opening restaurants, but he does have a history of not opening them: http://www.sptimes.com/2008/02/17/Sou...

    1 Reply
    1. re: TrishUntrapped

      Hahahahaha! So true! That was what I was wondering, I mean, here he is on TV pontificating about how a restaurant is in the pooper because of blah blah blah and I thought, hmmm, that's pretty rich for a cruise line chef and an executive chef of an established restaurant run by somebody else...

    2. If BS was music, Irvine would be a brass band. He's a mendacious plonker according to past press on his exaggerated resume and nose-stretching fibs.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Kagemusha

        I seriously want the Facebook LIKE button for this post. :-D

        "Mendacious plonker" - Kagemusha - you win the Internetz for that phrasing.

        1. George Clooney isn't a doctor. But he played one on TV. Just saying, for whatever that's worth.

          1. The irony is that most of these restaurants are so bad that anybody could help them turn it around. When you walk in and it smells like grease and stale beer or the kitchen is covered in filth.

            1. Isn't his show just about cooking on trains, planes, the moon for about 20,000 people in one hour? I never thought it was about running or opening a restaurant.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Wawsanham

                This is his new show, called Restaurant: Impossible. The other show was Dinner: Impossible. The former is a Kitchen Nightmares knockoff, the latter is what you are thinking about. :)

              2. I've wondered that myself. He's got limited experience he's apparently opened one small place in Hilton Head a couple of years ago. That certainly doesn't make him any kind of expert in the field. He pervious experience(that he didn't make up) has in in the military and hotels.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Withnail42

                  His Hilton Head restaurant is very popular and is on my bucket list. http://www.eathhi.com/

                2. Because Marc Summers, the producer, liked working with him on Dinner Impossible. :)

                  I'm not finding much information on the inception of the show, or the production details, except that Summers is involved. It could be the Summers and Irvine developed it together. It is also impossible to know just how many ideas in a particular episode originate with Irvine, and how many come from the producers or other members of the crew and cast. We do not hear the behind the scenes deliberations.


                  It could be argued that even if he didn't have experience starting a restaurant at the start of the show, he now has more experience than anyone (other than GR) at turning one around. By now it's his reputation on this show that matters (whether that's good or bad), not his experience before.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: paulj

                    In any case, it's certainly obvious that he know more about turning around a restaurant than the people running the restaurants he visits!

                  2. The most important thing to know about this guy is that he is not a "chef." He is a mediocre line cook who struck it rich in reality TV -- the Food Network's lowest common denominator.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: pikawicca

                      I disagree with that assessment. I certainly would say that he's not a star chef, he's not the very very best. But he's definitely more than a mediocre line cook. I have seen him make some clearly good and creative food many times, not just follow a recipe. Isn't that what a chef does?

                      I would agree that he struck it rich in reality TV, he parlayed some good chef skills and creativity and a personality and persona into a career. I don't love him, but he seems to draw the ire of many here.

                      1. re: LurkerDan

                        Being a chef is about running a restaurant. Don't undersell line cooks - lots of line cooks can come up with creative, skillful recipes.

                        That said, I believe he does have some actual 'cheffing' experience, though not as much as you might expect from someone who goes on TV and 'fixes' failing restaurants.

                        1. re: cowboyardee

                          Why is being a chef about running a restaurant? I think that's an artificial definition. In fact, it means one can't be a chef if you run a catering business or are a private chef, and that's just silly. Being a chef to me is about something more than "running a restaurant". Wiki says "A chef is a person who cooks professionally for other people. Although over time the term has come to describe any person who cooks for a living, traditionally it refers to a highly skilled professional who is proficient in all aspects of food preparation." I agree with that definition, and by that definition he's a chef.

                          1. re: LurkerDan

                            I didn't say that Robert Irvine wasn't a chef.

                            It's not an artificial definition - it's the classic definition. It roughly means 'chief.' I was imprecise in my language though - it's more about heading a professional kitchen staff than it is about running a restaurant, per se. It doesn't refer to the guy who can cook creatively as you've implied. It refers to the boss. The point was that your comment implied that line cooks are only able to follow a recipe; that the simple ability to create a delicious dish without guidance makes one a chef. Which is far from the case.

                            In my view, calling any and everybody who can cook without a recipe a 'chef' is a bit disrespectful (albeit unintentionally so) to people who have the far more diverse skill set that actually running a professional kitchen entails.

                            (and yes, if you don't have anyone working under you, you are not a chef. Sorry, private 'chefs.')

                            1. re: cowboyardee

                              Sorry, didn't check usernames, since you replied to my first post I assumed that you were the one who called him a mediocre line cook and not a chef. And *mediocre* line cooks may have skills, but they don't make the kind of dishes I have seen Irvine make.

                              Still, Irvine is a chef. He may not be a great one, he may be one prone to lying and embellishment, he may be obnoxious, but he is still a chef.

                              1. re: LurkerDan

                                If you get tired debating whether Robert is a chef or not, you can always revive this thread about Ree Drummond. :)

                            2. re: LurkerDan

                              If that's what Wiki says, it's wrong (not unusual). A "chef" is a person who runs a professional kitchen. If the kitchen is in a restaurant, the person running the restaurant may or may not be the chef. The other cooks in the kitchen are just cooks, or qualified types of chef (sous chef, salad chef, etc.).

                      2. This show has had 18 episodes and you are just noticing now?

                        1. I don't have cable anymore so I just watch a few shows streaming online but I thought he had gotten kicked off Food Network back when all of the info from TrishUntrapped's link got revealed and I thought they cancelled Dinner Impossible. Had no idea he was back with Food Network until I saw the recent season of The Next Iron Chef. I don't have any respect for him after learning more about the info in that link a few years ago.

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: ylsf

                            I live in the town where the resume embellishment was revealed. Stand up if you are the only person in America who has not exagerrated on their resume. Now that everyone's seated, let me tell you firsthand, the attacks on him were vicious and unrelenting. He was practically run out of town on a rail. And the space he was to occupy? It stood empty for two more years. Good going, St. Petersburg. Happy now?

                            Meanwhile, he is excellent at problem solving and creating entire menus out of thin air on his Dinner Impossible show. The problem with the new show in my opinion is the premise, especially compared to Ramsay's KNightmares. Ramsay had a whole week, ten times the budget, and the time to get to know both the staff and the surrounding area and all it had to offer. Doing the turnaround with $10K and two days is ridiculous.

                            The problem with the show is that it does not highlight Irvine's personality and skills, and therefore it just won't cut it. By the way, I watched him get cut the other night on Iron Chef - he may not be the greatest "chef" (however you define it) but he is competent, creative, and man is he a hard worker. I applaud him. The show, not so much.

                            1. re: joan

                              See, the way I see it is this: one may embellish a resume but USUALLY when caught, something bad happens. Irvine lied, boasted about his lies (did you see the opening to his show, where he re-stated those lies? In public?), got caught. Suffered some, not many, consequences. He created this. It wasn't like he said on his resume "Executive Chef" instead of "Chef" or "Sous Chef", he said he was a Knight, he cooked for 3 Presidents, he made Chuck and Di's freaking wedding cake. No sympathy here, as he created this himself. And usually when you lie on your resume, you don't broadcast it to the whole world, unless you are so incredibly egotistical that you think you can actually get away with it. I'm just sorry that he got back ON FN so quickly and to me that shows that FN doesn't have alot of integrity when it comes to selecting chefs that represent their brand. There are plenty of other chefs out there, who may not have got that FN job because of Irvine's lies, and there are still plenty of chefs out there who would kill to be on FN. I don't care how great he is in the kitchen, and what recipes he can pull out of thin air, I just don't trust the guy. Kudos to St Petersburg for doing the right thing IMHO.
                              Oh, and I have NEVER lied on my resume. I haven't needed to. I made it on the truth.

                              1. re: joan

                                Don't think it was a case of being run out of town more like he ran away from the situation that he alone created.

                                1. re: joan

                                  I think I'm one of many, many people in America who have never lied on their resume.

                                  1. re: acgold7

                                    Maybe we're being left behind because others tell grandiose lies and get the job. Sucks being honest.;-p

                                  2. re: joan

                                    "Meanwhile, he is excellent at problem solving and creating entire menus out of thin air on his Dinner Impossible show."

                                    The key word here is "show." It's written, produced, and directed, not improv, OK?

                                    Why suggest his "show" is akin to leading a combat Marine squad? It's not. It's just TV.

                                    BTW, he's still a mendacious plonker.

                                    1. re: Kagemusha

                                      "The key word here is "show." It's written, produced, and directed, not improv, OK?

                                      Why suggest his "show" is akin to leading a combat Marine squad? It's not. It's just TV."

                                      Agree 100%.

                                      1. re: Kagemusha

                                        lololol mendacious plonker...phrase of the chowhound year lololol :)

                                      2. re: joan

                                        And I have to add that he is either a really good actor, or he genuinely seems to care about these people. The show has a definite pattern - come in, gag, meet the owners taste the food, spit it out, cook some dish for them, do a dance, but it looks like most of the places do better after the makeover.

                                    2. A celebrity caught lying? A famous person lacking integrity? I think if we stopped watching shows with liars and disingenuous people, we wouldn't watch much on t.v. Hmmm..maybe that is why I don't watch much on t.v. :)

                                      I think he is a pompous ass, but I like the show. I don't watch much t.v (except for the kitchen t.v.) while I cook -and it is on one of two channels and one is FN. I think the show is entertaining and it always comes on at my dinner prep. I think I get more out of the "redecoration" segments than anything else. Some of those carpenters and designers are really creative and some are GHASTLY! Pretty fun. I also think Robert does a good job of "menu makeovers". I have stolen an idea or two from the show and they turned out well.

                                      They only "update" over a few months after the re-do. I would love to know if any of the restaurants make it and how the business is going.

                                      1. I just have to ask once again why anyone expects there to be anything "real" in a "reality" TV show. These things are so staged and the hosts and regulars participating in these shows are acting with a loose script. Robert Irvine was not hired for his cooking credentials; he was most likely hired because of his military-like attitude, big biceps and chest and Gordon Ramsay-like Brit accent.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: ttoommyy

                                          But would he have got the show without being a chef? Why hire him then, why not hire some guy from the gym with great biceps and chest and a big mouth?

                                          1. re: freia

                                            Marc Summers hired him for this show because Hans was already busy appearing on Nadia's show. :)


                                            1. re: freia

                                              Sure, he may have food industry creds but he is a TV personality first and foremost. This is a TV show and it has to bring ratings to continue getting $$$ from sponsors. Like Kagemusha said above, "The key word here is "show." It's written, produced, and directed, not improv..."

                                          2. Am I the only one who thinks that the voiceover on some episodes isn't him talking?

                                            19 Replies
                                            1. re: Pincus

                                              I love Restaurant Impossible- it is entertaining, and endearing. If you don't like it, don't watch it.

                                              1. re: OldJalamaMama

                                                Oh don't worry, I don't! I just thought I'd give him the benefit of the doubt and give the show a shot. My mistake...:)

                                                1. re: OldJalamaMama

                                                  "I love Restaurant Impossible- it is entertaining, and endearing. If you don't like it, don't watch it."

                                                  I don't watch it, but I had to watch a few episodes so I could make an educated opinion about it and ultimately decide I do not like the show.

                                                  1. re: OldJalamaMama

                                                    The question was not about watching it or not. It's about why a guy with extremely limited restaurant experience and track record integrity issues is out there telling people how to run their businesses.

                                                    1. re: Withnail42

                                                      That only question that counts is whether viewers find it interesting.

                                                      These are not high end restaurants that need a skilled chef, just tired old ones that need a bit of spiffing up.

                                                      Question for those who have watched this regularly - who does the real work, Irvine, the decorators or the general contractor? Does the show focus on the make over of the physical premises, or a reworking of staff and/or menu. My impression is that it is more of a decorating show than a cooking one. 'Ludo bites' has more to do with a (temporary) remake of the menu.

                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                        It's a "makeover" show involving food. Robert is "host" and they like to portray him as a loud, intense, micromanaging perfectionist that uses "tough love' with the restaurant owners (makes for good reality style t.v.). I am not sure how accurate it really is- and I am quite sure Robert *plays to the camera* most of the time. However, it is entertaining and interesting to see how the decorator and contractors work- and how the business model changes work out.

                                                        Robert does some cooking and his menu ideas and creations look great. I would guess that Robert has more actual input into the food- than into the rest of the makeover.

                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                          I watch the show somewhat regularly. It's "all of the above", but I would definitely say that there is no special focus on the menu; it depends on the place. Some of them have ok food but terrible decor and terrible service, some the food really needs revamping, etc. But even where the food is a big problem, they don't spend a lot of time on it. Robert just shows them how to make something more appetizing that is fast and cheap to make. For better or worse, that part is focused on the bottom line of the restaurant, not on high end food. But he doesn't make over many high end restaurants, so sometimes it's him showing them how to make better nachos faster and for less money.

                                                          It's really not a "foodie" show.

                                                          As for your first question, Irvine is like the project manager, and he has input on all aspects, but the decorator and GC do a lot of the "heavy lifting" for the front of the house stuff (not service, just interior design). Irvine does the heavy lifting for the back of the house and service.

                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                            Irvine shows how tough he is with the interior designer on every show ("I need it yesterday!") and the cooks ("What is that? What are you serving people?") He mostly barks a lot, and in the middle demonstrates how to cook one or two dishes.

                                                            The Food Network obviously liked Restaurant Makeover enough that they decided to recycle the premise.

                                                            Except now it's done in LESS! TIME!

                                                            See Robert panic!
                                                            Cry when the befuddled restaurant owner talks about how they hope Robert can do it in time!
                                                            Marvel at the interior decorator saving money by creatively reusing some ping pong tables she found at the town dump!
                                                            Rejoice as the restaurant is saved for one taping's worth of show! (Don't Google their name after, though, it might not be pretty.)
                                                            Wave as Robert rides off into the sunset!

                                                            Yeah, I hate this show. At least Ramsey does the "smell tainted food, pretend to vomit" shtick better.

                                                            1. re: Pincus

                                                              made my day....:)

                                                              1. re: Pincus

                                                                Wow. That sums it up pretty well!
                                                                It's t.v. people.

                                                                1. re: Pincus

                                                                  You remind me of how incredible that he even copies Ramsey's vomit shtick. I still watch it though just to watch the show about a real restaurant, but some of his stuff is annoying. And the repair of the restaurant seems more superficial than Ramsey's show as you say.

                                                                  1. re: lenwood

                                                                    At least Gordo's head doesn't come to point a la Irving.

                                                                    1. re: lenwood

                                                                      lenwood, I had the unfortunate experience to dine (the word dine is a misnomer) at one of Robert's miracle makeovers in Ellington, Connecticut, after his crew had long packed up and sailed off into the sunset.

                                                                      The decor looked very very nice. Earthy, homey. But as I looked more closely I saw new fabric coming apart at the seams on the banquettes and as I made my way to the bathroom I noticed the bar hadn't been remodeled, nor the hallways which were full of crappy stands and trays, and the bathroom was yucky.

                                                                      I mean really, do you think a quick cheap fix on only a portion of a place is going to expand your customer base? With such a limited time and budget, did you really help these people stay afloat? Ha... But that's not the point... it's all just about entertainment. People watch and think Robert's wonderful.

                                                                      1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                                        Speaking of limited time.........how is it possible to do that much renovation in 2 days without obtaining permits and inspections??

                                                                        1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                          Probably because they are doing esthetic things vs hard core renos...either that, or its all terribly planned, takes more than 2 days, is edited for tv, and away they go. There's a similar show up here, called Restaurant Makeover, though they really have a top chef (and I mean a real chef with a real verifiable resume who isn't a big fat liar but I digress) and a designer with a construction crew. They do the same thing but have more than the 10K limit (they double whatever the owners are able to put up), and it takes around a week. No sign of inspectors but I think that would be boring and its edited out. :)

                                                                          1. re: freia

                                                                            I have enjoyed the Restaurant Makeover show, when visiting Canada, it seems a bit more believable than RI. I like the fact that the owners of the restaurant have to put up half the money, it shows they are committed.

                                                                            As I recall, the show does not always use the same chef and designer, they have a few that rotate.

                                                                            1. re: freia

                                                                              Your 'makeover' show sounds a bit more realistic and, you're probably right about inspections being edited out.

                                                                              1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                                The part I like the most is when they show the demolition of the restaurant...the construction crew really seems to like this part, and it seems very realistic at least to me. They also show the problems that they have in getting heat/gas/reworking the walls, and since its all done to plans there's no doubt that there are permits involved. It takes time to coordinate each show and there really isn't a whole lot of OH MY GOD this is DISGUSTING from the chefs, and there's no "I'M GOING THIS WAY WITH OR WITHOUT YOU" kind of power tripping yelling you see from "Chef" Irvine. What you see is more of the design issues when things aren't available or how to overcome restaurant chef resistance. Don't get me wrong, the chefs are honest about the food, but in a tactful way and sort out the menu and have the restaurant chefs cook for and with them to get it right. Its an hour long show and always ends with what I guess is a "soft opening" for friends and family, followed by a print over with a follow up to the restaurant. :)

                                                                            2. re: mucho gordo

                                                                              I read an article about it. They scout the place out ahead. The designer knows exactly what they are going to do and what they will need, so I have to think getting permits is part of it.

                                                              2. I hear Robert and Terry are looking for a spot to open a new restaurant. LOL
                                                                When I see Robert on TV this is the first person who comes to mind: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_91DN...

                                                                1. It's entertainment. Television programming has always been about entertainment and marketing. I've seen it only once, when I was visiting someone who watched it, but he must have some regular viewers. Some of them here, evidently.