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Jan 27, 2012 01:05 PM

Kitchen Nightmares Routines

I know that most posts about this show center on how people feel about the host, but my question is different. I saw another episode recently (maybe I've seen 8-12 altogether over the years) and got pretty fed up with the repetition of one part of the story. It's the day when the place reopens after getting its facelift and new menu and pep talks.

Maybe it makes for good television to bring in a crowd to swamp an out-of-practice crew--with a new menu, no less--and watch everything collapse. But after a while, even the television-factor sucks if the show becomes as routinized as Love Boat (that reference dates me, no doubt!)

Has it EVER happened on this show that the big night of re-opening was a success?

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  1. Not that I recall. I'd be very surprised if it was even possible.

    I'm not sure of the issue here though. That part of the process is certainly partly meant to highlight the weaknesses of the operation.

    4 Replies
    1. re: tommy

      Well, if I understand your point rightly, I'm not sure I can accept the idea. Maybe I'm naive.

      You think the producers refit an entire physical space and create a new menu with the intention of demonstrating that the operation itself is rotten to the core?

      1. re: Bada Bing

        I think that's part of the show. Obviously, since it happens on every episode.

        1. re: tommy

          You could well be right. My question was actually to see if it does happen on every episode. I've never seen an exception in my limited viewing.

          And now I think such viewing is over for me. How formulaic can they get?

          1. re: Bada Bing

            I don't recall seeing much variation from the kitchen and restaurant getting slammed during that part of the process. That's the way they do it. TV shows tend to have formulas. Just like horror films and romance novels. I guess I don't see how this particular TV show is exceptional in that regard.

    2. In my experience the relaunch usually starts out well, then there is some snafu, and then they miraculously pull it together and end the service on a good note. So yes, I've seen episodes where the re-opening is a success. That being said, you really can't watch this show without a little suspension of disbelief...

      1. All the KN episodes are all so predictable. Audiences love seeing people fail it seems ... they take great pleasure in it (even after the first time). After that, Gordon delivers a few choice insulting words and we have great television.

        1. Well, the question is: is this a part of the routine or is it because restaurant owners make the same mistakes.

          The whole makeover bit to me is somewhat superfluous except in certain cases. The restaurants don't usually look horrific, again except for certain cases.

          I think sometimes the new menu is called for, and I think a lot of problems with these struggling restaurants is that they have a menu that is beyond the capabilities of the kitchen, i.e. they have a menu that is too large for the crew to handle or they promise dishes that the chefs can not prepare. So that part of the equation, though repetitive, is reasonable.

          I think that slamming them with a lot of business, especially when they are not used to having that much business is the drown proofing test, it will expose all the weaknesses that are hidden under the surface.

          Now, how they package the whole deal is another story. They may be hiding some of the things they are doing right, they may even hide some of the things thast have gone wrong.

          In my watching hostory of the show, I think Kitchen Nightmares is that Ramsey is not shy about admitting he was wrong I rememebr that he called the chef out on being lazy and not industrious and he had put the sous chef in charge. Since that was an unmitigated disaster, and the chef straightened out whatever was wrong, Ramsey apologized to the guy he called lazy. So I give him props for that.

          1. There is also a huge difference between the British version and the American version of this program. I greatly prefer the British version, and I mean GREATLY.
            The American version is very scripted, very routine, and very predictable. Every program is the same:
            Ramsay shows up, meal served is horrible. Place is either filthy and/or owners don't get along and/or food sucks.
            Drama ensues when Ramsay goes through the kitchen.
            Actors brought in for free dinner, dinner service goes to hell.
            Confrontation with owners and/or Ramsay and/or staff and/or each other.
            New menu, clean kitchen, relaunch.
            Old habits resurface during relaunch, staff pulls it together, relaunch is a success. Ramsay walks out saying "if they can only keep it together and/or keep communicating and/or work as a team and/or follow through with the new menu, this place has a chance".
            Restaurant sells and/or closes several months later.
            I like the show, but it really is formulaic...
            The British version is hysterical, and very real. Seems much less scripted, IMHO. I wish there were new British episodes out there.

            16 Replies
            1. re: freia

              The British version was far better. Narrated by Ramsay himself and far less over-the-top drama.

              1. re: hal2010

                i prefer the British version as well. Not so dramatic and to the point.

                1. re: libgirl2

                  Once something gets to FOX it's doomed. They also messed up Masterchef, another UK import, and Hell's Kitchen is nothing more than a televised screaming match that has nothing whatsoever to do with cooking.

                  1. re: hal2010

                    They are just using the same production crew, directors, producers, and writers as they do in the news department. Oh wait.....

              2. re: freia

                Agreed. I used to love the UK version, which seemed to have Ramsay more involved in diagnosing the individual issues for failure. The US version is way too formulaic - the first meal served is terrible, some poor waitperson will get chewed out for recommending the 'homemade' crabcake special which isn't homemade at all, the kitchen 9/10 will have hygiene issues, either with general cleanliness or two much stock rotting in a cooler. The owners will then have a fight with him and act like he walked into their successful business, totally uninvited, just to destory their reputations.

                One of my favourites from the British version was actually about a woman trying to (when she felt like it) run a vegetarian cafe in Paris. Even with all of his and her father's help, she still tanked it, because she just didn't care.

                1. re: ultimatepotato

                  I remember that least the young chef who'd uprooted to Paris was given an opportunity in Chef Ramsay's kitchen. I think the most memorable one for me was when the Irish chef who was an alcoholic pitched a heart attack in the middle of dinner service. THAT was something. I miss seeing Ramsay chuck plates of appetizers into the local canal, or cursing up a blue streak because that's the only language the chefs understand. Or watching horror as the lady of the restaurant freaked out and turned into Shrek at every given opportunity. I loved that show...

                  1. re: ultimatepotato

                    It was the Teatro Piccolo, that was the name of the place.

                    Another one that I liked was the one where the husband and wife ran the place and the husband fancied himself a culinary rebel and he created a humongous menu, all based on cookbooks he collected. Ramsey had to make a point of throwing all the cook books out, including his own. The wife was a shrew and the two of them would just scream and cuss at each other all day long, while the diners listened to these wars. The horrified looks on the diners were precious. One diner, in an interview during the show, in typical understated British manner said something about not having a good experience.

                    1. re: Phaedrus

                      I love love LOVED that show. So much more real. I tolerate the US version. I wonder if there are going to be any more UK episodes, or if Chef Ramsay has cast his lot with Fox in the USA?

                      1. re: freia

                        I would LOVE to see the original British KN. Anyone know if episodes are available on the web anywhere? Thank you.

                        1. re: Kat

                          I don't know if they are on the web but I saw most of them a few months ago on BBC America.

                          1. re: Kat

                            If you have On Demand, you can sometimes find them there.

                            1. re: coney with everything

                              I do have On Demand, so I'll start checking, thanks!

                            2. re: Kat

                              They're available from Netflix streaming.

                        2. re: ultimatepotato

                          Apparently that non-working restauranteur went on to become a "working girl"...

                          1. re: waldrons

                            O. M. G. YIKES! Thanks for the link and ya, so not surprised. I'll bet her dad who funded the whole this is impressed (snort)

                            1. re: waldrons

                              I watched that episode not too long ago. The owner was totally useless (at least with the edit she got) and was more interested with partying that running the business. Her dad was bankrolling her - he must be proud. Ramsey returned months later and the place was up for sale. He chatted with dad then the daughter showed up 2 hours late dressed like she was either on her way to or from a trick. After a few minutes she basically told Ramsey to go f... himself and left.
                              On a positive note, there was a very young woman chef running the kitchen who had some good talent and was hard working. In the end, he hired her in one of his restaurants. Was actually a really nice touch.