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Does Anyone Else Enjoy Watching Kitchen Nightmares?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Does anyone else enjoy watching Chef Ramsay's series, "Kitchen Nightmares?" For those of you unfamiliar with the program, it airs on Thursday nights on Fox. FOX Broadcasting Company: Kitchen Nightmares

Each episode features Chef Ramsay visiting a different failing restaurant. Each restaurant typically has an outdated decor, poor sanitation, problems with food storage, and a kitchen staff that is either inept, lazy, or uncommunicative. Owners have cut corners by replacing fresh food with frozen processed ingredients. Other owners have refused to take responsibility for their restaurants and have left their businesses running without the benefit of any leadership.

Chef Ramsey typically has the staff clean the restaurant, introduces a new menu, streamlines internal communications, remodels the dining room, lights a fire under the owners, kitchen managers, or chefs, and even assists with advertising.

Most restaurants he's helped have become profitable. At least one has gone belly up due to problems with excessive debt.
post #2 of 24
Yes, I watch Kitchen Nightmares. A couple of weeks ago, the restaurant was in South Bend, IN. I live about two hours or so from there but haven't visited the resto. They featured it on the news and apparently, almost a year after Ramsey's visit, things are going well. If/when I get to that area, I may have to try it but am not crazy about a bbq restaurant without a smoker! That was the major change GR made and being a southerner at heart who grew up on traditional bbq and even making it myself, I'm a bit of a traditionalist. He taught them to make bbq sauce and it's won some local awards but there again, this is Indiana and from my experience, people don't know bbq. A lot are happy with crock pot pulled pork and KC Masterpiece or Sweet Baby Rays. Ok, I'll hush now!
post #3 of 24
Didn't know he had copied his British TV programmes and is doing the same thing to US restaurants.

Some of the British ones were so appalling, I would have closed them down immediately, much as I love Ramsay!
post #4 of 24
The BBC version is much less sensationalized than the US counterpart... more of an introspective look rather than his neverending rants. Still dramatic, but more 'function' versus shock value.

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Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

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post #5 of 24
While I do watch the US version I enjoy the UK version of his show 10 fold. I really like his show the "The F Word". I am a believer in his philosophy on food and discipline in the restaurant. I sent in a application for Hells Kitchen but wasnt picked. Oh Well.....
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Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
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Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
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post #6 of 24
Thread Starter 
Interesting ... I wasn't aware that there was a U.K. version.

As far as appalling goes, I bet some of the U.S. restaurants would give their U.K. counterparts a run for their money ... not this would be a distinction that we would really want to win.

I've only been watching this series for a few weeks ... but my goodness ... raw meat stored above produce ... rotten tomatoes ... raw chicken stored in the same pan with what may have been artichokes ... a walk in cooler that was over 40 degrees Fahrenheit ... grease on the walls, dirt on the floor, a stovetop that was thick with burnt grime ... salad greens that were actually black ... :eek:
post #7 of 24
I enjoy the concept of Kitchen Nightmares quite a bit. I think ****'s Kitchen is terrible- the people being put through that rigor should not even be there and it's anything but reality in my mind. I dined at the French Laundry and the flow of the kitchen was so disciplined and low key that if it were a show people would doze off so you need drama- drama is generated from things containing conflict- sometimes the conflict is generated by unrealistic situations or expectations. He also needs to clean up his potty mouth it gets very tiresome.
post #8 of 24
I agree that the U.K. version is a better show but this is America and it wouldn't be a reality show without trigger music and snipets of what's coming after commercial break. I have also noticed that the renovations in the UK version are rather simple while the American version are extremely sensational.

Chef Ramsey runs a tight ship and he knows what he's talking about. I have visited his restaurants here in NY and have been impressed not only with the food which was delicious, but the service and timing were impeccable. Many people criticize him because of his perceived meanness but the owners of the restaurants he helps are quite happy with this help so if they're happy then we should be happy too.

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #9 of 24
My wife and I watch the UK version all the time it is one of our favorite shows. We tried to watch the US version and it was simply painful and we had to turn it off. Was completely reminiscent of a Jerry Spring episode.
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Thanks,

Nicko 
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All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
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post #10 of 24
Thats Fox for ya.....
Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
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Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
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post #11 of 24
The ironic thing is that when you watch the BBC version GR actually has some excellent advice for the failing establishments (all though a little dramatic it is good advice). The ones that actually listen to his suggestions get out of the hole they dug for themselves and get their business to being profitable.
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
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Thanks,

Nicko 
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All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
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post #12 of 24
I only get to see the American version. Several things stand out:

1. Isn't a food handlers certificate required for anybody who works in a commercial kitchen? You wouldn't know it from the way some of those cooks and chefs behave. Like one of last week's episodes, where they were storing cooked chicken in the same pan as raw. Or the one where the guy dropped a chicken wing, picked it up, and was about to drop it in the deep fryer until Ramsey stopped him. The cook's response: Any germs or stuff from the floor will just get burned up in the hot oil."

2. The guys who are doing just about everything wrong---including not cooking well---who tell Ramsey he doesn't know what he's doing. Now, as I've said before, Gordon Ramsey isn't my favorite person in the food industry. But you cannot deny his food and cooking expertise. And these guys have, presumably, invited him in for just that reason. So it's kind of appaling to hear one of those clowns, who obviously doesn't know what he's doing, say that to him. As I told my wife, if I was Ramsey, and somebody said that to me after demonstrating a complete lack of knowledge and skill, I'd just naturally have to wonder, out loud, "and just how many stars do you have?"

3. There are a lot of prima donnas running restaurants badly. You have to wonder where their egos come from, because their acts surely don't reflect their self-images. Did y'all see that clown who thought he was too good to clean his own equipment? "That's the staff's job," he insisted, while the grease cacked on his range.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #13 of 24
Thread Starter 
Unfortunately this depends upon your county health code. Most counties that I've worked in have required ServSafe certification. The county I'm currently in doesn't have this requirement. I personally think that it's a mistake not to have any requirement at all. The assistant manager who helps me run my student operated restaurant moonlights as a server in a local restaurant. The stories she has shared with me have been appalling ... cooks eating on the line ... cooks wearing dirty aprons ... cooks using bare hands to portion out Spanish rice and beans ... :eek:

P.S. When my predecessor gave me a tour of what would become my Culinary Arts Department, I was appalled to see several health code violations:

Unlabeled and undated mystery meat in the freezer ... chemical cleaning supplies sitting on the same shelf as open containers of dried food ... canned products past their date of expiration etc.

The culinary arts teacher winked at me and said that she hadn't been inspected in three years.

After I signed contract, I rolled up my sleeves and went to work. I reorganized and cleaned everything. Mystery meat, unlabeled and undated foods and expired products were discarded. ... and none too soon because the county health inspector paid a visit the day after we finished. Whew!
post #14 of 24
My wife, our oldest boy and myself absolutely #$!%& love watching $#%$% Gordan Ramsey's #%&%&* shows. Sure he leans towards the %$&*#* dramatic, but thats what %#%$*& sells.

As far as kitchen hygene is concerned, I used to work in commercial pest control (night division). There aren't many restaurants that I can eat at. I remember one chinese place I serviced, the health inspector shut them down (so they contracted with us). Would you believe that the fryer had about 1 inch of fat along the sides and you know what they did? They spray painted it with silver paint! God's honest truth! I went in to do an armaggedon, spray, fume, gas...and they argued with me that they didn't want to take down the roast pigs hanging in the back room (outside the fridge).

I can tell you some kitchen nightmares...that are still there!!!:suprise::eek::eek::suprise:
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post #15 of 24
In all due respect, Gordon tries to do a good job, However ask yourselves how a local health department could have let any of those places stay open. If I were an inspector they would be closed. I would sooner have people out of work then sick, or maybe dead. I would pass an ordinance in every state, that any owner of a place like shown on the program, not only be fined but also subject to JAIL TIME(as attempted murder is a felony). I would bet then, that no place would get as bad as they are. :cry:
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post #16 of 24
My guess it that the health department is not a "priority" to local government, so they are severly understaffed. At least that is how I see it in Los Angeles county. I serviced this one restaurant, right next to civic center (where health dept was) that had a long term rat problem. I would go in, turn on the flashlight and see, oh, 20-25 rats feasting on open trash cans full of tortillas (that were served to the public). I can't say this is true or not cause I didn't see it, but one of the cooks told me they pulled out a rat that had fallen in the fryer and died. They had 1 inch gap on the back door; only thing missing was a neon sign inviting rats in.

This is NOT the exception. I had accounts like this daily! All types of restaurants, all types of ethinicities, "fancy" restaurants and little shacks.

I would "write them up" and send a copy to the health dept. and nothing would get done.
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post #17 of 24
>I would bet then, that no place would get as bad as they are. <

The scary thing, Ed, is that those guys, judging from what we see on the show, aren't aware that they're doing anything wrong. So, even if they had a law like you suggest, it wouldn't mean anything until they were caught.

It's always the other guy who does things wrong; never the cook who reuses things that dropped on the floor, or mixes raw and cooked proteins, or lets the grease build up on everything, or who doesn't exterminate roaches because it upsets the ecology of the building.

I have no idea what the criteria are for choosing the restaurants Ramsey features. But there doesn't seem to be any lack of them to choose from. :confused:
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #18 of 24
:chef:

I believe that if you are the owner or GM, it is YOUR business to know> true the cooks and the chef share some responsibility but they dont call the shots .The GM and Owner tell them what to do, and signs their checks , the buck ends with them. Therefore I find them responsible.
Ignorance of the law like in any other sceniero is no excuse. Why should you and I have to suffer for their errors? :look:
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post #19 of 24
Thread Starter 
In my county, we've had a high turnover among health inspectors. The end result was that some restaurants were visited every year ... and until recently, some went 4-5 years without having ever been visited.

Four to five years is a long time to not have an inspector come by. Without a GM or chef keeping tabs on the ktichen staff, staff can fall into some bad practices.

With this being said, if any of you watched the episode about Fiesta Sunrise ... a huge unlabeled and uncovered pot of refried beans was sitting on the floor of the walk in. The chicken was so old that it was visibly slimy. When asked how old all of these items were, the GM's standard reply was, "Yesterday."

Worse yet were the cockroaches running among the supposedly clean plates. Ick!
post #20 of 24
I saw the promos for that one, DC, and that was bad enough.

We get double episodes here. But the second one conflicts with CSI, which Friend Wife has to see. So I only get to see half the nightmares.

>I believe that if you are the owner or GM, it is YOUR business to know<

I wasn't disagreeing with you, Ed. Just pointing out that laws, by themselves, don't solve every problem.

Yeah, ultimately it's the GM's responsibility. But I get turned off by the idea that so-called chef's don't have the basic sanitary skills of the newest housewife. Or that any chef would consider cooking on a stove with a half inch of grease caked all over it because cleaning it wasn't his responsibilty. Etc. Etc. No law is going to change an attitude that let's things go that far.

The fact that he has little trouble finding enough restaurants to keep the show going does not speak well for our industy, IMO.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #21 of 24
I really liked the UK version.

He really got in the Chiefs heads to see how they think, he seemed to teach a lot of them how to improve what they were doing, he got into the business finances and how they could cut costs AND improve the food.

The US version is more like a game show, where you win a new dinning room and magically learn how to cook an entirely new menu over night.

Of all the ones I've seen I think only the Crab house and the Italian one (with the big mouth guy) have a long term shot at surviving.
post #22 of 24
I prefer the UK version immensely. The US version is nothing more than a bastard child of America's dual obsession with chefs and with "reality" television. I also prefer the UK version of Hells's Kitchen, mostly because the new season has Marco Pierre White as the Chef. I love that man.
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post #23 of 24
Yes I watched last nite, the us version, what a brawl in there :crazy:
post #24 of 24
While I like the UK version (hated the US version), I must say I thought a lot of Ramsay's advice was tedious and repetitive.

When he's dealing with some hellhole where they don't do basic hygiene and have absolutely no clue, sure, I'm with him. But in a couple of episodes the task was to take a pretty decent restaurant and take it up a fair notch. And the thing is, Ramsay's shtick didn't change: simple food is better, authentic food is best if it's not Franco-Italio-Anglo-Continental mishmash, yell at people because they don't communicate, and so on. At that point, he's not improving a restaurant, he's remodeling it to be what he thinks is good, and what in fact currently sells well. But it just isn't true that all these things are automatically good.

Would he attack Nobu or Blue Ginger for not being authentic? Would he assault the latest real hotshot in New Orleans for complicated food (nobody in his right mind would say that a brown-roux-based sauce that takes 12 hours to come to perfection is "simple," right)? I know he doesn't dismiss Ferran Adria or Heston Blumenthal, and whatever you think of what they do, it ain't simple or authentic.

When Ramsay's on the mark, he's saying "get your basic act together, and stick to what you can handle. You're not Keller or Vongerichten or Blumenthal or Trotter, so do more basic things that are within your range and learn how to do them right." Good! But sometimes he's saying "do this kind of food that I do or you're not doing good food." Thumbs down on that one.

But the one where he was confronted with this would-be Italian cookery genius named Alex, who had a fancy BMW and all that, but was cooking entirely from premade sauces and had an infested, grease-encrusted kitchen... okay, there I'm with him all the way.
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