Last Thursday we were treated to a double shot of Gordon Ramsay’s “Kitchen Nightmares” on FOX, because the World Series is over and they have some catching up to do. Watching two hours of this show takes time, but I’m going to save you some time by summarizing both episodes into one short blog here.
The first one was a visit to the quaint town of Cranbury, New Jersey. I never knew New Jersey had any quaint towns, but this one looked really nice, at least in the winter time. The restaurant, Hannah & Mason, was a French bistro run by two chefs who were kind of misfits–one who was set in his ways (Chris) and another who had very little passion about anything (Brian). Nick was the 23-year old manager who wanted to make things work but was being held back by the two owners. Ramsay did not like the food at all, and found out that this is why they were losing business–that no one else liked it either, and the restaurant was only open three nights a week for dinner. During the dinner service, Ramsay noticed food going out that was not cooked properly, sometimes not at all, and shut the kitchen down after finding out the fridge was disgusting. It was Valentine’s Day, and Ramsay called the shutdown a “Valentine’s Day massacre.” That was a bit too much drama, but you get the point. He then visited a local apple orchard and came back with a giant bag of apples, and made a special with pork and those apples. He found out there were other farms nearby and after a re-design into more of a bakery/cafe, included many of those fresh produce items on the new menu. Brian was once again re-charged, and Chris was skeptical, but excited too. After a glitch of slow service during dinner, everyone re-grouped and got it going, and Hannah & Mason the cafe was a better success than Hannah & Mason the bistro.
The second episode was to Jack’s On Waterfront in St. Clairs Shores, Michigan, right on the water in a resort town near Detroit. The owners were three body builders, Scott, Bill and Tammer. Tammer’s dad, AJ, was the general manager after they had moved him out of the kitchen. Aaron was the chef now, and he didn’t like the menu at all, which featured canned and frozen fish. Ramsay came in and found this ridiculous, especially when he ordered the “krab” omelet and found out “krab” was spelled that way because it was not real crabmeat. Customers were scared of Scott, who looked like a shaved-head version of Tony Soprano. But the food was the biggest problem. When Ramsay observed that there were also communication problems in the kitchen, he put things in Aaron’s hands. He also gave him a new menu that featured fresh locally caught fish. With a lake outside, that was a no-brainer. But Aaron was still having trouble with his staff until Ramsay came in and kicked them all in the ass to get moving and listen to him as well as to the owners. At the dinner service with the new decor, the restaurant was packed despite a snowstorm. The customers were loving the food but not every dish was going out of the kitchen cooked properly. AJ wound up getting his hours cut, and then was eventually fired. Aaron was able to fire some that weren’t performing and hired some better sous chefs. Jack’s was revamped and so were the friendships of the three owners.
So Gordon Ramsay did it again, twice! Dude tends to butt heads with one or two people who are dragging each place down, and usually finds a disgusting kitchen with a lack of fresh food on the menu. With that kind of pattern, he makes it clear that it doesn’t take much to right any restaurant ship that is sinking, but some effort and imagination. Of course, the respect of Ramsay runs deep in the restaurant business and that’s why it works. See you all next (this) week!