'Kitchen Nightmares' says a prayer

Gordonramsay_kn_240 As much as I like Kitchen Nightmares, it probably wasn't a good idea for me to watch the show with a bad case of heartburn, especially when the restaurant in question was an incredibly greasy greasy spoon. And yet, just for you, I did it.

This week's restaurant was J Willy's, a dire place in South Bend, Indiana. When run by, or at least purchased by, co-owners Rick and Tricia the place, allegedly was a cash cow. It was now managed by the third co-owner, John, and the place was a disaster. Oddly for a Kitchen Nightmares restaurant, the place didn't even have a pretend chef, Steve was (as he and everyone else pretty much agreed) just a cook.

When Ramsay placed his lunch order, Steve was incredibly nervous. Of course, with something like a "loaded daked potato pizza" being Ramsay's first dish, he should have been nervous. It may have been over the top on Ramsay's part to ask a priest sitting at the next table to bless the dish, but then again, maybe not.

You and I both know that things didn't go any better with his next dish, some ribs. John was actually thrilled with the way the ribs looked on the grill, but Ramsay wasn't pleased with the sauce or the fat and Rick agreed with him. Rick and John then had a quick talk where John once again seemed absolutely oblivious to the fact that there might have been something wrong with the dish.

Normally, I'd chalk such talk up to one owner simply trying to look good in front of the camera, but I'm not sure that was the case tonight. John was definitely incompetent. I don't know that the place would have been doing better with Rick and Tricia in charge of the day-to-day, but it couldn't have been worse. John admitted to cutting corners on the food, but I can't figure out why Rick and Tricia didn't put a stop to all the problems earlier, so maybe they were just posturing for the camera.

During a staff meeting, some of the waitresses called Rick out for bashing John when Rick wasn't there on a regular basis (he and Tricia live hours away), but Ramsay wasn't ready to let John off the hook. Instead, Ramsay put the blame on John for all the disappointing food he saw in the kitchen. Let's face it, one owner/manager being there on a daily basis ought to be enough to keep the place nice and clean and there was even another manager there daily to boot. Rick and Tricia should have stepped in if they knew things were that bad, but John never should have let it happen in the first place.

For the first new dinner service (but not yet the relaunch), Ramsay introduced a homemade barbecue sauce and a burger special (one with fresh ground beef). The burgers sold like hotcakes, but Scott's inability showed on the line when he couldn't keep the orders straight. Some people got overcooked burgers and other folks got undercooked ones. If they'd had enough beef, the kitchen could have fixed the problems, but they didn't, so things really fell apart. Scott opted to break out the old frozen burgers and frozen fries (despite the show telling us that the owners had thrown away all the old food). They then chose to serve the burgers on sourdough because they had no buns left. John seemed to defend the choice and Rick was silent about it (Ramsay blamed them both for not stopping the kitchen from lowering the standards).

Gordon pretended that he was going to give up on the place and the people after that service, but "amazingly" the troops rallied and Ramsay chose to keep helping them. So, as per usual, the restaurant was redesigned overnight. Rick was smart enough to know this was their last shot and that they didn't deserve it, but because they were on TV they were going to get it anyway. Ramsay even brought in four chefs to help teach the cooks how to cook (and one of them was named Scott and looked suspiciously like the Scott on Hell's Kitchen).

During the relaunch things started to slip oh-so-quickly. Some potato skins went out without bacon, some plates didn't have their rims wiped, and some people waited well over two hours for food. John tried to rush food out when guests complained about how long it was taking and Ramsay had to continually remind them to hold the standards high.

One woman actually came into the kitchen to complain about waiting two hours for her food and to announce that she was leaving, after which Ramsay gave John and Rick a pep talk. Probably it was just because time was running out on the episode, but the pep talk seemed to work. There were no more complaints about the time it was taking to send stuff out and people seemed happy with their food.

Miraculous turn around accomplished, Ramsay saves another one.

Questions, questions:

  • In one of the silly bits of the show, Ramsay took confession from the owners tonight. Wouldn't the show be better if they stuck to the real stuff?
  • The show definitely tried to make it look like John was at fault tonight. Rick and Tricia repeatedly threw him under the bus. What do you think, who was to blame?

The TV and Film Guy's Reviews - get yer barbecue sauce here.

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