'Kitchen Nightmares': The nachos are burning!

Gordonramsay_kn_240_003 The more I watch Kitchen Nightmares the more convinced I am that I could own a restaurant. Okay, I probably couldn't, but I am convinced that I could do better than the people at the two restaurants we saw this evening. I don't know where the show finds these people, but it thrills me to watch the incompetence on display weekly.

We started off in beautiful (not so much) downtown Stamford and Sabatiello's. The owner, Sammy, firmly believed that the problem with his place was that the staff didn't listen to him (apparently they're all slackers). Yeah, not so much. The reviews Gordon read on the way in said that the food wasn't good and that Sammy was obnoxious. Sammy honestly felt -- as they all do -- that his food was good and that he was a good host. I guess having a realistic viewpoint isn't necessary to own a restaurant.

Do you even need me to tell you at this point that Gordon didn't like any of the food he tried during his first meal at Sabatiello's, cause he didn't. He hated it. Sammy was surprised. How are they all surprised? Seriously, how can they be surprised that Gordon Ramsay doesn't like their food? It's a foregone conclusion that Gordon is going to slam the first meal at a restaurant on this show. Plus, Sammy had the chef take lasagna he told Gordon was "homemade" out of the freezer and pop it into the microwave. What was Sammy thinking, did he honestly believe he was going to get away with that? Sammy later told Gordon that he figured it was okay to make three trays of lasagna at a time, cut them into single portion sizes and freeze them until they were needed. Sure, that leads to delicious fresh food.

After inspecting the kitchen, Gordon was truly impressed at how clean the place was. There was a small problem with them storing cooked meat next to raw meat, but they were going to end up reheating all that stuff anyway, so I wasn't terribly worried even if Gordon was slightly taken aback. Sammy, never one to take the blame for a mistake, instantly put the responsibility for the cooked-next-to-raw-food onto Jose, the chef.

Later, when a customer dared send back some lamb during a dinner service, Sammy became visibly upset. Well, it wasn't that she sent it back the first time that upset Sammy, it was when it came back the second time. The customer was distressed that it seemed as though when she sent the lamb back initially it had only been microwaved rather than recooked properly. Sammy went into the dining room and was incredibly rude to the lady, probably because he had been caught -- Sammy had in fact ordered the lamb to be microwaved. When the customer got an entirely new entrée served to her, Sammy stood there while she cut into it to make sure she was happy. She wasn't. She sent it back and Sammy ordered the kitchen shutdown for the evening.

With all the customers gone, Gordon made it quite clear to the owner that he was at the root of all the problems at Sabatiello's. Sammy wasn't so sure and told the camera that he didn't want Gordon telling him how to run his business. It kind of made me wonder why Sammy bothered having Gordon come to help him fix the place. Surely he expected business advice, didn't he?

One quick trip down memory lane with Gordon the next morning, and Sammy was back on track. Apparently all that Sammy needed was to see some pictures of him in the old days at an old restaurant to get the fire back. Unfortunately, during the next dinner service it all fell apart and angry Sammy returned.

Of course, one could understand where Sammy was coming from during that service. Jose severely undercooked more than one steak causing lots of food to be sent back to the kitchen. It made me wonder if Jose was the reason Sammy became loud and obnoxious in the first place (the chef had been with Sammy for 13 or 14 years).

For the relaunch, Gordon made the place into an Italian steakhouse. Sammy loved it and acknowledged that he should have made such a change a long time ago. As Jose couldn't cook steak the night before I wasn't so sure about that though.

My fears were proved right when, quite early in the evening, a dish came back to the kitchen for being undercooked. Gordon got nervous at that point too and Sammy ended up throwing on a chef's jacket and getting on the line. One small kitchen fire later and the food started to go out, but very slowly. People did, however, like the food they eventually received.

I simply can't imagine that the place stayed open with Jose leading the kitchen. I'm looking forward to a follow-up segment on Sabatiello's.

And, if you thought that restaurant was bad, you clearly stopped watching before the second episode tonight and Fiesta Sunrise Mexican Restaurant. Vic and Yolanda (mostly Vic) had already run a Mexican place into the ground but wanted desperately to try again, so they suckered Yolanda's daughter (Vic's step-daughter), Patti, into fronting much of the cash. Patti may have owned the place, but she didn't get to make any decisions, those were all left to Vic.

Good old Vic, he knew how to cut a corner. He had just stuck "Fiesta Sunrise Mexican Restaurant" stickers onto the menus from the old place. The margarita glasses didn't even have stickers, they just had the old name on them. Vic however claimed to have only taken the menus from the old place, so I guess someone else must have stolen the old restaurant's glasses and brought them to Fiesta Sunrise.

Gordon hoped to see how the kitchen worked during a dinner service, but didn't get to because upon entering the kitchen, he realized the place was simply too disgusting. From old fish to ancient rice, to tortilla chips that been served to a table and then dumped back into a bin to be served again, it truly was a kitchen nightmare. It didn't help that they intercut Gordon picking apart the nasty food with folks in the dining room eating it. Once he was finished going through the disgusting food in the kitchen, Gordon brought a medium-sized garbage can full of refried beans into the dining room and announced that they were shutting down the kitchen and that the restaurant was going to comp everyone's meal. Definitely a good plan.

With everyone gone, Gordon sat down with Yolanda and asked her about her relationship with Vic. Apparently Yolanda was thinking that if the restaurant failed she might opt to end her marriage. Yolanda made it clear that her relationship with her daughter was more important than her relationship with Vic.

Patti's husband, Don, wasn't happy with Vic either. He had been telling Patti that Vic was cheating them, and until Gordon was there Patti didn't believe him. She believed him now though and didn't even get that angry when Don became livid at Vic and overturned a table at the restaurant. Patti was nervous certainly, but not angry.

After separating the men and ensuring that a fight didn't occur, Gordon headed back to the kitchen. He may have let Don knock Vic out if Gordon had known that when he entered the kitchen he'd see roaches everywhere. Upon being confronted with the roaches, Vic told Gordon he was embarrassed, but I tend to think he was more embarrassed about being caught than keeping a dirty kitchen.

Somehow, the exterminator got done in the kitchen in time for the place to open for dinner that night. Maybe it shouldn't have. Fiesta Sunrise finally had fresh rice (a big complaint of Gordon's from his first meal there), but it was way overcooked and had become mush. Yolanda had to step in the kitchen to cook the rice, which was promptly ruined when soot from the broiler fell right onto fresh rice on a plate that otherwise was ready to go to a table.

By the next day, Gordon had a plan. He brought in an expert, Julieta, who apparently has a terribly successful Mexican place in Manhattan. Julieta may have been able to improve the place while she was there, but there was no way that she was going to teach the clowns in the kitchen how to cook. She did put in a valiant effort though, and that's beyond simply not running away screaming which, in and of itself, would have constituted a valiant effort. She actually seemed to try to help the cooks.

Julieta wasn't successful however (come on, did you really think she might have been?). During the relaunch, the regular cooks managed to set some nachos on fire (with Julieta there watching). Really, the nachos were on actually on fire, flames were coming from them. I've never seen that. Obviously that didn't go out of the kitchen, but the food that did make it out seemed to be enjoyed (except that one dish we saw that got sent back). Even the mayor of Nyack showed for the relaunch, and he liked it all, particularly the taquitos.

By the end of the episode, Gordon praised Vic, which was a little shocking. The man seemed like slime at the beginning of the episode, and I saw no miraculous transformation in him, just a glossing over of his mistakes.

Two questions:

  • Did I miss it? Was there a transformation from slime to human on Vic's part? Do we really think that he's not going to destroy the place again?
  • Did you get the impression that Vic was, perhaps, spending money in ways he shouldn't have been? Nothing was ever said directly about it, but I certainly thought things were implied about misuse of funds.

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