I've been a fan of Gordon Ramsay since he started his television career with 'Boiling Point.' He has been a star ever since.
1. Awful Food
When you go to a restaurant, you expect better quality food than a fast food joint. When you get pretentious and give the aura of trying to be a fine dining establishment while serving food that is already pre-made, canned, or frozen, you are no better than a diner or cafeteria. People will realize this and will desert your establishment in droves.
A fine example of this is in episode 15 of Season 6 ("Amy's Baking Company"). At first, Gordon Ramsay was impressed with the cakes that Amy said were made in-house. Then she ruins Gordon's dining experience by serving an under-cooked pizza and store bought frozen ravioli.
Another case of low quality food is in episode 10-11 of Season 6 ("Mill Street Bistro," part 1 and 2). Joe Nagy claimed to have high quality food served from farm to fork. With further investigation, it turns out that the food is bought from a wholesaler and much of it is frozen and not fresh at all.
Gordon sampled multiple items on the menu and they all flopped. The onion soup lacked enough onions and was too greasy. The Oyster Rockefeller was greasy and bland. The scallops en croute had raw pastry and rubbery scallops. The elk quesadilla had very tough elk. The vegetarian ravioli was cold and greasy. The "catch of the day" is a trio of frozen and freezer burned fish. The $35 elk medallion was chewy and bland.
With the tough economy nowadays, people want value for their money. You cannot charge people high prices for mediocre food. If you do, you would not be in business much longer.
Gordon Ramsay is an advocate of fresh food that is prepared on site. He abhors canned and frozen food as it lowers the quality of the food and compromises the taste, texture and consistency. He also discourages the use of microwaves as it encourages "lazy cooking." Gordon advocates the use of the freshest and highest quality ingredients.
2. Dirty Kitchens
One of the goriest portions of each Kitchen Nightmares is when Gordon explores the kitchen of the failing restaurants. While not all of the kitchens in the series are filthy, most of them are deplorable. A lot of them do not have dates and labels which leads to spoiled rotten food still being used in the restaurant instead of being properly disposed of. Many of them do not even do a regular proper cleaning in the kitchen and the kitchen ends up using dirty ovens and kitchen equipment. A lot of the kitchens end up being infested with roaches and mice due to poor sanitation habits.
The walk-in freezers are usually the highlight of the kitchen inspections. A lot of them do not get cleaned and end up as storage for rotten food. They also end up as breeding grounds for molds and bacteria.
In episode 10 of Season 1 ('The Secret Garden'), Chef Ramsay makes a ghastly discovery and sees that the walk-in freezer is full of mold and even sees some maggots. Chef Ramsay and Chef Bardavid get into an argument because of the lack of cleanliness in the kitchen. Gordon even calls Chef Bardavid "a French pig."
In episode 9 of Season 2 ('Fiesta Sunrise') Chef Ramsay goes into the kitchen and discovers one of the worst things that could happen to a kitchen. He discovers a cockroach infestation. He then has to have an exterminator fumigate the place to get rid of the creepy crawlies.
Kitchen cleanliness is important because you are dealing with people's health and welfare every time you serve food. A dish that has been contaminated might lead to a sick or dead customer and a potential lawsuit. Furthermore, the restaurant might be shutdown by the health department due to poor sanitation practices.
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3. Management and Employee Squabbles
A recipe for disaster is when the people who run the restaurant are not in the same page. Either the management is fighting amongst themselves or the employees are at war with the management. The fact that the economy is bad, the restaurant business is one of the hardest businesses out there and the competition is fierce is tough enough. If people do not put their act together, the end of the restaurant may be near.
In in episode 12 of Season 4 ('Oceana'), the brothers Rami and Moe have made the restaurant into their personal battleground. Moe is very stubborn and does a lot of practices that Rami deems are not acceptable such as freezing food for long periods of time and not sharing the recipes to the cooks in the kitchen for fear it might be stolen.
In episode 11 of Season 4 ('Zeke's'), the restaurant was divided into two factions - the owners (Darryl and Ellen Cortello) and the staff. The owners run the restaurant like their own little kingdom and show no appreciation towards their staff. They mistreat them and are very condescending. They also do not get any input from the employees and have it their way despite having very little knowledge in running a restaurant.
4. Poor Ambiance
First impressions last. Before you get to sample the cuisine, the first thing you will see when you get into a restaurant is the dining room. There is no greater turnoff than to be in a restaurant that is filthy and that has been left behind by the times.
A great example of a restaurant that has lost its way is the once famed Seascape Restaurant (Season 1, episode 4) in Islip, New York. The restaurant has been around for four decades and was one of the most prominent in the area. During its heyday, the place was always packed and it was making good money. When the owner died, his wife Irene and his son Peter inherited the restaurant.
From then on, things began to decline. The place looks outdated. The dining room reeks of the smell of sewage. The place was in a sorry state.
Another example of an older restaurant that has gone astray is Nino's (Season 6 episode 9). Nino's has very tacky decor with random bottles hanging in the dining area and an outdated look. It also has outdated decor that takes you back to 1958 - when the restaurant was founded.
5. Stubborn Owners
This is the clincher. There are literally thousands of restaurants in the country that need help and for you to be chosen to be the recipient of free publicity, makeover and consultancy by one of the greatest chefs in the world and one of the most successful restaurateurs is a godsend. While some people embrace the opportunity to work with Gordon Ramsay to help save their failing restaurant, others are very stubborn and resistant.
One of the most stubborn owners in the show's history is Joe Nagy from episodes 10-11 in Season 6 ('Mill Street Bistro Part 1' and '2'). Joe Nagy is a little man who thinks highly of himself. He claims to have been self taught by European master chefs and hypes his restaurant being from farm to fork. Gordon later discovers that all this is fabricated and suggests changes to be made - including leaving the kitchen to the chefs. When the episode ends the narrator says that Joe ends up back in the kitchen and half of the staff has left.
Samy and Amy Bouzaglo of episode 15 in Season 6 ('Amy's Baking Company') are also good examples of defiant owners. While in most episodes, Chef Ramsay was able to turn such owners around. Not so with Samy and Amy, they proved to be beyond help and for the first time in the show, Gordon Ramsay walked away and was not able to implement renovation and menu changes.
Why Restaurants Fail
© 2016 Jan Michael Ong