How would you like to binge-watch a TV series where a man eats at different restaurants, criticizes the food, and gets angry with everyone? If it sounds exciting for you, then you will enjoy Kitchen Nightmares. Hosted by one of the most intense chefs on TV today and proud owner of a three Michelin starred restaurant, Gordon Ramsay, it became one of the most talked-about reality shows during its run.
What is Kitchen Nightmares?
Kitchen Nightmares is a reality TV show that aired on Fox Network from 2007-2014. It is based on the British show with the same concept, titled Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, which ran for 5 seasons.
In Kitchen Nightmares, Gordon Ramsay visits a failing restaurant to assess their menu and works with them in a week to fix management and give their restaurant a makeover. During its 7-year run, Kitchen Nightmares has featured over 75 restaurants across the USA, and many are still open today.
Gordon Ramsay’s Reputation During Kitchen Nightmares
Aside from the makeovers, one of the highlights is its host, Gordon Ramsay. He is a British chef, restaurateur, reality show celebrity, and writer. As a chef, he is known to create fantastic French, Italian and British dishes. As a TV celebrity, he is known for his perfectionism, short temper, and scathing meme-worthy remarks.
Kitchen Nightmares was his debut on American TV, where he started his brand as a forceful chef and mentor. His frank comments and outbursts to the staff, managers, and even owners made this show unique from other TV food reality shows.
Even though Gordon has spat, sliced, and thrown food away for most of Kitchen Nightmares, he did give some love to a few of the dishes there. Here are the food and restaurants that toned down Gordon Ramsay during the show’s 7 seasons:
Season 1, Episode 3 – The Mixing Bowl
Billy and Lisa Galleti owned this struggling bijou diner in New York. Billy was also the head chef and did most of the kitchen work while Lisa is the head waitress. The restaurant is struggling since it hasn’t innovated in the 10 years they’ve been in the business.
Despite the disastrous food items on the menu such as “glue-like” pancakes and an overly seasoned salmon dish, Gordon liked their fresh crab cakes. It wasn’t spectacular, but it was good and passable. In the end, Gordon said that the Mixing Bowl is ‘very average, dreary and sad.’
Season 2, Episode 1 – Handlebar
The Handlebar is another restaurant from New York that opened Season 2. It was owned by Carolyn and Billy LeRoy, who bought the restaurant on an impulse. Both of them didn’t have any experience running a restaurant and were oblivious to their kitchen management.
The restaurant suffers from bad food, an uninspired head chef, and outdated 80s décor. When it comes to the menu, they had one win, which was the Clam Chowder. He described the restaurant’s soup of the day as an excellently seasoned and delicious dish perfect for a cold winter day.
However, that was it for Handlebar. The rest of the food was not up to parr, so obviously, Gordon was very disappointed. The seafood crepe was overcooked and filled with imitation crab meat, while the fillet mignon was served sour.
Gordon rebranded the restaurant as the first gastropub in the area focusing on fine food for an affordable price. They even had Dee Snider from Twisted Sister do a cameo for this episode.
Season 3, Episode 3 – Bazzini
Bazinni in New Jersey is named after its owners, Paul and Leslie Bazzini. Paul is running to become an executive kitchen before opening his business. Gordon didn’t order anything from the menu but simply asked Paul to serve him anything he wanted.
The main course didn’t go well, with all three dishes striking out. The fettuccine was cold, the chicken Milanese was overcooked, and the risotto was stuck on the plate. Bazzini literally had sweet endings when Gordon praised their carrot cake which their dessert chef, Sharyn, made. It was so good that Ramsay joked about getting the recipe.
At the end of the episode, Bazzini streamlined their menu to focus on pasta and desserts. Even with the restaurant’s minimal dishes, the problem with their staffing and attitude overshadowed the makeover.
Season 5, Episode 1 – Blackberry’s
Red Velvet Cake
Blackberry’s Catering and Family Restaurant serves soul food which was owned by Shelly Winters. The tacky décor, lack of communication with the staff, and piling debt beleaguered the restaurant when Kitchen Nightmares came in. All the problems of the restaurant shown in the dishes served. The mac and cheese were mushy, the collard greens were soggy, and the chitlins caused Gordon to hurl at the toilet.
Fortunately, the red velvet cake was the only thing that saved the entire meal. It was good that Gordon gave a heartwarming compliment and added a kiss on their dessert chef, Mary. Gordon refreshed the soul food menu, but the restaurant still fell short due to Shelly’s stubbornness.
Season 5, Episode 5 & 6 – Burger Kitchen
Burger Kitchen in the Golden State was just open for 16 months when Kitchen Nightmares visited them. However, the restaurant was in the middle of a family war which caused it to have financial and managerial troubles.
Father and son owners Alan and Daniel Saffron have a family issue that involves investment in the restaurant. This causes decision conflicts and confusion among the staff. On top of that, their head chef David Blaine isn’t allowed to change anything on the menu.
The dishes were also a disaster, with medium-rare California and Cowboy Burger being tasteless and the Australian meat pie that tastes like cat food. Gordon asks David to create his version of the burgers dubbed the Redemption Burger. True enough, the burger impressed Gordon, which proved he is a good chef if not restricted.
Kitchen Nightmares might have ended years ago, but the lessons it holds for future restaurant owners can still be used in the present day. Running a restaurant is more than just cooking and serving but also remembering that it is a business. It needs good management, great products, and constant innovation.