Monday, June 23, 2014

Fare Thee Well Kitchen Nightmares

There is an almost perfect symmetry to Gordan Ramsay's two Kitchen Nightmares series in that there's not a single moment in any of the original British ones that I couldn't watch over and over until the end of time, and yet there's hardly a second of the American version that's watchable.  - XMASTIME
Gordon Ramsay has announced the end of Kitchen Nightmares, which I guess was still going on.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I have met him, so we're kinda BFF.

In 2014 it's hard to remember how incredible the original BBC version of the show was, having since been trampled by the shitty Americanized version:
Premiering in 2004, the U.K. Kitchen Nightmares provided an intimate, borderline meditative look inside businesses with a fighting chance of survival helmed by not entirely delusional owners. (The central quandary in the episode set at an upscale restaurant in Inverness is that the food is just too fancy.) The editing and sound are far less concussive than in their American counterparts, while Ramsay’s seismic eruptions feel more like natural phenomena; he achieves a fond rapport with many of his charges, even easing into the role of ad-hoc therapist.
And yes, I will remind you once again why the American version of the show suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks. You're welcome, Earth.

Every Single Episode of the American Version of KITCHEN NIGHTMARES

- Opens with fat, loud Italian guy braying to the camera about how amazing his food is. "The best there is!!" he says, beaming....

- ....seemingly oblivious to the fact that there is a camera crew filming him in preparation for a visit from Chef Ramsay, which you think would signal to him that his restaurant is in such shit that a television network deems that it's return to any level of success will be so incredible it's worth filming.

- Dude is thrilled Gordon's eating lunch, just KNOWS Gordon is gonna be floored by his food. Which, apparently, the entire town has been avoiding like the plague. Hmm.

- Some camera time with the staff, who all look scared to death/completely shaken. Usually dude's wife, who is waitress/bartender/hostess/line chef/sous chef/coat checker/valet/chicken plucker.

- Dude cannot BELIEVE Gordon thinks the food is shit. Spends a few minutes stomping around, yelling that Gordon doesn't know what he's talking about. Makes a brilliant case, fueled by about 7 or 8 "what the hell does he know?"s in a 30-second span.

- Gordon inspects kitchen, which is generally covered in a 3-inch layer of dog entrails and Bazooka Joe e-coli gum. Also at this time Gordon finds out there are no ovens - everything is either microwaved, or delivered from Papa John's down the street. And usually about 4 days in advance.

- Gordon observes a dinner service, where the kitchen instantly falls behind and the owner screams his head off. Just like in any restaurant where you're expected to pay $19 for a cheese stick, the customers can clearly hear the kitchen's obscenity-laced screaming while they patiently wait 3 1/2 hours for their entrees.

- Gordon strips the menu down from it's 2,593 items, explaining there's no such cuisine as Italian Lamb - owner immediately balks at Gordon introducing a new menu. Again, he offers an air-tight case: "He thinks his food is better than mine? (dramatic pause.............) MINE?" It is comforting to know that if the restaurant DOES fail, law school will be a breeze.

- Service with Gordon's menu, which the owner inevitably fucks up by trying to cook it himself. The waitress/bartender/hostess/line chef/sous chef/coat checker/valet/chicken plucker/wife makes another appearance noting that their house is on the line. She has lost 11 pounds since the start of the show.

- More confrontation - Gordon says owner is a lazy bullshitter who won't accept responsibility for his failures, owner explodes "Me? ME? I don't accept responsibility? Yeah, well, I wish you had never shown up!! YOU don't accept responsibility!!" Storms out; probably to cool off outside, or invent debating.

- While owner's away, Gordon leads now-completely energized crew through a dinner service that nets about $66,000 and a standing ovation from the customers. By this time the owner has slunk back in, tries to blend back in, begrudgingly accepting the success of Gordon's menu. Peeps into dining room, asks "what are all these people doing here?"

- Cut to next morning, where overnight Gordon has dropped about $200,000 completely re-designing the whole restaurant; some cook gets emotional "we have a fryer that works!!!!" Picture of owner's ancestor who had "inspired me to learn how to let fish lay on a floor for three days before serving it in a clams casino-tini" appears on the wall. Waitress/bartender/hostess/line chef/sous chef/coat checker/valet/chicken plucker/wife has gotten her hair done.

- Owner accepts defeat, marvels that Gordon came in and "really turned things around" in the same tone American Idol staffers use to say Paula Abdul "seemed a bit distracted tonight."


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