TV Recap: Kitchen Nightmares - Revisited: Gordon Returns

I love Gordon Ramsay. I’m just going to put that out there right now. I loved Hell’s Kitchen, and I’m totally psyched for the return of Kitchen Nightmares. Tonight’s episode is a two-hour show that focuses on the restaurants he fixed last year. I’m going to be straight with you: I’ve been watching The CW all week, so my brain has slowly been leaking out of my ears. The result of this is that I completely flaked and forgot this was premiering tonight. I thought it was last week. So, uh, I kind of missed the first half hour. Let’s just pretend nothing happened and get started.

Gordon revisits The Olde Stone Mill, and I immediately remember this place when they show the clips of the funnel salads. They put salad in a funnel and called it fine dining. It was terrifying. When he returns, the restaurant is running smoothly and they’re only using funnels to fill the salt and pepper shakers. The way people feel about Gordon is so funny to me. They kind of hate him, but deep down, they know that he’s basically responsible for saving their ass. There’s a lot of, “yeah, I didn’t lose my house, so I guess I should thank Gordon” going on.

Another restaurant being revisited tonight is The Mixing Bowl. This one was a real mess, in that the people running it were super-incompetent. Billy, the owner, acted as the head chef and never left the kitchen, while his manager, Mike, ran around giving customers 50% discounts on their checks. He also covered the outside of the restaurant with tons of hideous signs advertising specials.

Ramsay’s plan for The Mixing Bowl involved promptly shredding those signs and changing the menu to include more fresh, healthy dishes. Despite more problems with Mike, and his constant crying, the relaunch was successful and everything was looking good.

I kind of expected this one to come off the rails, mainly due to Mike’s apparent mental imbalance. However, when he returns, Gordon finds out that The Mixing Bowl is doing just as well as it was when he left it. They seem to have stuck to Gordon’s plan and everyone seems relaxed and healthy. The owner’s wife actually looks younger and is happy with the fact that they didn’t sell the place.

Okay, the warm and fuzzy stuff is great, but now we’re getting to the meat of the episode. Dillons, and Indian restaurant in Manhattan’s theater district, was one of the worst restaurants from last season. It was filled with rotten food, flies, roaches and rats. It was pretty hideous. On top of all that, Martin, the manager was beyond incompetent and he ended up quitting in the middle of Ramsay’s intervention. After the dust settled, he even filed a lawsuitto block the airing of the episode in which he is featured. Obviously that didn’t work, so I’m really excited to see what happens when Ramsay returns.

I’ve got to say that this is surprising. The lawsuit also alleges that Dillons was closed down by the NYC health department about a week after taping, yet here it is. Not only is it still up and running, but it’s immaculate. The employees have taken food safety courses and everything appears to be clean as a whistle. When Ramsay sits down with the owner, they briefly mention Martin, but they don’t talk about the lawsuit at all, which I find kind of strange.

Campania’s main problem was its owner, Joe, who basically ran his kitchen like a frat house. He was about $80,000 in debt and was ruining his relationship with his wife. He served humongous portions that drove his food prices through the roof. Joe and Gordon clashed at first, but after Gordon gave Joe his most profitable night ever, Joe came around.

When Gordon returns, everything seems to be going much better. One of Joe’s main problems was that he was buying and storing too much food. Now, there are only a few days worth in the walk-in, which saves $5,000 per month. Their signature dish is still the meatballs he left them with, but according to Gordon they’re even better than they were. Apparently Joe is even getting orders for them from across the country. The meatballs are so good, that the mayor comes by with a proclamation that it is Campania Day in Fair Lawn, NJ.

Oh, God. Peter’s. Guido Central in Babylon, NY. Peter is actually the brother of the owner and the manager. The entire family was a mess, but Peter is the type to buy a new suit instead of fixing a broken stove. The food was awful; mainly because nothing worked and there was food growing on other food.

Gordon’s improvements included buying a new stove, fixing the menu, and convincing Peter to give a crap about someone other than himself. The relaunch is successful and everybody feels better about the restaurant’s future.

A year later, Peter’s is still running smoothly. They have a new head chef, who seems to have a calming effect on everyone, which seems like it was exactly what this high-strung family needed. Apparently, everything is running so well, that Ramsay doesn’t even need to come back.

Alright, so that was…boring. I thought that going back and visiting some of the restaurants that Gordon helped would be interesting, but I was clearly mistaken. When you feature a restaurant that sued you and all you can say is, “man, you guys are doing really great. That’s one clean kitchen!” then your entire show is dishonest.

I’ve been watching Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares all summer on BBC America, and returning to restaurants is something he does quite often on that series. When he returns, however, sometimes things are going great, but other times the restaurant has closed, or the owners have reverted to the bad habits that got them on the show in the first place. Whatever the situation, it’s a hundred times more authentic than this two-hour puff piece. I only hope that next week, when we get into the new restaurants that need fixing, it will get better.