The Recipe for Kitchen Nightmares US

Gordon Ramsey Kitchen Nightmares

I know Kitchen Nightmares is a heavily-manufactured, manipulative piece of reality TV guff, but I can’t help but love it. I also can’t help but notice how each episode is constructed pretty much identically. You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. But you still watch them all, because they’re immensely entertaining. God bless you, Ramsey, you angry little shit. Here’s how things go down: every single time.

  • Ramsay arrives at the restaurant, and makes some bitchy comments about the decor/menu/the discovery of a rat on the doorstep.
  • The owner tells Ramsay that the restaurant is losing money, which they can’t understand because the food is awesome. Ramsay’s concerned frown and receptive eyes betray the fact that within the hour he’ll have them in tears after shouting at them like they’re the unwanted step-child of a second marriage.
  • Ramsay orders three items from the menu, and declares each in turn the worst dogshit he’s ever tasted in his life. The serving waitress agrees with Ramsay’s assessment, and adds that the owner, her employer, is a waste of space as a human being, and a terrible manager. She’s pretty sure the owner won’t mind her honesty once the show is broadcast.
  • Ramsay rampages into the kitchen and discovers a rotting corpse beside the pizza oven. The owner gets defensive and says, ‘What’s your problem? That’s our mascot: Davey.’ Ramsay then discovers that none of the food is fresh, and all of it is kept in plastic bags beside a heater, next to a cardboard box filled with arsenic and rat shit.
  • Ramsey’s jaw muscles go into over-drive as he unleashes a volley of vile swear words at the owner. The words are bleeped so we viewers are spared the horror, but Ramsey’s such a clever curser that even the rhythm of his bleeps spells out a verbal attack in Morse Code. The owner sulks like a baby, and then tries to blame the staff/their partner/the Norse God Thor for how shit they now realise their restaurant is.
  • Ramsey gathers all of the staff together. He itemises the worst things about the restaurant: the Chef’s Specials written in dust on the wall; the fact that semen is an ingredient of the clam chowder; the twenty-three cats that live in the dining room. He then says ‘bland’ and ‘no passion’ sixty-three times whilst jerking his finger around like a conductor having a stroke. The chef says he was only following orders and blames the owner for everything, including 9/11. The chef goes on to confess that he would rather brush his teeth with bird shit and gargle a vial of AIDS than eat the diseased muck his kitchen serves to customers. ‘Anyway,’ says the chef, ‘I’m a bricklayer and I don’t even like cooking.’ He further confesses that ‘he’s never heard of eggs before.’ Ramsey stares at the chef like the chef’s just sharted on a child, and then calls him a c***.
  • The owner threatens to kill the chef and then accuses the staff of being lazy thieves who spend their time texting instead of working. In fact, it’s so bad that they text the customers asking for their orders, and then text these to the chef, who promptly ignores them. A mouthy Polish waitress tells Ramsey that the owner spends every night crying at the bar, cradling his dead mum’s ashes and throwing olives at customers. The owner throws an olive at her, but a beef olive this time. The rest of the staff just sit there smiling and blinking because they’ve just arrived from Puerto Rico and can’t speak English yet. Ramsey tells them all to fuck off, and storms out.
  • Ramsey observes a typical night at the restaurant. The owner thinks, ‘This is my chance to show that British bastard how awesome my business is.’ We all think: ‘This show’s not called Kitchen Awesomeness, you fool.’ Lots of customers pour in because they want to be on TV. They agree that each dish on the menu is dogshit, and send everything back. A feral cat jumps up and steals some salmon from a customer’s plate, which is snatched from its mouth by a rat. The rat gets involved in a salmon-related mouth tug-of-war with a cockroach, which is only ended when a waiter crushes them both under his heel. The waiter places their fresh remains on a plate and serves it to another customer. He drizzles some sauce over it and says it’s their ‘Vermin of the Day.’ Ramsey rustles up a smile that conveys both smugness and hatred.
  • In the kitchen, Ramsey sees the chef vomiting over a breast of chicken, and then chucking it straight into the frying pan. Ramsey goes bat-shit mental, and the chef just shrugs, and then scratches his balls. With the chicken. The owner, too pissed by now to walk, starts crying because he can’t live up to his dead parent’s restaurant-running standards/is about to lose his marriage/can’t afford to keep his business going/it’ll make good TV.
  • Ramsey screams, ‘Stop what you’re doing! I’m shutting this kitchen down! You’re going to bloody kill someone.’ Sure enough, a customer keels over into a bowl of spunky clam chowder. The owner drags the customer’s corpse into the kitchen and puts it next to Davey.
  • The next day the entire staff watches a film on a giant cinema screen. It features every single person in town telling them how shit their restaurant is, and how much of a cock the owner is. The owner either a) cries and vows not to be such a cock in future or b) says it’s a Jewish conspiracy.
  • Ramsey gets the set designers from Prisoner Cell Block H to revamp the restaurant. Then he devises a new menu and cooks up some samples. Every dish is now ‘rustic.’ When Ramsey uses the word ‘rustic’ we know he really means ‘microscopically tiny portions at double the price.’ The staff are like, ‘Wow, these taste so good it’s like a world-class chef made them.’ Uh-huh. Because they were. By now the audience know that there’s zero chance Chef Cum Chowder is going to be able to match that standard once Ramsey buggers off.
  • Despite some before-the-last-ad-break editing that suggests relaunch night is going to be a disaster – it’s not. Well, we can’t have Ramsey’s reputation wrecked by a bunch of filthy plebs. Ramsey tells them they achieved it by themselves, and should be proud, even though they clearly didn’t, and they shouldn’t. Ramsey hugs them all, which is tense and unnerving, like watching a cobra giving somebody a hug.
  • Ramsey strides outside and gives an awkward recap to the audience, during which he swishes his finger like it’s a fencing sword, and keeps jerking his gaze down to the ground and back up at the camera again like a serial killer battling ADHD.
  • The restaurant closes down.

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