It’s been buzzing viral since FOX aired Friday’s episode of “Kitchen Nightmares”. The crazy couple in Scottsdale meets the equally ego-tastic Gordon Ramsey head-on.
If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant, this is great viewing, especially the girl who gets fired, and the knowing looks of the head waitress.
Disclosure: I have met Gordon Ramsey and I have been on an episode of “Kitchen Nightmares”.
Gordon Ramsey is an affable, friendly man when you meet him, but there is a drive about him that is unsettling. He seems constantly distracted, and occupied somewhere else. This is probably because of his insane schedule. He literally pops into town the night before taping starts and blows out the minute it’s over. So he has to be one step ahead of himself in his head as he plays out the narrative the producers have fed him.
It’s that narrative that drives the show, be it the son who manages the family restaurant when he’d rather do something else, the woman who’s foot-in-mouth disease has become a PR problem for her eatery, or the family restaurant that has gotten into a rut and needs a kick in the right direction.
I’m sure most of the time, the narrative is easily established, confirmed by staff, and then played out on camera to be tightly (and I mean tightly) edited.
But this particular episode, the narrative spun wildly out of control and there was little anyone could do to rein it in.
It started out at a level of insanity beyond the norm for even “Kitchen Nightmares”. The night before Ramsey’s arrival the video crew arrives and captures a “typical” night at the restaurant. What they got was a scene that resembles what I imagine Dante’s fifth circle of hell to be like: unrelenting anger being tossed around at everyone but those who deserved it. The owners unleashed a torrent of profanity at their customers and staff. Anyone questioning their food or wondering why their order was taking so long is greeted with contempt and vulgarity. A man is threatened with police action if he doesn’t pay for a pizza he never received.
As the woman who owns the restaurant (I will not mention her name for fear of retaliation) informs us, “The customer is NOT always right.” Huh?
At this point, I can’t believe it’s real. It has to be staged to get the show some buzz. But the evidence points out it the events on the show did indeed happened.
In Part One, please pay close attention to the staff. Observe their professionalism under fire and their bemusement of it all. Why they stay is beyond me. Their attitude of “whatever” is clearly the result of them trying to get the couple to implement different strategies and getting their head yelled off in return.
In Part Two, Ramsey meets with the couple and attempts to institute his version of “tough love”. This is where it spirals out of control. The couple’s ego meets Ramsey’s head on and the staff gets caught in the middle.
As a former restaurant employee, I was extremely impressed with the staff, especially Miranda, who continually stays calm under pressure (a sign of a veteran) and gets treated with scorn. Clearly the old man is a control freak and his wife a pampered ditz.
But what I found odd is Ramsey’s decision to fight crazy with crazy. I know his righteous rage is the show’s trademark, but it made me squirm more than usual in this situation, because deep inside I knew the staff would pay for it in the end. And they did, with Katie getting fired and/or quitting.
This is cringe inducing.
The post taping result was expected, especially after the hell on the first night we witnessed.
Working in a restaurant is a stressful job. I can remember screaming at cooks and managers and getting screamed at in return during the heat of the battle during my year long stint as a waiter. But it was also extremely rewarding (I could clear 100-dollars on a good Friday night) and the camaraderie you develop with your co-workers is immense. It was like being on a sports team, you loved going to war with them, not to mention drinking heavily after work.
I can’t help but feel sad for people like those depicted on the show. I hope I never get that closed off from the rest of the world, that I can’t appreciate a little criticism.