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Review and Recap: Kitchen Nightmares: February 2, 2010

February 4, 2010

By Monsieur Anton

At the Pass continues to follow the adventures of our boy Gordon Ramsay.  We plan to review and recap his televisions series Kitchen Nightmares.  Why?  Because it’s fun!  Ramsay is nothing if not entertaining, and watching the train wreck restaurants he helps each week makes us feel superior.

Have you ever tried to teach an old dog new tricks?  Neither have I, but they tell me you can’t do it.  Especially an ornery old dog like Adele, one of the owners of Flamango’s in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey.  No that’s not a typo.  Adele and her daughter Cheryl wanted to open a Florida style restaurant in the Garden state, so” Fla” for Florida, and “mangos” for, I don’t know what, and bazinga, we have Flamango’s.  As if it wasn’t enough to have a mangled name, the décor looks like it came from the gift shop of some second-rate theme park.

The problems go much deeper than some tacky tikis however, and it starts at the top with owner Adele who is the crankiest old hag you’d never want to meet.  She and her long-suffering husband Bill (I say long-suffering, because to live with this woman must be like booking a suite at Guantanamo Bay) have had a series of successful diners.  Adele convinces the 70 year old Bill to take their retirement money and along with their still living at home 42 year old daughter Cheryl open Flamango’s.  Come on now, hasn’t Bill who seems like a nice guy been through enough, having owned four restaurants and putting up with Adele for all these years?  Let the man enjoy his golden years.

I can see the motivation.  Why wouldn’t you want to set up Cheryl so you can get her the hell out the house already?  Cheryl it seems landed on Kitchen Nightmares as her second choice for a reality show.  With all the hairspray, lip gloss and makeup, it’s obvious she had her heart set on Jersey Shore.

Why isn’t Flamango’s successful?  Let me count the ways.  Adele and Cheryl somehow think that more is better and have opened an establishment with more tacky nick knacks to go along with a huge menu that their new chef Bryan cannot hope to execute.  Oh yeah, after the obligatory site of Ramsay spitting out food we are led to believe the cuisine is not quite up to snuff.  One other problem.  Adele’s a bitch.  She treats her staff like garbage.  Why they continue to work there is a question for the reality TV gods.

During the first evening’s dinner service we find out that Adele’s lack of people skills extends to her customers.  She treats them with the same disdain she has for her employees.  The show has been on for all of fifteen minutes and I can save Gordon a lot of time repairing this particular nightmare.  Adele, meet Dr. Kevorkian.

At the staff meeting Ramsay, much to Adele and Cheryl’s horror unveils his plan to simplify the menu so that Chef Bryan can better execute it. Remember, more is better in the eyes of these two women.  When the staff chimes in with agreement, Adele snaps at them and we want to slap this old dog with a rolled up newspaper.  Cheryl while not happy is at least willing to listen since she is not quite as old a dog and therefore not as set in her ways. As Bill stands around with a “see what I’ve been dealing with all these years” look on his face we go to commercial we are told of a “fire storm” to come and are treated to a picture of the Flamango’s sign in flames.

On day two Chef Bryan is told he can create a special for tonight’s dinner.  He comes up with Chicken Jubilee, and while it sounds hokey, it looks good.  The beleaguered and hard working Bill is allowed to put his years of diner experience to use making meatloaf.   He seems so happy in the in the kitchen, probably because Adele is not there.

The dinner service goes as you would expect.  The specials sell well, the old menu is a mess, and Adele is cranky.  A frustrated Gordon takes solace in a conversation with a rather large tiki. The tiki proves to have better people skills than Adele.

After dinner service Ramsay makes sweeping changes.  He has everyone pick up a chair or some other refugee from a bad garage sale and take it outside where with the help of the fire department we are treated to the blaze we’ve seen since previews following last week’s show.  While all present seem to enjoy the bonfire, Adele is none too pleased.  Someone must have forgotten the wieners and marshmallows.

As everyone shows up for work the next day en masse (do they meet for coffee before coming to work?) Ramsay unveils the new sign and concept for the eatery.  Farewell the spell-check challenged Flamango’s and hello…The Junction.   The Junction as we are told is homage not only to the nearby railroad tracks, but as a place where people meet.  The new concept is going to be upscale comfort food in the newly sleek and airy ambiance of the restaurant.  Everyone is excited, even Cheryl who seems to be loosening up to the point that she’s forgone the hairspray and put her hair into a pony tail.  Of course Adele hates it.  How do we know?  She says she “hates it” seven times in ten seconds.

During dinner service number three, to the relief of all the guests in the dining room, Adele is intent to stay in the kitchen.  Once out on the floor, the sourpuss complains to otherwise happy diners about all the changes.  When she’s not complaining, she’s behind the counter with a scowl on her face.  Taking one for the team, at Gordon’s behest Bill goes to try to get Adele to smile.  Hasn’t this man been through enough?  As a testament to Bill’s likeability, Adele give in and barely cracks a Mona Lisa smile realizing that happy customers means more money and a chance for Bill to retire by age 90.

Chef Gusteau: In keeping with the drinking game theme, downing a shot every time Adele says “hate” would be deadly to one’s health.  This show was comical in that Adele has to be acting.  No one, other than my mother-in-law, could be this evil and unhappy.  She actually swears at a customer under her breath while walking away from their table, and then tells her husband “Screw them [customers].”  I would have totally understood if Bill were ever to run himself over with one of the larger combines on his farm to escape this woman.  I imagine the devil himself would cringe at the sound of her name.  In fact, I was hoping someone had thrown her into the fire with the alligator statue.  There is no question at all why the restaurant is getting pummeled and losing money daily.  One note I had regarding Chef Ryan was that even though both he and Ramsay agreed the menu was ridiculous, technically Ryan should have been able to properly cook tenderloin to the correct temperature, and send out fish that wasn’t overcooked and dry.  I’m not sure I buy the excuse that the vast menu spread him too thin to cook properly.  To be late with plating, sure.  Improperly prepared food, never a good excuse.

I did enjoy watching Ramsay and Chef Ryan bond in this episode.  Ramsay displayed trust and confidence in the new chef, although it looked like he developed the entire new menu without checking with him at all…pulling an “Adele” in his own right.  The restaurant did well and seems poised to continue on its successful track…until the show ends with a note that Adele returned to her old ways.  I actually give this restaurant a shorter lifespan than the previous show with that Potato Café.  Why so bleak Chef Gusteau?  Because Adele will not change, and no one seems able to stand up to her.  She will bully everyone around to get her way, even though she is wrong 99.99% of the time.  Now that the servers and cooking staff have seen the light, and realize how good things can be, they will all be quick to quit the next time Adele acts up (probably in a day or two).

In any case, an enjoyable show that displayed the likeable side of Ramsay and the humorous side of human nature.  Based on the previews for next week, it looks like Ramsay will be back to his old ways of yelling at cooks/chefs.  Might be fun…perhaps this will be the time another chef punches Ramsay’s lights out?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 28, 2010 3:01 pm

    when i go to a gift shop, i always look for cute little stuffed animals and other cute stuffs**`

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