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Kitchen Nightmares Recap and Review: Le Bistro

March 25, 2010

By Chef Gusteau

Has Gordon finally met his match? In this episode Gordon goes head to head with another stubborn, outspoken and rude French trained chef from Britain, who apparently is destroying his restaurant located in Boca Raton Florida. French, British…in Boca Raton…not sure that sounds like a natural fit does it? Another thing that doesn’t fit…these two chef egos in the same kitchen. Throughout the episode we see the two go at it, typically with Gordon taking the bigger hits, which was amusing in of itself. What wasn’t amusing, however, was how Chef Andy treated his employees, his wife and even his guests. Many clips show him telling everyone to “F-off” and when a guest complains about the temperature of their filet, he responds with a casual “F-him.” How nice indeed.

Right from the beginning I felt a cringe of the pain to come. Chef Andy’s wife Elin answers the phone at the restaurant warmly, and then the scene cuts to Chef Andy grabbing a bell (the large kind you see during Christmas time that carolers shake during performances; you know, the large ones you could knock out a reindeer with?) from the pass and ringing it to get someone’s attention while he stands at the grill. What’s that? I have heard of yelling to get someone’s attention, but ringing a bell? Does the local bellhop come by to help with the expediting or something? During the pre show interviews, Chef Andy is heard saying “I can run rings around anyone in the kitchen…I know everything about everything.” He actually says this with a straight face! Now, granted he was a chef at a Michelin Star restaurant in France…but come on! You’re just asking to get slapped at that point…and Gordon is the man to do it. My favorite Chef Andy quote: “The last thing I want to do is close the restaurant and go to work for some idiot. I hate idiots.” Don’t we all.

The show begins typically, with Gordon coming in to visit for the first time. Talk about making a bad impression. Gordon walks in during a cooking class that Chef Andy is hosting with many guests. He casually sits down and begins to make fun of Andy’s technique and food with the other guests. As you might guess, Andy notices and takes issue with Gordon. Hate to say it, but I agree with Andy on this one. These are paying guests for the cooking demo and Gordon walks in like he owns the place. Show some respect and decency…humiliate in private and praise in public…isn’t that the saying?

In any case, we learn that Chef Andy and Gordon had worked at the same Michelin star restaurant (at different times…those two in the same kitchen at the same time is scary), yet clearly their paths have changed since then. Gordon asks Chef Andy to show off and cook for him. I am sure everyone knows what comes next, as Gordon proceeds to hate everything that Andy touches, and later criticizes him for not listening to his waiter when constructive criticism is sent back to the kitchen. At this point, Gordon attacks three major flaws that he sees about Chef Andy. Number one, Andy doesn’t seem to care about his guests. He cooks the food his way and to his liking, regardless if it even doesn’t fit the local tastes (like curried lamb and coconut in Florida)…and if they don’t like it, “F-them” is his response. In one funny clip, we actually see Chef Andy telling his wife to tell a guest to choose something else from the menu after the guest reported not liking the way he prepared a particular dish! Next, Gordon wants Andy to allow his sous chef to do some of the cooking. We learn that Andy does ALL of the cooking and plating, and his sous chef merely grabs produce and meats from the cooler and gets it ready for Andy to cook. Finally, and Anton will love this one, only the waiter named Alex takes the guests’ dinner orders for the whole restaurant! Apparently this insanity was created by Chef Andy so that it deliberately slows down the pace at which tickets come into the pass. Why? So Chef Andy, who does all the cooking, can keep up with the orders. Absolute insanity.

To address the caring about guests’ feedback, Gordon has the dinner guests fill out a questionnaire as they leave. As you might guess, pretty dismal results. Later, Gordon takes Andy and his wife Elin on a boat, seemingly for a bit of relaxation, and then surprises him by taking him down in the cabin, where more “ex-guests” are waiting to provide more feedback. Andy each time demonstrates his lack of concern for what anyone has to say. Funniest comment there was when one guest says that the bistro was dark and gloomy and while eating, he felt everyone was staring at him. Andy, truly grasping the hidden gem behind that comment responds with “What are you looking for, naked women dancing on tables?” Astonishing.

Riding on that wave of success, Gordon then addresses the cooking issues. He first gets the sous chef, Hendrick, to cook at least one item. Hendrick will be in charge of cooking that night’s special, pan seared red snapper. We quickly realize that the sous chef is quite good, and more than anxious to begin cooking. Andy, on the other hand, is less enthusiastic about the move. Oh, did I mention that Gordon also has two waiters taking orders that night? Prepare for dinner “rush” Andy! During that night’s dinner service, Hendrick’s snapper is getting rave reviews, but Andy and the rest of the menu aren’t doing as well. And then Gordon does the cruelest thing, although both funny and informative, that evening. As Andy falls behind on the dinner tickets and wait times exceed 70 minutes, Gordon runs next door to another restaurant and gets a takeout dinner. The process takes 10 minutes, and then Gordon shares the meal with Elin. Both realize that the quick takeout food was quite good…almost too good. Sharing this tidbit with Andy at the end of the night totally breaks Andy. Now time for the building back up…cue Gordon’s overnight makeover team.

The next day, waking up to a new restaurant design, and a new menu designed by Gordon, with no input from Andy, Andy and Elin prepare for a new path for Le Bistro. The new menu showcases local flavors, smaller portions, and quicker cook times, all to help out Andy. To add to any pressure, Gordon has invited all the high profile VIP’s, celebrities and food critics for dinner. Dinner service starts out well, and some food makes it out, but suddenly as the pressure builds, Andy starts to shut down again and resorts to previous bad habits. Quickly Gordon pulls him aside for a “pep talk”…or yelling at a “Donkey” as the Brits would say. To his credit, Andy comes back and gets his act together and has a great dinner service.

Fun episode to watch, and very interesting to see a chef so similar to Gordon in many ways. I think another interesting point was that I never once questioned Andy’s ability to cook. When some of the dishes came back from the guests, they actually looked fine. In the case of the filet that was medium rare and the guest wanted medium, I admit that the filet looked great to me. So really the issue was that Andy needed something to rejuvenate himself and to lose a little of his control over others. That said, no chef likes to give up control. He said it at the beginning, “this is my food and my reputation.” Now he has something to be proud of.

Monsieur Anton says: “Humiliate in private and praise in public?” I like that! I resolve to never again humiliate Gusteau in public. Ah, who am I kidding?

This episode to me illustrates to some degree what you see from many neophyte chefs straight out of culinary school. The school provided them with all these great techniques and tools, and an appreciation for fine cuisine, and you want to show it off, the customer be damned. The chef knows what is good, and the customer must be educated at all costs. While this can be excused for the newly anointed young chef, there is no excuse for an old hand like Andy. Let me scream this so there is no escaping my message. YOU COOK FOR THE CUSTOMER YOU &*#@*?* DONKEY! The chef that cooks to his own taste exclusively will soon be serving a party of one.

One interesting point that was demonstrated in this episode is that service takes place not only in the dining room, but also in the kitchen. If the kitchen is not getting the orders out in a timely manner, and of a quality to please the guest, than nothing the server does will leave the customer with a fine dining experience. That is kind of the message of At the Pass. The chef (back of the house) and the manager (front of the house) working together. Now if we could just get Gusteau on board with the concept (“Praise in public, humiliate in private? I kid. I’m a kidder).

What exactly is the idea behind only one server taking the orders? Is it because you want to show off all the free bread you’ll be giving away while the “diners” wait. “Diner” is in quotes because nobody getting a whole lot to eat at Le Bistro. Chef Andy wants to slow down the guests because he is doing all the cooking and relegating his sous chef to pulling food from the walk in. Do you know who pulls the food in many kitchens? The dishwasher! Hendrick is an overpaid porter. Andy may have worked in some fine kitchens, but I’ll tell you right now, no one chef can handle a busy dinner service doing all the cooking themselves, not even Gusteau.

What amazes me about Andy is that he has any staff at all. The way he barks out orders, and leaves his servers and his long suffering wife out to dry with the customers is shameful. Exactly why do they stay there, let alone his poor wife Elin who seems like a charming, lovely lady who probably needs the number a good divorce lawyer.

But this is Kitchen Nightmares and we know the routine. Somewhere around 50 minutes after the hour, the obstinate chef will see the light, and the error of his ways, there will be a successful dinner service at 55 minutes past the hour, and at 58 minutes after the hour Ramsay will walk down the street expressing hope for the restaurant.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Craig Goudie permalink
    August 16, 2011 5:39 pm

    Disgusted & severely dissappointed that Gordon Ramsay described himself as English rather than Scottish. Shame on you.

    • ellen G permalink
      October 2, 2011 7:15 pm

      Gordon Ramsay was BORN in Scotland BUT raised in England!!!!! SO, he can RIGHTFULLY lay claim to both!!! But, from what I’ve read, he’s MORE BRITISH than Scottish considering he was raised in England!!

  2. ellen G permalink
    October 3, 2011 11:12 am

    Also, if you’ve noticed — Gordon Ramsay has lost his Scottish Brouge and NOW has the typical British accent!!!

  3. October 22, 2011 4:14 am

    I’m more disgusted by the way Andy talks to his wife, his staff and anyone who crosses his path!

  4. March 9, 2012 6:06 am

    There are a few standard suggestions to check out if you want to enhance efficiency along with ease within your little home. The best kitchen area structure gives you …kitchen faucets reviews

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