After hanging with the San Jose Sharks in Fremont last week, Gordon heads on down I-5 to the LA area to help out a former waitress trying her hand at running an Italian restaurant. Tatiana waited tables at Charlie’s for a decade, fell in love with the place, and decided to buy it when the last owner ran it into the ground. She’s a waitress so she had no money, and had to ask her mother and sister for help. Pat and Val borrowed against their mortgages to buy Charlie’s, even though they don’t know much about restaurants. Of course they don’t. Tatiana apparently doesn’t know one from own ass either, and what’s worse, she suffers from our favorite well-worn issue: the inability to change a goddamn thing. A customer doesn’t like a dish? They’re crazy. The servers are tired of taking shit over the rotten food? Tough tacos, sister; go get another job.
Can you spot the lie?
Sous Chef Daniela knows better, and flat out says the biggest problem is that the food sucks. The head chef, Casimiro, has been driving customers away since before Tatiana took over, and Daniela maintains that he is a large part of the problem. Server Kelsey uses air quotes to emphasize that Tatiana’s regular business practice, standing around and drinking, doesn’t equal good management. Even Pat is sick of watching her second mortgage be poured down her daughter’s thirsty gullet while the place hemorrhages money.
Tastes like mom’s dreams!
Naturally, Tatiana doesn’t appreciate that Pat and Val are pointing all their blame fingers her way. After all, no one forced them to sign over their homes to finance her dream. That may be so, but I’m going to bet the rest of Tatiana’s wine supply that it wasn’t exactly their idea, either. Also, Tatiana is just a straight up bitch, who yells at her servers and makes them cry, yet can’t seem to muster the balls to tell her head chef to get off his ass and do his job. That’s a problem regardless of the food quality.
Did you drink my pinot? Did you drink my fucking pinot, you useless lackey?
Gordon arrives on a rainy afternoon, hoping to partake of some delicious Italian food. Hasn’t he seen this show? Tatiana squeals all over him and giggles like a freak. Gordon wants to meet Charlie, but that’s not happening. Charlie was the original owner, and buggered off years ago. The next owner, Simon, abandoned the place after fucking it up, and that’s when Tatiana took it over. “WE took it over,” yells Val, not about to be left out of that loop. After Tatiana drinks some more, the four of them go outside to chat.
Once he hears their financial setup, Gordon calls bullshit on the whole arrangement. He can’t believe that nothing in the business practice has changed, especially since Simon had it nice and screwed from the get-go. Tatiana clearly doesn’t know what to do to, and from what I gather from Val’s tone, she’s not one for taking direction. Val and Pat have had little to no say in what goes on, even though it’s their money sunk into the joint.
You’ve got to appreciate sisterly love, though, because Val isn’t afraid to call out Tatiana’s behavior right there. She has a laundry list of complaints, but you can tell Tatiana has heard this all before and it hasn’t made a damn bit of difference. Maybe the power of Gordon will work its magic. He asks Pat and Val of they’d opt out if they could, and they basically say yes. Tatiana is not amused.
How dare you begrudge me your livelihood? I thought we were family!
Server Genevieve warns Gordon against the food, with good reason. He hates the bread and the toasted ravioli, which is obviously undercooked. When Genevieve sympathizes, you can see Tatiana freaking out in the background, telling everyone who will listen that Genevieve needs to shut her chatterhole and stop answering Gordon’s questions. Gordon makes Tatiana taste the toasted ravioli, which she agrees sucks, but won’t let them tell the chef anything except what great job he’s doing. Really? I guess she’s afraid of hurting his feelings. I do agree that tears will likely not improve the flavor of a dish, but shouldn’t she be correcting his technique if it indeed needs correcting?
This sucks, but don’t tell Casimiro. He’s very sensitive.
Gordon struggles through some mushy pasta, then a crazy lasagna with a sort of salmon-hued sauce. Despite Tatiana staring laser beams of warning, Genevieve throws the whole damn place under the bus, and it’s hilarious. Even their microwaved food is screwy, which is a new low. After an undercooked, atrocious pizza that Daniela tries to talk them out of serving, only to be ignored, Gordon just tells Tatiana that the food is dreadful and to stop giggling, because this joke of a restaurant isn’t funny. She slinks away to cry instead.
Go ahead and get used to this face, folks. It’s her default means of expression.
When we return from commercial, we find that Tatiana has neglected to pass on any criticism to the kitchen staff. I’m sure that’ll make the Ramsay reaming smart all the more. All the exchanges must be translated via Daniela or Tatiana, because Casimiro allegedly doesn’t speak any English. None? After 14 years? Bullshit. Just bullshit.
Tatiana says she trusts Casimiro to do his thing, and neither Gordon nor I understand whythefuck. Gordon rummages through their supplies and is horrified to learn that they’ve been serving store-bought frozen meatballs. Daniela says she knows how to make meatballs, but has no say in the matter. Tatiana won’t listen to anyone and is apparently just letting Casimiro run the place his way, his way being with a minimal amount of effort and a maximum amount of frozen food. He says he doesn’t have time to cook from scratch. Well dude, you’re a head chef—what the fuck else are you doing that you don’t have time to do the ONE THING your job title implies you do?
Forty pounds of pre-made pasta and bread dough and pizza dough gets dragged out of the fridge, and it seems Tatiana should have been paying a bit more attention to Casimiro instead of trusting his ass, because when she hears that he makes all that shit in advance only to chuck most of it when it doesn’t sell, she looks like she’s going to cry. Her sister’s house money, right down the drain. Gordon calls her an airhead, and points out the obvious: maintaining a crappy business standard will result in a continually crappy business. This isn’t exactly rocket science, so is Tatiana really that stubborn, or is she lazy, or is she just plain fucking dumb?
It’s okay, you can pick more than one answer
Since we have to watch her cry yet again, at least we know she’s crying out of guilt this time, but Gordon is made of stone, uninterested in how bad she feels about herself. What worries him is now how Tatiana’s failure will affect her delicate feelings, but how it will affect Pat and Val’s livelihood. He demands to know how she expected to save a foundering restaurant without making changes, but instead of answering, she just leaves the room to cry. AGAIN. Val appreciates Gordon’s boot making its swift journey to Tatiana’s ass, if that’s what it will take to get her moving.
What it will take.
Because he can’t bear to be one more minute in an Italian restaurant that serves IKEA meatballs, Gordon organizes a fresh meatball cook-off between Daniela and Casimiro. Tatiana has faith in Casimiro’s experience, but Daniela knows the old man doesn’t have a decent meatball in his repertoire, and she can’t even watch him fuck it up without cringing. When Gordon returns and sees Casimiro’s meatballs boiling away in the pot without the benefit of being browned beforehand, he’s horrified. He pronounces Daniela’s meatballs the winner and tells her she should be head chef. For some reason, Tatiana compliments Casimiro and tells him he’s bueno, and Val pretty much gets a migraine on the spot. I’m not sure what kind of voodoo spell Casimiro has cast over Tatiana, but she continues to believe in his skills despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. It seems like she’s worried his cooking will suffer if she criticizes him, but really, how can it get any worse?
Just breathe, hon.
Gordon shows Casimiro how to make goddamn meatballs, but when Daniela tries to hustle Casimiro along during dinner service, he tells her he will just be working slowly and doesn’t give a fuck to hurry. How hard is it to make spaghetti and meatballs?
Like Hell you’re not, pops.
All that extra time on his hands doesn’t appear to make a difference, because, with the exception of Daniela’s meatballs, everything sucks and is being sent back. When Casimiro then burns his batch of meatballs because he can’t be bothered to focus on more than one pan at a time, Gordon demands to see Tatiana in the kitchen.
He reams her out, and Casimiro gives Gordon some attitude for expecting him to properly cook the food. Gordon tells Tatiana to call Casimiro out on his bullshit, saying that if Casimiro’s house was the one on the line he wouldn’t be laughing it up and making a joke out of the issue. Then Casimiro refuses to cook anything else. Instead of kicking his old ass to the curb, Tatiana just kind of stands there. Gordon tells her to get her head out of her ass. She admits she probably, maybe, very likely has no idea how to run a restaurant. But does she know how to tell a lazy, belligerent employee to get bent? I don’t know how to run a restaurant either, but I can upbraid a lazy man like nobody’s business.
Gordon herds a sobbing Tatiana outside for lecture time. He tells her to open her eyes. She seems to have finally realized what the problem is, but she’s been friends with him for a decade and is letting personal feelings cloud her judgment. I get that they’re friends, but do you think he considers her a good enough friend that he’s willing to front some cash for her mother’s retirement after he bankrupts the business? Doubtful.
Again with this.
Gordon is so frustrated he has to walk away. Tatiana calls after him and begs for his help. Meanwhile, Casimiro continuing to slack, telling Daniela to cook the orders her own damn self, because he needs to go sulk by the warming table. Tatiana finally wakes up and realizes that her job as the owner is to manage the place. Rocket science isn’t for everyone, folks.
She pulls Val and Pat into a corner and informs them that she realizes they have to fire Casimiro. Strangely, Pat wants to know why, and says she needs time to process it. Tatiana goes to partake of some liquid courage. At least she gets that shit wholesale.
I guess she likes Casimiro more than she likes living in her house.
After closing time, Tatiana sacks up and sends Casimiro and his unnamed sidekick packing. He acts like a little bitch and won’t return her apologetic hug. She’s extremely upset, but she has to know she made the right choice. That man was next door to perfectly useless, and he’d been allowed to wallow comfortably in his own laziness for far too long. She laments having to fire her friend, but what kind of friend would spend so many years napping her business into the poohouse? Gordon joins her in the ladies’ room to comfort her and offer support. He reassures her that the time for change has been nigh for a while, and tomorrow is a new day.
For instance, tomorrow he likely won’t have to deliver a pep talk while flanked by a toilet and a tampon dispenser.
The good news is that Gordon’s brought help in the form of Jonathan, who’s there to whip their asses into shape. He’s assigned to the place for the month so he can teach them how to do their shit right. They get started and Gordon takes Tatiana under his powerful wing. He wants her to learn all the tricks of a kitchen, so she’ll be able to differentiate good work from bad. Since lasagna is probably the easier damn thing in the world to make he has her start there, and the entire staff pitches in to help transform the place.
Opening night starts off well from a taste perspective, but for some reason the food isn’t coming out at the same time, and some of the customers are getting pissed. The lack of communication is ruining the rhythm, and Gordon has to yell at people. He tells Tatiana she has to step up and make people listen to her, so after only a little whining, she jumps right onto the staff and makes them promise to get it together. Once she actually gets involved, things start to come together. It really does help that the food is edible.
Daniela is finally proud to work for Tatiana, and Gordon reminds them to focus on their potential. Val also has renewed confidence in the place. In private, he tells her to keep up the good work and make the place her own. She gives him massive cuddles and cries into his chef jacket. What else is new.
One more for the road.
Things keep going well post-Gordon, according to the wrap-up. They find a new chef and have stuff meetings and everything, just like a real business! Tatiana has finally found her groove, and may not end up bankrupting her entire family. Kudos all around!
Next week: Baltimore! Another mouthy bitch who thinks her way is the only way. The Internet keeps telling me every episode is the season finale, but things keep rolling along, so let’s all just hang on for the ride.
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