This week is a true snoozer, as we join Gordon as he checks up on some of the shit pits he’s condescended to revamp in the past. Unlike poor doomed El Greco, these places didn’t immediately tank upon his departure, but the question remains: is the presence of Gordon and his fitted tee enough to turn some bitches around on a permanent basis, or will time ensure the relapse into slack behavior, filthy habits, and general fuckery? More importantly, do we care enough to power through this without dozing off?
Only if this screenshot ends in bloodshed.
First up is a visit to Spanish Pavilion, a New Jersey hotbed of ruined family dreams. Jerry and Michael, the two brothers who took over the once successful restaurant from their grandfather, had managed to run the place straight into the damn ground. Regular menu offerings included bickering, unsanitary practices, and crappy food, but what put Gordon over the edge was a dead lobster in the lobster tank. The state of things would have killed their grandfather twice over if he were still working. Jerry was distracted by his own political aspirations (which I’m sure tanked entirely after this episode aired) and Michael didn’t give a rat’s ass about the place. Of course he was resistant to change, because its always the dude who most needs a smackin’ who insists that the problem lies with everyone EXCEPT him. Anyway, the episode culminated in fisticuffs, Gordon’s sneak inspection turned up live pigeons in the kitchen and piles and piles of nasty, spoiled food, which Michael had had no qualms serving (as a garnish for the dead lobster, I’m sure). Things were bad, but after Gordon worked his special brand of magic and put a foot or two up Michael’s asshole, the reopening seemed to turn the place around. But did it hold?
He looks a little too gleeful concerning the dead lobster…
Present day: Gordon tiptoes in the back door and takes a stealthy look around. He’s pleasantly surprised to find the freezer chest and storage areas actually still organized as befitting his special Ramsay custom. He’s surprised to find Jerry in the kitchen, since that was Michael’s territory. Jerry says business is good, which appears to be due mostly to the fact that Michael has “decided to try something new,” which translates into working in a chain restaurant to “train in a managerial capacity.” Which in turn likely translates into “had to take what he could get after Jerry pointed him toward the exit sign and instructed him to pass beneath it.”
After checking the pulse of the lobster tank, and making sure the kitchen is pigeon-free, Gordon chats up the customers and tries the food. Joe the server doesn’t miss Michael at all. Ha! Gordon and Jerry tuck into some paella and discuss how much better things are with Michael making someone else miserable for a change. Grandfather has since joined the lobster in heaven, but at least he saw the place being run well. Jerry says Michael is family, and always welcome back. He doesn’t add “but not until he stops acting like a slack, violent asshole,” so I filled that part in for you. You’re welcome.
Gordon then takes us back to Kingston Cafe in Pasadena, run by the exceedingly anal Dr. Morris. She’s a tough old piece of beef jerky, who won’t let anyone else have an opinion, including Gordon. Dry jerk chicken and bagged rice are totally fine and acceptable, and no one is allowed to tell her any different. Her biggest issue is resistance to change (see Michael above, in what seems to be a recurring theme in these situations), and it seems all her problems and rigid personality issues stem from growing up without a mother and vowing to Become Someone. Well, if her definition of Becoming Someone includes being shamed by a belligerent Brit on national television, she can go ahead and cross that one off the list. It’s important to have goals, folks. Once she has a crying jag in front of Gordon, he exploits her moment of weakness and turns the place around.
The answer to everything
In his revisit preamble in front of the sign, Gordon is twitching like a bastard, looking like he has to pee or maybe just did a bump or two. He and Dr. Morris sit down together and he finds out her son is “focusing on his education,” which means she kicked his ass out and made him go to school because they can’t work together when he’s constantly harping on the importance of serving fresh food. She’s also put the former kitchen staff out on its collective ass, along with all the servers and the rest of the staff. She says business has improved by 20%, and I have to give her credit for her balls–it takes a special kind of egomaniac to conclude that the way to improve her business is to get rid of every single person besides herself. They are the problem, clearly.
You can actually hear her disagreeing inside her head.
Gordon enjoys the food, then goes back to check the kitchen. This place was another one guilty of serving pointless, precooked bagged food, but that all seems to have disappeared. After finding a red herring bag of hamburger buns, Gordon concludes that Dr. Morris’s Type A personality is now set on a productive path, and as long as she keeps it up, she’ll be fine. And if not, she can just fire her entire staff again and start from scratch a third time. Options rule.
We leave Dr. Morris to her eventual, inevitable stroke, and check in on Capri in L.A.’s Eagle Rock neighborhood, a “pizzeria” run by twins Jeff and Jim. These two bring double the fuckery, so it’s no surprise things were a total wreck. The place is extremely filthy and literally falling apart, right down to ripped carpet and booth upholstery, visible layers of grime on every surface, and about a decade’s worth of gum stuck under the tables. The food is, unsurprisingly, nasty as well, and Gordon is horrified to discover the brothers have little to no clue about safe food handling and preparation. Defrosting chicken on a steam table? Um, hi there, bloody diarrhea! He orders them to toss all of it and take chicken off the menu for the night. Instead of being grateful that Gordon is saving them a few potential lawsuits, the twins yell at him and cry.
Do please note that the botulism is a garnish and not meant for consumption.
After closing time, he makes them clean the kitchen after hours, which had apparently never happened before. Ever. Jesus Christ. Salmonella is the least of their worries. At the very least, Jim’s steady flow of tears will add that special cleansing touch. Gordon took them boxing the next day to raise their confidence, Because nothing raises a man’s confidence like being punched by the padded gloves of a weeping man. Once all three of them are covered in tear snot and issues, Gordon teaches them to make meatballs and makes them scream the presence of said meatballs into oncoming traffic. Is that also supposed to improve their confidence? As for the redesign, it’s actually good, because it couldn’t have gotten worse, and Jim cries some more. I think this man’s problems extend far beyond the realm of restaurants and self-confidence, but they don’t really get into that.
Nothing like watching yourself cry to make you feel even worse.
Capri’s relaunch starts off sloppy, but Gordon kicks their twin asses into gear and informs them they need to nut up and stop being lazy bastards. But did that do a damn bit of good? It seemed to work out okay that night, but these guys are lacking in work ethic and probably feed each others’ laziness, so who knows if it will continue.
When Gordon arrives, he sees they’ve added an al fresco patio, which looks promising, and the lunch rush is going full strength. Whichever twin greets him seems happy, and it turns out they’ve actually delegated cleaning tasks to the new staff so the place isn’t a total rat hole anymore. Even the food passes muster. Good for them. They’re still lazy, but not to such an extreme degree. They have, however, abandoned the boxing and the meatball shouting. Whatever. Gordon’s techniques vary based on the number of rails he snorts pre-production. As a totally unplanned bonus, a guy from the Chamber of Commerce presents Jim and Jeff with a certificate of appreciation. The weepy twin cries some more, and everything ends happily. Happily? What is this shit? Ugh. Moving on.
When last we checked in at La Frite in Sherman Oaks, Alex and Celine were tearing each other’s faces off over stupid sibling shit, and this uncouth behavior was ruining their father’s business. Apparently this place actually stores the food safely and scrapes the mold off the walls once in awhile, because we don’t get a ten minute flashback of Gordon dry heaving all over the walk-in. I guess the issue was just the family drama. Gordon fake surprises Celine, and she informs him that things are cool with her and Alex. Alex confirms this isn’t a big fat lie, and that the two of them are making Daddy Andre proud. The redesigned menu and improved relationship has resulted in a nicer workplace and a better atmosphere altogether. Yay. Hard to muster a fuck for this one, folks.
Oh, everything’s peachy? How ni….zzzzzzzzzzzz.
Honestly, it was hard to muster one for the episode as a whole. Am I watching this for recycled man tears and happy endings? Hell no. It’s only three episodes in–I want new meltdowns, screaming family members, rats shitting in the chicken stock, and Gordon spewing his dignity out in a stream of vomit and spoiled food. But I guess this week we just have to suck it up as they reinforce the notion that Gordon Ramsay will save your restaurant’s ass by forcing you to exercise common sense and act like responsible adults. Can he help out the belligerent duo featured in next week’s episode? I’ll prop my eyelids open long enough to let you fine people know.
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