I have never, ever, ever met someone I believed in as little as you.
I didn’t want to watch this show at first. Not because I don’t love Gordon Ramsay (deep down, who doesn’t?), but because I work in a restaurant and I am fat, lazy and unmotivated. In fact, I have worked in one restaurant or another and been fat, lazy and unmotivated since I was fourteen, and I don’t like being called out on it by some psycho foreign guy. I have to deal with that dude at work, why would I invite him over? The thought of coming home after a long day of getting yelled at and sweating the odor of cous cous (or enchiladas, or pizza, or Applebee’s riblets…I have had a very long and distinguished career, ok?) to lay back and marvel at other fat, lazy, unmotivated people similarly sweating the odor of a stranger’s food while getting yelled at seemed downright masochistic. It’s the same reason I don’t watch The Biggest Loser. I’m tryin’ to eat, here.
Obviously, I got over myself, set the DVR, and fell in love. I was surprised to find that when a show looks like it could be based on your sucky life experiences, you should watch it. Kitchen Nightmares totally made me feel awesome about my po ass situation. I’ve slogged through some pretty gross kitchens, but none have compared to the dumps featured on this show’s first five minutes every week. My life doesn’t suck as bad as these sad sacks. Oh, you know what else is good? The Biggest Loser.
Dean, the owner of tonight’s nightmare kitchen, crosses his arms confidently and smiles at the cameras. “I don’t believe there’s a better operator, or restauranteur, than me.” Ooh, Wolfgang Puck, you got served. Dean has taken this old Stone Mill in Tuckahoe, New York and converted into a restaurant practically all by himself. Well, he didn’t do the electrical stuff, but everything else. I can’t help but wonder if this monologue was recorded before or after all the shots of him almost electrocuting himself trying to change a light bulb. As he tells us he just can’t understand how he has no business, the editors tell us exactly why. The food’s nasty, the waiters are dumdums, and Dean is a cheapo.
Saran Wrap saves the day again.
Dean’s wife interrupts the montage of Dean being the best businessman ever (he points, he yells, he chomps on a big fat cigar) to ask him for money to pick up the dry cleaning. He’s like “money?! You want money?! Guess who else wants money! All the poor people we aren’t paying! Why did I marry a woman who can’t do her own goddamn dry cleaning! ARGHHH! Money! You want goddamn money?!?” The wife, obviously used to this rant, stands by patiently and waits for a fiver. This guy’s a real charmer.
Guess who else wants their dry cleaning? Starving children living in FEMA trailers. Get out, you stupid woman!
Mike, the Olde Stone Mill’s Chef, is so sick of being yelled at day in and day out that he has lost all his passion for food. You don’t say.
Dammit, now I’ve lost my passion for food.
Tom, the General Manager, has quite a few issues to deal with. It’s hard to get the waiters to move, the food’s so bad he can’t eat it, and everything’s dirty. Tom is all roll-y eyes and face scrunches, and I immediately recognize him as the incompetent gossipy knucklehead of the Mill. Every restaurant has one. The guy is dissing the restaurant he is in charge of and acting like a passive onlooker to some other fool’s circuis. I hope his ass gets fried tonight. Oh yeah, and is it me or does he resemble Carol, the fat slut Horatio Sanz played on SNL?
General Manager Tom and Chef Mike agree on one thing: the food at the Olde Stone Mill sucks ass. The only reason the place hasn’t shut it’s doors is that there’s a retirement home across the street, and (as Mike puts it,) the “blue heads” come in all the time. Montage of old people cutting up unrecognizable (to even people who can see) entrees, complaining about how long it’s taking to get their food, and pooping their pants.
My favorite employee so far is Jeanie, the hostess, because on excruciatingly slow nights, as her boss yells and creates ridiculous drama, she ponies up to the bar with both a glass of wine and a Diet Coke. I can totally relate.
I don’t care if you pay me in liquids. This bitch don’t work for free.
Dean tells us that he’s behind on his mortgage and it’s a strong possibility that the bank will foreclose on his house soon. His wife cries and says that their children’s future is at stake. I kind of feel bad for her, and then I realize she’s wearing a suit that will need to be dry cleaned.
You wasteful bitch!
Sad violins and piano tinkles as Dean looks out the window wondering who he didn’t yell at enough when…the air settles. And then a wind blows into town. It blows harder and harder. A mailbox is overturned. A dog barks, a child screams, and then the sound of a motorcycle roars through the village. I know Gordo’s going for “Cool Rider” here, but the whole entrance is a little Rosie on the Bus to me.
Let’s just hope Andie McDowell learns to be a little more supportive this week.
Dean greets Ramsay with a calm confident smile, which seems to disgust Gordo. Tom nods and smiles and mutters “please don’t hit me” under his breath as he meets his new master, and Jeanie purrs throatily about having a thing for blonde men. HAHA. Then she’s like no, seriously. He’s hot. HAHA. Then, with a straight face, she says Gordo would really be a plus in her life. Alright, down girl.
Straight to work. Ramsay sits down with the menu and orders crab cakes, a chopped salad, and risotto. He’s the only customer in the place as he waits for thirty minutes unfed, so he decides to rag on one of the waiters. “Are you chewing gum?” The waiter kinda rolls his eyes, like “duh”. None of the staff are feeling good about what’s coming, and Chef Mike is the most worried. He knows Ramsay’s gonna hate it. Come on team, let’s try a positive attitude here! Who wouldn’t like crab cakes made with sour mayo and greasy, fried filo-wrapped prawns? Oh. Never mind. Who wraps a prawn in filo and fries it? That’s just wrong. The chopped salad is the next to arrive at the table, and it’s… art? The dish depresses me on sight, because it looks a sad, leaning Christmas tree that a whole group of people sneezed all over.
Hey, what’d you guys do to my tree?
Ramsay stares at the salad and demands to know how it was shaped. Dean brings a plastic funnel to the table and Gordo asks if the chef is a mechanic. No, but he probably should have been. Dean is mortified. He knew the guy was gonna be tough, but for him to come into Dean’s house and embarrass him like this is unacceptable! He says this only to us, of course. In front of Gordo he’s all awkward smiles and blushy faces. Ramsay tops the salad with the funnel and shakes his head, begging the producers not to make him eat “any more of this shit.”
Sorry, but shit is exactly what they’re going to make you eat. The entree arrives wrapped in soiled paper. Gordo says the lobster stuffed tilapia looks like a bag of poop that’s been baked in the oven, and he’s not exaggerating.
Who gave fish to the baby?
Dean was hoping Ramsay would love at least one dish, but he’s a perceptive fellow and suspects that the angry looks on Gordo’s face might mean he doesn’t like anything. Dean, can you not hear the shits and f words being tossed around as the man chews? The most brilliant and now most disillusioned businessman ever makes his way into the kitchen to yell at Chef Mike about the food sucking. Mike shrugs. Everyone knows their food sucks. What’s the big surprise? He’s not the one who invited a camera crew over. Dean can’t help but feel insulted. Now you’re gettin’ the idea, tiger! I always find it hilarious when people are shocked that a makeover show would think they need a makeover.
We just stopped by to give you snaps.
Alright, team, let’s rally! All isn’t said and done! There’s still time to wow him! And…wow. Dean, apparently angry now, goes outside, steps on a snail, and puts it on a plate. Gordo is not amused.
Now that’s a Fancy Feast.
Ramsay calls Dean to the table to give him a rundown of his experience. Ew nasty gross retarded baby diapers belch spit ew. Gordon says the waiter obviously lied about the crab cakes being made with fresh crab meat and Dean is shocked that someone on his staff could be so incompetent. Cut to the busboy. Hey! That’s not the waiter! This busboy/waiter confusion happens all too often in restaurants, and it has to stop. I’m not the one who stared at your wife’s boobs and spilled water all over your lap, that was the five foot three Mexican dude over there. Have some respect! I’m the one who got your order wrong and changed the tip you left me on your credit card slip.
Ramsay goes on to say that his eight year old daughter could do a better job and that if the food is always like this they should just turn the Olde Stone Mill into a museum. Aw, he complimented the building! What a sweetie. Dean is furious, but stays calm at the table. He tells us that if anyone else dared talk to him like that, he would crash a plate down on their head and kick them out of his place. I am suddenly worried for the blue heads. You know one of these days they’ll start bitching out loud. It’s what they do.
Manager Tom isn’t surprised Gordo thinks his boss is a nitwit, and Chef Mike just laughs and shakes his head. Jeanie, however, is completely turned on as she watches RamRod do his thing.
When I get him in the walk-in I’m showing him the backs of my elbows. Raaaar!
Before a plan to save the Stone Mill can be formulated, Gordo needs to have a meeting with Dean and his wife to find out just how screwed they are. Barbara says that she doesn’t know anything about the finances, and she likes it that way. She knows they’re in trouble, so she just stays as far away from the restaurant as she can because what you don’t know can’t hurt you. Man, if every spouse was like this I would totally be married.
Ramsay makes her sit there and listen as Dean spills the beans. If the restaurant closed right now, he would still owe half a million dollars on it. He’s taken two mortgages out on his house plus a home equity loan. Barbara is shocked and crying now. Oh, and btw, I have a foot fetish and you didn’t get crabs off a toilet seat at the mall, I’ve been sleeping with hookers since the first night I found out you were pregnant. Pat on the head.
The next thing Ramsay needs is an idea of what a busy night is like at the restaurant, so FOX busses in a full house of “real people” to bitch and moan about their free food loudly enough to get screen time. For you readers I am just now meeting for the first time, I. HATE. REAL. PEOPLE. I thought they’d be more bearable on this show since these real people are small town New Yorkers instead of the screen hog Los Angeles kind, but it turns out real people are the same everywhere. Just with different accents.
Dean has pulled out all the stops tonight and is serving the real people new and supposedly improved presentations of his dishes. Now, not only can you have rubbery calamari, you can have it in a gigantic plastic margarita glass! OY. One woman is taken aback that she has to eat her tilapia out of a brown paper bag and Dean’s assurances that “the paper is edible” don’t help. Did you seriously just serve someone paper? The guests universally pan the food. Not only is it cold and tasteless, it takes up to an hour to come out of the kitchen. One girl says that her risotto is soggy. Her husband tastes it and goes “this is disgusting”. She says “I know. It’s salty.” He goes “It’s gross, you should return it.” She considers this very seriously and says “I think I will!” and he’s like “You should!” Oh, for fuck’s sake send it back already, you two! We get it! You’re on TV! The waiters are dragging ass and Chef Mike can’t keep up with all the orders armed with only the guy next to him who never speaks.
So, how’s your day goin’?
Jeanie shakes her head with pity. Poor Mike, “he tries to presentate the food real nice.” And I was wondering how Jeanie ended up as a sixty something year old hostess. Don’t worry, sugar. Hot stupid people just get better with age. At least that’s what I tell myself. Manager Tom does what most wussies do when confronted with an animal that’s about to eat them. He tries to make nice by backstabbing his friends. He and Gordo lean up against the coffee machine together and watch the ugly scene unfold. Ramsay catches a glimpse of the giant margarita cup filled with calamari and shakes his head. Bullfrog smiles and laughs, saying Mike and Dean are trying different presentations because the food sucks. Then he turns into a little rat and scurries off to tattle tale on Harry Potter.
Just when it looks like things can’t get any worse, Ramsay sees Manager Tom giggling it up at the bar while food is taking an hour to come out, and to make it worse, Dean takes a break in the middle of hell to have a beer with a super homely girl. Food’s being sent back to the kitchen? No problem! He’ll yell at Mike! He goes back to the kitchen and shouts out dishes he needs redone and starts sending the waiters out with anything he sees, even though it’s discussed loudly that the dishes are a mess. Gordo finally asks him wtf and Dean’s like “what?” Ramsay tells him his restaurants “on the ass”, and Dean just says what’s done is done already. What do you want from me? Soggy risotto. Done! Now we’re all friends again.
A lady sends back her risotto for being oversalted and Dean tells Ramsay, accusingly, “they sent your favorite dish back.” Gordo looks at the camera like “what am I supposed to do with this douche?” I dunno, but I can’t wait to watch! After service is done, he gathers the whole crew in the dining room and dresses down Dean. Food wasn’t ready and he sent it out anyway and all he cares about is going from table to table to get smoke blown up his ass by the customers.
Dean stays calm and answers that yes, he likes compliments, because he wants to make people happy. Then Gordo calls him a fake and Dean finally gets riled up. “You are!” That is my favorite defense ever and I use it all the time, because how can you argue with that? Sir, you were fifteen miles over the speed limit. “You are!” See? Dean gets all upset and storms out and Gordo shouts more insults at his back until he turns around to face it “like a man”. That Ramsay knows how to push a guy’s buttons. Most of what he says is bleeped out, so I make up really sweet things he’s expressing in my head. Like, “nice shirt,” or “do you know who Flipit is?”
I am pretty impressed with Dean. I thought he would have completely lost his shit by now, but he’s willing to listen to what Ramsay has to say. He does, however, have a very thick skull, which leads Gordo to come up with a new tactic. Appeal to his vanity! He tells Dean that he looks fantastic and is well groomed. Treat the restaurant like you’d treat yourself, handsome! Dean actually considers this. Can a pair of Men’s Wearhouse slacks really be the key to turning his life around? Gordo gets gentle and says that Dean’s been doing it his way and trying to bully his staff into thinking like him, but his way is wrong and if everyone thought like Dean, the whole town would be one big Sly Stallone impression. If he wants to make a change in the restaurant, he has to make a change in himself. You see, Dean, it’s not that the Stone Mill isn’t good enough. You’re not good enough. Feel better?
The Announcer Guy tells us in his Mysteries of the Deep voice that “ironically, it’s Dean’s fear of failure that is preventing him from making the necessary changes for success”. That and really, really shitty food. Gordo, having put Dean into a state of catatonic shock, goes into the town to check out the competition. The town’s pretty tiny, so the fact finding mission is a basic walk around the cul-desac to note that there are way too many Italian restaurants and nowhere to get his tips touched up and…wait. It’s a butcher shop! He goes inside the white, clean shop and asks if it’s busy. They little guy behind the counter says that yes, he does great business because the locals are all carnivores. Gordon finds out that there isn’t a steakhouse in town, so he goes back to the Stone Mill armed with his plan. Meat.
First order of business, burn the salad goo shaping funnels. Second, get Jeanie a pushup bra. Third, make steak. It’s easy and good. Chef Mike is laughing and smiling. He tells us that he can’t wait to try out the new dishes and eventually put his own spin on them. Oh, no, don’t do that. Your last spin involved a plastic margarita glass filled with rubbery muck. No more spinning.
Ramsey not so gently breaks the news to Dean that his Italian restaurant is now Ramsay’s Steak House. The guy takes it calmly at first. Chef Mike is nodding enthusiastically while Gordo tries to sell Dean on the whole “every idea you’ve ever had is shite, shut up and listen” idea. Dean stays calm at first, but then says he’s fuming. BE A MAN and fume, Dean! Ramsay’s brilliant idea is to serve a simple piece of meat? Ramsay reminds him that he owns twelve successful restaurants and Dean’s a couple weeks away from asking for change at freeway ramps. Dean argues that he has worked so hard this four years because he had a vision, and Ramsay says his vision tastes bad. Envision something that doesn’t look like one of your regulars hit a speed bump.
Is this a steakhouse?
Manager Tom grimaces at the confrontation like he’s watching TV. Note to Tom, your boss can see you smiling while he’s having a nervous breakdown. Please, God. Work through Gordo to rid the Stone Mill of Manager Tom. Love, Flipit. That’s enough negativity. Now it’s time for the makeover segment!
Ramsay unveils the new tile and gold letter sign in front of the place. it’s half Trump Plaza and half discount bulk Home Depot tile, and the mix of rich trash and white trash makes for beautiful signage. Good job, Gordo! Jeanie says she’s breathtaken and Dean is slapping himself on the head for not thinking of putting a sign out on his own. Der. In his vision, couples passing through town would get flat tires and wander into the Old Stone Mill to ask for directions when surprise! Dinner! He concedes that Ramsay’s idea is better. Oh, wait. Jeanie’s breath is literally taken. Breathe, Jeanie! Breathe!
In the entrance to Ramsay’s Steakhouse, there are framed pictures that show the history of the Olde Stone Mill. Now while they wait, instead of wondering where they are and how they’re gonna get their tires fixed, the guests can get a sense of the history of the place through photos of Dean lifting beams and Seran wrapping pipes. Look! An old picture of Chef Mike taking a nap in the back! And one of a pregnant Barbara crying alone in her Volvo. Aw…look at the one they got of Jeanie behind the woodshed with the Mayor! Ramsay, you’ve thought of everything!
The real shocker is the new interior. There are two tables down the center of the room with sofas as benches. The other tables have been realigned to fit with the room better and the tablecloths are all white. It looks beautiful. I just pity the first person to drop a prime rib on one of those sofas. Dean will crash a plate down on their head and shout DRY CLEAAANNNNINNNGGG until the veins pop off his neck.
The transformation is pretty amazing, and Barbara cries and cries. I kind of want to slap her, but the poor woman did just find out like yesterday that she’s hundreds of thousands of dollars in the hole. Jeanie is touched by how touched everyone else is at Gordon’s magic touch. Gordo touch touch Gordo. Keep it in your pants, Jeanie! Everyone loves a good makeover, but now it’s time for the new menu. Gordo didn’t keep one single thing. It’s steak, steak, steak, creamed corn, chopped salad, and steak. At least make some kind of effort not to hurt Dean’s pride and garnish something with a fried slice of filo dough.
Dean stays quiet during the menu unveiling, but he doesn’t look happy. After Barbara threatens to leave him during the break, Dean comes into the kitchen ready to do whatever he has to. The place looks better, the menu looks better, but he’s still stuck with the same busted ass staff he started off with. Ramsay’s not blind, so he has a meeting with the front of house staff to teach them how to present the steak cut choices. Manager Tom’s up first, and he can’t identify one piece of meat. He turns red and giggles nervously while he shifts his eyes back and forth, telling us that he’s out of his comfort level and gold medals aren’t won in a week. You know what are? Unemployment checks.
With just a couple of hours to look over the new menu, it’s time to serve. Hearing that Gordon Ramsay opened a new steakhouse at the Olde Stone Mill, the entire town has shown up. Look! It’s the mayor. I kind of feel bad for Jeanie when she awkwardly takes his coat right next to the framed historical pictures.
Wait a second. Didn’t you used to work at that disgusting Italian-ish place?
It’s only the beginning of service, and Manager Tom’s a sweaty mess. He can’t remember the names of the steaks and makes an ass out of himself at his tables. Making it worse, Ramsay’s two feet away from him the whole time shaking his head and rolling his eyes. Tom basically loses his shit and starts crying in the hallway. Too much change! Too much pressure! When he started hearing all those “rare”s and “medium rare”s it all just came crashing down on him!
Gordo finds him and tells him that he’s needed. He says it in a supportive, caring way, which makes me very uncomfortable. Tom falls for it though, and with a “wipe your eyes and come back to the floor a manager!”, Tom gives it another try, but soon has the whole restaurant laughing at him. He’s sweating more than ever, and now he’s also stinking up the place. Oh, man. Poor little Wormtail. Ramsay pulls him off the floor and go do whatever he had to to not stink and sweat.
No one’s having an easy time of it, tonight. Chef Mike and Silent Bob are finding that timing a bunch of steaks to different temperatures is harder than it seems, not to mention they didn’t have enough time to prep the kitchen. Forty five minutes into service, and only a couple of tables have received food. Turns out the kitchen printer isn’t working. Ruhroh. Chef Mike tells Dean this over and over again, but all Dean can do is growl “I NEED FOOD!” and waltz around the dining room like he’s in Ocean’s 11. An hour and fifteen minutes have now passed, and the mayor still doesn’t have his food. Dean goes back to the kitchen to hug Mike and tell him he’s doing great just focus yell at Mike, who’s like “DUH! I DON’T HAVE A PRINTER!” They start screaming at each other so loudly that the guests can hear them.
Oh, look, it’s the lame couple with the salty risotto! Come on, FOX. Fresh real people, please. The couple is way bitchier and more prepared for their roles as complaining real people tonight.
“Where’s the food?” “I dunno. I can’t believe we don’t have food.” “I know, it’s like where’s the food?” “It’s unbelievable.” “Where is it?” “I dunno, where is it?” “Where’s the food?” “This is ridiculous.” “I know. Where is it?”
The most awesome employee during this whole disaster is Jeanie, who gets so flustered by all the people that she snaps at a slow eight top to get to their table. “Let’s move!” Hilarious. She may be a little stressed, but she says it’s nothing like what “poor Tom” is going through. He’s “disranged.” Jeanie needs to write the next Urban dictionary. She’s brilliant.
Ramsay calls the staff into the kitchen. The night is a mess so far and the show’s almost over. Everyone has to at least get fed. He doesn’t have much of a rousing speech for them, but “get your shit together” works like a charm. They snap out of it and the guests love their food. Wow, Gordo. In two minutes, you have changed the world. The (last) customers left (drunk on free wine) happy that night, and before Gordo leaves town, he wants to make sure Dean’s not gonna be an idiot and try to change anything at Ramsay’s Steakhouse when he’s not looking. Nope! It all stays! As a parting gift, Ramsay has bought a projection light for an additional sign on top of the building. Awwww! You see! He’s totally nice!
They hug a sweet manly hug, and we are treated to an epilogue. The restaurant is now thriving. Dean’s family’s clothes are dry cleaned regularly, Manager Tom has stopped stinking, and Chef Mike isn’t prank calling suicide hotlines any more. Oh, and the mayor became a regular and Jeanie hasn’t stopped smiling since. As for The Olde Stone Mill, it was featured on the local news and presented with the Key to Yonkers. I’m not kidding. Then the town had a potato sack race. Thank God for Gordo!