This week’s Kitchen Nightmares was a repeat, but I missed it the first time around and it has since spawned a lawsuit and lots of diets. Besides, I was off last week and can’t stand staring at the walls any longer.
Oh, be a man.
New York City is home to some of the finest restaurants in the world. It is also the home to a whole bunch of really nasty restaurants, peeing in the streets, and this chick:
How beautiful or miserable your NYC experience is depends on how much money you have and how many prescriptions you’re swallowing. Unfortunately, the people of New York insist on things like public transportation and walking to get around, which means when visiting you are likely to get too drunk and stumble into almost anywhere for a bite to keep from passing out on a steam grate. Point is, New York’s awesome. And disgusting. When wandering around trying to remember where you parked the car you don’t have, pray that you happen upon a classy place like Le Cirque and not a place like, well, tonight’s nightmare.
On the surface, Dillon’s Restaurant suffers from a very common problem among Gotham eateries: the multi-page menu. You can crave Chinese and I can crave a peanut butter sandwich and we could totally still date in New York. Problem is, the places that serve both usually have fluorescent lights and the smell of those little blue things you aim at in the urinal wafting through the air. No matter what we’re served, we will both taste urinal cake. Date. Over.
Dillon’s has more than just a funky odor to deal with. They’ve also got a fly problem, three incompetent managers, and an owner who’s erased his wife’s face.
Don’t mess with Mohammed. He’ll fuck you up.
Mohammed and his blurry wife may own the joint, but the man captaining the canoe down shit creek is the General Manager, Martin. We know Martin is a jackass because he contorts his busted grill with every syllable he speaks, he’s British (sorry, British people, but you’re usually relegated to a-hole roles on American TV), and he’s always either on his cell phone or fumbling around for it. It’s like a sickness. A rude, narcissistic, vapid person sickness. Wait. BRB. Hullo? OMG I KNOW! Love. Heart. You are! Text me later and tell me what he looks like. XOXO luv ya mean it wear a condom.
Where was I? Martin confidently describes Dillon’s as an “American Irish restaurant with an Indian….ness connected to it.” Then he fumbles for his phone and orders some chick named Lisa to say Indian-ness as much as she can in public so it has a chance of becoming a real word. He pretends not to notice the flies crawling on his face as he admits to us that there was a slight bug problem at Dillon’s, but “it’s been medicated.” I hope you have, because flies like poop and they’ve just had a barf party near your tear ducts. Seriously. Get a swatter.
Andrew is the second manager, and he’s got a droll, queeny, the-whole-world-is-a-lie-so-who-cares? kind of an attitude which immediately makes me like him. He tells us his boss is a twit who should have his own reality show (not a compliment) and then says the restaurant’s a dump and he can’t believe it’s still open. A quick montage shows us exactly why Andrew’s so bitter (aside from the whole ending up as a restaurant slave instead of a cabaret artist/costume designer thing. Show me a restaurant in New York and I’ll show you at least one broken dream wearing a dirty apron). His Operational Manager title is more specific than Martin’s General Manager title, which means while Martin wanders around pretending to have people to call, Andrew is left to do anything and everything to make sure things “operate”. Apparently this includes stuffing wadded napkins under wobbly tables, putting on rubber gloves to move filthy appliances around, and re-stocking the toilet paper “to wipe your butt with”. He even cooks sometimes because the Indians in the kitchen don’t know how to prepare American food. Makes perfect sense to me. It’s just rude to ask an Indian chef to learn to make a hamburger.
The only thing that could save this place is a decent front of house staff. Unfortunately, Dillon’s employs the kind of people lazy and unmotivated enough that they’re willing to work in a disgusting fly ridden dump all day to make little to no money. In other words, Dillon’s employs people like me. This place is screwed.
Jenna, the waitress, has a perpetual look of fear on her face and the bartender isn’t sure what kind of food the restaurant serves. No one on the staff even knew there was a Front of House Manager until they saw the twitchy teeny eeny Indian dude that had been sleeping in the closet receive a paycheck a week after he appeared. The teeny eeny guy is named Khan, and it turns out he only reason he doesn’t do anything is because he doesn’t like working in a place that’s such a mess. Or is the place is such a mess because he doesn’t like working? Chicken or egg? Talk amongst yourselves. No wonder poor Jenna looks scared. She works for the Triplets of Hellville.
Eeny, Mine-y, and Mo. Don’t worry. Meanie will be here after this heartfelt plea from Mohammed.
The same music that played on Another World when Felicia found out she might have breast cancer fills the air as the cameras close in for a touching “Are You There, Mohammed? It’s Me, Mohammed” moment. The man is beside himself. He’s losing over 982,086.74 rupees a month on this place, and he vows to do anything and everything what he’s told to make Dillon a successful. Stop composing the messages on the giant flashing marquee out front, for starters. Cuisine Authentic Real Time doesn’t seem to be workin’ for ya. I wonder if Mohammed knows exactly what he’s doing and his only problem is that no one understands what the hell he’s trying to say. He’s a sweet, genuine guy and you can tell his heart is in his plea to FOX. I have a feeling it’s all gonna be ok. After all, bad things don’t happen to good people. Oh. Wait.
RIP, Goulet. You didn’t deserve this.
The tinkly heartfelt music gives way to the clever detective theme as booming announcer guy voice comes on to tell us that “ironically, Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant is only two blocks away!” That’s not irony, announcer guy, it’s convenience. It’s also totally lame, because it means that Gordo will be walking instead of putting on his special little helmet and jumping on his tiny motorbike this week. Booooooo! As he approaches Dillon’s, he’s immediately put off by the huge animated sign on top of the awning. You can tell he doesn’t like it cuz he’s all “what the f**k c*ck goddamit bloody co*ck” as he enters the building.
Martin greets him with a satchel full of menus, and before he can fully saturate Ramsay’s palm with scared smarm sweat, he’s being read the riot act. Dillon’s is a ridiculous name for an Indian restaurant, there are flies everywhere, Gordo was sat at the creakiest table in the place, the only menu left out of the overflowing Indian Postal Service Bag was Chinese, and Martin smells like Irish Spring and Old Spice. Jenna doesn’t know whether to be charmed or terrified, so she freezes her face to express both reactions simultaneously.
Ramsay looks around the empty restaurant and asks Martin if it’s always this crowded. Jenna cracks “actually, we’re kinda busy today.” Atta girl. Martin nods, embarrassed, and takes mental note to learn this hussy’s name and call someone to fire her ass. Gordo orders a vegetarian sampler appetizer, lamb biryani and beef bhuna from the Indian menu, and chooses salmon nicoise from the American side. Operation Manager Andrew, tuck your tie in, girl. You’re on.
When the lumps of coagulated goo arrive at the table claiming to be the vegetarian appetizer sampler, Gordo rubs his wounded eyes and prays to the Lord to not take his life today. One of the lumps is hardened into a misshapen ball that looks like “a dehydrated turd,” and worse, it has lamb in it. Jenna is shocked and awed as she tells us that if that had been an actual vegetarian she was serving she would expect a lawsuit. Yeah, those lamb fraud cases are really clogging up the justice system.
Alright, who forgot to shave the vegetarian platter?
Jenna returns the dish to kitchen and sweetly explains to the chefs that the vegetarian plate has to be vegetarian. They stare back at her blankly. “Vegetarian?” Glad to know you’re on it, boys. Martin shrugs and says “knock on wood that’s the worst of it.” Unfortunately as he said it he knocked on metal. Now he will be cursed for five years and it will burn when he pees. Seriously, don’t ever knock on metal. Sure enough, it goes downhill from there. Andrew, who is on the line to figure out how he’s going to prepare salmon when there is no salmon, warns Martin the potatoes that accompany the salmon look like they’re a year old. Martin waves him off, knocks on metal again, and pushes Jenna out the swinging door with the first two entrees.
The lamb briyani is first, and it worries Gordo. Not because it resembles a wet dust bunny, but because there’s a flower on top of it carved out of a rotten tomato. After he catches a fly in his hand Miagi-style, Gordo notices that beef bhuna is dry and pink like…pork? Jenna’s face freezes into that charm/terror smile as she returns to the kitchen with both dishes. She asks the Chef, who’s the first Indian I’ve ever heard of named Gomez, what kind of meat it is and he looks at her like “I wish I could understand you Miss, because you look very concerned” kind of way and shrugs. Anyone? Sound of flowers growing. Nope. No one can name that meat. Martin, in a strong show of leadership, picks up a piece and mushes it apart with his fingers. He hesitates before finally labeling it “…lamb?” We’ll never know.
Finally, Andrew’s time to shine! He found some frozen salmon and did what he could, but Ramsay says it looks like a doormat. Before he can take a bite, a fly lands on his knife, finally causing him to freak out. He throws down his napkin and makes Andrew sit down and eat his own garbage while sad horns and wah waaahs play. Poor Andrew does as he’s told as Ramsay marches off to bitch out the kitchen staff. He runs into a little problem, though, because none of the cooks know English. At least not the spitting, cursing, nasty English brogue kind. Thankfully, Mohammed is on hand to help relay constructive criticism to the head chef.
“Tell him his food is s**t!” Mohammed says something to Gomez, who smiles, drips a single tear, and bows as the kitchen applauds him. Wait a second, Mr. Mohammed! I smell a goose!
It would be an honor to marry your daughter.
Gordon Ramsay’s no sucka. He keeps on grilling Gomez until he gets a solid answer. “Meat old maybe.” Gordo can’t believe his ears, but Mohammed and Gomez are like “what?” Mohammed is very disappointed and can’t understand how this all went so badly. He finally decides that Gordon Ramsay’s standards might be a little higher than his own. Ya think?
The time for dinner service approaches and the staff is decidedly not abuzz. As Andrew checks the bathrooms for toilet paper to wipe your butt with, Khan finger-writes “I wish my wife was this dirty” onto a filthy window while Martin lays down in one of the booths to get a head massage from one of the waitresses, who is sharing an iPod with Jenna. So. Wrong.
No one can bridge the culture gap like Fergie.
A giant FOX bus pulls to a stop outside and a bunch of “real people” get off. Time for service! After collecting their twenty dollar Bed Bath and Beyond gift certificates and signing waivers promising not to sue if they die of food poisoning or flying knives, the real people take a seat and try to decide what to order off the multiple menus. Gordo shakes his head as everything from chicken Marsala to diapers and a pack of Marlboro Lights is ordered and then gets to the kitchen to “help”. Usually this means he curses and puts his fingers in everyone’s faces, but when he walks in to find Gomez stirring unrecognizable meat on the floor, he compassionately explains to him that the ground is not a countertop and looks around for help. Martin is outside making out with his cell phone and Khan is in the front of the house connecting the spots on dirty champagne glasses. Andrew’s the only manager with the sense to at least be there, but he’s in his own fabulous little world.
Dear Gomez, I can put my fist in my mouth. Love, Andrew.
Forty five minutes later, the real people are wondering where their food is. Take it as a sign from above that there’s still time to run, real people. One owner, two managers, two chefs, and eight waitresses are in the kitchen now, and there is no food coming out. After finding yet another random employee that can’t explain what it is he’s paid to do, Ramsay insists on seeing Martin, who is annoyed that he was interrupted while flitting his eyebrow lashes against his celly and promising it an apartment in the city.
Ramsay, half super pissed and half just happy to finally have access to someone who can understand what he’s screaming, rips into Martin. He accuses him of hiring a bunch of hos to flirt with and make him feel like he’s not a saggy old skeezer with a busted grill instead of people who actually know how to wait tables. He also calls Martin a clueless, lazy phony who’s living off a rich man’s stupidity and adds that he smells like Irish Spring and Old Spice. For a second, Martin’s feelings are hurt, but then Beyonce’s B-Day plays and he snaps open his phone. “Lisa! How’s the Indian-ness Project coming along? Well done!” Out front, the real people are hellapissed. Most of them still haven’t eaten and the ones who did get food are grossed out.
This lady looks particularly traumatized.
Don’t take it so personally, hon.
The entire night was a castrophe, so Gordo decides to start the next morning off with a positive attitude as he rips up a sticky fly strip full of carcasses. “At least the flies are fresh.” His good mood starts to fade when he gets a look at the rotten hamburger meat and green chicken, but it’s dead forever when he comes across the decrepit potatoes that he was served yesterday. Before he starts his ranting and raving, he notices a door. Uh-oh.
Mohammed winces as the door creaks open. He’s been in that basement, and he promised God and his wife that he would never go down there again. The dark dank hole is filled with swarms of cockroaches, rotted food, the fat dead Sloth guy from Seven and look! It’s the first actor who played Alfre Woodard’s retarded son on Desperate Housewives! I was wondering what happened to that guy. Gordo is too disgusted for an attempt at constructive criticism, so after a loop of “c**k nasty wretched f*ck sh*t horrid”s, he crazily scratches his head to shake out any little monsters that might have crawled into his hair and gets the hell out of there.
Back in the kitchen and pale as a ghost, Gordo finds a bag of slimy old lettuce that was used to make his salad the day before and starts screaming for Martin, who is interrupted just as he’s about to get to third base with his cell. He begrudgingly zips up and comes into the kitchen, but his only available reaction to the bile and firecrackers spewing from Ramsay’s head is a shrug and a slight eye roll. He’s not the head chef. Green meat patrolling isn’t his job. Ramsay turns around wildly looking for the first available knife when he notices that a rotten tomato he screamed at earlier is now missing a half. He turns his head for one second and those bastards make a decomposing tomato flower!
Who wants my fingers in their hair?
Closeup of the offending flower being carried into the dining room. Ramsay sticks his finger in the remaining half of the tomato and digs out black dead goop on his finger. Closeup of a pasty unsuspecting real person lifting his fork to his mouth. Ramsay keeps digging in the tomato and finds a used kleenex. Closeup of pasty unsuspecting real person putting the bite in his mouth and chewing. Ramsay keeps digging and pulls out a bloody baby. Closeup of pasty unsuspecting real person nodding contentedly and swallowing. This show is seriously disgusting. Gordo gets in Mohammed’s face for another Gomez ass reaming translation. “What is he, an idiot? Tell him he will KILL PEOPLE!!” Mohammed, looking like he’s about to cry, mutters something to Gomez. “WELL?”
Thank you. I think you are very wise and strong and handsome also.
Ramsay, unable to take any more, shouts that the restaurant is closed. The staff stares at him, stunned. What should they say to the real people? He suggests telling them it’s the luckiest day of their lives now get the f**k out! Diners hear cursing and pots and pans hitting walls and cats screaming as Andrew politely tells them to leave. Finally, after what seems like twenty minutes of bellowing, Ramsay pauses and says “I’m speechless.” Riiight. There isn’t one employee who isn’t traumatized, but Mohammed is taking it the worst. Tears in his eyes, he looks into the camera. “This is a nightmare.” No shit, dude.
Instead of saying a Hail Mary and burning the place down, Gordo gets a good rest and returns to the restaurant the next morning in a come fuck me bodysuit.
Does this Haz-Mat suit make me look fat?
A whole team of steam cleaners comes in to gut the kitchen, and the entire staff is put to work scraping the nasty off of every inch of the place. When they’re done, Gordo hoses them off and walks Mohammed and the managers up the street to London, his restaurant. The swinging doors to the kitchen fly open and majestic music plays as crisp white worker bees scurry efficiently around the enormous, shiny place. Welcome to Heaven, heathens. A light goes off behind Mohammed’s eyes. “All kitchens should be like this!” Martin looks around the place and types up a resume in his head.
I am so fired.
Back at Dillon’s, Ramsay lays his new menu idea out for Mohammed and Gomez. How does a clean, modern approach to Indian cuisine sound? Doo doo doo, if you’d like to make a call, please hang up and try again. Ok, different tactic. He looks Gomez in the eye and says “you’re on broadway! Where are you right now?” Blank stare. Mohammed repeats the question in English and Gomez nods. “New Jersey.” HAHAHAAAAA. Even Gordo has to smile at that one. “Tell him he’s in New York!” Mohammed explains to Gomez that he is, in fact, in New York. Gomez looks like he just won a prize. He’s always wanted to go to New York!
Gordo stops trying to communicate anything to these two with words and instead starts cooking. His recipes are simple, and it seems like no one has ever really truly told Gomez how to prepare food. His eyes are wide in wonderment and for the first time in the entire episode, Gomez is paying attention. When Gordo finishes the lesson, Gomez hugs on to him hard and starts patting him on the back emotionally. Aw!!! He’s still holding on. Gordo smiles and laughs. Still holding on and patting hard. Gordo starts screaming and cursing for someone to get the little freak off him. I can’t believe this show just touched me. No, not like that.
I haven’t been this moved since Beaches.
Obviously it’s gonna take more than a few minutes to design a new menu, so Gordo brings in Vikas Khanna, a famous Indian chef, to get to work on it. Vikas is graceful and elegant, and he creates a simple, beautiful menu of Indian classics with a modern twist. The waitress who was massaging Martin’s straw hair earlier falls in love at first sight. Looks like she’s not alone.
OK, am I the only one completely obsessed with Mohammed right now?
A team of designers comes in and redoes the entire place overnight, and the change is pretty dramatic.
It’s harder to get a group of real people to come in for extra work in savvy NYC, so Gordo organizes a PR event to draw attention to the re-opening. And by organize an event I mean call the tackiest tour bus company in the city and fill it with cheesy Bollywood bellydancers to ride around the block and shout “YAY Indian food BooYa!!” all over Manhattan. The staff gets to ride the bus too, and they are all giggly and fun loving on their field trip. It’s like they all have a new lease on life. Martin’s mistress feels so free she’s taken the dot off her forehead.
Back at Dillon’s, the transformation is complete. Even the outside has improved. The electronic sign is gone and has been replaced with a new awning. There’s even a new name on it: Ramsay’s Purnima Dillon’s. OK, the name kinda sucks, but everything else is in tip top shape. Now there’s only one minor thing to do before opening…train the staff. Ruh-roh. Shoulda given them makeovers too. Gordo gathers them in the new dining room to make sure they’re ready. He turns to Martin and asks him if he will promise to not be fake and overly friendly to the guests because it scares them. Martin bites his tongue and nods. Just one more thing, turn your phone off, try to look like you’re actually doing something, don’t rub up against any of the waitresses, don’t suck, don’t smell like Irish Spring and Old Spice, and please if you could, roll up into a ball and die already you sad sack of a man.
Jenna speaks up. She doesn’t like to hear Martin get ragged on like that in front of his staff. It’s rude. Gordon tells her to shut her fat face and mind her own business. Martin, after just hearing about how he doesn’t have a pair for ten minutes, tries to pipe up and stick up for Jenna, but Mohammed steps in and gives a rousing speech to stop the squabbling.
Gordo rephrases the speech in a language the staff can wrap their minds around: don’t suck or you’re fired. Closeup on Martin. Dinner time is here again. The place is packed (a tour bus and some Bollywood chorus girl knock-offs. Who knew?) and the staff is ready to rumble. The real people love the food and everything is going swimmingly, until it’s not. None of the staff has ever seen so many people in the restaurant, let alone waited on them, and Martin is making no effort to help or delegate. He wanders around the front door literally whistling and making gun shapes with his fingers. The waiters are freaking out and food is startling to lag and arrive at tables cold. When Andrew drops a bowl of rice on the floor, Ramsay calls for Martin to sweep it up and congratulates him on finally finding a job. Martin tries to ignore the ridicule, but then he asks Chef a question and calls him Vakus. Der. His name is Vikas, dumbshit.
Vikas is not only a famous Chef, but a humanitarian. He won’t say anything negative about the restaurant, but “WTF?!?!?!” Gordo’s had it. He pulls Teeny Eeny Khan aside and asks him if he’s got the mettle to run this place. Woah. Didn’t see that one coming. You know you’re in trouble if Eeny’s your light at the end of the tunnel. Once he is given permission to lead, though, Khan steps up to the plate and suddenly becomes…competent. He keeps the staff organized and the food comes out hot an on timel That’s either a miracle or the trickiest editing ever. Gordo made over the staff after all. Way to go, Eeny!
The next morning, Gordo has a sit down with Mohammed and tells him that he needs to let one of the managers go so he can hire Vikas. Huh? Why the hell would famous Vikas want to work at Dillon’s? Anyway, Martin overhears this conversation and runs to their table. He says he’s had enough abuse and is sick of being called a liar, a user and a cheat and…”I also said you’re riding on his back.” Yeah, and that! Martin is freaking out, and it’s uncomfortable to watch. Especially if you’ve ever seen this show, because you know what’s coming. The “be a man” taunt.
Once he’s gotten under someone’s skin, Gordo just stands still and quietly prods his victim. “Yeah? You’re mad? You’re guilty. You’re disgusting. Be a man. Show me you’re a man. Disgusting. Be a man.” On paper this tactic seems ridonkulous, but it works every time. Martin gets flustered like a little girl and loses whatever credibility he had left. After shouting “not guilty!” a few times, Martin quits and storms out. Mohammed can’t believe it went down that easily. He won’t even have to pay unemployment now! Love him or hate him, you have to admit that Gordo’s one talented sumbitch. “Be a man.” Simple. Brilliant.
At the end of the night, Mohammed hires Vikas as a consultant, Gomez clenches his arms around Gordo one last time, and the staff celebrates a new beginning. Less than a block away in the cold, lonely city, Martin dries the snot from his face, sneaks into the alley, and finally puts his penis into his cell phone.
Epilogue: As you may know, in the time since this show wrapped, Martin has alleged that Gordon Ramsay planted tainted meat and used tricky editing to make him look like a fool. He is suing for 29 million dollars. Good luck with that, tiger. His ex-mistress kept the dot off her forehead, Andrew finally got a date with Gomez, and Jenna built up enough confidence to sing at the restaurant’s karaoke night. As for Mohammed? Rumor has it he splurged and bought his wife a face. Thanks, Kitchen Nightmares!