This week, Kitchen Nightmares did the unthinkable. It made me feel something.
Ah, the Hamptons. Booming announcer guy tells us it’s where the rich and famous go to play in the summertime. I suppose that’s true, but he doesn’t mention the real reason the Hamptons is important: it’s Gay Disneyland.
Cinderfella, Jimminy Lickit, and Donald Suck
Needles to say, I have been looking forward to this episode all week. Could fate really be generous enough to hand me both the premier of Project Runway and the gayest Kitchen Nightmares ever on one night? Well, no. Unfortunately, what I didn’t know was that in the wintertime, the park is closed and the uggo breeders come out for feeding.
Mommy, take me home! Waaahhhh!
We open in Finn McCool’s pub, which has a lot of fat guys glued to their seat shouting “Heeey! Oooh! Woooah! Heeey!” in the way only fat guys who glue themselves to bar stools in tiny New York village pubs can. There doesn’t have to be an actual game on for these guys to cheer and slap each other on the back. The game is life, baby. Man, it sure is gettin’ cold out there. Heeey! Oooh! Woooah! Cold! Heeey!
Buddy, pictured above, built the place with his retirement money when he left the police force and hired his sons Jason and Brian to run it. He could have decided to live out his second half (or final quarter, Buddy’s not the healthiest chap) of his life on a cruise or in Florida or just sitting in the dark with a tv and stockpiled cases of Thin Mints like I plan to do; but instead, he opted to invest in a family business so he could spend time with his boys. Buddy: good hearted, upstanding dad or MASOCHIST? Don’t get me wrong, I love my family, but only because I never see them. If we were stuck together in tight quarters day in and day out with a stocked bar and free bowls of nuts, our communication would probably be the same as Buddy’s family, only with better diction and more underhanded comments about each other’s weight and hair loss.
“You need some help?” “I’m gonna kick you in da teeth, I sweah to Gad.” “You’re an ass, I sweah.” “Go away!” “You go away, asshole!” “I sweah to Gad” “I sweah!” The main source of tension (and the knucklhead most likely to have come up with the name McCool’s) is the Bad Son, Brian. Brian is the Chef, and all he does is pound back beers and yell at people. He tells us that he’s the only reason this place is still running and even though workin’ with family’s a pain in da’ass, he knows Good Brother and his Dad wouldn’t survive without him. It’s not as easy as you’d think to find a semi-functioning alcoholic who can properly deep fry bacon and burn chicken fingers in Westhampton.
Buddy, with a proud smile on his face, shakes his head and tells us Brian’s an arrogant little bastard. You’d never know it from looking at him as he snivel/giggles and throws out some f bombs for the cameras. Even I am above suggesting someone looks like they have Down Syndrome, so might I throw inbreeding out there? Poor guy. Deep down he just needs a hug.
It’s hard not to be overconfident when you grow up labeled “special.”
Everyone in the place has a problem with Bad Son, but they all recount the stories of horror as if they’re hysterical memories, like after all these years they still can’t believe this douche bag is in their family. Jason, the Good Son, runs the front of the house and had to hire his wife as a waitress so she wouldn’t think he’s exaggerating when he comes home and tells her about his day. Melissa is the only one who doesn’t seem to find any of this amusing. Bad Son is pure evil, and she’s worried about Buddy’s health. Cut to Buddy knocking a plate onto the floor and actually having to bend down to pick it up. Poor guy! Melissa and Brian are two good apples, and the terror has only made their bond stronger.
Nothing brings couples closer together than a shit storm.
Piano music tinkles and the lighting in the interview room softens. The Good Son gets tears in his eyes as he tells us that McCool’s is hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and his father stands to lose everything he’s worked for his entire life if this place fails. And he’s not the only one. Going to bed at night not knowing if you’re gonna be able to pay the mortgage is more stress…deep breath…than you can understand! WAAAHHH. I don’t mean to make light of the McBuddy Family’s situation, but I have to ask. What the hell is a bartender doing with a mortgage? I work at a restaurant and can barely pay the cable bill. This guy doesn’t need Gordon Ramsay, he needs to make his wife call Suze Orman. Bad purchases aside, the entire McBuddy clan is screwed.
Buddy is happy that Gordon Ramsay’s coming. If customers actually started to frequent McCool’s and the pub saw a little profit, it would be gravy. Buddy’s just psyched to finally have someone around to properly tell off his moron kid. Cut to The Bad Son chugging beers and making extremely poor versions of every nasty looking kind of fried food ever invented. If you can get me to say something against fried food, you’ve really accomplished something. Congrats, Bad Son!
That music that played when Chloe O’Brian got out of CTU for a couple of hours to help Jack in the field booms as our man on a mission rides into the desolate town, vowing to repopulate it and stop the Russians from unleashing a killer fat uggo virus that affects the entire area. Again. Gordo walks up to McCool’s and shakes his head. This place looks like a funeral parlor. He squeezes his face in that “this one might just be out of my grasp” way that he does every week. The situation is dire for the McBuddy family, but he’s going in! Duhn duhn duhhhhhn!
And just like that, the music switches to an Irish Jig as Gordo takes a look around and breathes in a little bit of the (Heeey! Hooo! Wooooah!) environment. Buddy is hesitant about meeting Chef Ramsay because he’s afraid he might be an intense bastard who would yell at everyone, or as he puts it, an “egoman”. What would have ever given you that idea, dude? Your TV?? Bad Son is already defensive. He knows what he’s (getting drunk) doing and doesn’t need any (rehab) help (wide-eyed lost in the desert blink). Carol, the waitress, is all aquiver when she meets Gordo. She tells us “I’d love to get my hands on him.” Dang, sista. He’ll most likely be taking off his shirt at some point in this episode. Stay tuned. Gordo has an extremely potent rejuvenation power over golden girls, and it’s both charming and disturbing to witness.
Who watered your flower?
He gets the staff gathered in the bar area and opens up the floor to discussion. Turns out that was a big mistake. “Bad Son’s fault!” “Whaddya doin’ do your job or get the fuck out!” “That’s crap!” “I godda do what I godda do!” “You’re an ass!” “You ah!” “They fuck ya at the drive-thruuuu!” Joe Pesci would be proud. Gordo asks for specific instances of Bad Son being an idiot and the shouting starts up again. Well, the problem with the staff is obvious. Time to eat.
Gordo asks Melissa if the clams are fresh and, as if she watched Sebastian dig his own grave last week, she decides to go with the truth. Frozen. He decides on salmon, then the shepard’s pie, and he’ll start with the spring rolls. Melissa nods enthusiastically at that one. “Good choice!” Over-enthusiastic waiters who cheer you on as you order as if there are right and wrong answers really piss me off. I’m thrilled I got one right, now can you bring me some bread? Good choice!
Melissa takes the order back to the kitchen, where Bad Son is chugging a beer. She sarcastically suggests that she’d like to see him and Gordo have a chug-off. He says he would drink Ramsay under the table and tuck him into bed! Maniacal giggle ball scratch burp.
The “Spring Roll” comes out and Gordo stares in WTF shock for a minute, because it looks like a salami wrapped in filo dough and deep fried. Ah, turns out it’s corned beef and cabbage. Yikes. He dares to take a couple of bites and asks Melissa why she acted like he was being named America’s Most Smartest Model for ordering this dish. She maintains that it’s a customer favorite, and he says they’re lucky to have a bunch of drunks as customers. Hey! Don’t be bigoted against drunks, man! That’s a low blow.
Bad Son is absolutely stunned when Melissa tells him Gordo hated his first meal. He paces back and forth, trying to figure out where he went wrong. Ball scratch nervous giggle wide eyed lost in the desert look. Maybe Chef’ll like the salmon! He doesn’t. What’s that brown crap all over it? Melissa says that Bad Son insists on using balsamic vinegar drizzle on everything, and Gordo says that’s the sign of a hack and makes her promise not to let Bad Son put balsamic vinegar on his shepherd’s pie. You sure about that, buddy? You’ll need all the distraction you can get.
When did I have peas?
When Melissa delivers the request, Bad Son shakes his head incredulously and says “Oooh! Do I dare?” Oh, man. This kid is gonna get his ass kicked. He sends out the final dish and before Melissa even drops it at the table, Buddy knows they’re screwed. “He doesn’t even like the watuh!” HAHA, Buddy.
Gordo pokes at the shepherd pie and it oozes grease. He takes a couple of bites and then asks where the toilet is. Buddy tells him and watches him run off. Did he not like the pie? Did he just have to pee? Sounds of Gordo puking up his guts reverberate through the restaurant. “Is he throwing up?” Sounds of Gordo giving violent birth through his mouth reverberate through the restaurant. “Maybe he’s just freshening up.” Sounds of Gordo’s insides turning themselves inside out reverberate through the restaurant. Melissa says she thinks something made Ramsay sick. Ya think? Sounds of cows being slaughtered reve….you get the idea.
When we come back from commercial, the sound effects of Gordo hurling are still on a loop. He goes into the kitchen to school Bad Son. The Shepard’s pie was a disgrace and tasted like cough syrup. Bad Son’s like whatever, I learned that from a guy who learned it from a guy who went to Ireland. Umkay, the salmon was so overcooked it could have been a can of tuna and the Spring Roll could be taken as a racist slur on Asian people everywhere. WHATEVER. Bad Son’s a badass and Gordon doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Come on, Bad Son. Don’t make FOX play the barfing sound effect again.
Gordo wants to find out what McCool’s rep is in the town, so he goes straight to the “fingers on the pulse of the community”. These guys:
Firemen: The movers and shakers of Westhampton.
He asks the firemen what they think of McCool’s and they look scared. Buddy was in the force, and those guys stick together. No one likes a rat! Finally, one of them bravely mumbles “a lot of fried stuff?” Ok, so they hate it. Gordo invites them all to come give it another try tonight on him. Sound of bread rising. He adds that they will receive a gift certificate to the Home Depot and they’ll be on TV. Sound of mist forming. Geez, McCool’s really sucks it.
Gordo gets back to restaurant for a kitchen inspection and finds out just how bad it is. I am sure it gets old hearing nasty food being described week after week, so instead of trying to think of ten different ways I can say something looks like poop or dead people, I have put together a montage for you. Imagine “Pink Cadillac” playing in the background and come up with your own ways to compare these dishes to poop or dead people. Leave your answers in the comments section. Winner gets an all expense paid trip to Europe (or a Milky Way and a bag of Cheetos, depending on what’s lying around the office).
What’s for dinner?
Gordo gathers the staff and gives them the good news: Their kitchen is disgusting. They are all shocked. First thing’s first: scrub, bitches. Good Son is pissed that he’s being forced to clean up after his idiot brother and Bad Son’s pissed that someone has the nerve to tell him he’s not clean. Ball scratch burp. He calms down a little when he sees that Gordo puts his money where his mouth is and cleans his ass off. I have always been impressed by this, too, and I have to add that our hero is pretty sweet and docile so far today. Even after he barfed his brains out he spoke very gently to the staff. What gives?
Time for dinner service arrives and no customers show up for a couple of hours. Finally, the Firemen make a subtle appearance, coming off their huge fire truck with lights flashing. You know what that means, don’t you? The fingers on the pulse of Westhampton have arrived! Classical music plays as they discuss the most recent NY Times bestsellers and critique the touring company of Wicked while Bad Son shows Ramsay what he’s made of in the kitchen. And by show him what he’s made of, I mean talks on his cell phone, scratches his balls, and completely ignores his sous chef; an old deaf dude named Francis who drops a wing on the floor, picks it up, and throws it in the fryer. So. Wrong. Just in case we didn’t catch it the first three times it was replayed, we get a FOX cam special report on the matter, complete with black and white footage and spotlights.
He’s not a child molester, for crying out loud.
Still, Ramsay stays cool as a cucumber. He calmly uses American Sign Language to ask Francis if he just picked food up off the floor and served it, and Francis signs back “Duh.” Then he scibbles on a Hello Kitty pad he keeps in his jacket, saying that he didn’t see a problem using food from the floor because the fryer would sterilize it. I buy it, but I recently tried to chain smoke away a cold. Gordo not so much. Since Bad Son won’t listen to him, he drags him into the dining room to receive his critique from the pulse of the community.
The firemen dab at the corners of their mouths with their napkins and put on their reading glasses, saying the flounder was obviously frozen and not nearly as flaky as it should have been, the corned beef was dry, and the general experience lacked the adventure and excitement the town of Westhampton needed if it was going to thrive as the artistic and culinary hub it was destined to be. Bad Son nods and takes it in before asking the cameras the question that’s been at the forefront of my mind: What the fuck do a bunch of volunteer firemen know?
They may not be as fancy as some other town’s fingers on pulses, but they are human beings with tongues, and this place sucks ass. Once again, Bad Son shakes his head, rolls his eyes and chugs a beeah. Shrug ball scratch. Ew again. Wash your hands, dude.
Want me to sterilize that for ya?
Gordo meets privately with Buddy to find out just how screwed he is. Turns out he’s losing over five thousand dollars a week. He’s spent all of his retirement money, taken loans out on everything he’s ever bought, and even borrowed from a friend. He’s never even cashed a pay check. Good Son understands and tries to be as supportive as possible, but Bad Son just makes things worse and if he wasn’t Buddy’s spawn he would have been fired a long time ago. Since he is his spawn, Buddy’ll do what’s best for him and let him abuse everyone around him and scratch his balls and yap on his cell phone and pound beers all day surrounded by endless bottles of booze so he’ll never have to be sober enough to venture into the real world and get made fun of for his misshapen face or his beady eyes ever again. Aw, Buddy. Hugs!
Sometimes Ramsay lights the original menu on fire and creates a new place from the ground up, but the whole Irish pub thing has him all lovey dovey, so he decides to teach them how to do what they envisioned in the first place without the whole barfing your face off sound effects part. He starts with the shepherd’s pie. Buddy watches on in amazement as Gordon shows them how it’s done. Who wouldn’t wanna be taught how to make Irish food from a master? Cut to Bad Son shifting back and forth, giggling, and looking around for an escape hatch. Bad Son has been very quiet this episode in front of Ramsay, but every time he gets some private time with the cameras, he’s a loud arrogant boner. He thinks its funny that someone would have the nerve to tell him how to make his own recipe, which he got from a guy who knew a guy who went to Ireland.
The dish comes out looking as beautiful as is possible for a meat pie to look, and the staff gathers round to taste it. There is a collective “mmmm!” along with an awkward look away as they all try not to piss off Bad Son by raving about it. He stares at the floor, embarrassed but still silent. Because he hasn’t cried or started screaming yet, Gordo brings out Bad Son’s soppy oily nasty version and puts it side by side to his own. The waitresses start laughing and saying how gross the original looks, and unfortunately, even though he has been slapped around and pissed on on national tv for two days now, Bad Son stays quiet. On the positive side, he looks like he’s gonna cry. Yay! It’s almost time to act out!
Come on! You can do it!
He bellies up to the bar with his friends and starts chugging beer and laughing to show them how much of a shit he doesn’t give. As he said before, “This ain’t my boat, why should I sink on it?”. Which came first, philosophy or beer? Discuss. Dinner service starts and Bad Son is determined to show how unaffected he is by being told he’s a pathetic looza. It doesn’t work. When he gets back to the kitchen, Buddy’s there giving him a stern look. He better stop messing around at the bar and do his job! Bad Son paces furiously around and bugs his eyes. “I heard ya! Get oudda heah!”
Gordo keeps his mouth shut and watches Bad Son slowly unravel. When Buddy stands there keeping an eye on him, Bad Son loses it. This is bullshit! Don’t tell me what ta do! I coulda been somethin’! Whattdya lookin’ at? You wanna piece fat man? Fuck this place! I neva got enough love in my childhood! You’ll pay! You’ll ALL PAY!!!! With a ball scratch and a wah, Bad Son’s outta there. He quits!
If only I had given him more!
With Bad Son most likely pouting and getting his balls scratched at some strip club, Buddy is left to cook the food. Now, Ramsay’s new medication is really put to the test. Buddy can’t read the tickets, he’s cooking everything wrong, he’s sweating into the food and dropping dishes. He even forgets to but a bun on a hamburger (in his defense, Gordo’s expediting and didn’t notice the missing bun either). The table of townie “real people” laughs for about ten minutes about the burger not having a bun. “Heeeey! Who serves a burger without a bun? Hoooo! That’s hilarious! Wooooah! Where’s the bun?! See that? It’s like the old Where’s the Beef commercial but I changed it to bun! Heeeey!” Hardyharhahar. Oh, Westhampton real people. You’re stahs. Bun drama aside, Buddy doesn’t belong in the kitchen. He belongs in Jenny Craig.
The kitchen was even more of a disaster without Bad Son, so when he shows back up at work the next day with his tail between his legs, his family thanks their lucky stars and pats him on the back instead of calling him a lame pussy and making fun of his elf ears and his Jason Wahler my-face-isn’t-really-this-huge shaped beard. Wow, I almost didn’t see that other third of your mug, weirdo. Obviously, there’s no way to ever rid the McBuddy Family of this lunk head, so Gordo decides to have a one on one discussion with the guy and try to talk him into…becoming a real person and not a drunk Irish American loudmouth stereotype? Rome wasn’t built in a day, people.
Instead, he pats him on the head and tells him he’s good enough, smart enough, and people like him. This restaurant will fail if he doesn’t find the passion again. Bottom line kid, I believe in ya! Awwww!! You know that’s a total lie, but it works like a charm. Bad Son smiles proudly, and I can’t help but wonder again if anyone’s ever just taken the time to hug him. Don’t look at me. I’m not doin’ it.
Aw, he’s so touched he’s cross eyed.
Now that Bad Son has been suckered into spending the rest of his life in a job he hates to make his family happy reformed, it’s time to unveil the remodel! The old lady curtains have been replaced by fresher/tackier ones and the tables have all been re-spaced to open up the room. And there are booths! Buddy mentioned how he couldn’t even afford a sign to the producers, and there it is, out front! We know Bad Son’s newfound clarity is for real because he doesn’t even bat an eye when the sign reads Ramsay McCool’s. The whole staff is moved by the transformation, but when the sign is unveiled and they all tell us with tears in their eyes how touched and appreciative they are, this show turns downright meaningful. Buddy, his eyes wet and an earnest quiver in his jowels, says “I’m not only thankful as a restaurant owner, I’m thankful as a dad.” I choke back…something.
They all gather in the dining room to go over the new menu. More than half of it’s been tossed. Nothing is frozen, and they will be changing ingredients with the seasons and serving tableside!! Uh…great idea. I really want Buddy standing over me sweatily fumbling with my bird. Besides a staff who has no idea how to deal with a full restaurant, much less take the time to serve tableside, there’s still the issue of Reformed Bad Son. How is he gonna learn all this in an hour? No time! The new sign with Gordo’s name on it got the whole town abuzz, and the restaurant is full of real people! Buddy gives a rousing speech to his staff before game time, and Reformed Bad Son even pipes in with some confident, encouraging words. What the hell is going on, here? No one changes that dramatically that fast. I call lobotomy shenanigans!
There is a marked improvement in the look of the food as well, but the kitchen can’t keep up with the sheer volume and newness of it all, and the real people are pissed. You can tell because they are making huge cross-armed pouty poses for the cameras. And uh-oh, bad news, some nimrod at FOX thought it would be a cute idea to invite the local food reviewer. She’s been waiting for over and hour for a table and she’s mad as hell and not afraid to complain about it every time a camera man passes her by. Come on, sista. It’s not like the Times sent you. You’re from Dan’s Papers, which as far as I can tell is the Thrifty Nickel of the Hamptons. Get over yourself and get in line.
Do you know who I am?
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Gordo is all up Reformed Bad Son’s ass. The kid stays calm and respectful, yes sir-ing and putting his head down to get er done. Man. What did they do to this poor guy? The night is falling apart rapidly. The waiters are confused and freaking out and Melissa wants to cry into a caesar salad she’s prepping table side. Where’s the Caesar dressing? Oh shit where is it? Dramatic music. Buddy rushes (well, he tries) to the kitchen and asks for the dressing. Reformed doesn’t have it, which makes Buddy spin in a couple of circles, hoping it will fall out of the sky. Music intensifies. WHERE IS THE DRESSING? Dun dun. Dun dun. Melissa runs back to find it before the town explodes and there it is! In that huge plastic vat/jar!
Way to keep it fresh.
The real people are getting pissier and pissier and starting to point fingers and blame each other. “We were here before them!!” Yeah, real person. It’s a totally personal conspiracy against you. Also taking the mess of a night as a personal affront is the Fire Chief, who kinda threatens to shut the place down because it’s over capacity. He’s been waiting over! Don’t the McBuddy’s understand respect? He told all these real people to come tonight and it’s a disaster! He’s heading over to Marie Callender’s where they know how to treat a celebrity!
Time to stop the cameras and get the production crew in there to touch up makeup and help in the kitchen. That must be what happens every episode, because every single time it looks like the night’s racing to hell and somehow it doesn’t. Once the food comes out, everyone loves it, including miss Thrifty Nickel. She says the shepherd’s pie is some of the best she’s ever had and it was worth the wait. Another Ramsay Miracle!
In his private time with the cameras, Reformed Bad Son doesn’t yell or boast or scratch his balls or burp. He…cries? He’s thankful for what Ramsay’s done for him and his, and he’s gonna do his best to make him proud. The family has been brought back together, they all have a great newfound confidence and passion for their work, and Reformed Bad Son has been transformed into a sweet angelic master chef! He’s so gonna keep that up.
Epilogue: Two months later, Ramsay’s McCool is packed. The brothers are now bffs, Buddy cashed his first paycheck, and Carol is writing insane obsessive e-mails to Gordo even though it’s in direct violation of her restraining order. Fat butts are still glued to the barstools, but there are more of them now and the jovial sounds of “Heeey! Woooah! Woooow! Heeey!” are almost deafening. As booming announcer guy puts it, “Irish eyes are finally smiling.” Well, except the Fire Chief’s. He’s still hellapissed.