'Kitchen Nightmares': Gee, I would love some potato skins with my octopus salad

Gordonramsay_kn_240_002 The way I see it, there are two reasons to watch Kitchen Nightmares, to see Gordon Ramsay yell at people and to see the filthy kitchens. Tonight really didn't feature either. Oh, it featured some yelling, and Ramsay called people and dishes names and yelled a little, but he really did not go after anyone the way I would have liked. I guess you really can't always get what you want.

Unlike last week, the restaurant this week, Giuseppi's, was owned by someone who was actually in the restaurant business for years before they opened their current place. Kathy and Joe started the restaurant in order to, once it was up and running, hand it off to their son, Sam (who was the head chef before Ramsay entered the picture). Depending on who you ask, either Joe and Kathy are overbearing and ridiculous or Sam is incompetent and immature.

With Ramsay seated at the restaurant for his first meal there, Sam told the camera that he didn't even want to serve Ramsay the octopus salad Ramsay had ordered. Not surprisingly, Ramsay spit it out and sent it back. He then sent back the next dish, some potato skins too. That wasn't really surprising, but I was curious as to what kind of place serves both octopus salad and potato skins. Those aren't two things that I tend to think of as going side-by-side (and Ramsay did complain about the skins when he spoke to the family after the meal, saying that they didn't belong on the menu).

After correctly assessing that some eggplant rollatini had been microwaved instead of being cooked properly, Ramsay witnessed a dinner service in which a ton of food was microwaved. Sam was quick to throw his dad under the bus, stating that Joe wanted the food microwaved (particularly anything that required melted cheese) because it was faster. That was certainly a point against Joe's methods, but a lot of food did seem to come back to the kitchen, like steak, that never saw the inside of a microwave, which would have to be a mark against Sam.

I'm sure that it was all edited to make the dinner service look worse than it was, but a ton of food was definitely sent back. How those guys believed before Ramsay showed up that the food wasn't the problem I simply can't imagine. I think they knew, I think they were just lying to themselves and each other.

They certainly weren't talking to each other, and when Gordon sat them down together after the dinner service everyone looked hugely uncomfortable. Sam talked about wanting to cook fresh, not frozen, food, and Joe looked livid that his son dared speak up against him. Joe quickly slapped his boy back down, telling Ramsay that Sam didn't work enough hours to get a say in what the place did.

The next day, father and son ended up having a cook off to determine who would have a special on the menu that night. The food was fresh, which was Sam's wish, but Joe's dish was voted by the staff to be better. Ramsay is clearly getting old and going soft on us, he opted to put both on the menu that night.

Here's what I don't get about that next dinner service -- we were told that the service the previous night had featured stuff going out too quickly and that it was one of the downfalls of the restaurant. During service the second night we were told that things were far too slow, and the voiceover guy made it sound like that was a regular thing. It was kind of odd considering it wasn't at all what they showed us the previous night.

The specials however did apparently go over well, and Ramsay had a little trick up his sleeve to get the feuding family back on track. He asked Kathy to write one letter to Sam and one to Joe, Sam to write a letter to Joe, and Joe to write a letter to Sam about how they felt about each other. I guess if they weren't going to talk about their feelings it wasn't a bad way to get them to be honest with one another.

To support the relaunch they did a bowl-a-thon to support diabetes (or, more accurately, a cure for the disease, which Joe has). The menu for the relaunch itself was new, fresh, and slimmed down, which kind of made it like every other menu Ramsay puts together for restaurants on the show.

Ramsay didn't want Joe on the line for the service, he wanted him expediting stuff, but Joe refused to play his part. Joe insisted on being in the thick of things, Ramsay actually ended up booting him from the kitchen... or at least trying to get him out of it. Ramsay had to tell Joe three of four times to get out before the old guy finally listened.

It may have been a mistake though, because without Joe there things went downhill. Food was sent back for being raw, it was taking too long for other food to get out, and Brian, the sous chef, was goofing around rather than concentrating. Ramsay ended up having to tell Brian and Sam to concentrate and be serious. Apparently Brian was against being told what to do and he decided that the problems at Giuseppi's were all Ramsay's fault.

It was kind of unclear whether Ramsay fired Brian or if Brian quit or if Brian was maybe just done for the evening, but whichever it was, Brian certainly left. Joe stepped back in to the kitchen and he and Sam finished the dinner service. Sadly, sarcasm is really hard in a recap, if it wasn't, I'd say that the scene was incredibly heartwarming and that when the family read the letters they'd written to one another I shed a tear.

Joe did end up writing in his letter that Sam was ready and that Joe wanted Sam to take over the place, which was nice, but if the relaunch's dinner service was any indication, it might be a mistake. I'm not saying Joe can run the restaurant still, he can't, but that doesn't mean that Sam is up to the task either.

For my money, I'd rather a filthy kitchen than a heartwarming story, maybe we'll do better with next week's double-dose of Nightmares.

Odds and ends:

  • From what we saw tonight I can't imagine that Joe actually steps back from the work he was doing, frankly I saw no change in the family dynamic at all.
  • What's your take -- can Sam actually run the place on his own? Will he be allowed to?

The TV and Film Guy's Reviews - where the rollatini is baked, not microwaved.