Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Welcome to Gordon Ramsay’s Nightmare

(BeansTalk note: we have actually gotten accustomed to this show. Still, we DO think he’s mean. Our pervasive thought throughout the show is always – is Ramsay really that good of a cook to be so mean to these hapless restaurant runners? Whatever the situation is, he sure makes for some dramatic TV.)

Multi-Michelin-starred chef, Gordon Ramsay, returns to BBC AMERICA in a fourth, U.S. premiere season of the BAFTA and International Emmy award-winning series, Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. In the series, failing chefs are given the chance of a lifetime — to have their failing restaurant critiqued by one of the best in the business. But can they handle the scrutiny? And will they actually take Gordon's advice?

Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares premieres Thursday, January 24, 8:00 p.m. ET/PT.

Funny, surprising and inspiring, the BBC AMERICA hit series exposes the harsh reality of running a restaurant. In the brand new season, Gordon is pushed to the limit as he faces a succession of worst-ever restaurants, from a vegetarian place in Paris, to a huge curry house in Nottingham, to a buffet restaurant in Sussex and an oyster bar in Brighton.

Change is never easy, and with the pressure on, there’ll be walk-outs, shut-outs, shouting matches galore and one obstinate chef who just won’t leave until he’s physically removed. This season, the irrepressible Gordon actually fails to turn around one restaurant, but succeeds with the rest, making vegetarian food sexy for the French, using sustainable seafood to reinvent fish and chips and making authentic regional Indian food to replace oily slop. The fourth season features six new restaurants and two “revisit” episodes, where Gordon checks back on restaurants he visited in prior seasons.

Please note: BBC AMERICA will feature an hour-long sneak preview of a brand-new restaurant competition series, Last Restaurant Standing, immediately following the season premiere of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.

Episode Synopses

Episode one — Ruby Tates

The venue for the season premiere is Ruby Tates in Brighton, owned and run by ex-actor Allan Love. This oyster bar and seafood restaurant is in an affluent and trendy area just one block from the beach, but the owner has never tasted the food, because he hates fish. In fact, he won’t even poke his head into his own kitchen, where his two chefs, turn out a lackluster menu. They admit they wouldn’t eat their own food. And, incredibly, there isn’t a local fish in sight. Owner Allan’s putting on the worst performance of his life. He’s so far in denial that he’s ruining any chance of success, and he throws Gordon out of the restaurant even though he’s losing $3,000 a week. With his restaurant and home on the line, there’s an urgent need to get back to basics, galvanize the staff and produce great, simple food. Can Gordon persuade them to shape up, or will an emotional Allan bring down the curtain on Gordon’s attempts to save his business?

Episode one premieres Thursday, January 24, 8:00 p.m. ET/PT.

Episode two — Piccolo Teatro

Piccolo Teatro is a vegetarian restaurant in Paris run by feisty former waitress, Rachel. She bought the place three years ago, and now, she and her best friend Stephanie, are trying to convert the carnivorous French. For Gordon, it’s a sentimental journey to the city where he spent his formative years as a chef. Paris is a food mecca full of gastronomic delights, it should be a dream, but his trip to Teatro turns into one of his biggest nightmares yet. Piccolo Teatro’s eccentric chef inhabits a world of his own, and he’s incapable of preparing edible food. Rachel is handicapped by her total lack of experience, discipline, leadership and motivation. Despite losing money at the rate of $11,000 a month, she doesn’t bother opening for lunch and can’t understand why people don’t love the awful rabbit food she’s serving. Gordon’s radical remedy is designed to be an emergency wake-up call, but Rachel’s one of his most stubborn subjects yet. Will he be able to perform an eleventh-hour miracle, or is he about to admit defeat?

Episode two premieres Thursday, January 31, 8:00 p.m. ET/PT.

Episode three —The Priory

The Priory is a 100-seat buffet restaurant in Sussex, owned by a former IT consultant, Scott. The former chapel of a nineteenth-century convent, the restaurant is in a spectacularly beautiful location and offers bargain roast dinners. Scott bought the place for $600,000, but with an aging clientele eating for half-price, he’s losing $10,000 a week. Despite the heavenly location, the food is straight from hell — recycled meat, soup in a bucket, synthetic sauces, and worse, a lazy head chef content to preside over food-encrusted ovens and an equally disaffected staff. In one of his toughest challenges ever, Gordon’s got to move mountains to turn a time-warp into a trend-setter. He’ll need to make Scott repent for his business sins, get the staff to confess their faults and above all transform The Priory’s terrible food into ambrosia. Will he inspire a miracle, or witness a disaster?

Episode three premieres Thursday, February 7, 8:00 p.m. ET/PT.

Episode four — The Fish & Anchor

The Fish & Anchor is a restaurant and bar in rural West Wales, owned and run by former boxer, Mike, and his wife, Caron. Mike, a self-taught cook, is a one-man pressure cooker in the kitchen, as he struggles to accommodate a massive menu. Meanwhile, Caron’s unique style of front-of-house management includes abusing the customers and her husband in equal measure. Every night, they go twelve rounds with the local clientele, while they take on a $2,000 loss each week. Enter Gordon, who finds himself cast as marriage counsellor in a culinary battlefield. It’s a last-ditch attempt to reverse the restaurant’s disastrous reputation, while putting some love back into the kitchen and on the plates. Will Mike accept this last-minute reality check in the fight of his life, or will he stay on the ropes and sink?

Episode four premieres Thursday, February 14, 8:00 p.m. ET/PT.

Episode five — The Curry Lounge

The Curry Lounge in Nottingham is episode five’s featured restaurant. This 120-seat Indian restaurant has been run since January by a former sales director, Raz, who’s new to the business — and it shows. Despite a million-dollar renovation, featuring décor inspired by Bollywood, the honeymoon period’s well and truly over. His once-healthy business is evaporating, and at this rate, he’ll be closed in less than a year. Enter Gordon, relishing the prospect of tackling an Indian restaurant for the first time, and finds there’s plenty to fix. This do-it-yourself curry house puts the customers in control of the menu, allowing them to create their own dishes, and making life hell for the head chef. He’s not a fan of the over-the-top presentation, which includes giant suspended nan breads. Also, the front-of-house team lacks any clear line of command. Worst of all, the cooking’s just not up to the challenge, with inauthentic dishes cluttering a mile-long menu. It’s time to put some passion back into the kitchen, and persuade Raz to get real. Can Gordon make the Curry Lounge a contemporary ethnic delight, or will the big time, and a dining room full of happy customers, remain a distant dream?

Episode five premieres Thursday, February 21, 8:00 p.m. ET/PT.

Episode six — The Granary

The Granary in rural Hampshire is an upscale restaurant which, at 200 seats, is the biggest Gordon’s ever taken on. Originally opened four years ago by entrepreneur Nigel Nieddu, the restaurant was relaunched after a four million dollar refit, but it’s still losing $8,000 a week. It promises classy modern British cuisine, but in reality, the fussy menu features food sourced from all over the globe. The locals, intimidated by its exclusive reputation, are staying far away. While the head chef plays parole officer to his unruly teenage charges in the kitchen, Nigel stubbornly struggles to contain the front-of-house chaos he’s created. Gordon’s got to carry out radical surgery to prevent disaster. The kitchen needs a massive injection of discipline to stop the lippy apprentices, and it’s time to go back to nature and get passion back on the menu. But there’s a meltdown on the horizon. Can Gordon persuade the headstrong boss to see the grim reality, or will the Granary bite the dust?

Episode six premieres Thursday, February 28, 8:00 p.m. ET/PT.

Episode seven — La Parra de Burriana revisited

This week Gordon is back in Spain to see how his old friend Laurence is faring at La Parra de Burriana, an ex-pat restaurant in Nerja on the Costa del Sol. One year ago, Gordon found Laurence serving his scary signature dish, prawns in garlic with chocolate sauce. The Mediterranean menu certainly did have a special twist — no-one wanted to eat it. The kebabs were raw, the place was over-booked (in spite of dog mess in the dining room) and the customers faced an interminable wait for their food. Unsurprisingly, Laurence lost $44,000. Now, one year on, Gordon returns to La Parra de Burriana to find that they’ve survived the winter. But the bad news is that Laurence still has dreams above his skills and is planning to run before he can walk. He actually wants to open a second restaurant before he’s made a real success of the first. But with cremated desserts and gum drops on the menu, Gordon’s about to apply the brakes — Ramsay style.

Episode seven premieres Thursday, March 6, 8:00 p.m. ET/PT.

Episode eight — Fenwick Arms revisited

In the season finale, Gordon returns to rural Lancashire to see how Brian and Elaine are faring at the Fenwick Arms. When he first arrived one year ago, Gordon was staggered by Brian, who, after thirty years in the business and a quadruple heart-bypass, still put in 120 hours a week and insisted on laying down the law in the kitchen. Despite doing the work of three men, Brian and his partner were $500,000 in debt, losing an additional $3,000 a week and facing bankruptcy within three months. This was a pub with ideas way above its station. The tables were set for the Queen and the complex menu boasted ostentatious dishes, all coated with Brian’s cloying signature sauces. Instead of a functioning kitchen crew, the kitchen was stuffed with Brian’s collection of novelty dinner plates and appliances bought from eBay. A year ago, Gordon’s campaign for real food and real gravy started to turn things around for the Fenwick Arms. But now that he’s returned, he finds morale at an all-time low, and Brian ready to throw in the towel.

Episode eight premieres Thursday, March 13, 8:00 p.m. ET/PT.