November 08, 2007 04:12 AM by Joe Blackmon
Written By Jennifer Brown. This week Gordon heads to Los Angeles, to help out an ailing pizzeria named Sebastian’s. The owner, Sebastian, is a part-time actor and part-time hot-head
who believes wholeheartedly in his skills. “I can cook anything,”
Lou-Bertha, Sebastian’s manager and cook, doesn’t attest to his claims that he’s so easy to work with. In fact, neither do his wait staff or his cook. How will Gordon fare alongside Sebastian, who admits he’s fired 49 people in the last year.
Sebastian’s menu is like a short novel, with 20+ gourmet flavor combinations. Even the waitresses are confused and can’t tell you exactly what is on the menu (even though the majority of them are actors on the side and so should be fairly accustomed to memorizing lines). The customers surely don’t understand the offerings at Sebastian’s.
We briefly meet Sebastian’s wife Nicole, who has invested $300,000 in the business and is in charge of all the money matters. Not that there are much “money matters” to be in charge of these days. Sebastian doesn’t see the restaurant staying open for another six months if it keeps going the way it’s going.
Gordon arrives and right away thinks the place is tacky before he even enters the building. He goes inside and meets Sebastian, who gives him the menu and tries to explain it to him. Gordon responds with plenty of cursing, and is not pleased with Sebastian’s photos of the dishes on the menu. “Whenever you come across a menu that has photographs,” Gordon says, “get the **ah-ooga!** out of there!” Sebastian tries to explain the “concept” of the menu to Gordon, but Gordon isn’t biting.
Gordon gets his food and is right away displeased, which brings us to the,
Quote of the Night: “Can I get you anything?” waitress Sonja asks.
“A sick bag,” Gordon answers.
Sebastian is less than pleased with Gordon’s, er,honest,opinions about his menu and his food (he calls the steak “pet food”). In the back room, Sebastian is on the phone with his parents, who give him the sage advice to throw him out.
Gordon confronts Sebastian and tells him his food is horrible. Sebastian thinks Gordon is ignorant. When he tells Gordon he wants his pizza in grocery stores and wants to franchise, Gordon’s visibly shocked. “This guy is seriously off his **ah-ooga!** trolley,” Gordon says, having to literally remove himself from the restaurant to get his wits about him after talking to Sebastian.
Just as Sebastian is bragging to the waitstaff that he “won that one,” Gordon comes back in ready for a fight. He gets right in Sebastian’s face but Sebastian’s not backing down to Gordon. He gets right back in Gordon’s face and when Gordon walks away Sebastian throws up his arms in victory pose – “I won!”
That night, Gordon watches the dinner service and finds that nearly everything in the kitchen is frozen. Not much of anything is fresh in this kitchen – not even the pizza dough! Sebastian defends his decision to bring in frozen dough – it’s the best they can do right now with lack of funds. Sebastian takes over in the kitchen to impress Gordon, but Gordon’s hardly impressed, as he sees Sebastian use the microwave to cook much of the food.
There’s a moment of bad timing – a salad goes out with a hair in the food! Mistakes cost the restaurant big — $300 comp’ed in one night. Later, when Gordon finds Sebastian having a drink and kicking back with his buddies, he’s less than pleased. He takes Sebastian into the kitchen with him and makes him taste the food. Sebastian explains that meeting with the customers is more important to him than bringing in top quality food. “You’re happy being a fake chef,” Gordon accuses.
After dinner service, Gordon sits everyone down to lay into them about how horrible their service, their food, and their business sense is. Sebastian feels Gordon is being unreasonable, but Gordon presses forward, telling them that the menu has got to go and will go in the morning.
The next day, Gordon gets in Sebastian’s face about using the wood-burning stove for making fresh pizza. He gives the cooks dough-tossing lessons. Chef’s team is doing double duty – Gordon works the menu over while the design team gives the place a facelift, switching out metal and plastic chairs with comfy upholstered sofas. Sebastian is speechless. Gordon then unveils a brand-new top-of-the-line mixer to make fresh pizza dough, bringing Lou to tears.
Later, Gordon sits down with the staff and Sebastian to look over the new menu. This is Sebastian’s biggest fear. He doesn’t want to lose his menu. But he does. Gordon wipes out the confusing menu. The cooks are happy with the change, but Sebastian isn’t happy in the least. “I don’t see any uniqueness,” Sebastian complains. “Stop trying to be too clever,” Gordon admonishes. “I thought there would be more compromise with my menu,” Sebastian says, adding that he knew there’d be changes but didn’t think it would be completely gone.
Re-opening night is an Oscar party and Sebastian’s is booked. Sebastian is not totally on board with the new menu. He’s grouchy, although the waitstaff and cooks are jovial and excited to get the new Sebastian’s up and running. Sebastian goes off to clean his office, stewing.
The restaurant fills up and the waitstaff is excited and looking forward to fun, ready to prove to Gordon that they can do it right. Sebastian, however, is cracking under the pressure. Gordon has to ferret him out and push him to get it all under control.
Things start off swimmingly – the customers love the new menu and the new pizza. But Sebastian is still grinchy about the menu change. He just won’t let go of the old menu. He usurps Gordon’s changes and starts using the old menu, which confuses the kitchen. Things start to fall apart. Gordon pulls Sebastian aside. “When it comes down to it, I know what I’m doing,” Sebastian says. Gordon responds, “,I’ve never ever ever ever ever met someone I believe in as little as you.”
Sebastian gets emotional, screaming, cursing, throwing a fit. He calls Gordon names and tells him off. “Your whole act is a **ah-ooga!** joke,” he screams. He heads outside to cool off.
“It’s hard to hear that what you’ve done is a failure,” he tells the camera, crying. Gordon doesn’t follow him, but goes back into the kitchen and calmly gets things moving in the right direction again.
Sebastian eventually comes back, and at first everyone’s on edge and nervous about what’s going to happen. But the men are in control of themselves and things are civil and productive again. The two work together just fine.
“Bloody well done,” Gordon praises the staff at the end of the night. He loves Lou, tells her that her enthusiasm is infectious. He also likes the solidity of Andre the cook. This time he leaves not to hugs and tears but to applause.
Chef Gordon admits lot of mixed feelings about Sebastian’s, not because of lack of potential but because of lack of conviction on owner’s part.
Next on Kitchen Nightmares: Gordon tackles an Irish pub mired in a family squabble.