December 12, 2007 09:03 PM by Jennifer_Brown
If you think chef Gordon Ramsay comes off as a little arrogant from time to time, wait till you see Secret Garden’s chef/owner, Michel. As his own waitress, Sammy, says, “He’s French. That’s his biggest problem. He’s French.” Well, from where we’re standing, there are more problems than just that, and Gordon’s about to walk headlong into them.
Sure, Michel’s arrogant (or as his assistant chef, Devon, is apt to say, “…he’s got an ego the size of France.”), but he’s also short-tempered and resistant. And not all too big on cleaning up his kitchen either. Oh, and did I mention he’sabout $300,000 in debt? Yikes! Sounds like a job meant for SuperChef Ramsay!
Gordon arrives and can’t figure out how to even get into the restaurant. The doors are all locked. When he finally gets into one, there’s nobody — and I mean nobody — in the dining room. Gordon has to go into the kitchen and find the staff in order to get any attention.
Right away he’s not impressed. The decor is “funeral parlor,” in his words (too cluttered and frilly and fancy-schmancy to the rest of us), and the food is not to Gordon’s liking. He immediately goes to the kitchen for a face-off with Michel, where he rightawaygives us our…
Quote of the Night:
“Don’t take this personally…I thought your food was crap.”
Michel isn’t interested in Chef Ramsay’s opinion,to which Gordon assesses, “[Michel's] so far up his own **ah-ooga!!** he can’t even breathe anymore.”
So Gordon decides to beat Michel to work in the morning, to give the kitchen an inspection. What he finds is disgusting. Black, filthy oil traps, moldy rotten food sitting so long even the refrigerator itself has begun to mold. It’s so bad even Gordon has to race to the restroom to vomit. When Michel arrives, he tries to tell Gordon that the fridge had just been organized the day before. Gordon doesn’t believe Michel is serious about this change and doesn’t believe Michel is honest. Michel tries to defend himself by saying he’s worked with Thomas Keller and Gary Clauson, but Gordon doesn’t believe for a minute that those guys would be thrilled with the moldy state of that fridge. Again, Gordon questions whether or not Michel really wants his help. Again, Michel’s arrogance shines through, saying, “Yeah, I want help, but I want good help.”
Later, Gordon further angers Michel when he boards up the restaurant and hangs signs all around that say “Foreclosure” and “Closed for Business.” “I don’t see anything constructive here,” Michel complains. But Gordon’s made his point.
Gordon hits the kitchen next and creates new menu items — some specials for Secret Garden. It’s the weekend and the restaurant fills up. The specials are a hit, but unfortunately communication breaks down and the food backs up. Customers are angry and the wait staff is in tears. Finally, Jane, sick of catching all the yelling from both the customers in the dining room and Michel in the kitchen, walks out. Gordon blames the problem on communication, but still Michel defends, saying he sees nothing wrong with the communication in his restaurant.
Gordon’s design team works over the restaurant — tossing all the china cups and lace doilies and making the place more modern and spacious. Everyone loves it…except Michel. The new menu is a hit with everyone, too…except Michel. “It’s not The Secret Garden anymore,” he complains.
But despite Miche’s misgivings, the restaurant re-launches to a packed dining room, including local celebrities (Miss California) and dignitaries, and even a local food critic. Now the pressure’s really on Michel and he doesn’t like it. “If Gordon gets in my way I promise I’ll make him suffer,” he warns.
Bad news — the critic bursts into a fit of coughing when she gets her food. She says the tuna is overseasoned. Michel, of course, blames this on Gordon, and goes back to one of his old standbys that Gordon had eliminated from the menu.
Gordon sees this and has had enough. He shrugs off his chef uniform and dresses in street clothes and, after a good, old-fashioned, shouting brawl between him and Michel (and the rest of the restaurant…and everyone else in hearing distance), Gordon storms out of the restaurant. “I don’t want him in my kitchen,” Michel says, smugly.
After cooling off, however, Gordon returns and they manage to push out the dinner service (which is a success, although Michel won’t believe it until he’s heard it from every customer in the place).
After the dinner service, Michel gives Gordon an apology of sorts about his recalcitrance, and says he was wrong.He gives Jane a promotion to Manager, and says that, while he still hates Gordon, he’s happy.
“If we can’t be successful now then we’re all idiots,” Jane says.
Gordon says Michel learned the Cardinal Rule of the restaurant business: “You serve your customers, not yourself.”
Photo Courtesy: FOX