November 06, 2008 08:56 PM by Lisa Stauber
Kitchen Nightmares heads just an hour outside of bustling New York City to a little hamlet in New Jersey. Owners of Hannah and Mason’s Restaurant have called for help, and it’s no wonder. Friends Chris and Brian are running the restaurant into the ground.
Brian is the chef, and he’s easy going and lazy. He’s not the take charge type, and doesn’t lead the kitchen. Chris feels that he does all the work and pays all of the bills. He orders the food, manages the staff, and then works as a line cook. Brian doesn’t feel like working too much, so the restaurant is only open three nights a week. They’re bouncing checks, and their waitress has to ask if her paycheck is good before she puts it in the bank. They definitely need a Ramsay intervention!
It’s Valentine’s Day, a monster day for restaurants. Ramsay notices the sign on the awning is missing a letter, and the manager is just 23 years old. He orders baked onion soup, quiche, and a lamb lollipop. The soup is covered with a mountain of greasy onion rings, followed with a thick layer of cheese. “It’s absolutely tasteless,” he says, “it tastes like the gunk from the dishwasher.” Brian’s in denial. “I find it hard that it’s as bad as he says,” the chef snaps. The lamb is undercooked, and the sauce is too sweet. Ramsay thinks the quiche tastes like it’s been left out of the fridge too long, and it’s runny.
Ramsay heads to the kitchen for a meeting. Chris thinks that Brian doesn’t have any passion. Brian admits that he doesn’t want to own a restaurant and rarely comes up with new dishes. Ramsay will be back to observe the Valentine’s Dinner service. The dessert plate has old, dried out desserts on it. Chris says it’s for display purposes only, but Ramsay points out nothing looks appetizing. Ramsay discovers nobody checks the food before it goes out, and several salads have rotten lettuce. The prep cook says he hasn’t washed it, just assuming it was pre-washed. “This shouldn’t be sent out,” Brian says, but he’s not willing to keep an eye on things.
A week-old dessert has accidentally been served off the display tray, and Ramsay also finds moldy food in the fridge leaking on other ingredients. “What are you doing to people?” he shouts. “Well, we can’t oversee everything,” Brian says. He finds cooked chicken stored in the same bin as raw chicken. “You’re gonna kill someone!” Ramsay yells. He decides to shut the restaurant down in the middle of service to prevent food poisoning.
Ramsay yells at Brian for not doing anything, including comforting the waitresses or apologizing to customers. The staff is sent to work cleaning the place top to bottom, while Ramsay takes a drive. He finds ton of farm stands and fresh produce, since the town is full of farmers. He returns with bushels of fresh fruit, but Brian’s not impressed. “If I want to learn to cook like you, I’ll buy your book,” Brian says. “It’s evident that you are soulless when it comes to food,” Ramsay tells him. He teaches Chris a new dish, pork with caramelized apples. Brian promises to leave if Ramsay yells at him again. Ramsay asks Brian to lead the kitchen, but he’s busy doing other things when the first orders come in. “I guess I’m not running it, then,” he says. The kitchen backs up immediately, and Brian decides to take the night off.
Ramsay gives him a pep talk and he comes back to cook. Food starts going out and the customers are eating happy. Ramsay tells them to get ready, because tomorrow he’s going to make the place into the crown jewel of Cranbury, NJ. His decorators pretty up the place overnight, including a new awning with all of the letters in the proper place. It looks like a quaint country bistro now, and they added a deli counter to show off local, fresh products. Ramsay wants to make the restaurant the flagship spot for the farms to sell their products and tie into the local town.
Chris isn’t happy at all. “Chef Ramsay obliterated what Hannah and Mason’s was, and I don’t know if it’s going to work out,” he says. Brian’s finally excited, though. “Let’s get started!” he says. Ramsay’s changed it from fine dining to rustic, country cuisine. Ramsay’s set up a farmer’s market outside, and Chris starts to get excited. “I like the simplicity of it, but I think there’s going to be a learning curve,” he says.
Brian’s all smiles, and he’s ready to cook. It’s a small place, and in order to make enough to stay open they’ll have to flip tables, serving at least two sets of diners per table. The customers are happy about the fresh food and are gobbling everything up. Fast service means more money in the owner’s pockets, but the kitchen is backed up on entrees. Now they’ve run out of mashed potatoes, and Chris wants to substitute another side. Ramsay calls him lazy for not even bothering to put another pot on the stove.
Chris admits that it will take him a while to get used to the changes, but things are looking up for the chefs. They promise to be committed to the restaurant and everything looks great for the future of Hannah and Mason’s!
Photos courtesy Fox.