November 13, 2008 07:33 PM by Lisa Stauber
Kitchen Nightmares is in Connecticut, trying to save Sammy’s restaurant. Bad food and an out of control owner are showcased again. Sabatiello’s restaurant is on the brink of bankruptcy, and is over a million dollars in debt. Can Sammy step down and let Gordon help him? It’s going to be a showdown!
Sabatiello’s has been open for three years, and is in the heart of Stamford. He previously owned a successful pizza joint, but opened the Sabatiello’s to fulfill his life-long dream of owning a really nice restaurant. He swears the food is good, but berates the customers and staff. “Sammy’s really nasty,” a waiter says. “My staff doesn’t listen to me,” Sammy says.
Ramsay heads into the restaurant, and reads a review on the way. “Two star food at four star prices,” the newspaper says. Gordon likes the decor, and Sammy meets him at the door. He’s got a mouth on him, though, and surprises Ramsay by claiming the restaurant has the best balls in town. He thinks the soup is hideous, bland, and old. Sammy admits is was made yesterday, even though it’s the “soup of the day”. The chef’s frustrated, though, because he’s not allowed to throw out leftovers.
Next up is a lasagna, which is homemade but reheated in a microwave. “There seems to be something synthetic and plastic inside,” Ramsay says. “That is not homemade.” He challenges the waiter to bring him the recipe from his chef. The steak is greasy, tough, and underseasoned.
Ramsay heads to the kitchen, and the chef shows him the lasagna. They make up trays of it and freeze individual portions. “Every chef I know makes lasagna fresh everyday,” Ramsay tells Sammy. The owner has an excuse for everything, and he claims their food is good and fresh, despite coming out of the freezer. “There’s nothing wrong with it,” Sammy stubbornly insists.
Ramsay inspects the kitchen and finds cooked chickens. The kitchen is very clean, but the food is dangerously stored. Sammy’s got raw chickens stored next to cooked chickens, and finds a lump of mystery meat. Sammy likes being in control and doesn’t appreciate Ramsay’s criticisms. Then he turns it around on the chef, blaming him for storing the food improperly.
“Dinner service tonight is going to be outstanding,” Sammy says, hoping to impress Ramsay. So far, Gordon’s appalled to see food cooked up with fake crab meat. “Maybe we all cut corners, but don’t call me a cheat,” Sammy says. “Son of a b****!” Food is returned to the kitchen, and Sammy insists nothing’s wrong with it. “It’s disgusting,” Ramsay says.
One patron wants her lamb cooked a little more, and Sammy tells the chef to microwave it. The diner asks the waiter to have it warmed a little more, and not to microwave it. Sammy’s mad, and goes out to the dining room to confront the diner. He tells the woman that the food wasn’t microwaved, and gets snippy with her. “Go take a hike,” he tells her. The rest of the diners comment on his rudeness. Sammy thinks he’s been restrained. “I wanted to yell but I didn’t.” When the food finally comes out, the whole restaurant applauds, but it’s still not cooked properly. Lauren, Sammy’s girlfriend, tells him to apologize but he refuses. Instead, he shuts down his own restaurant.
“Is it normal for you to be in the kitchen like that, and talk to them like that?” Ramsay asks. “The problem is you. You agitate customers, you agitate staff,” he says. Sammy’s still in denial. He tells him the menu’s too big for two cooks, and the ingredients are imitation, fake, and not what is advertised on the menu. “I want you to do one thing,” Ramsay says. “Take your head out of your a**.”
Sammy’s mad, again. He claims everyone loves him and loves his food. The next day, Ramsay makes peace and delves into Sammy’s past to find out why he’s so passionate about his restaurant. Sammy wants things to be successful like they were at his old pizzeria, and he’s excited about the future of the restaurant and is willing to work.
Ramsay unveils the new menu and introduces a tableside presentation. “This is one small measure of you reaching out,” Ramsay says. “It’s going to be great tonight,” Sammy says. The place is packed, as word has spread that Ramsay’s fixing the place. Jose, the chef, is giving Sammy the silent treatment, but he tries to be nice. Meat comes back because it’s too rare, and another dish is returned for being raw in the middle. The chefs are dropping the ball, and Sammy’s heating up.
The chefs are behind and are not communicating. “Nobody had their act together,” Sammy says. Ramsay himself returns two plates of undercooked meat. Jose is insisting on doing everything himself and the kitchen is backed up again. The tickets are being cooked out of order, and diners are waiting hours for food. Ramsay thinks that the chef and owner are like a married couple, who have worked together for so many years they don’t communicate. Sammy says he’s going to let Jose go if he doesn’t step up to the plate. “It’s either make changes now, or lose everything,” Sammy says.
Ramsay has further streamlined the menu. Jose is happy to see the simplified menu and thinks it’s going to be much easier to get everything out of the kitchen. Sabatiello’s is re-imagined as an Italian Steakhouse, with an emphasis on fresh food and great meat.
It’s relaunch night, and it’s time to see if Jose can cook the meat while Sammy runs the restaurant. Sammy’s getting agitated, feeling that he has to babysit. Jose’s not keeping up in the kitchen, and Sammy realizes that he needs help. Sammy dons an apron to help out on the line. The stove gets set on fire, and it seems that Sammy’s hurting more than he’s helping. A table was forgotten, and the the waiters are getting confused about which food goes to which table. The food seems to be worth the wait. “Absolutely delicious!” the diners rave.
Sammy deciding to pitch in instead of yelling really helped the restaurant turn the corner and the relaunch is a success. He’s got a chance to succeed now, after all.
Photos courtesy Fox.