November 20, 2008 09:30 PM by Lisa Stauber
Kitchen Nighmares is headed west to help a Hollywood eatery. Sante La Brea has a hot tempered owner named Dean who can’t get along with his son and Mark the manager who prefers interior design to working the line. They’re menu is health food, with a nice outdoor eating area. Unfortunately, the food is terrible and they don’t get any repeat customers.
Sammy and Arthur have worked for their father since they were teens, and they don’t really remember the restaurant being busy. It’s having a crisis, now, though and Chef Ramsay is their last hope. The day Ramsay is to arrive, head chef Aurelio doesn’t bother to show up to work.
Ramsay is impressed with the location, one of the busiest streets in Los Angeles and surrounded by successful restaurants. Dean eats a handful of sprouts straight out of the ground to impress Ramsay, but Gordon’s confused on the menu. It’s a vegan restaurant, but they also serve fish and chicken.
Manager Mark introduces himself, and discusses how he is trying to make the restaurant hip and homey. “I want it to be like no place you’ve ever seen,” Mark says. “You’ve definitely done that,” Ramsay says. Sammy is the server today, and serves up the bad food.
The turkey melt is horrible with dry meat and greasy bread. Ramsay feeds it to a nearby dog. A tofu dish is up next, a ring of overcooked veggies surrounding an overcooked lump of rice. “Shocking. My God!” Ramsay says. Mark hopes that Ramsay can get through to Dean about the food – it smells and tastes bad. The blackened salmon is burnt and Ramsay thinks the meat is spoiled. He wonders if the refrigerator is working properly. “It’s hideous,” he tells Dean.
Ramsay heads to the kitchen and finds salmon and turkey resting in the same bin. A squishy eggplant, rotting in the back of fridge is unearthed, and Dean doesn’t even know when it was cleaned out last. “I let the chef take care of the fridge,” Dean says. “This is your restaurant,” Ramsay reminds him.
Aurelio shows up a few hours late, just in time to get reamed by Dean. Okay, reamed was too strong of a word. Dean lets everyone walk all over him. “It’s all right,” he tells Aurelio. “Can you please check the fridge?” Dean tears up – as usual – and his sons are disgusted. Dean thinks he has to keep Aurelio, though, because otherwise he won’t have a chef.
Ramsay is going to observe a dinner service. He questions Aurelio about the fish, but Dean jumps in. “It’s all my fault,” Dean says. “Why are you scared of the chefs?” Ramsay asks Dean, while Aurelio chats on his cell phone. The customers aren’t impressed with the food and are openly mocking it. One diner offers to give the chef her recipes so they can serve decent dishes.
Ramsay snoops around the kitchen and finds a freezer full of fake food. “Un”duck and fake fish are vegan friendly menu options, or so Dean thinks. He has a chat with the staff. No one takes responsibility. “For some reason no one is listening to me,” Dean says. He’s a little too laid back in his management style.
Ramsay thinks the problem is really with the restaurant’s identity. They are supposed to be a health restaurant, but the kitchen is so filthy an inspector would shut it down and it’s full of gimmicky food. Gordon says he’ll be back when the kitchen is at the standard of an “A” restaurant.
Ramsay returns and takes Dean into the mountains. “We’re alone. No one can hear you,” Ramsay tells him. He encourages Dean to let go and learn how to be firm with the staff. “You have to get a grip, before it’s too late,” Ramsay says. “I need to know you’re going to take control.” Dean gets into it and starts getting tough with his imaginary staff. Dean starts crying again, even as he’s yelling and practicing telling the staff they’ll be fired. “I’m ready to do my job,” Dean says.
Dean tries his new assertiveness out on his son. Sammy’s not mad though, he’s happy to see his dad get a spine. Meanwhile, Gordon’s inspecting the kitchen, and it passes muster. Ramsay gets in the kitchen to show the staff how to cook fresh fish. Suddenly, the police show up and slap cuffs on Dean!
It’s a joke from Ramsay, though. He’s had Dean handcuffed so he won’t do everyone’s job for them. His hands are literally tied, and all he can do is tell his staff what to do. Mark is taking orders, but he doesn’t like to use deodorant and he’s sweating like a pig. Mark’s shirt is soaked in the pits and he’s shaking customer’s hands with sweaty palms.
The kitchen has sold out of the halibut, and the customers love the food. Mark takes an order, but doesn’t know what he’s doing. Mark is not allowed to take orders and some customers aren’t going to get the food they want. Dean is tough with him and tells him never to do it again. Mark is wiping his armpits with the menus, and Dean makes him go home to change into a fresh shirt. Ramsay runs to a gas station and buys the strongest antiperspirant he can find.
Dean gets his handcuffs removed, but Aurelio won’t listen to him and calls him stupid. Ramsay doesn’t know what to make of things. Dean showed signs of becoming a better manager, but the customers still don’t like the food. It’s bland and boring.
The restaurant’s gotten a makeover, with a painted mural, natural elements, and no plastic tablecloths. There’s a new menu, too, simple and fresh. Mark takes another order and Dean walks him to the door and makes a scene. The restaurant is packed, and he’s getting tough in the kitchen. Aurelio finally has had enough and walks out. “Goodbye!” Dean yells after him. Ramsay runs after Aurelio, but it looks like they are going to be without a chef on relaunch night.
Aurelio has a change of heart, and wants to apologize to Chef Ramsay and collect his paycheck. Ramsay gives him half his money and tells him he’ll get the rest after the dinner service. Sante La Brea’s is back in business. The kitchen is backed up now, and the customers are starving. Gordon gathers the staff for a pep talk. “Can we at least finish strong?” he asks them. Everyone rallies and the night is a success.
Ramsay gives a few more words of encouragement to Dean and everyone’s feeling like they are going to turn the corner and start making money again. Another restaurant rescue for Ramsay!
Photos courtesy Fox.