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Kitchen Nightmares: Chef Gordon Ramsay Takes on the Spanish Pavillion

January 21, 2011 08:00 PM by Shayla Perry


Tonight on the season premiere of Kitchen Nightmares on FOX, Chef Gordon Ramsay heads to New Jersey to save the Spanish Pavillion, a family-owned restaurant where the owners spend more time arguing than anything else. Will Chef Ramsay be able to transform the business and help the family save their legacy, or will the drama and craziness continue? Keep reading to find out!

It’s an all new season of Kitchen Nightmares, and Chef Gordon Ramsay is back to rescue more restaurants in despair. So what did you miss in the season premiere?

Located just a mile and a half from Newark, New Jersey’s historic Ironbound neighborhood is the Spanish Pavillion, which was opened by Antonio Hernandez in 1976. Antonio, who also opened the first Spanish restaurant in the state, ran the restaurant until 1996, when he retired and left the business to his daughter, Balbina, and her sons, Jerry and Mike.

When the threesome took over the restaurant, the Spanish Pavillion was a booming business, with people lined up outside waiting to get in; but just five years later, things began to go downhill…

The customers complain that the food is terrible, and the waiters are dressed in tuxedos, serving casually dressed diners. Everyone on the staff agrees that the Spanish Pavillion’s problems are mostly due to the poor leadership of Jerry and Mike. Mike is admittedly never around and thinks that his brother Jerry, who’s also a town councilman, is always on the phone when he’s there.

The brothers are always arguing, with their mother, Balbina, constantly stuck in the middle, and because of it, the business is failing and drowning in $500,000-$600,000 worth of debt.

So…Chef Gordon Ramsay to the rescue!

Right off the bat, Chef Ramsay sees the waiters in their tuxedos and asks them how old their uniforms are. He greets Jerry, who isn’t too enthused to have him there, and has him give him the rundown on the restaurant’s history. When Gordon Ramsay asks about “the chef,” meaning Michael, Jerry says that he doesn’t know if he’d exactly call his brother a chef, but that he’s always in the kitchen–spending most of his time on his cell phone.

Chef Ramsay puts in his order, and immediately, Mike wipes his hands of the meal, taking no part in the preparation.

The chef is not impressed with his lobster bisque when it’s presented to him, and when he questions where the lobster came from, he’s directed to the restaurant’s lobster tank where he finds a DEAD LOBSTER! Chef Ramsay expresses his concern that the other lobster in the tank have probably been feeding off of the dead one and collecting bacteria, but Mike insists that he keeps a good eye on the lobster daily.

Chef Ramsay is then given his next dish, which has been fried in so much olive oil that when he drains the oil from his plate, it almost fills an entire bowl! He has Jerry try the chicken, then has him take a piece to his brother to taste. Though Jerry agrees that the chicken doesn’t taste good, Mike says that it’s great, which let’s Chef Ramsay know that he’s in trouble when it comes to the rest of his meal.

Next is another lobster dish–with more lobster from the tank! Jerry takes the dish into the kitchen and asks Mike if he’s purposely putting out poor dishes, and suggests that he go out and listen to what Chef Ramsay has to say.

When Chef Ramsay enters the kitchen, he questions Mike and what it is that he actually does at the restaurant. Mike still maintains that he’s proud of everything that went out of the kitchen, but Chef Ramsay tells him that if his grandfather tasted the dishes he sent out, he’d be “beating the crap” out of him.

On Day One, it’s time for Chef Ramsay to observe a dinner service at the Spanish Pavillion, and already, Mike is at the bar instead of in the kitchen. The meals are going out fast, and coming back even faster when the diners complain of food that’s undercooked. Michael goes back into the kitchen, but so does Jerry, and both of them start trying to take control, which leads to a lot of yelling.

Mike’s instructions are confusing to the cooks, and all he does is continuously scream at them. When Al, one of the cooks, asks Mike to just let him cook and get the food out, then tells Mike to leave him the f**k alone,” Mike becomes frustrated and pushes him, yelling at him to get out!

Jerry and Balbina try to calm Mike down and send him outside to regroup. While he’s gone, the kitchen manages to send out the last orders of the night.

After the service, Chef Gordon Ramsay tells the crew that he’s never seen such a poorly organized team in the kitchen. With 21 of the night’s dishes being sent back to the kitchen, the chef decides to investigate and see what’s causing the trouble. The problem seems to be that the restaurant is buying too much food! Things are overstocked, not labeled, dead, etc. When Balbina, Mike, and Jerry arrive, Chef Ramsay gives them a rundown of everything he’s seen, telling them that the freshest thing in their kitchen is the pigeon that’s flying around it!

Mike, who’s in charge of ordering the food, admits that all of the excess is his fault, and expresses that he may be a bit overwhelmed.

Chef Ramsay sits down and talks to Balbina and asks her what her father would think if he saw the restaurant the way it is today. Balbina knows that things are out of control and that something needs to be done about her sons’ relationship before it tears the business apart.

On Day Two, Chef Ramsay starts by trying to get Michael doing his job in the kitchen–cooking. Mike is excited about the opportunity to learn from the famous chef and admits that he could use his help in getting back the passion that he’s lost for cooking.


The diners arrive for dinner, with Mike cooking behind the line, and Jerry running the pass. The brothers both worry that they’ll have trouble giving and taking orders from one another, but set out to do the best they can.

The customers are liking their meals at first and the dining room is packed, but things start to slow down in the kitchen and tensions begin to rise. A customer sends his chicken dish back, complaining that it’s too dry, but when Chef Ramsay smells the chicken that’s being used in the kitchen, he realizes that it’s gone bad!

An hour and a half into the service, Chef Ramsay has to have all of the chicken in the kitchen thrown out and yells at Mike asking how much fresh chicken is downstairs. After someone gets some of the fresh chicken, Jerry manages to pull things together, and Chef Ramsay is impressed with his performance throughout the night.

After everyone goes home, Chef Ramsay’s crew gets busy making over the New Jersey restaurant, revealing a newer, more modern Spanish Pavillion to the staff the next morning.

Everyone is astounded by the transformation, but there’s still work to be done.


Chef Ramsay shows Mike, Jerry, and Balbina that they now have a lot of competition in the area, but have the opportunity to stand apart from the rest by serving more modern Spanish fare. He presents them not only with their new, modern menu, but the improved uniforms for the waiters–no more tuxedos!

It’s time for the next dinner service, and already, Mike is casting his doubts on whether his brother will be able to keep things together. The customers like the modern menu, but the kitchen is having trouble keeping the pace and filling all of the orders that are pouring in. Mike is especially overwhelmed and confused, which stalls things in the dining room.

Finally, Chef Ramsay calls Mike aside and tells him that he has to keep it together and stop arguing with his brother in front of everyone else. Mike apologizes to Jerry and the two start working together and complete the dinner service on a high note.

After the service, Chef Ramsay tells the crew that they didn’t do things perfectly, but that they put the Spanish Pavillion back on the map and that they show promise. He then pulls the brothers aside and tells them that they have to look after each other, and that if they can manage to do so, the restaurant will survive.

Weeks after Chef Gordon Ramsay’s visit, Jerry is spending more time at the restaurant, embracing his role as a leader. Mike is adapting to playing a larger role in the kitchen again, but more importantly, the brothers are working together to carry on their family’s legacy with pride.

What did you think of the season premiere of Kitchen Nightmares? Sound off in the comments below!

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Photo credit: FOX

Topics: FOX Reality TV Shows, Kitchen Nightmares |

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3 Responses to “Kitchen Nightmares: Chef Gordon Ramsay Takes on the Spanish Pavillion”

  1. Helen Says:
    February 16th, 2011 at 8:20 am

    I have always eaten there. Nothing wrong with the old menu. That’s why I always went back. The new menu is a trendy modern Spanish and I don’t like it at all. I love Chef Ramsey, but not loving the revamp!

  2. Helen Says:
    February 16th, 2011 at 8:27 am

    I would also like to mention, that the place was always pretty crowded. One time I was told I had to wait an hour and a half, so I went to Applebees instead. The staff was always pretty nice and caring (with the exception of the mean old coatroom lady).

  3. Brenda Says:
    May 25th, 2011 at 12:14 am

    I have always loved going there and never found anything wrong with the food. It was always crowded. We had to call ahead or wait for a while for a table. Our family also have had parties at the lower level and the service always been good. I think I like the old menu better.


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