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Kitchen Nightmares Recap: Gordon Ramsay Tackles Texas’ El Greco Grill

January 20, 2012 10:49 PM by Ashley Lee

You’d think that Chef Gordon Ramsay has seen it all by now on Kitchen Nightmares, but the struggling and “authentic” Greek restaurant, El Greco Grill, in Austin, Texas is completely foreign territory: a mother and son ownership team that never stops arguing, and a kitchen completely led by the abominable Chef Mike…also known as the microwave! Can Jake and Athina stop fighting and save their restaurant from drowning in an $800,000 debt? Read on for the full recap of an episode that had me yelling at my TV for an hour straight!

El Greco Grill is an “authentic” Greek restaurant that opened in 2007 in Austin, Texas. Jake’s mother, Athina, always wanted to open a restaurant, so she took on tons of debt in her name while Jake went to culinary school and developed a passion for cooking. They also moved Athina’s sister, Kiki, out from Greece to work in the Texas kitchen.

Though the first eight months were incredibly successful, it’s the exact opposite just before Gordon Ramsay enters: Jake is rarely in the restaurant anymore, and when he is, he’s super rude to everyone, especially his mother. Team morale is low, but the food quality is even lower. Athina says to Jake, ”To hell with the money, to hell with the restaurant, but I’m losing my son too. I’d rather be dead than to have a son like you now.”

Gordon enters El Greco and orders a few classic items off the menu, and Jake proceeds as usual by ordering the line cook to microwave the food. For Gordon Ramsay. After one bite of stuffed zucchini, he stops. “I could cry, what a joke,” he says. “It’s not possible for a restaurant to be so bad.” When Gordon asks who cooked the lamb shank, Dustin the server says, “Chef Mike…the microwave.”

Jake defends, “How else am I gonna reheat it? I’m not cooking it in the microwave, I’m reheating it. Big difference.” Gordon steps behind the kitchen doors and watches how every line cook just takes turns at the microwave. One of them, Diego, says, “I feel like a kid [when] heading up places in the microwave. It messes with my passion for cooking.”

Though Gordon tries to correct Jake and educate him for the better, it’s like talking to a brick wall. Of all the head chefs he’s ever seen, Gordon says, “I’ve never seen one quite like the sack of sh-t that’s standing in front of me now.”

On the second day, Athena and Kiki come early to prep for day, and Jake is hours late, of course, which inevitably sparks an argument. Gordon comes in to mediate between Jake and his mother and aunt (who has no problem calling him a lazy bastard in Greek), and suddenly, Jake breaks down and commits, “I’ll start all over like it’s the first day.” It looks like the second day will be much better than the first!

Ramsay finally removes the microwave from the kitchen by throwing it out the top window of the building. And everyone, including Jake, is clapping about it. Ramsay gives a refreshing tutorial on classic Greek cooking techniques and recipes, and Jake’s eyes are lighting up with passion again.

After the makeover, the restaurant’s dining room is filled with that classic Mediterranean blue color, white chairs, and elegant ceramics. Ramsay also reveals his carefully selected Greek menu, complete with grilled octopus, racks of lamb, moussaka and more, all the way it’s supposed to be cooked. And it looks a million times better than the microwaved plates served before. “Opa!” everyone shouts.

However, that dinnertime is the crew’s first time cooking everything fresh, and Jake is actually too excited — he wants to do everything and delegates nothing, which Ramsay says is just as dangerous. The kitchen is completely stalled, and customers have been waiting for their food for over an hour and a half! When line cooks confront him about having nothing to do, Jake begins to argue again.

Ramsay urges Jake to delegate before the entire night is shot, and Jake finally begins to work in tandem with his team. The dining room is full of beautiful dishes and happy faces. Line cook Anthony thanks Ramsay, “Jake’s a tough cookie to crack, and he smashed it.” The crew breaks a few plates in celebration of leaving old habits behind (I love Greek traditions!), Jake and Athina pledge to work on their relationship both in and out of the kitchen.

After Ramsay fixed that Kitchen Nightmare, El Greco received positive feedback from the community. Unfortunately, Jake and Athina’s insurmountable debt was too much to overcome, and they were forced to close El Greco Grill.

Did you watch tonight’s episode of Kitchen Nightmares?

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Photo credit: FOX

Topics: FOX Reality TV Shows, Gordon Ramsay, Kitchen Nightmares |

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