November 18, 2012 06:30 AM by Donna W. Martin
On tonight’s episode of Kitchen Nightmares, Chef Gordon Ramsay went to Wilkinsburg, PA to help Ms. Jean, owner of Ms. Jean’s Southern Cuisine. Her restaurant was suffering from poor customer reviews and Ms. Jean blamed it all on the staff. But was the staff to blame? Or was Ms. Jean the real problem? Keep reading after the jump to find out.
Ms. Jean is anxious to get Chef Ramsay’s help and she wasn’t going to sit around until he arrived. Instead, she chased him down and gave him a peach cobbler. She told Chef Ramsay she would rate her food an 8 out of 10 and that the problems at the restaurant were because of her staff. She explained by saying they take too many breaks, always on their cell phones and they stand around and talk too much.
Ms. Jean told Chef Ramsay that she wears many hats in the restaurant including waitress, manager, and cook. Plus, she was in big debt and didn’t know if she’d make it through the month. Gordon assured her he was there to help.
Gordon and Ms. Jean met back at the restaurant. Staff members were out back smoking and eating. In the meantime, Gordon walked in and he was shocked. He looked at the empty dessert counter and asked if there had been a robbery.
Chef Ramsay calls a staff meeting without Ms. Jean. He confronts the employees about what Ms. Jean had told him previously. They deny Ms. Jeans claims. And when Gordon asked why she would tell him that, they said, “to take the blame off her.” The staff filled Gordon in on what they believed the problems were. They told him Ms. Jean has an attitude problem and that’s she’s mean to both customers and staff.
At this point, Gordon calls Ms. Jean into the meeting and questions her about being mean and heavy-handed with the customers. She admits to yelling, but only after she asked the staff to do something five or six times and when they were on their phones. The staff and Ms. Jean take turns complaining. Gordon can see that there’s a rift between Ms. Jean and her staff.
After the staff meeting Gordon sat in the dining room and ordered various dishes to sample their menu. But everything he tried to order, they were out of – no chitlin dinner, no fried corn, red bean, black-eyed peas, and the list went on and on. Finally he found something on the menu that was actually available, pork chop, ribs, and macaroni and cheese.
While Gordon is waiting for his food, he notices an exercise bike down the hall. When he questions the server about it, she tells him it’s Ms. Jeans. Then he sees a customer’s food; the bun is mashed and cracked so he has it returned to the kitchen. Ms. Jean let into the staff and fussed so loudly she could be heard in the dining room.
Finally, the server brings out the ribs. But when Gordon tried them, they were way too salty. He said, “There’s a weird saltiness like they were soaked in brine.” And when the macaroni and cheese came out, it was making a crackling noise, which let Gordon know it had been put in the microwave. He said the macaroni and cheese was “bland, overcooked, and dreadful.”
Meanwhile Ms. Jean is in the kitchen fussing about Gordon’s pork chop and the way it was being cooked. When the pork chop finally made it out to Gordon, he stood it up on its end and compared it s shape to the United States. After tasting it, he said it was “dry like a mouth full of sand” and it was “drier than the Sahara Desert.” When the server asked if he would like anything else, he replied, “Yeah, a wheel for that bike so I can get the f*ck out of here.”
Back in the kitchen, Ms. Jean said she didn’t agree with Chef Ramsay’s comments and that she stands behind her food. Gordon said that anything associated with soul like passion and heart was gone. It’s like you’ve all “fell out of love,” he said, and “how can a soul food restaurant be missing the staples?”
Ms. Jean argued that her food was good and that she hadn’t had any complaints. And Gordon told her she hadn’t had any complaints because she didn’t have any customers.
Later, Gordon arrived at the restaurant to observe a dinner service. When he came in the front, he said it looked “like the waiting room of a doctor’s office” and he felt like he was “going to get a tooth pulled.”
In the kitchen, as orders come in, Gordon notices that each person is working on a different ticket instead of working together as a team. When food started going out, customers didn’t like it because the food was overcooked. Gordon said, “I wouldn’t serve that on death row.”
As Gordon walks around, he catches one of the ladies upfront on her cell phone. When he calls her out about it, she gets off the phone and kind of blows it off and said there are no customers right now and I can see out the window.
When Gordon walks away to go get Ms. Jean, she gets right back on the phone and jokes about Chef Ramsay fussing at her. Gordon and Ms. Jean come back and she’s busted again. But she lets Gordon know, “I am a volunteer not an employee – I get paid with chicken wings.” Ms. Jean and her argue back and forth and then she leaves.
Ms. Jean and Gordon go back in the kitchen. There are more complaints about the food. Come to find out, the chicken is dry because it was left over from lunch service. Ms. Jean has reached her breaking point and has an emotional breakdown. She cries and tells the staff that her *ss is on the line and she can’t afford this. “This is all I have and it’s going to h*ll,” she said. “It’s killing me. It’s tearing me apart.”
Later, Gordon sits down with Ms. Jean and her staff. He tells them their system is horrendous. Ms. Jean tells them they need to work together. “I need your help,” she said.
But Gordon is quick to remind her that the employees are working from her system and her system is bad.
Ms. Jean’s reputation in the community has been tarnished by her attitude and bad service so Gordon takes her and the staff to a theater where they watch a film. The film consists of comments made by past customers and they’re not nice. They said Ms. Jean had an attitude, she was mean, and she talked bad to them. This was a real eye-opener for Ms. Jean as she sat in the theater and cried. She had no idea people felt this way about her.
Gordon told her she and the staff need an attitude adjustment and that he was going to make some substantial changes.
Later, Gordon assembles a group of former customers in the dining room. Ms Jean apologizes for the way she treated them and told them she needed their help and they would always be greeted with a smile. Then she mingled with the crowd, talked, and passed out hugs.
With Ms. Jean’s reputation on the mend throughout the community, Gordon remodeled the restaurant and met with Ms. Jean and her staff for the reveal. He had redone the restaurant completely. The tables and benches were handcrafted; the walls were painted gray with nice murals instead of the ugly green from before. He even game them new china. By changing the seating, Gordon took the restaurant from 45-seat to 75-seat capacity. The updates gave the restaurant some much-needed soul and Ms. Jean said it was “like a dream come true.”
Then he introduced them to the new menu with a spread of cooked dishes like catfish, pulled pork, and ox tail. The staff ate the food and thought it was delicious.
There was a buzz around town about all the changes going on at the restaurant and everybody wanted to check it out, including the mayor.
During the re-launch, Ms. Jean called out orders and everybody tried their best to adapt to the new system. Appetizers were flying out of the kitchen and people loved the food. But they hit a snag with coordination problems. Food was flying out of the kitchen but server, Marissa was stressed and had a meltdown. She cried and said, “I can’t do this anymore,” but after a pep talk from Ms. Jean, she was back on track.
Ms. Jean was happy and the staff was proud of her. Gordon said, “I made a major transformation tonight and you handled it. You’re an amazing lady, very special and I’m rooting for you.” Ms Jean thanked Gordon and said she wouldn’t let him down.
Later, the mayor honored Ms. Jean for all her years of service to the community and declared June 3 Ms. Jean Day.
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