Nightmares

Evidently I’m late to the party. I’m one of these non-TV types, except that now I’m spending 1 1/2 hours most days at the gym. what gets me through that interval is watching cable TV. It’s mostly bad but l ‘ve taken to watching the BBC version of Kitchen Nightmares, which has been on UK and US TV for at least seven years. If you’re “normal” you’ve probably seen this dozens of times, but again, I’m new to the series.

Gordon_RamsayThe show of course is led by Scottish chef Gordon Ramsey, who’s a bit direct and abrasive. He comes across as part marriage counselor, part fairy godmother, part encounter therapist.

Kitchens, the cooking end of restaurants, tend to be a kind of purgatory/hell on earth. The managers  are the Brahmins at the top of the pecking order, then the wait staff, chefs and line cooks come next, followed by prep cooks and lastly the dishwasher at the bottom. There seemed to be a lot of substance abuse in the restaurants I was in. The hippie veggie places a little less so.

The basic idea of the show is for Ramsey to come waltzing into a restaurant, sample the menu, look in  the freezers, look at the books and then give a prognosis on  the future of the business. He comes across as a reasonable analytical type: a consultant with a heart of gold-and a mouth full of F-words.

As a fan of the show, I’ve started to see the world through Gordo’s eyes. He usually looks at personal relationships that impinge negatively on the professionalism, and smooth functioning, of order-taking and quick service to the customers. Occasionally he’ll have to retrain a “head chef” who is little more than a microwave operator. Being a reality show, Gordon and his victims,er, clients “break the fourth wall” and give their reactions to the latest twist in Saint Gordon’ s ministrations-directly to the camera.

At times i wonder how much of the show is “real” and how much is “fake”. People can’t really run a restaurant ( from the word “restore”) this badly I ask myself. Oh yes they can: when the owner is tens of thousands in debt, the suppliers deliver everything C.O.D. , and the cash flows relentlessly in the wrong direction- they sure can.

This last May Gordon visited Amy (and Samy)’s Bakery in Scottsdale, AZ. and Ramsay’ s attempt to retool the store seems like a complete failure, including a flame-war on social media between the owners of Amy’s and an army of critics. Someone went so far as to produce a satire of the situation on YouTube, with Adolf Hitler discussing a rehearsal dinner at Amy’s Bakery with his High Command. Yes, you may p*** yourself laughing.

 

Photo: Wikipedia

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