Kitchen Nightmares: Seascape
RFT editorial intern Jeanette Kozlowski is a big fan of bad-boy British chef Gordon Ramsay. Each week she'll recap the latest episode of Ramsay's new FOX series Kitchen Nightmares.
Yes, we are in New York once again this week in the seaside village of Islip. Seascape, the oldest and most successful restaurant in town, is going under. The owners are a mother-and-son team, Irene and Peter, who have sat back and watched as this "crown jewel" slowly declined. We discover that they lost the heart of Seascape two years ago -- the father and husband to Peter and Irene, who had kept the place afloat through the years. Now Peter describes it as a Titanic: "It was a luxury liner, and now it's sinking."
As he tears up in one of the first scenes, it's obvious Peter is an emotional train wreck, but understandably so. He needs at least $800,000 to a million dollars to keep his father's legacy alive. He now has one week to do a complete one-eighty, and turn his family business around.
Not only is the 105-year-old establishment in financial ruin, but it also stinks -- literally. Backed up sewage has left a rank odor for all patrons to endure. One waitress says, "There was a stink in this place so bad, I can't believe anyone stayed to eat."
We also meet sweet Marilyn, a waitress at Seascape since 1967; she's seen all the highs ("People would stand in a line outside") and lows ("I don't even like to tell people I work here anymore") that a restaurant could possibly go through.
Head chef Doug immediately makes it known he trained at the Culinary Institute of America, and that he's been "in the business" for 38 years. And from the bags under his eyes, it looks like he hasn't slept in 38 years, either. He finds Ramsay's presence a "slap in the face," and he is unwilling to listen to constructive criticism. In other words, he's a big dumb jerk.
Irene and Peter are more humbled by Ramsay's presence. Peter is both nervous and excited to "be insulted by the best chef in the world." And it seems that Irene has even developed a slight crush on the tall, golden-haired Brit. She says in her thick accent, "Twenty years ago I would have said, you know, we connect."
As Ramsay prepares for his first meal, something strange happens. Either FOX's editing has gone awry, or he's wearing a magical logo-flip-flopping jumper. If you watch closely, you'll noticed his shirt logo or nametag switch from his left side to right and back again (in the span of one minute!).
Ramsay notices the scent of sewage. He touches the wall, and it crumbles in his fingers. When his appetizer arrives, he (predictably) isn't pleased. The chef sprinkled too much parsley on the plate. The crab cake "just falls apart just like the décor" and tastes frozen. Ramsay asks the waitress to ask the chef if the crab cakes were indeed frozen. She does, and chef Doug blurts out, "Fuck him!"
The rest of the of the meal is another string a disappointments: The pesto lobster ravioli is "soggy" and has a "strange taste inside;" the Atlantic salmon is "dry" and "solid." "You can't expect customers to come and pay for this shit," Ramsay shouts.
Then Irene tries to unknowingly kill him with a cookie coated in snowy white powder, which he proceeds to inhale and cough out for a few minutes. "Fuck me. I'm surprised you people are still alive." Although Irene was just trying to be cordial, I had to laugh.
The rest of the day goes from bad to just embarrassing. During dinner service, items are sent back because they are cold, undercooked and overcooked. When the chef is confronted about his cold entrées he refuses to admit they are a bit chilly. Ramsay observes waitresses taking these cold plates to customers without even questioning the chef. "If they put it up, I take it," says one waitress.
Then, Ramsay confronts Chef Doug about his proclivity for parsley:
Doug: I like the parsley; I like the way it looks.
Ramsay: It shows you are a dated restaurant! Sprinkle it on your wife but not on your plate!
Upon a thorough investigation of the Seascape kitchen, Ramsay says it's "10,000 times worse than I thought it would be." An unidentified crust build-up glistens on every part of the kitchen. Ramsay finds yesterday's "fresh" meal in the freezer -- solid as a rock. And that pesto he ate... well, let's just say at a closer view there are some interesting shades of green in it that look more like something growing on a Chia Pet.
Peter lies and says the staff cleans the kitchen every Tuesday. "How dare you cook me lunch in this kitchen!" Ramsay can't take it.
Of course, Doug is pissed, too. He says he knows his kitchen is dirty, and he doesn't care (though I have to give him credit for feeling bad about the poison pesto). I'm surprised Ramsay hasn't punched him in his big dumb jerk face at this point.
Additional super-sick highlights:
• Old fish in a dog food bag (what the eff?!)
• "Sour" pork that apparently Doug thought was still edible
• Half-cooked chicken he was going to cook again at some point (for customers??)
• "I'm just not a throw-away person," Doug says.
• "Touch the wall you filthy pig!" Ramsay yells to Peter.
Ramsay continues to belittle the head and sous chefs while they just stand there dumbfounded. The day ends with the famous chef condemning the place and sending customers home. He probably also saved some lives, too, because this kitchen was more dirty than Britney Spears' weave.
Twenty-four hours are spent scrubbing the filth accumulated in the kitchen.
Doug insults Ramsay by not eating the chef's striped bass. His reason: He already knew what the fish tasted like. Big. Mistake. A livid Ramsay says this is the first time anybody has ever refused a meal from him. Doug seems more pleased than anything to piss off the world-famous chef. "I don't expect my cooking to be like him... I don't even want to be here," he says.
It's a total joke when Doug and the sous chef, Charlie, try to recreate what Ramsay made. Charlie burns the fish, and Doug just lazily sits back and watches. These two have just been enjoying getting paid to do a half-ass job. Ramsay says: "I don't even know how both of you can even attempt to call yourselves chefs"
He sits Peter and Irene down for a serious chat. It's time for Peter to be a man and fire the people holding his family's business back. Shockingly, he suddenly (as Ramsay would say) grows some bollocks and gets the job done. Doug asks Peter if he's sure. Peter just says, "Yes." Charlie storms out cussing. Doug appears stunned yet slightly miffed.
Ramsay wants Peter to "release the tension" and does so in a way that's so ridiculous and so overdramatic I'll spare you the details. At least it gets Peter to finally fess up: "I know I lied to you; I know my kitchen was dirty." Then the real truth comes out; Peter has daddy issues. His dead father constantly put him down, and that's why he thinks his self-esteem plummeted.
Just as Peter is beginning to gain confidence, we get to see another rebirth: the jaw-dropping renovation of Seascape. The design team did a stellar job of restoring the business back to the original with fresh coat of fire-engine red paint and new wood paneling. All this meant the most to Marilyn, who swoons over a picture of her younger self framed on the wall.
With a new head chef handpicked by Ramsay onboard, the menu's old classics were ready to become modernized. Here are the highlights from the revised menu:
• Fresh homemade crab cake
• Fresh Pesto salmon
• Clams casino
• Fried calamari
• Surf and turf
Ramsay brings in a professional maître d' to help Peter. Yet Peter still refuses to take charge. It's only after another mental push and a physical hug from Ramsay that his head clears. As the dinner service veers toward disaster, he devises a plan to get the backed-up orders out of the kitchen quickly.
Even though the re-launch went OK, in the last ten seconds of the show we learn that Peter sold Seascape five months later. Such a let down!
Overall, this episode was much more action-packed and interesting than the last two, but I still have animosity towards FOX for seriously ruining this show.
Lesson learned: If Gordon Ramsay cooks you striped bass, eat it! Or else he'll make sure you suffer for snubbing his gourmet meal.
Next week: Ramsay heads to the Olde Stone Mill to face someone as arrogant as he -- a man claiming to be the best restaurateur in the history of mankind (or something along those lines).
And according FOX's Web site, this restaurant is also in New York. SERIOUSLY??!! Should FOX be sued for false advertising? Because at the beginning of the show every week we are reminded that Ramsay will be "crisscrossing America". So unless the people at FOX have their heads stuck so far up their asses that they think New York = America, they are total liars.
But until then, watch this week's episode right here!