There is a point in nearly every episode of Kitchen Nightmares in which Chef Gordon Ramsay threatens to throw in the towel and walk away from the horrible situation he is confronted with that week. While most weeks it seems like an empty threat, this week’s battle in Norwalk, Ohio could be the restaurant that breaks his spirit.
‘When I Think of Joe, I Think of an Arrogant, Selfish Jerk’
Sixty miles from Cleveland is the rural farming town of Norwalk, Ohio. This is the location of the struggling Mill Street Bistro and Bar, owned by livestock farmer Joe Nagy. He is a former food service industry executive and he tells the camera that all the years that he worked with talented European chefs, he dreamed of having his own place. That experience is also the reason he’s convinced he serves the finest food between New York and Los Angeles. Which, given the fact that he had to have Chef Ramsay make an appearance, probably is not the case. He also promotes the fact that the restaurant serves local meat from his farm, although nearly everything else is frozen or from a can. So before Chef Ramsay visits the restaurant, he visits the farm and Joe talks at length about his abilities. He blames the problems at the restaurant on his inability to get customers to take his place seriously as a fine-dining establishment.
Everyone Can Agree on What the Problem is, Except the Owner
When Chef Ramsay gets to the restaurant, he’s impressed by the d'ecor and location. But as he begins speaking to the staff, they all quickly blame the owner for the lack of customers. He orders a number of items, including some items that claim to be “local.” He notices that many of the dishes are extremely expensive, especially for a place located in the middle of Ohio. As he samples the food he is disappointed and owner Joe comes out to argue with him over the quality of the food. One pastry topping is raw, another dish is covered in a broken hollandaise sauce and he tries some scallops that are “as hard as bullets.” And then there’s the “catch of the day” which is not fresh but frozen. Despite it all, Joe refuses to admit that anything is wrong and claims Chef Ramsay is “dead wrong.”
Well, They Were Fresh When They Were Frozen
After his meal Chef Ramsay talks to Joe and the chef about the food. The owner continues to argue his food is amazing and that no one has ever complained about the quality of the dishes. As they begin to argue, the staff is in the next room, astounded by what they are hearing. Joe won’t answer a straight question and goes on to deny some of the things that he told Ramsay earlier in the day. Helpfully, the producers repeat that earlier footage to bring home the point that he’s lying. Ramsay tells the owner he’s in denial and that he’ll see what the diners say that night during dinner service. It all ends with both men getting bleeped a lot before Chef Ramsay walks out the door. After it was over, Joe continues to rant about the conversation and unloads on his staff. Unfortunately, the conversation is also overheard by some customers, who are waiting to be seated. Showing his lack of character, once Joe realizes customers are nearby he shifts the conversation to how much he appreciates everyone.
What’s Worse Than the Dinner Service? What a Former Employee Says About the Restaurant
It’s time for dinner service and the first thing Chef Ramsay notices is that there’s a large “quiet” sign in the kitchen. Joe doesn’t like conversation, which is a difficult challenge for delivering quality food. While the food is heading out in a reasonable amount of time, the food is coming back just as quickly. That just sets Joe off and he rants about Ramsay’s assessments of the food as he slams dishes around the kitchen. As the dinner service collapses, Chef Ramsay talks to a former employee who had quit the previous month. She has pictures of some of the food that was served, including frozen steaks and limp, old vegetables. That talk inspires him to examine the food in the storage areas and he’s appalled by what he discovers. Including some frozen meat from 2009 that is two years past the expiration date. Chef Ramsay confronts Joe over the lies and the continuing problems with the cooking. The fighting escalates and as it does the picture fades to black. The announcer promises that next week will bring an ending “you won’t believe” and I guess we’ll find out next Friday.