"I'm forty years of age, and I've gone to a lot of restaurants, but I've never, ever, ever, ever met someone I believe in as little as you."
A cooking-themed Reality Show in which chef Gordon Ramsay visits struggling restaurants and attempts to turn them around. Began as Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares on Channel Four before FOX adapted the series for American audiences.The show shot up to near-viral levels of popularity after it featured Amy's Baking Company.Tropes specific to the Amy's Baking Company episode should be placed in their own section, below.
Tropes pertaining to the show in general
Almighty Janitor: More often than not, the servers and other kitchen personnel will be well aware of the issues that the restaurant is having, only to be ignored by the owner who is convinced that the restaurant's trouble stems from other areas.
All for Nothing: For all the work Gordon puts into some restaurants, some either completely fold, or the owners revert back to their old ways; sometimes minor, sometimes drastically.
Analogy Backfire: In the Curry Lounge episode of the British version, Gordon makes a stubborn owner bat at cricket while being partially bound, to demonstrate what his stubbornness is doing to his restaurant. The owner still manages to hit the ball, on his first try.
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In the pilot episode Tim, the head chef of Bonaparte's, said that someday he'd like to have three restaurants; one in London, one in Paris, and one in...Leeds? Which, as Gordon showed us in the episode, is a good place to buy your supplies from, but isn't terribly likely to impress fellow chefs when discussing your establishments.
Badass Decay: invoked Some of the head chefs have suffered this by the time Ramsay shows up, usually through the owner being unsupportive and/or forcing a bad menu on the chef. Ramsay usually manages to reverse this by changing the menu to one that the chef can get excited about again.
Bad Boss: A recurring problem encountered by Ramsay are managers who treat their staff and customers poorly, generally being overly harsh or short-tempered. This of course leads to poor customer relations and the ire of their staff. On the other hand, some bosses may have the opposite problem.
In one of the American revisited episodes, Gordon asked one of the waiters (over food at the restaurant that replaced his) about his love life. The waiter then complained about how no one in New York is looking for a relationship, only for sex, which is okay for him as long as they don't string him along. There follows one of the most awkward pauses on the show, followed by Gordon asking "So, how about these sliders?"
Chefs/owners who lie or make excuses for poor performance, making it harder for him to help.
Unsanitary kitchens; understandable, given that improperly-handled chicken (let alone more exotic fare) can be fatal if consumed.
Using frozen or canned food in a restaurant setting. The Restaurant Spin-a-yarn managed to do both. Gordon was not happy.
Using a microwave oven as the primary cooking medium. In the "El Greco" episode, the microwave was used so much that Gordon threw it out a second-story window. At the end of the "Mangia Mangia" episode, Gordon drove up to the drive-thru window (the restaurant had set up shop in a former fast food chain restaurant) for a special pick-up: one of the microwave ovens that the kitchen staff had extensively relied on previously.
He also doesn't like it when men disrespect their mothers. In the "El Greco" episode, for example, it looked like he was about to strike the head chef after the chef cursed out his mother.
Questioning his integrity as a chef. At "Blackberry's", Gordon finds a dead mouse and confronts the owner, who accuses him of planting it for the benefit of the show. Gordon is so offended by this accusation that he threatens to leave right on the spot, and would have if the owner's mother didn't beg him to stay.
Mistreatment of wait staff will always set him off.
Drinking on the job is also something he doesn't take too well.
While not as bad as the above, he always dislikes menus with pictures of the food in them and will always make sure there's a redesign.
In the "Peter's" American episode, the burly, eponymous part-owner got enraged by a rude bill collector and chased him out into the street where he had to be restrained by Gordon and his staff.
Joe Nagi from the "Mill Street Bistro" two-parter gets unreasonably furious about Gordon handing him back the raw micro-carrot he had used as a garnish on one dish.
Better Than New: Ramsay and crew resurrect failing, insolvent restaurants, making them over into high-class fine dining establishments that are far Better Than New.
Big Brother Mentor: Gordon has a soft spot for younger cooks. He's even hired a couple of Nightmare alumni who had their restaurants close down from under them.
One that stands out is the chef of the Piccolo Teatro, a vegetarian restaurant in Paris. The chef had accepted the job while still living in Scotland, and upon her arrival Ramsay helped her to get situated and acquainted with the area. He also regaled her with stories of his time in Paris when, at the same age she is now, he had left Scotland for Paris to study French cuisine. Upon learning that the restaurant had closed, he sought her out first and, upon learning that she was now unemployed and stranded in Paris, hired her for his restaurant in London.
Bittersweet Ending: In the Piccolo Teatro episode, Gordon arrives at the restaurant after some time had passed since his last visit, only to find it closed for good thanks to the owner's laziness. Said owner then went on to the prostitution business (no, really). So, where does the "sweet" part come in? Well, Gordon had found a promising young chef by the name of India who became the new chef at the Piccolo before it closed, who was the first person he sought out after the restaurant's closure. She was stuck in Paris and unemployed because of how lazy the owner was, and Ramsay gave her work experience at the Boxwood Cafe in London.
Whenever a chef claims that the disgusting kitchen had been supposedly "cleaned" recently.
If they show an owner promising that everything is fresh and homemade, you're virtually guaranteed to then immediately be shown a scene where the chefs are removing the dish from a freezer and heating it in a microwave. Even more entertaining are those who try to claim that food is "fresh frozen," an oxymoron that has now cropped up at least thrice on the program. This is a term apparently used to excuse food that was originally cooked fresh, but has since been sitting for a week or more in a freezer.
In the British episode "D-Place", Head Chef Philip Blaze lied so blatantly to Ramsay in one instance. Despite the oven not working properly, Philip tried to say that some clearly fried potatoes were baked after Gordon told Philip that he did not want him to rely so much on the fryer. He held on to this lie so tightly that even Ramsay was beginning to doubt himself. It was only after asking one of the chefs under Philip that he learned that he had, in fact, fried the potatoes.
One episode had Ramsay discover a mouse by the restaurant's door. Ramsay asked one of the staff members if an exterminator was ever hired, to which the staff member claims they hire one once a month and he had been there last week (and then the same guy says behind Ramsay's back that it reminds him of a rat they found under a table a few months back). The same guy then accuses Ramsay of planting the dead mousefor the sake of generating hits for the show. Ramsay was greatly offended and when the owner of the restaurant believes the lie, Ramsay lets everyone know that they can take the restaurant and shove it because he is not going to be accused of pulling a stunt for TV. After some drama happens with the owner, the guy who accused Ramsay of planting the mouse apologizes to him.
In "Mill Street Bistro," Joe claims to be "self-taught by the greatest European chefs." Gordon seems to brush off the oxymoron in that statement, but it becomes clearly apparent when Gordon actually tries the food. In addition, Joe convinced Gordon, at the beginning, that all of the meat cooked at his restaurant comes from his personal ranch, but Gordon soon fails to find any of it in the kitchen's storage.
Took $250,000 out of his son's trust fund (without his knowledge/permission) to buy a restaurant he had no idea how to run. And he was confused as to why his son resented him. Oh, and at one point he gives Gordon a copy of a book he wrote about how horribly his own father treated him as a child; he never puts two and two together until Gordon explicitly spells it out for him later.
Gordon likes to remind people that "I'VE EATEN HERE!!"
More than once in the British version Gordon has stated "I wouldn't trust you/him to run a fucking bath, let alone a kitchen."
"What a shame." to describe the first dish he gets that dissapoints. More often than not, it's the first dish he is served, and his comments quickly go downhill from there.
Chained Heat: In the episode featuring "The Greek at the Harbor," Ramsay handcuffed a father and son to force the father to teach his son to cook (the father was burnt out after doing it all himself for years but too stubborn to quit).
Character Development: Gordon often tries to invoke this as he not only aims to improve the restaurant, but also the people who run it. Sadly, this is often averted as the restaurant owners usually revert back to their old ways after he leaves. It is played straight with some of them though as they really do make a change in their restaurant and themselves.
Lisa from Lido's is one example. At the beginning she was an immature owner who hid in the bathroom, was dating one of her employees and hated/ignored Gordon. When Gordon revisited her, she made some big changes. She took his lessons to heart and really wanted to impress him by remembering what he taught her. She was a much more successful, assertive professional whose restaurant had improved profits by 20%. And she was actually launching her own brand of wine. She had also broken it off with her former boyfriend who she fired a week after the first episode.
Chekhov's Gun: In the two-parter "The Burger Kitchen", the father lends Gordon a copy of his memoir of his own paternal relative. When Gordon reads it, he finds that the father-son situation from the past was repeating itself in the current times. When he makes light of it with the entire family gathered around, it comes across as a pretty brutal slap on the head for the father. Manly Tears were shed at that moment, as well.
Cloud Cuckoolander: Daniel, the original head chef of Piccolo Teatro in the UK version. There is rarely a moment when he's not ambling about dancing and singing, even when he's cooking. Unfortunately, this dancing and singing drastically slows down the pace of his work. He also does not take the owner seriously, and after she fires him, he lingers in the kitchen, then continues his singing and dancing wandering around the dining area in front of the customers. Gordon had to literally carry him out of the restaurant.
Companion Cube: In El Greco, the microwave is used so often the restaurant employees refer to it as "Chef Mike."
Lawrence from "La Para de Burianna" stands out, too. Chicken stuffed with banana? Prawns in spicy chocolate sauce? It didn't help that he didn't really cook the ingredients up to par, either.
Deadpan Snarker: Ramsay: "Eduardo, no wonder you've gotten so old. You've been waiting so long for the food to be served."
Didn't Think This Through: One of the recurring themes in both versions is the restaurant was recently bought by an owner or owners with little to no previous food service experience, with retirement or life savings. Ramsay is constantly exasperated that people think running a restaurant is easy and is something you do in retirement to pass the time.
Gordon: A restaurant is a business, not a second home.
Dope Slap: Gives one to a head chef whose palate was so shot that during a blind taste test, he said that he would serve Ramen Noodles with swordfish as opposed to the other sides that Ramsay put up for consideration.
Downer Ending: Several. Originally, the biggest difference between the UK and US versions of the show was that the UK series is unafraid to admit when a Nightmares reboot hasn't succeeded in turning around a restaurant's fortunes. However, it should be noted that restaurants are inherently a risky business, with only a 50% of them managing to stay in business for any length of time.
This happens to the vast majority of the restaurants that appear on the show, despite Ramsay's valiant efforts to help owners turn their business around. Truth be told, virtually all of them are very nearly, or are already bankrupt by the time Ramsay shows up, and they simply don't possess the necessary business skills to keep it going after he leaves.
Two restaurants in the UK version, D-Place and Piccolo Teatro, ended up closing even before the episode ended — the former because the financial damage had been done long before Ramsay arrived, the latter due to the laziness of its owner. And Rachel, the former owner of the Piccolo Teatro, is now "servicing" her customers in a completely different way.
Bonaparte's at least lasted until the end of the episode, but Ramsay's attempt at a revamp proved a total failure, in no small part due to the useless head chef.
A particularly sad case with Momma Cherri's Soul Food Shack: they had a team that gelled together, they really turned things around, things were going so well, and they expanded into a larger place... only for her to have to close the restaurant down due to needing to spend time with her severely-hospitalized daughter.
The US version seems to be more willing to admit when a relaunch hasn't entirely worked as of Season 3; aside from the aforementioned incident with Bazzini's dessert chef, the episode featuring PJ's ended with the owners admitting they weren't up to the task of running a restaurant and subsequently selling it.
Note the words 'as of Season 3' up there. Not a single restaurant from Season 2 (except for Casa Roma, which despite being a season 3 episode was originally produced as part of season 2) is still open (and only two from Season 1).
This sometimes happens after the fact, as well. A number of restaurants (such as Maggie's and Love's Fish Restaurant in the UK version, and Lela's and Peter's in the US version) pulled themselves together, followed Ramsay's instructions to the hilt, and enjoyed some initial success...only to go out of business anyway when their financial backers pulled the rug from underneath them during the credit crunch.
Nearly happened with the owners of the Fenwick Arms pub, who turned Gordon's "Campaign for Real Gravy" idea into even more of a success than he ever imagined and kept running in the face of some new competitors that sprung up nearby...only for the couple that owned the pub to be evicted after the brewery "disagreed" with the campaign. Averted in the end, though, as they bought a new pub near York and resurrected their campaign with much success.
A similar thing happened with J. Willy's. Although the restaurant itself didn't survive in the long run, the BBQ sauce that Ramsay helped them to create proved a big success, and the restaurant's owner focused his efforts on that instead.
According to YouTube comments, this was the fate of Finn McCool's. Ramsay's relaunch was a complete success and the restaurant remained open for almost 5 years, until the owner of the local decided to double the rent out of nowhere. They decided to close down instead.
The Cafe Tavolini episode had perhaps the biggest downer ending of any Kitchen Nightmares episode until that point, with the possible exception of the UK pilot. At first it had the usual ending, with Ramsay telling the owners that they now had everything they needed to make the restaurant a success, and the owners appearing optimistic about the future. Immediately afterward, the epilogue revealed that the owners never got behind Ramsay's changes or tried to do a better job of managing the place — consequently, the restaurant closed, everyone lost their jobs, the owners lost their house, and their marriage collapsed.
Oddly enough, restaurateurs who are terrible at running a business don't suddenly become J.D. Rockefeller just because a Scottish man shouts at them and gives them a new menu their cooks can't even read. In actuality, only about a third of the restaurants Ramsay "rescues" actually manage to stay open once he leaves them in a haze of scowls and belittlement, and the number drops as time goes on. For instance, in the first two seasons of the show (2007 to 2009), Ramsay rescued 21 restaurants. Only two are still open.
For comparison, about 40 percent of new restaurants are able to stay in business after three years, so starting a new place from scratch would give you better odds than a Kitchen Nightmares visit. Now, we do have to be fair here — Ramsay doesn't visit a restaurant unless it's teetering on the brink of disaster. So it could be argued that without him and his very expensive intervention (often buying them all new equipment and decor, and even lending them staff), 0 percent of them would have survived. Still, each episode ends with inspirational music, owners who have seen the light, and a restaurant that has undergone a complete renovation with a brand new menu and a dining room full of customers. There's no hint that all Ramsay has done is delay the inevitable.
The viewer can do this to him/herself.
Watch the owner tearfully admit that if the restaurant doesn't work out, they'll lose everything they own and possibly be homeless.
Watch Gordon turn it around.
Watch the owners thank Gordon.
Google the restaurant and find out that it closed since the episode aired. This is particularly jarring when, in one episode, Gordon pretty much strong-armed the chef into marrying his long-time girlfriend (whose parents helped finance the restaurant) and then the restaurant failed after airing. Awkward.
The Burger Kitchen episode featured a family that treated their son like absolute crap. On top of that, they pretty much stole $250,000 from him to finance the restaurant in the first place.
Greek At The Harbor: The son (who was technically the restaurant manager when Ramsay arrived) had made a thoughtless speech at the party (thrown by his parents) celebrating his graduation from college in which he said he wasn't interested in working at the restaurant anymore. Even though he very soon changed his mind, he hurt his parents' feelings - in particular his father's - so badly that they pretty much cut him out of any role in running the place or learning how to cook the menu. When Ramsay came to the restaurant, the son had been essentially relegated to the role of floor-show entertainer, doing Greek dances.
The UK series has the family running The Dovecot. The father more or less spends the family's dwindling cash on things they do not need without his wife knowing, and has his adopted daughter take the fall for his inability to cook. When Ramsay gets there, they are on the razor's edge of breaking up completely.
During the Casa Roma episode, it took an hour for Gordon to get his starter, and another thirty minutes on top of that to get his main course. This would be bad enough if the restaurant was busy, but Gordon was the only customer there. Then, in the subsequent dinner service, they only served main courses to 3 tables out of a possible 25. Not surprisingly, Gordon demanded that they fire their head chef before he'd even consider going any further.
Evil Counterpart: At one point in the Le Bistro episode, Gordon notes the similarities between owner/head chef Andy and himself: In addition to both of them being chefs that own their own restaurants, they are both English and have very similar cooking backgrounds. The difference though is that Gordon cares about his customers while Andy does not.
Follow the Leader: At this point, it seems safe to say that Ramsay's show has created its own little genre:
Food Network's Restaurant: Impossible is point-for-point almost identical to this show, the only major difference being that Impossible is hosted by the much more compassionate (but still British) Robert Irvine.
Spike TV's Bar Rescue, where an expert bar manager comes to the aid of failing bars and does not hesitate to chew the owners or employees out. The real differences between that show and Kitchen Nightmares is that the host goes to bars rather than restaurants, the show emphasizes more of the science of what goes on to help improve the bar and its employees, and that he's American, not British.
Another Spike TV show, Tattoo Rescue has tattoo expert Joey Tattoo and his cousin Sammy rescuing and renovating failing Tattoo shops, every episode there's a challenge for the employees to compete in, and the winner gets a prize.
Bravo's Tabatha Takes Over , where an expert hair salon owner aids failing beauty salons. The eponymous Tabatha, though Australian rather than British, is similarly harsh.
Another Australian, cake and pastry expert Kerry Vincent, hosts the new Food Network series Save My Bakery, in which she visits failing bakeries across America and resusticates them in a manner similar to Restaurant: Impossible, with the addition of a tea party about halfway through each episode in which she hashes out the establishment's problems with the owners.
Hotel Hell, is a spin-off of Kitchen Nightmares, and also stars Gordon Ramsay, but it also follows both UK Channel 5's Hotel Inspector and The Travel Channel's Hotel Impossible.
Duane "Dog" Chapman and his wife Beth have a show in the works where they will travel the country fixing troubled bail bonding businesses.
Another Food Network series, Restaurant Stakeout, follows the Kitchen Nightmares format pretty closely, but uses hidden cameras (as opposed to the physical on-site presence of host/restaurant owner William Jack Degel). Another interesting difference is that Restaurant Stakeout almost always focuses on problems with the front of the house. As with Kitchen Nightmares, the owners invariably say "I know the problem isn't with the food." On Kitchen Nightmares, this is almost always incorrect; on Restaurant Stakeout, the statement is almost always taken at face value.
Funny Background Event: A poster for Ratatouille can be seen during a scene from the Piccolo Teatro episode. Had it been in any other episode it would have been funny enough, but this episode also happens to take place in Paris.
Genre Savvy: Most of the restaurants close down, usually because they end up falling back into old habits. But some restaurants actually manage to stay open because the managers actually take Gordon's advice to heart and maintain the changes he implemented.
Genre Shift: Momma Cherri's Soul Food Shack (UK) was a very different episode then most of them. For starters all the food was good to the point that Ramsay pretty much licked the plate clean, the owner was very happy he was there, and the only reason they were failing was due to a lack of experience in running a restaurant.
One would think that the owners of these restaurants would take Gordon's advice, considering that they're in the red. Every episode, however, at least one person will think that Gordon is over exaggerating and/or trying to sabotage him/her. This is Reality Is Unrealistic, though, since "professionals" of all kinds tend to be very touchy about their work, especially in a emotionally committed career as the food business tends to be, and doubly so when their livelihood is in danger of failing. This is less Enforced Trope and more "people can be neurotic, illogical and tedious when stressed out".
The owners could at least try to make their restaurant presentable when Gordon comes. Since the show already has several seasons under its belt, you'd think the owners would at least have an idea of what Gordon is going to look for.
For that matter, the owners should know by now that they're walking into a trap if they answer Gordon's question "On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your food?" by rating their food 9 or 10.
Glory Days: When Gordon meets Nick Anderson, owner and head chef of Rococo's, it is very clear he is trying to recapture the days when he was a rather well-known Michelin Star chef. It's not going well when Gordon arrives, as his menu is full of outdated, overpriced items and he's hanging on to awards and award listings from when he was a top chef.
Gordon taught Dean, the owner of the Sante La Brea, who was initially being treated as a Butt Monkey by his own staff to have more self-confidence. It worked a little too well, and he ended up firing his head chef in the middle of dinner service. Even Gordon was initially shocked by the severity of Dean's transformation.
Jake from El Greco. Originally, he was incredibly lazy, turned up to work late and used the microwave to cook everything. Ramsay managed to bring his passion for cooking back, but it worked too well - he turned into a Control Freak and ended up trying to do everything in the dinner service himself, to the point where one of his chefs threatened to walk out if he wasn't given something to do.
Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: In the D-Place episode, the head chef pointed to a piece of new kitchen equipment and said "I'm sleeping with that tonight; not Dave." Dave being his former rival and the restaurant's manager.
Head Desk: Ramsay has only this reaction when the cooks of Fiesta Sunrise manage to set flame to a plate of nachos. He does it again in "La Galleria 33" after finding out how old some of the food is.
Heel Realization: Many of the chefs eventually realize that their behavior is the cause of their restaurant's failure. They almost always change themselves for the better, or at least until the end of the episode, anyway.
Hypocrite: The father in The Burger Kitchen states how horrible it is for how his father stabbed him in the back, all the while he stole his son's inheritance to open the restaurant.
Hypocritical Humor: In the The Burger Kitchen visit, the owner criticized the chef's burger, saying that it was cooked medium rather than medium-rare. However, the amount of blood seen leaking from the burger that the owner made showed that his burger was rare, at best.
The episode at Barefoot Bob's has Gordon bemused by the presence of a fortune teller at the restaurant; Initially mocking her, he proceeds to ask for a reading from the woman using her cards, and she predicts that the owners - who were a husband and wife pair struggling to keep their marriage afloat due to the restaurant's problems - will end up splitting apart. Not only does the show insert a sudden musical sting to make viewers take this entirely seriously, Gordon himself looks concerned by this.
In Name Only: Zeke's, which was originally run by a man named Zeke who died in Hurricane Katrina. It was bought by a couple who kept most of the staff, as well as the name because they felt it was a good brand, but the staff noted how they'd changed almost everything due to being only concerned about the bottom line.
I Call It Chef Mike: At El Greco, the chefs used the microwave so much the staff named it Chef Mike.
It Tastes Like Feet: This is a very common way in which Ramsay insults food he doesn't like, possibly to the point of at least Once an Episode. In one episode, for instance, he described certain food as tasting like "flypaper" and later on "It tastes like a leather belt." Knowing Ramsay and his hatred of lying, he's probably eaten some nasty stuff in his days for the sake of knowing.
Jerk Ass: At least one staff member in almost every episode. Gordon usually gets them to clean up their act by the end.
The owners of The Burger Kitchen are also big offenders of this trope, particularly when they stole their son's inheritance to open the restaurant.
David from the Black Pearl. How bad is he? His ego is roughly the size of a planet. He talks down to the staff. He lies repeatedly to Gordon's face (one example: saying that he's okay with the manager selected to run the restaurant, while a staff member tells the camera about how he kept saying he wasn't fit to lead), badmouths the changes Gordon made while being served dinner on relaunch night (including the awesome claw machine-lobster tank hybrid, saying to his dinner guests "He says it's the only one in Manhattan. What does that say about it?"), fraudulently sells Canadian lobsters as Maine lobsters (his justification being that they come from the same waters, so they aren't different), and calls Gordon "Gordy.". If that doesn't make you want to introduce his face to a tire iron yet, then THIS will: he undid all of Gordon's changes and the restaurant closed.
Jerkass Has a Point: A similar claw machine/lobster tank came up in an episode of Bar Rescue, where Jon Taffer had it thrown out because of how alienating it was. So David may not have been entirely wrong.
The "Campania" episode had a jerkass customer who raised a huge fuss about her food being horrible (it wasn't, Gordon tasted it and it was flawless) just to get on camera.
Gordon initially comes off as brash and loud, but shows genuine concern for the well-being of the restaurant and its staff.
Some owners/chefs have initially been abrasive towards Gordon and their own staff, but typically they come around and change their ways, becoming more polite/reliable/cooperative. Several have shown that it was a personal matter affecting their behavior, not an inherent personality trait.
One owner who butts heads with Gordon, originally appearing to be nothing but a jerk who's watched too much Sopranos, at first merely sullenly agrees when Gordon says he's there to help. However, when a rude bill collector insults Gordon, the owner has to be physically held back from attacking him. Afterwards he's almost in tears. "He shouldn't say that to you! Not with what you're doing for us!" Wow.
Sebastian, the owner of the eponymous pizza place.
Amy of the equally eponymous Amy's Baking Company managed to top it. The episode is so notorious that it now has its own section below.
Large Ham: Gordon Ramsay definitely likes to ham it up, especially when he first steps into a restaurant or when he receives weird-looking food. A good example is the Cowboy Burger at the Burger Kitchen, which was a full-pound patty whose vegetables and bun were roughly half of its diameter. Gordon could not figure how to eat it, and he made it clear to the waitstaff with his gestures.
Likewise in Cafe Hon he was given a massive sandwich. After trying and failing to figure out how to get it in his mouth he decided to just give in and disassembled it with his utensils to eat the bits separately.
Gordon runs into a few of these, and got food poisoning at least once. The first incident of this was in the pilot, where he flat-out said that Bonaparte's scallops could've killed him.
Some, such as Erick from Casa Roma, Damon from Oceana, and Casimiro from Charlie's, even had to be fired during the episode because Gordon and the owners could see the restaurant couldn't move on with them. Pinto from Cafe 36 at least managed to stay until the end of the episode, but never improved as a chef even under Gordon's tuition, and quit the day after the final dinner service anyway.
Another episode had a chef cook a lobster that was rotten and served it to one customer, who then got extremely ill from it. The customer had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital and the restaurant closed early to prevent any more people from becoming sick. Gordon plainly pointed out that the food could have killed someone.
Loveable Rogue: The employee who constantly steals food and wine from one kitchen tries to play one (other staff even call him 'Buzzard') but Gordon's having none of it, pointing out that stealing from a financially hard-up restaurant is really not cool. Once he's caught on camera, the owner soon fires him.
Man in a Kilt: In the La Riviera episode, Gordon put the entire male staff of a restaurant in kilts and wore one himself for the first dinner service of the restaurant after redesigning it.
Manly Tears: Expect them at least once an episode, usually when the owner sees the remodeled restaurant and when the owner realizes that the restaurant is either saved or screwed at the end.
The Mean Scot: Very much a part of Ramsay's personality—one server was asked to eat the food they served, and was "scared to taste this because I'm scared that he's gonna stab me with a fork if I say I like it."
Amazingly, averted at the same time. Ramsay is often compassionate, polite, and genial to many of the people he interacts with, only really losing his temper at overt acts of stupidity, incompetene, or malice.
Misblamed: invoked The UK episode "Bonaparte's" had the owner threaten to sue Gordon after her restaurant failed, despite her inexperience at owning a restaurant and the incompetence of her head chef.
The manager of Black Berry's tried to blame Gordon for the dead mouse that was discovered, claiming that it had been planted by the camera crew to make the show more dramatic. This almost ended the episode, as Gordon came within a hair of shutting down the whole thing rather than be called a liar.
The owner/chef at La Parra de Burriana tried to blame Gordon's new menu for the chaos of the relaunch night, claiming that the grill chef couldn't handle the changeover. Gordon was quick to point out that the owner had switched menus when the confusion was at its worst, rather than when the chaos started, as they had agreed, and these two things caused disaster.
At D-Place, Gordon tried to blame the executive chef for the service mixups, and while the chef's slow output certainly didn't help things, the owner said the responsibility was ultimately the restaurant manager's, not the chefs', and Gordon admitted he was right.
The owner of Piccolo Teatro blamed Ramsay for her business failing, despite the fact that Ramsay was shown doing everything possible to save the place and, at one point, even opened the restaurant for a lunch service without her to demonstrate what she was doing wrong. When the restaurant closed down, she was shown to be unconcerned with the serious debt her father had incurred trying to save the place as well as with the fate of the chef she had hired (the lady had moved from Scotland to Paris only to suddenly find herself unemployed until Ramsay stepped in and hired her, impressed by her skills).
The owner of Momma Cherri's Soul Food Shack actually came to Ramsay's defense when people were blaming him for her restaurant closing. She said that it was because of economic issues, and Ramsay was the only reason she lasted as long as she did.
Momma's Boy: Gordon is very close to his own mother, and several episodes (e.g., Blackberry's, Leone's) show him bonding almost instantly with the mothers of the restaurant's owners. This is definitely not the case, though, whenever the mother in question is a factor in the restaurant's troubles, as in the Burger Kitchen two-parter.
Mundane Object Amazement: When Ramsay learns that the owners of Barefoot Bob's don't even know their own finances, he brings in an accountant to help. One owner becomes absolutely giddy and even remarks that she's probably the only person ever to get excited about seeing an accountant.
My God, What Have I Done?: Lisa, the owner of Lido di Manhattan Beach, had never paid attention to her staff's behavior until Gordon's intervention, assuming that by hiring the right people, everything would fall into place. When she actually steps into the kitchen and sees how the place is actually being run and the how the food is actually being cooked, she becomes disgusted. Realizing this was the result of her own neglect, she resolves to leading more actively and does a 180 in her priorities.
Never My Fault: Many chefs and restaurant owners that appear on the show are quick to blame other people before admitting that they are the problem.
The trailer for Ramsay's visit to the Curry Lounge in the UK version heavily implied that the restaurant's problem was an incompetent head chef who was past his best. In the actual episode, though, Ramsay quickly proclaimed the chef in question to be one of the best curry chefs he'd ever met, and quickly identified the real problem as being the gimmicky, ridiculous menu the owner had designed.
A particularly egregious instance of this happened in the US episode featuring the Flamango restaurant, the trailer of which, if you watched it, implied that the restaurant burnt down during the episode. Needless to say, this didn't actually happen; all that was going on was that they were burning the restaurant's horrible, tacky décor on a bonfire. The building itself was untouched.
Another episode had a preview which showed the restaurant boarded up and apparently foreclosed on. Frustrated with the lack of care from the owners, Gordon had put up boards with sentences and phrases such as "We Quit" in an attempt to make the owners care about saving their restaurant. In a subversion, the restaurant in question actually did close — albeit not in the manner shown in the trailer — as revealed by the epilogue.
Sante La Brea's seemed to indicate that the owner, Dean, would be arrested. It was actually Gordon having the owner handcuffed as part of an exercise to show him how well the restaurant ran without his constant interference.
Blackberry's seemed to suggest that the owner was going to throw in the towel and shut the restaurant down. In actuality, those scenes came from a moment where she got fed up with arguing with Gordon and walked out on him.
A clip of the revisit to Café Hon had a clip out of context with a local DJ saying Denise was not sincere about apologizing regarding trademarking a local slang term. It turned out to be the DJ speaking of critics whom he felt were unfair towards her.
Nice to the Waiter: Gordon is nice to the staff that doesn't deserve to be yelled at. A good example is the Oceania episode were he's almost apologetic to have to send the waitress back with the food.
Once an Episode: Each episode of the US version follows a particular pattern.
Gordon arrives and is appalled by the poor quality of the food.
One of the women working at the restaurant (usually an older woman) comments on how attractive Gordon is.
Gordon investigates the kitchen, discovers it's a hellhole, and orders the restaurant shut down.
Sometimes subverted on the UK version, where the kitchen is spotless and the ingredients are in good shape...but they're expensive imports or frozen foods. Gordon then points out how to find local produce ("Fresh!! Local!! PRAH-deuce!!") that will save the restaurant money, earn local goodwill (and thus customers), and will be tastier since it's fresher.
Before the dinner service that night, Gordon will introduce some new dish or variation of one of the restaurant's menu items that's tastier/fresher/easier to make. He will also give some initial advice and inspire the owners and staff toward better performance. Despite all this, the dinner service will be a disaster, necessitating a deeper examination of the restaurant's problems.
After cleaning up, Gordon reinvigorates the staff with a new direction for the restaurant, as well as redecorating the decor and an all-new menu to fit the new theme. This usually involves replacing an overly-elaborate or exotic menu and interior design with something that's simple but effective.
The staff struggles a bit with the new changes, but ultimately pulls through.
As sure as Gordon is Scottish, at least one staff member will be rude and antagonistic, not wanting the help and thinking everything is fine.
Step 5 has been subverted several times, as Ramsay will frequently return to the restaurants he's helped after a month (or longer in Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares Revisited). In some cases he can't, because the restaurant has shut down due to A) returning to their appalling service, B) simply not getting the point behind Ramsay's changes, or C) circumstances beyond their control (see Downer Ending, above).
The epilogue only happened in the UK version at first, although beginning with US Season 3 the narrator details the restaurant's actual fate after Gordon showed up.
Many episodes of Season 6 have added an additional step, which has the restaurant's staff (usually the family of the owner) intercepting Gordon before he arrives at the restaurant for the first time, and telling him about the horrible stuff that the owner is doing and how it's making the restaurant a miserable place to work at (and tearing the family apart, if applicable). Sometimes this step gets subverted, in that the owner is the person who intercepts Ramsay, and proceeds to falsely blame everything on his or her staff.
Only Sane Employee: Many of the badly run restaurants are staffed exclusively with insane and/or lazy employees, but there's usually at least one clear-eyed and non-deluded person. Hopefully that person is someone with power, like the owner or head chef, and not just a waiter or sous-chef, because that can make things a little bit easier.
Helen in the Morgan's episode is a good example. Whereas her mother and sister were downright stubborn in seeing the value of Gordon's recommendations (to the extent that they were critically late for a crucial Sunday lunch service), Helen was clear-eyed about what was wrong with the restaurant from the beginning and ended up being selected as restaurant manager by Gordon.
Pretender Diss: Gordon's exasperation with egocentric owners and chefs alike leads to these, although Sebastian was an especially special case (after listening to him talk about franchising around the world: "You haven't got fucking one right so far, how can you think about two?")
Gordon frequently gives these to chefs and owners alike, but the most scathing was probably to the eponymous owner of "Sebastian's", part of which is excerpted in the page quote, or even in "Amy's Baking Company" (see below).
Red Oni, Blue Oni: Moe and Rami, the co-owner brothers of the "Oceana" restaurant. Moe is extremely hot-tempered (when the restaurant has to be shut down due to serious food-safety issues, Moe literally throws a couple of chairs across the room), whereas Rami is more level-headed, even a little Genre Savvy.
In the UK revisit of the Walnut Tree Inn, when the owner said that he'd rather go out of business than reduce his prices.
Billy at Handlebar Grill threw his hands up in exasperation on the first day and temporarily walked out of the restaurant with intent to sell it off and would rather do that than have to look at Gordon.
Shirtless Scene: A Ramsay changing into/out of his chef jacket scene happens on several episodes.
The eponymous owner of Sebastian's pizza parlor went on local culinary websites and posted anonymously to badmouth Ramsay after his restaurant failed. The other posters immediately realized it was him and called him on it. Lesson: When trashing somebody and trying to stay anonymous, don't mention bad breath.
David from the Black Pearl episode. If his ego were any bigger, it would have its own orbit.
Allan Love, sub-Z-list actor, from the episode "Ruby Tate's" (renamed to "Love's Fish Restaurant"). Slightly less obscure to a British audience, but nobody was exactly clamoring to find out whatever happened to Steve from Pop Pirates.
Chef Michel of The Secret Garden. He was frustrated with just about everything Ramsay did and challenged him on all of the attempted changes. At several points, he and Ramsay engaged in shouting matches with each other. At one point, Gordon was so angry at Michel that he seriously considered just walking away from saving the restaurant.
From Sabatiello's, the owner Samy (not to be confused with the Amy's Baking Company one) is rude to his employees, insists on freezing food up to a week after cooking it, stores food improperly, lies to Gordon's face, and at one point ridicules a lady for saying that her food was microwaved when it was just microwaved in front of her. All the while Samy tells Gordon that he is the best chef in town and that Gordon has no idea what he's talking about.
In Burger Kitchen, owner Alan is convinced that Yelp reviewers are actually part of a larger conspiracy to deliberately ruin the reputations of restaurants like his. Not surprising, considering that there are some people who are critical of people abusing the ratings system on Yelp.
Joe of "Mill Street Bistro" insists that his restaurant is the best cooking anywhere between Los Angeles and New York. He plants fake positive reviews of his restaurant online. He fails to see anything that's wrong with his cooking, despite him making amateurish mistakes. His food is deliberately overpriced because he wants to feel upscale. He expects Ramsay to go around town promoting the restaurant because he feels the only problem it has is lack of publicity. When Ramsay presents to him complaints about the food from customers, Joe becomes sarcastic (though he never badouths customers in front of them). Joe considers himself an equal to Gordon Ramsay. When it becomes clear Ramsay refuses to give in and do as Joe pleases, Joe suddenly goes quiet as he's cooking and ignores Ramsay. Not learning a thing after Mill Street Bistro closes down, he opens another restaurant with an identical approach.
Serial Escalation: In nearly every episode, Gordon will denounce a restaurant's food, kitchen, owner, chef, decor, etc. as the worst he's ever seen. He must be visiting restaurants in order of increasing badness.
In the first Mama Cheri's episode, Gordon actually cleaned his plate. He had nothing bad to say about the food, only that they were freezing it.
Everything about The Burger Kitchen. A place so messed up that it couldn't be dealt with in one 40-minute episode, but made into a two-parter. One of the few times "The most <adjective> episode of Kitchen Nightmares ever" hasn't been any kind of hyperbole.
Gordon initially believed this about saving the Piccolo Teatro, a vegetarian restaurant in Paris, where less than 2% of the population is vegetarian. It turns out that he managed to get the restaurant turned around, only for the lazy owner to destroy it herself less than a month later.
Stealth Insult: When Gordon decides to train the staff of Sebastian's in making and tossing fresh pizza dough, you get the feeling that he's enjoying calling all of them "great tossers".
Suspiciously Specific Denial: Many of the owners or staff in every episode falls into this trope. Even when Ramsay can clearly see the denial and he calls them out on it, the staff may keep trying to deny it and insist nothing is wrong or how frozen food is just fine.
Tempting Fate: When talking about the pretentious food served at La Riviera, Ramsay said "I suppose next they'll be telling me how to eat it." Cut to a waitress giving instructions on the order and way to eat the desserts in the dessert sampler.
There Are No Therapists: If any two of the employees are related, it's almost certain that their relationship problems will be dragging down the restaurant and that Gordon will have to intervene in the role of family counselor.
The Swear Jar: In the UK version, there was an episode where Ramsay challenged a chef to avoid drinking alcohol and smoking during service. Just to be fair to the guy, Ramsay set a challenge for himself to not swear during service. If either broke their promise, that person had to put a pound into a piggy bank; Ramsay, for his part, put quite a few pounds in.
Thinking Out Loud: In the Curry Lounge episode, Gordon is thinking out loud about how the oversized naan-stand would do a good job of blocking interaction on a bad date, and as he is insulting his hypothetical date, the head-waitress walks up and thinks, understandably since he is the only one at the table, that he is talking to her. Hilarity Ensues.
Title Drop: Inverted. During filming of the pilot episode, the producers didn't have a specific title in mind for the series. When Ramsay returned to Bonaparte's to find the restaurant in a worse state than ever, he branded the situation "a living fucking nightmare", which gave the inspiration for the show's title.
Gordon cooks a plate of sea bass for the owners of "Seascape" but the chef refuses to taste it. You know that shit is about to seriously go down since Gordon simply says, "That's the first time someone's refused to try my food. Now I'm seriously insulted." Sure enough he quickly advises the owners to fire the chef.
Joe of "Mill Street Bistro" reaches his limits with Gordon Ramsay about halfway through. After an hour of top-of-lungs yelling between Joe and Gordon (this was a two-parter), Joe suddenly, and unnervingly, becomes completely silent and reverts back to how he cooked before Gordon arrived, ignoring anything Gordon tried to tell him and walking around Gordon like he was a mannequin. You can tell from Joe's scowl that he's overflowing with rage.
Transformation Sequence: In the UK version, nearly every episode in Series 1-2 had "civilian" Gordon Ramsay shedding his street duds (aka "stripping") and buttoning up a brand-new chef's coat, usually between him sampling the restaurant's food and witnessing their first dinner service.
Trickster Mentor: Chef Ramsay himself. He'll swear at you, be brutally honest about what you're doing wrong, tell you about the worst case scenario in explicit detail, threaten to walk out if you don't make efforts to improve, and generally put you through Training from Hell, but he does it all to save your business and your livelihood.
Turn in Your Badge: Gordon Ramsay jokes about this in "Mill Street Bistro, Part 1" when he says "turn in your badge" to members of the serving staff who have been made by the owner of the restaurant to wear ridiculous nametags.
The Unfavourite: This came up on "La Frite" — the son, Alex, was part-owner of the restaurant and resented it when his younger sister, Celine, joined the restaurant and was also made a part-owner. He felt that his father preferred her to him.
Vast Bureaucracy: In Sandgate, Gordon had to go through three levels of managers just to find out how to get Japanese food. This while the restaurant only had four actual customers!
Very Special Episode: The episode with Oscar's in the UK version unwittingly became one of these. Halfway through filming, the restaurant's head chef collapsed mid-service, and it turned out that his alcoholism had become so bad that he had developed early-stage cirrhosis. This led to Ramsay having a discussion with an ex-chef and charity founder about just how bad alcoholism is in the culinary world (pretty damn bad, as it turns out). As for the chef with cirrhosis? He got better. If you've seen this episode, it can lead to a major "Funny Aneurysm" Moment in Ramsay's The F Word, where James May takes part in the cooking challenge and taunts Ramsay for not drinking enough alcohol while he's cooking.
Happens again in the US episode Mangia Mangia. During the post-dinner dissection of all the restaurants' flaws, Gordon browbeats the head chef into admitting that he once came to work high on crystal meth due to the stress the idiot owner placed upon him, and after the chef admits that he still uses it on a regular basis, the owner immediately fires him. Ramsay then shuts them down until they find a new head chef, then encourages the restaurant's former chef to enter a drug rehab program and offers to pay for it himself as long as the owner considers rehiring him to his old job after he cleans up.
Viewers Are Morons: The American version seems to think that the audience needs to be reminded of what's going to happen before the ad break, and what has just happened after the ad break. In microscopic detail! Particularly degrading when watching an episode on Netflix without the commercials in between.
Violent Glaswegian: Of the "Angry Scotsman" variety. Gordon was born in Renfrewshire. The viewers are reminded of this in the revisit section of the Ruby Tate's/Love's Fish Restaurant episode, as he puts on his original Glaswegian accent to disguise the fact that he's ordering some food from them.
The closed-captioning for that episode screws it up, though, identifying the accent as Irish.
Viva Las Vegas: In Pantaleone's Gordon flies the restaurant owner and his son to Las Vegas so they can meet with the manager of Rao's at Caesers Palace and hear from him how a proper family restaurant operates.
If Gordon rushes to the bathroom and you hear retching, you know the place is in trouble.
In another episode, Gordon threw up before he could even get up from the table. How bad is that?!
In another, he ran out of a filthy bathroom and threw up in the kitchen. Yikes!
In the Spin-A-Yarn episode, the owner's wife ran off to throw up when Gordon showed her the state of the walk-in fridge.
Wrong Genre Savvy: A recurring theme. Restaurant owners often open up restaurants in the wrong areas serving the wrong cuisines for the wrong clientele. Case in point: Ruby Tate's. Allen Love was presenting expensive, pretentious and badly-done seafood to the good citizens of Brighton, who - as they made clear to Gordon when he interviewed them on the streets - were much more in the mood for a nice plate of fish and chips.
You Keep Using That Word: "Pub food" in Fenwick Arms. The menu of the Fenwick Arms pub took care to "point out" that they are a "traditional old English pub" before moving onto their food which consisted exclusively of painstakingly presented and complicated food like pigeon pâté with lettuce in red wine sauce. So Gordon asked the owner(/head chef de facto) what he thought traditional English pub food was, and the owner listed off mid-level restaurant items like scampi, before saying that wasn't what he wanted to be. Gordon told him pub food was "nothing of the sort", asked when the last time he was in a pub was, and he responded that he didn't really go to pubs since he owned his own.
Sebastian insists that "Sebastian's" doesn't have a menu, it has a "concept"! It's "unique", which seems to be more important in Sebastian's mind than being delicious.
Joe, the owner of "Mill Street Bistro" also insisted items that were available, but not on the menu are called "Features", not "Specials".
Tropes pertaining to the episodes featuring Amy's Baking Company
Almighty Janitor: At "Amy's Baking Company," anyone who has gone to culinary school or has extensive experience in restaurants is assigned menial tasks, such as setting tables or pouring water. For instance, Amy's sous-chef is shown to only be in charge of making salads. A sous-chef is one of the most important jobs in a kitchen, as they are responsible for inventory, cleanliness, organization, and training of staff. They even have a server who has plenty of experience in the restaurant business and fully capable in using the POS system. However, neither is shown to do any of that; all major duties in the restaurant are performed by Amy and Samy due to them being Control Freaks. The irony is that if they actually did trust others to get the jobs done, they probably would be better off because one suspects their behavior comes from trying to do too much micromanagement.
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When the Huffington Post published an article on the Amy's Baking Company episode, they mentioned a few of the horrible things that Amy and Samy did during the episode: they "pocketed the waitstaff's tips, admitted to firing more than 100 people, picked a fight with a customer who'd been waiting an hour for his pizza, and....served up pre-made frozen raviolis." Not mentioned: stealing other peoples' images off the Internet for their menu (at least one slideshow demonstrates this).
Aside Glance: During the revisit, in which Amy unleashed an insane torrent of defensive BS, the reporter (who barely managed to get a single word in edgewise) looked right into the camera, with her face seeming to express "Yep. This is happening." It's so blink-and-you-miss-it, it's arguably a Freeze-Frame Bonus / Funny Background Event.
Bad Boss: Amy is proud of having fired over a hundred staff and as the episode demonstrates they are over the most trivial of things.
Samy by himself would be a fairly typical Bad Boss for a Kitchen Nightmares episode. He's rude at times, has a bad temper, has lousy organizational skills, and has an adversarial relationship with his wait staff. Nonetheless, he is (at times) willing to listen to what Gordon has to say, talks truth with Gordon about the restaurant situation when he can fit words in, and even comforts the young server after Amy cuts her loose. In any other episode, if it were just him alone, Gordon might have been able to salvage the situation. But when paired up with Amy, who is so completely overbearing and unwilling to listen, Samy almost goes from bad boss "villain" to Henpecked Husband in comparison, and Gordon doesn't stand a chance.
Berserk Button: The owners managed to push at least four of Ramsay's own berserk buttons: lying about their poor performance, using frozen food, questioning Ramsay's integrity as a chef, and treating the wait staff like crap. No wonder he went "Screw This, I'm Outta Here!."
Blatant Lies: After their epic online meltdown, the owners of Amy's Baking Company suddenly deleted all of their angry rants and created a new Facebook page, claiming that their Facebook and Yelp accounts had been hacked. The hacking claim was fair enough, but what pushed it into this territory was the added claim that they had the FBI investigating it. There's also the multiple times they lied about having home-cooked food. One moment that stands out is Amy claiming she baked the cakes, including the one Ramsay tried, when in fact they were bought from another store. Unsurprisingly they turned out to be the only food in the restaurant that Ramsay liked. One review on Yelp says you can easily find the images on Amy's menu by just doing a Google image search. On their Facebook, they claimed that they lied to Ramsay about it because he wasn't American, thus "wouldn't understand". Yeah, let's assume Ramsay has read that and is not a happy camper.
The beginning she states that one of the lies the "bullies" state is that they use frozen food. When Ramsay receives his ravioli, Samy states it was frozen.
Also, despite being caught on camera (and owning up to) taking tips from the waitresses - which is, incidentally, illegal, and has led to a Department of Labor investigation - the ABC owners had the audacity to claim they did nothing wrong and there was no proof. They fail, and get no points for trying to cough up something to contradict the undeniable footage.
After hearing about Ramsay's meeting with a couple of former employees, and how one of them said they went through at least 50 staff while she was there, Amy accuses him and them of lying. Not only had she practically bragged about going through hundreds of staff members since beginning the previous day, but Samy pipes in and tells her that they fired over a hundred. This is what gets her to leave the meeting.
Body Language: Amy clearly can't hide hers. Ramsay even calls her on her shaking her head "no" when he informs them he is here to help them. She also keeps shaking her head "no" or rolls her eyes every time she is given criticism.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: A black clad crewman had to come into frame and separate the husband owner from a pair of customers to prevent a physical altercation. Technically the episode hadn't even started yet as the crew was just on hand a day early to shoot some B Roll footage. The explosion wasn't even part of an "official" Kitchen Nightmare meal service.
At the end of the episode, we even get to see the crew tearing down. Amy herself makes it clear she knows she's being televised.
The Caligula: Lets face it, Bad Boss is an understatement for them since their abuse is not limited to their employees, it extends to their customers where they even threaten to send the police on them, just to have their way.
Catch Phrase: Amy has "(Insert food item that Ramsay complains about) I have customers telling me it is the best (insert food) they have ever eaten!" Also "I've never had a problem with that (insert food)" and "They're just not used to eating food that doesn't come from a can".
Control Freak: Amy and Samy openly admit they are Control Freaks.
Didn't Think This Through: Trying to make Gordon Ramsay say they are cooking gods. Let's start with not using frozen food and stealing other food, menu and recipe ideas on why this was not going to work.
Disproportionate Retribution: Amy Bouzalgo fires her only waitress because she asked a simple question. When Ramsay calls her out on this she claims that she had a major attitude about it. The video cameras caught the waitress actually saying this calmly, if not a bit distracted. Earlier than that, before Gordon even arrives, a customer complains about undercooked food. Amy responds by apparently trying to burn it before sending it back. Also, at another point in the same episode, she added extra spice to a food item with the intent to hurt one of her customers.
In the animated version, the cats really are men trapped in cat bodies by Amy's black magic.
Don't Like, Don't Eat: The owners of Amy's Baking Company enforce this trope full stop against any customer that dares to complain about the food, including cussing at them, throwing them out, and at one point in the episode threatening physical violence against customers and calling the police (and note, the day before Ramsay arrived, when B Roll footage was being filmed, a crewman had to come into frame to break up a potential fight). Naturally, the customers gladly take the advice and leave.
Note that this didn't stop the owners from trying to get paidanyway (including Amy calling the cops), despite the fact that the customers that walked out hadn't even received their food at that point.
Doublethink: Amy tries to invoke this by saying that the bun of Ramsay's burger was "dry and soggy," asking which one it was. However, she forgets that Ramsay ordered two burgers to sample, one of which was dry and the other was soggy.
Downer Ending: The all-time biggest! After a predictably disastrous dinner service and a massive argument between Gordon and the two owners, Gordon confronted them the following morning. Amy angrily refused to listen to any criticism about her food and insisted that the only problem was the the restaurant needed better promotion, which led to Gordon telling her that he'd quit if she didn't want to listen to his advice. Much to his shock, she actually told Gordon to get lost, and that she didn't need his help at all, causing Gordon to comment that he'd finally experienced an absolute, total failure in trying to turn a restaurant around, with not even a single good service coming out of the whole thing.
Then On April 11th, 2014, an episode titled "Return To Amy's Baking Company" aired, which went into detail over the aftermath of the airings of the original episode, had some never before seen bonus footage, and has a reporter visiting the restaurant and interviewing Samy and Amy, and they appeared to be just as delusional as ever and seemed to have learned absolutely nothing from their experiences, as they still blamed Gordon for all negative comments they received.
Considering this is Samy & Amy, we're talking about....this more of a subversion.
Entitled Bastard: Amy seems to fully believe that it was her destiny to be a cook, and that this automatically means all her food is excellent. People on Yelp, Reddit, and Facebook however, don't seem to agree. Actually, strike that: the entire damn Internet seems to believe just the opposite, really.
Epic Fail: The Amy's Baking Company debacle surpassed them all:
Gordon waited over an hour for his first meal, an undercooked, oversweet fig pizza.
Next came the Blue Ribbon Burger, a flavor mishmash with a soggy bun and a ridiculously underdone patty; when Gordon took a bite it started leaking juices.
This was followed by ravioli that Gordon found to be terrible, which turned out to be premade and frozen, one of his biggest no-nos, and a salmon burger that "tasted like dried cat food".
Evil Chef: Amy attempts to poison one of her customers after he dares to complain about his meal.
Flat Yes: When Amy asks if Ramsay would let his server talk to him the way hers did to her (she just asked a simple question), Ramsay just flatly tells her "yeah".
The Fundamentalist: Amy believes God himself blessed her with superior cooking skills and refuses to listen to any statements to the contrary. Judging from the "Facebook meltdown", she also believes God favors her to the point He'll smite and damn anyone who has ever criticized her.
Based on the high turnover at her restaurant, her insane self-confidence, and her paranoid delusions about "haters and Internet trolls," there's a decent chance that her belief that God has blessed her is rooted in untreated bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or both.
Genre Blindness: Amy's Baking Company in particular brought Ramsay in not because they wanted to improve their restaurant, but because they thought he would be a Yes-Man who would give their food his seal of approval and shut up the "internet bullies", who turned out to be everyone who has ever given them a bad review. As the examples on this page attest, that didn't quite happen.
That said, at least they were one of the few places to make an effort to clean the place up before Gordon arrived. Reports from people who've gone there before and after the episode make clear that this is NOT their usual standard (although Katy said that they clean the restaurant a lot from her Reddit Q&A).
Gone Horribly Right: The owners brought Gordon in expecting to get the publicity they wanted. Well, they're internet famous now, to be sure. It went From Bad to Worse when they were going to get a reality show. Luckily it failed and they aren't getting any show. Also, their episode did help keep them in business, but only because people want to know if it really is that bad.
Hair-Trigger Temper: The owners of Amy's Baking Company. In their episode, we saw Amy snapping at customers and waitstaff for asking the slightest question about the food, while Samy tossed out a table of customers who complained. Samy also seemed to fear passing customer comments on to Amy because it would incur her wrath.
Henpecked Husband: Samy sometimes comes across as this, as he's reluctant to inform his wife about customers sending food back due to her inability to take criticism, and his attempted defense of Katie when his wife fired her for asking a question. Though he's significantly less sympathetic than most examples, given that he treats his servers like idiots while taking their tips, and harasses customers who don't like the food.
Hypocrite: Amy states she fired a server for having an attitude (all she did was ask if Amy was sure of where the plate went) and does not want anyone with an attitude in her restaurant. All the while she has been stating she is not listening to Ramsay, and she clearly has an attitude problem and possibly paranoia.
Amy also mentioned when she first interviewed with Ramsay that she's fired hundreds of people. Later, after Gordon talks with some employees who stated she had fired over 50 people while the employee was there, he confronts Amy with this, and she accuses her of lying and exaggerating, despite earlier casually mentioning firing hundreds. Samy proceeds to interject they've fired over a hundred, and Amy gets really upset. Note: a place with that high a turnover rate simply should not be allowed to exist (which is in part the reason why there is also a petition out there to the Scottsdale City Council urging them to revoke Amy and Samy's business license).
Implausible Deniability: Samy and Amy claim that their social media pages were hacked and they did not state all the insults to the reviewers. When you can clearly find screencaps all over the Internet that show said remarks. That, and they're still doing it.
In fact this is pretty much their entire personality. Even after admitting to something earlier full view of the cameras, some of which they even brag about, if later called on it they will deny ever saying or doing that and claiming that there is no proof.
Physical injury (threatened in the example below, attempted by food poisoning) is justified for complaints about their food.
They won't hire anyone from a cooking school because they believe they don't know anything, and if they do will give them menial jobs such as cleaning tables, serve water, or wash the owner's car. Because of that it's Amy that does any of the actual cooking and she only goes one ticket at the time, leading to a very slow wait time.
Make a guy pay for the food he has not gotten yet and has been waiting for over an hour for.
They repeatedly talk down to Ramsay, apparently thinking that a World-class chef with twenty years experience, recipient of fourteen Michelin stars, and an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, doesn't know shit about cooking.
Even when a waitress has plenty of experience with a POS system, it is better for the owner to use it himself (even though this messes up orders and causes the orders to take longer).
Samy believes that he does all the service work (since he enters all the orders through the POS, which he won't let anyone else use) so he deserves all the tips even to tables he did not serve.
They believe the restaurant cannot be open without one or the other as they claim no one that works for them wants to do any work and just want to get a paycheck (even calling them dirty). They even go far as claiming they want Ramsay to clone them. As Ramsay points out, this is no way to run a business to refuse to open when someone is not available.
They claim they're fully entitled to pocket the tips of their waitstaff, as they pay their employees a full hourly salary (as opposed to other restaurants that pay employees less and expect them to make up the difference with tips). Never mind the fact that, as stated above, this is illegal.
Amy fully believes that all the people who criticize her food are not "real customers" believing that they are just out to destroy her business, apparently ignorant of the fact that the people had every reason to criticize her for her bad food. She also claims the customer is not always right or know what they like, like she can read peoples' minds. From this she even seems to believe that the reason they do not like her "good" cooking is because they are so used to eating cheap food.
In an example from something outside of Kitchen Nightmares, when Amy's logic is torn to shreds by Dr Phil (namely by him calling her out on constantly using the cliche of "defending" herself, which at this point in the show seemed to be a catchphrase for her), he tells her that the best way to resolve the ongoing flamewar is to simply "unplug" from the situation. Amy takes this as meaning that he just told her to unplug her phone, close shop. Even after Dr Phil tried to explain it's just a metaphor for ignoring those comments, she still thought he was telling them to close up shop. Sami however seemed to genuinely not pick up on the metaphor the first time around, and after Phil explained further, he did not object.
And probably the biggest irony to this trope. Despite all that is mentioned above, they believe themselves to be the Only Sane Employees.
I Reject Your Reality: The owner's of "Amy's Baking Company". Ramsay even flat out states she has "made her own little world". Note: when we say "her own little world," we mean, "a very delusional world where everything she makes is perfect and anyone that states otherwise are liars and trying to sabotage her business." To hammer this home, after Ramsay tells them he can't help them because they can't accept any form of criticism, Amy says to the cameraman that they don't need his help and that maybe Ramsay sees this.
Jerk Ass: We grant this page a special shout out because these two top everyone else listed in the section above, because the stuff they were doing would be the kind of things that would make you want to introduce a bullet to both of their heads: poisoning their food in the hopes of customers being harmed, threaten personal injury, who belittle customers for not enjoying their (by most accounts, terrible) food, treat their waitstaff like crap (including taking all their tips and firing a waitress on camera because she asked a simple question that is not even close to trying to imply offense) and are convinced they're being harassed by "online bullies" (basically anyone who gives them a bad review ever).
Karma Houdini: Amy's Baking Company is still open, despite the fact that many restaurants that weren't as bad to begin with and actually tried to improve fold fairly quickly after appearing on Kitchen Nightmares. The episode may have even improved business from people who wanted to see how bad the place was.
Kick the Dog: The owners had a customer who, after waiting over an hour for a single pizza, decided to leave rather than wait any further. As the customer was on the way out the door, they demanded that they pay for the pizza they never got. Another customer had their food poisoned in the hopes that he would get hurt, as Amy proudly states.
Not to mention that the owners admitted to stealing the servers' tips for themselves.
Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Amy and Samy managed to top Sebastian, chewing out customers who complain about underdone, inedible dishes, even going as far as to state they don't know what good food tastes like and don't know what food they like, when it is clearly the owners themselves and not the customers who have the issues (furthermore they can't read minds). The analogy is like an owner talking down loudly to a bad dog who can't behave.
Samy even admits that he has no experience in running a restaurant. The two had kept people who went to culinary school in menial jobs (such as setting tables and pouring water), where at one point Samy even had one wash his car during service, claiming "they don't know anything."
Know When to Fold 'Em: Gordon attempts to present his plan to fix Amy's Baking Company, but the owners keep shouting him down and insisting there's nothing wrong, that all the criticisms are lies, that Ramsay doesn't know what he's talking about, etc... It's this, along with the many, many, many flaws with the restaurant demonstrated over the episode's course, that persuades him to just throw in the towel and walk away, knowing that he can't help them.
Misplaced Retribution: Two customers got fed up and left after waiting an unreasonable amount of time for a single pizza. The customer who Samy had to be restrained from hitting was the one who didn't yell at him.
Mistaken For Yelpers: Amy and Samy seem to think anyone who dislikes their food is a "Yelper" or Internet Bully making up lies about their food to destroy their business, failing to realize that most people had a lot of legitimate complaints about the food and service.
Nice to the Waiter: Ramsay is duly appalled when he learns that one of the owners takes all of the tips given to the waiters/waitresses and when a waitress is summarily fired for asking a simple question. He makes sure to tip the waitress directly and tries to stand up for them by telling the customers about their tips being stolen and how they deserve those tips.
Gordon: (slips a $20 bill into the waitress's shirt pocket) "This is for you. And only for you."
Ominous Foreshadowing: Everything the server stated at the beginning to "Amy's Baking Company" did come true within the episode. From stating how Amy is "sometimes a sweet woman but becomes completely erratic", the fact that Samy and Amy refuse to listen to criticism, and the fact that Ramsay would be wasting his time with them as they won't change.
Once an Episode: Averted. Ramsay couldn't get beyond step 2 because the owners were that ignorant and oblivious to the complaints and lashed out against anyone that criticized them. As in, they obviously hated criticism, not knowing that all of it was very well-deserved. Furthermore, they thought they'd hire Ramsay as a "Yes-Man" to defend their restaurant's reputation against "Internet bullies" (i.e. those who criticize their place on Facebook and on Yelp). The extremely toxic attitude of the owners got Ramsay to give up on them, leaving the episode on a Downer Ending. About 95% of the reviewers on Yelp gave it less than two stars.
Only Sane Man: Amy and Samy consider themselves the only sane people at their company. The reality says otherwise.
As a straight example, Ramsey himself. He is surprisingly calm and composed throughout the episode, and only has one of his trademark blow ups. Even when he walks out of the restaurant, he seems more melancholy than anything else.
Paranoia Fuel: It wouldn't be surprising to hear that Amy and Samy literally run on this fuel. They seem to fully believe everyone is out to get them and everyone that works for them is only out to steal from them.invoked
Rage Quit: Amy pulls this almost all the time whenever customers complain about the food due to her being unable to handle criticism by threatening to shut the kitchen down. Considering that there's a petition to the US Department of Labor to have the owners shut down and sent to jail for pocketing tips from waitstaff, which is illegal as clearly stated in Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division's website.
Due to the appalling service, a few of their customers also did this when they ran afoul of Samy or Amy (or if they just flat out didn't receive their food). Most notably, Samy tried to forcibly stop one customer from rage quitting because the latter had not paid, despite having not received the food he ordered. This forced a crewman to come into frame and break up a potential fight.
When Ramsay makes it clear to the customers that Samy takes all of the tips, and puts him up against a corner when they express their disgust, Amy actually shuts down the restaurant for the day.
Amy is completely incapable of taking even the slightest bit of criticism without acting as if it was a full blown assault against her. Even comparing the server asking her a simple question tantamount to breaking into their place of business and holding a gun to their heads (in Amy's head, the waitress was giving her some serious attitude, but Amy's not quite in touch with something called reality).
In a meta-example, much of the media hurricane that spawned around the restaurant (including the two Kitchen Nightmares episodes, flash episodes, various news reports, a Forbes article, etc..) all started because the restaurant got one bad review.
Read The Fine Print: At some point in time, Amy or Samy saw that there are such things as contracts that prevent employees from hopping from one company to another with trade secrets/knowledge (usually used by tech firms; like IBM, Compaq, etc.), and figured they could just apply it to food service, for a full year, regardless of reason for termination. We wonder how many people took it seriously.
Gordon: I can't help people that can't help themselves and cannot ever take one ounce of criticism. If you're not willing to change, I'm not going to butt heads, argue, scream... but this is not normal. And it's not normal for a restaurant to go through that many staff, it's not normal for a kitchen that small to have 65 items on the menu, and it's not normal for the level of animosity that you've built inside this restaurant and outside. You have the right to run the business the way you want to run your business. I have the right to do the right thing. And the right thing for me is to get out of here.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: When the owners pretty much told him "fuck off" because they thought he was talking crap and there was nothing wrong with their business. Between the owners being unable to handle criticism, going through one hundred staff members in a year and lashing out against customers and reviewers that complain about the food and service, Ramsay knew the owners were beyond help and he would be wasting his time. One believes that the first thing they need is anger management class.
The day before Ramsay even arrived, during some B-roll filming, a pair of customers attempted to walk out after waiting over an hour for a pizza. The owners then told them to get out, but insisted that they pay first even though they hadn't been served anything. When the customers tried to leave anyway the owners threatened to call the police and the husband nearly started a physical fight before one of the crew intervened.
Amy repeatably threatens to close down the kitchen after enough customers return their food for being unsatisfactory. And even when Ramsay finally got them to sit down to talk to them about Amy being unable to handle criticism, she wanted to go home not even five minutes after the meeting started - a meeting in which Ramsay could barely get a few words in between Amy's ranting.
Small Name, Big Ego: Amy's insanity was evident early in the episode when she was talking about her "haters" on Yelp. Ramsay wound up walking out of their restaurant because they would not listen to him.
At the start of the episode, Amy and Samy praise Ramsay for his years of experience, and by the end, they are talking down to him. Chef Ramsay is World-class, has twenty years experience of being a head chef, he's got at least 14 Michelin stars, and they believe they are so much better than him. This is a textbook example of Small Name, Big Ego.
Suspiciously Specific Denial: Amy specifically mentions to Ramsay that she had tons of positive reviews from loyal customers that "they (Samy and herself) did not write".
Tampering with Food and Drink: Amy attempts this several times, burning one customer's dish who wanted it cooked a bit more, and making another customer's dish extra spicy.
Too Much Information: Ramsay goes through fairly normal introductions and small talk with owners Amy and Samy. When Ramsay remarks on their (apparently) successful marriage and business partnership, Amy basically says, "Yes, he's my soul mate! We work perfectly together, and we need to to defend ourselves from the internet bullies and haters who are trying to tear our restaurant down." Ramsay is visibly bewildered at this completely unprompted Info Dump and has to take a moment before resuming his tour of the restaurant.
Also, did they really need to tell us that Samy was a Playboy in Vegas and Amy was his playmate? The revelation that Amy poisons the food to hurt customers probably didn't need to be shown either, for their restaurant's sake (as well as not going to prison for it) if nothing else.
Tranquil Fury: When Ramsay finally had enough he simply quietly tells the pair he's leaving and walks out. Even when he gives his wrap-up review to the camera he seems more sad than angry.
Villainous Breakdown: Amy's sanity slippage can be seen throughout the entire episode. At first she is sweet and cheerful, but as the show goes on she gets more and more irritated to the point at the end of the episode it looked as if her eyes were about to pop out of her skull. One sign of this is her hair; it becomes steadily more unkempt as the episode progresses.
We Have Reserves: Amy casually fires someone just for asking a question, not to mention they have a turnover involving hundreds of people.
Yes-Man: It is quite clear that the owners of "Amy's Baking Company" were hoping that Ramsay would be this, wanting for him to praise their food so it would stop the "internet bullies" and show they are highly looking for his approval. They pretty much bend over backwards to do whatever they can to please him and even earlier claim how much it means to them when "he" gives them praise. When he reveals he disliked her food, they treat him like an idiot who doesn't know what he is doing, oblivious to the fact that Ramsay is a chef with twenty years experience and the recipient of fifteen Michelin stars, owns or manages nearly two dozen restaurants in Europe and North America, and an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. His and their definition of "run" is very different.
Samy is one to his wife—despite the fact that she can't really cook and the business is failing, he can't bring himself to ever criticize Amy or pass along customer complaints. This has only fueled her self-delusions, as she is able to easily claim that no-one has ever complained about the food to her. From a Certain Point of View she may be right, as Samy tends to do his utmost to prevent those comments from reaching her, and Gordon even calls them out on this in the additional footage in "Return to Amy's Baking Company".
You Keep Using That Word: Amy keeps on commenting on "internet bullies" and "haters" as a reference to the people who give her restaurant a poor review.