Series / Kitchen Nightmares

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/kitchen_nightmares-show.jpg

"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 4 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 that episode should go here.

At the end of the 2013-2014 television season, Gordon Ramsay announced that he decided to end the show so that he could focus on other projects, although he has not ruled out the possibility of returning to it at some point in the future. Since then he has filmed new series for the UK version of the show.

A mostly up-to-date list of which US series restaurants are still open may be found here.

The show's official YouTube channel posts various clips from the US and UK versions in their uncensored glory, which you may find here.

Tropes pertaining to the show in general:

  • The Alcoholic: Several owners drink (on duty) when things start really deteriorating.
    • Oceana owner Moe really stands out in this regard. He's late for the re-opening... strongly implied to be due to him drinking (or doing something worse). He even leaves during the dinner rush to "take a break".... probably to go drink somewhere private.
    • One of the UK episodes featured a chef that had been drinking due to job pressures and had to go to the hospital during filming due to mild cirrhosis. Gordon was forced to bring up the fact that this is something of a major problem among chefs, since it's a very stressful job and there's often a bar right there in the restaurant.
  • 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.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Gordon in the US version. He is occasionally a target of nationalistic insults from certain chefs that Can't Take Criticism due to his British nationality, notable examples including Oceana, Anna Vincenzo's, Barefoot Bob's, Ms. Jean's Southern Cuisine and, unsurprisingly, Amy's Baking Company (albeit outside of the episode; see Blatant Lies in the recap page).
    Lisa from Barefoot Bob's: He comes from a country where they think scones are delicious!
    CeCe from Anna Vincenzo's: He's British, they don't know anything about Pizza.
  • 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.
  • Argumentum Ad Nauseam: This was heard in "Mangia Mangia, Pt. 1." Whenever Chef Ramsay would make a legitimate complaint about the food, i.e. old, frozen, bland, heated in a microwave, the owner would simply maintain "The food is good." When he tried to clarify how exactly anyone could call food like that good, she simply stated "The food is good."
  • 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.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The most generous interpretation of Sebastian's confusing menu. Only Sebastian really thought it was awesome, though, and it didn't help that he was using substandard ingredients.
  • Beat:
    • 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?"
    • From the Sebastian's episode:
    "So what do you do?"
    "I'm an actress."
    "Oh, do you play with Sebastian?"
    (Beat)
    "...cause he's an actor."
  • Belly Dancer: In one show, Gordon went to a failing establishment where the proprietor saw her restaurant as a vehicle for showing off her belly dancing skills. She was blissfully oblivious to the food being crap, just as long as she could get to dance in front of an appreciative audience. Gordon's initial response was a disbelieving Gordon Bennett! He then had the task of explaining to her that she'd got her priorities wrong and her first concern should be the quality of the food. Which was dire. Gordon also did not come over as a great fan of a belly dancing floor show even when the food served was good. Quite the reverse, in fact.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Gordon has several:
      • One word: Pride. He really hates people who boast that their food is the best in the world, right in the face of a 13-star Michelin chef... aka insulting one of the Gods of culinary arts. Gordon uses Brutal Honesty to make them see the truth of their businesses' condition.
      • Mistreatment of wait staff will always set him off. Granted, some of the restaurants' wait staff are the Only Sane Man ready to tell Gordon the truth about the restaurant.
      • He hates it when chefs drink on the job because alcohol shifts focus (resulting in bad preparation) and can affect the chef's sense of taste, on top of the serious issue of alcoholism being rampant among chefs.
      • He 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.
      • Workers coming in on their free time is a huge no-no to him, as he feels it disrupts discipline (how are you going to respect your boss when you were out drinking with him last night?) and intimidates customers with the wrong message (that the business prefers its own workers over its own customers).
      • To lesser extents: separating wait staff/front of house from the kitchen staff (to him, staff is staff, no matter their role, and waiters are just as important as the cooks and chefs), staff that are too casual and/or lax on the job (he doesn't even like smiling or joking on-the-job, as food work really is Serious Business if you want to keep afloat), and out-of-place cuisine (such as, in the case of the Sandgate Hotel, New Zealand-style BBQ instead of the seafood and Brit/French fusion dishes the region is known for).
      • He always dislikes oversized complicated menus (Sebastian learned this the hard way) and will always make sure there's a redesign towards affordability of "fresh local produce"
    • 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.
    • Just about anything in the episode "Sebastian's" where the owner's batshit insane menu (pardon me, the batshit insane "concept") was challenged or threatened.
    • 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.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Often Gordon Ramsay, to the owners of the restaurants he saves.
  • 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 and that the owner had gone on to the prostitution business. So, where does the "sweet" part come in? Well, Gordon had found a promising young chef by the name of India who had been hired as the new chef at the Piccolo before it closed, and she 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.
    Ramsay: Let's look at getting you some work experience in London, because if she's, you know, not going to take full advantage of your level of excitement, then fuck it, I will!
    • Giuseppe's, despite doing very well after Gordon's intervention, was hit hard by a recession. During his year-later revisit, he learns that the owners are about to lose their house, and a month later, they end up having to close down. However, the family is closer than ever (something that none of them would have ever thought possible before Gordon came into their lives) and remain hopeful for the future.
    • When Gordon returns to Anna Vincenzo's a year later, he finds the place closed. However, upon visiting the former owner, he finds she has lost considerable weight and is happier since she sold the business to spend more time with her children.
    • Sam's Mediterranean Kebab Room is an interesting case - despite the restaurant's relaunch going 100% smoothly with no issues (unlike most which "break down" an hour into the relaunch), the place closed down because business failed to pick up due to local competition; in fact, another Mediterranean restaurant had opened and took their business in short order. But, the owner admitted that he'd really only had children so he could have unpaid employees for his business later in life, so the restaurant's closing at least allowed them to go on their own and live independent lives.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • 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 mouse for 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. Later on, when Gordon actually talks to Joe about Joe's food, Joe tries to backpedal and say "I didn't fucking tell you that!" when Gordon points out that statement of Joe's about being taught by the greatest chefs of Europe and we see a flashback from earlier proving Joe to be a liar. 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.
    • In "Oceana", everyone was willing to lie to Ramsay about the condition of the food - except for Rami, because he cared enough about the business to be honest. They lied to Ramsay about having not frozen the crab cakes, only for that lie to be shot down by Rami, and they admit to Ramsay they have lied after being exposed. They even have a rather weak excuse for doing so: they don't get enough customers and they pointlessly make big batches of crab cakes. Next, they try to withhold the details of when the duck that Ramsay ate earlier was made, which is still not being honest as it is lying by omission, and they deny knowing when the duck was cooked... only for Moe to admit that it was cooked a month before and it was made outside of the restaurant's premises. Worst of all, nobody was even ashamed of that simple fact (except for Moe and Rami, perhaps). This alone almost got Gordon to say "screw it" and leave, as he will NOT tolerate being lied to by people he's trying to help.
    • In "Zayna's Flaming Grill", co-owner Fayza seems to be nothing but a chronic liar, and is called out for this constantly. More often than not, the actual truth is shown to the the complete opposite of what she claims. She claims the rest of the staff do no work, that her food is fresh, and even lies about thawing meat in hot water, among many other fibs. It's unclear whether she is deliberately lying, or if she is possibly suffering from the early stages of dementia; what is known is that after the episode aired, she sold her half of the restaurant and left the business.
  • Bow Chicka Wow Wow: Plays for a rather phallic looking chicken dish in the Sandgate Hotel episode of the British series.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: The owner and staff of Momma Cherri's fit this trope, very charismatic and incredibly talented but with less than an ounce of discipline between them. Gordon manages to whip them into shape, however, and their natural ability combined with a bit of motivation leads to great success, until the recession, that is...
  • Broken Ace: Many owners and chefs Gordon works with are very talented, but suffer from a lot of stress and/or corruption and can't cook at their best.
  • Brutal Honesty: Ramsay's MO. And the only way half the restaurants ever improve.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Don't accuse Gordon Ramsay of not knowing food. Just... don't.
  • Bumbling Dad: Alan from Burger Kitchen, on so many levels. He 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.
  • But Now I Must Go: Chef Ramsay sometimes has this effect when he's finally fixed the restaurant, but the owner(s) wish he could stay longer.
  • Call-Back: As he walks away at the end, Chef Ramsay mutters a reference to a memorable segment of the episode (e.g., "Nino. He can really clean. And take pictures, apparently.")
  • Catch-Phrase: Oh, fuck me. It's raw!!!
    • Gordon likes to remind people that "I'VE EATEN HERE!!"
    • "It's ROOOOOOTTEEEEEN!"
    • 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 disappoints. More often than not, it's the first dish he is served, and his comments quickly go downhill from there.
    • "Have you given up?"
    • "You need to step up to the plate!"
    • "SHUT IT DOWN!"
    • "Holy mackerel."
    • For Nino, he has a catchphrase of its own that has ended up gaining Memetic Mutation on the official Kitchen Nightmares channel: ''HI, MY NAME'S NINOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
  • 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 had 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 even actually launching her own brand of wine. She had also broken it off with her former boyfriend, whom she fired a week after the first episode.
    • On the flipside, we have Sebastian. Ramsay gives the restaurant an overhaul, a new approach, and a new start. However, he also takes Sebastian aside and explains that, even after all this, Sebastian is the same useless, misguided and pretentious frat-boy loser he's always been, and he's a waste of time to try to mentor as a chef *or* as an owner. As you can see in the page quote, it's brutal. And just to take it a step further, around the time the episode originally aired, Sebastian posted anonymously on several culinary websites trying to defend himself while he talked shit about Gordon; the other posters quickly realized it was him and called him out on it.
  • 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.
    • In "Michonne's Grill", Ramsay makes a big deal about the expensive smokers in the restaurant that the staff are misusing, calling them the "Rolls Royce of smokers". Later on in relaunch night, the chefs in the kitchen have trouble keeping up with the orders and make the barbecue VIPs that will put the restaurant on the map wait for their meals. The owner, Natalie, saves the day by bringing them out to see said smokers, knowing that the experts would be impressed enough to tolerate the extended wait for their food.
  • 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."
  • Control Freak: Several owners and chefs.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: Davide featured Caesar salads made from scratch tableside (one of the few things on the menu that wasn't premade or frozen), but it took the waiter ten minutes to make one, and when Gordon tried to eat it all the dressing fell off the lettuce because the waiter forgot to dry it.
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: Quite a few of the chefs when Gordon first arrives.
    • Laurence from "La Para de Burianna" stands out. Chicken stuffed with banana? Prawns in spicy chocolate sauce? What makes it worse is that unlike a lot of the other chefs featured on the show, Laurence actually did make sure to get quality ingredients, but ruined them by serving them in bizarre combinations. It didn't help that he didn't really cook the ingredients up to par, either, as everything was cooked either on a dirty flat-top stove, or on a barbecue by Laurence's blatantly incompetent (and borderline insane) sous chef.
    • A peculiar example was Sebastian's, whose "unique" menu involved combining a variety of spices and "flavor combinations" with different meats, many of which made no sense together. After Sebastian himself tried, in vain, to explain the menu to Ramsay for almost twenty minutes (with the servers behind the counter laughing at Gordon's expression), Ramsay just had Sebastian bring out what he thought was best. Ramsay was not pleased.
    • Gordon described the menu at Park's Edge as "fusion confusion", and that was before he tasted an overly-spicy grilled Caesar salad with grilled lettuce and a sesame-grilled salmon with a red onion ragù, strawberries, sticky rice, and green curry sauce. The chef/owner had opened a restaurant right out of culinary school and hadn't quite got the hang of which flavours work together.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Twins Jeff & Jim from Capri. They spend the episode slacking off, cracking under pressure in the kitchen, and bursting into tears of self-pity from their own incompetence. They somehow managed to acquire serious cooking and business savvy out of nowhere, since as of 31/10/2016, Capri is still in business more than five years after this episode.
  • Dagwood Sandwich:
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Don't Like, Don't Eat: The chef at "Luigi's D'Ltalia" basically said in an interview that if people don't like his food, they can get the fuck out of there rather than criticize him.
  • 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: In truckloads. Even though the concept of the show is to try to prevent this, it doesn't usually succeed, usually because the financial damage has been done long before Ramsay's arrival, and/or the owners simply do not have the business skills to keep it going after he leaves. 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. To put it in perspective, out of the 44 restaurants from the first four seasons of the US series, only seven are still open.
    • 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: Ramsay proclaimed that their food was actually good, 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 the recession.
    • The US version seems to be more willing to admit when a relaunch hasn't entirely worked as of Season 3; aside from the 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.
    • 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 location 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.
    • The Campania episode has since become a retroactive Downer Ending, as a few years after it aired the owner committed suicide.
    • Averted for many of the employees, especially those who were mistreated onscreen. When the restaurants closes down, they manage to find better jobs. Even some of the owners survive and stay afloat as employees in other restaurants.
    • Blackberry's saw a very promising remodeling and relaunch, despite Gordon nearly leaving after being falsely accused of planting a dead mouse. That is until the owner/head chef received a phone call during service and focuses on that above all else, and then promptly phases out and loses interest in doing anything afterwards. Regardless of the relaunch being overall successful despite this, she declines to join the staff meeting the next day and bluntly refuses to meet with Gordon. The restaurant closed down shortly after.
    • Barefoot Bob's looked as if the restaurant would survive - Ramsay had gotten the couple running the restaurant back together, got the attention of the restaurant to the town, and remodeled the restaurant to remove the tacky tiki theme. However, the bar manager Robby hates the new decor, which causes a small fuss between him and Ramsay, although the relaunch ultimately goes well. Eventually, they went back to their old menu and decor, which caused the reviews to go down. The restaurant managed to stay open until December 2016.
  • Drowning My Sorrows:
    • Mike, the chef at Mike & Nellie's, in order to cope with the death of his father. Not surprisingly, it was affecting the quality of the restaurant.
    • Sal, the owner of Mama Maria's, hits the bar hard after being forced to call 911 on a customer suffering food poisoning from a tainted lobster tail.
  • Dysfunctional Family: Most of the restaurants that are family operated tend to suffer from this, as the failing business begins to drive a severe wedge between everyone.
    • 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.
    • Sushi-Ko's head chef had become little more than a shell of a man which caused him to almost completely ignore his family as a result.
    • The owner of Pantaleone had become so pig-headed that it took his wife and son threatening to abandon him to get him to agree to change the way he ran the restaurant.
    • The brothers at Nino's seem to have issues that go beyond the restaurant's failure.
  • Epic Fail:
    • 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.
    • In P.J.'s Steakhouse, Gordon tried a practice renewed-service to see if they could get customers 'excited.' The very first table served—the first—has their food stone cold. Seeing the head chef's attitude, one wonders if he wasn't deliberately sabotaging service.
    • To drive the point home that the pizza served at Pantaleone's isn't as good as the owner thinks, Gordon served a public taste test between their pizza, a pizza served by the highest-end restaurant in Denver, and a store-bought pizza. Pantaleone's pizza ranked dead last, behind the store-bought pizza.
  • Even the Rats Won't Touch It: When trying to eat the barbecue shrimp in "Old Neighborhood", Ramsay notes to the waitress that the food is bad that even the fly bugging him won't even go touch it.
  • 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 British and have very similar cooking backgrounds. The big difference though, is that Gordon cares about his customers while Andy does not.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Gordon's reaction to the overly-pretentious Filet Mignon at Flamango's-
    Gordon: Next, Filet Mignon. Looking forward to a really nice, classic piece of meat...the Chef's dream, Filet Mignon. Something simple, something classic...[Beat as the unfinished Filet Mignon is shown being wheeled in on a cart by the now sharply-dressed owner]...and something that's not normally served on a trolley.
  • Freudian Excuse: A few examples abound as to why owners or chefs act like douches or behave indifferently to the declining conditions of their restaurants. For example, Peter, the owner of the Seascape Restaurant in Season 1, Episode 4 allowed his restaurant's standards to drop sharply to the point that he didn't even care about reprimanding his head chef and sous chef despite their obvious don't-care attitude because his father, the previous owner, never once complimented him and always told him he'd never amount to anything.
  • 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.
  • Generation Xerox: Encountered in "Burger Kitchen". Alan, the owner, gave Gordon Ramsay a book he wrote about his abusive father, whom he hated for trying to make him stay in Australia and work in his business. As revealed earlier in the episode, it seems that Alan's son, Daniel, has suffered a similar fate.
  • Genre Shift: Momma Cherri's Soul Food Shack (UK) was a very different episode than 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.
    • La Riviera (UK) had experienced, accomplished chefs, top-quality ingredients, great service, and an owner who had experience in restaurants through running hotels. The main issues were the overcomplicated and overgarnished food, an overly intimidating menu that most of the working-and-middle-class city denizens had no idea what the items were (and weren't interested in, being a small city surrounded by farmers), and the lack of patrons from the upper-class that did exist in the city.
    • Similarly, the Curry Lounge (UK) had experienced chefs, eager staff, and an owner with financial experience (also via running hotels). The big issue was the owner's attempts to make the restaurant stand out from the competition (a build-your-own-curry menu) resulted in bland food that overworked and underused the chefs (literally hundreds of variations, all going into the same three curries), who had to resort to dumbing down each recipe to get it out the door faster.
  • 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.
    • Pete, owner and founder of "Pantaleone's" isn't much better, clinging to decade-old five-star reviews to justify refusing to change his disastrous recipes.
  • Happy Ending: Few and far between - sometimes the restaurant improves but can't pay the bills, sometimes it improves enough to break even and then goes out of business, sometimes the restaurant stays open but doesn't improve, only hangs in there on the new good publicity. The one that has (so far) had a straight up happy ending is The Greek At The Harbor - according to reviews, business is booming, reviews are good, and Makis is slowly preparing to hand the reigns of the restaurant over to Eris.
  • 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 fire 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, at least until the end of the episode, anyway.
  • Homage;
    • In the Spanish Pavilion episode, Gordon points out the lobsters in the tank from which he is expected to make his dinner selection have something wrong with them. One is suspiciously immobile and static at the bottom of the tank. Gordon voices a professional opinion to the effect that it just perhaps might be dead. Without missing a beat, the maitre d replies "No, it's just sleeping.'' There follows a terse discourse on how to identify a dead lobster. Gordon does refrain from commenting that it would remain dead even if you put five million volts through it, and somehow manages to avoid referring to ex-lobsters or "pining for the [ocean]", but you can feel it hovering, unsaid, in the air.
    • And at Ms Jean's Southern Cuisine in Pittsburgh, a waitress has the mortifying experience of telling Ramsey that three-quarters of the items listed on the menu are in fact not available. Ramsey requesting an item, only to get the reply "no", or "off-menu" or "not available, Mr Ramsay", goes on for quite some time. Gordon heroically refrains from inquiring "do you, in fact, sell any soul food here at all?". Then he discovers ribs are available as stated. Regrettably, the question of runniness is not entered into.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Sous Chef Daniella from "Charlie's" is shown to be a better chef than Head Chef Casimiro. As demonstrated when Gordon has them cook a meatball, Daniella manages to do a good job while Casimiro does not.
  • 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 juice 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.
  • I Call It "Vera" : At El Greco, the chefs used the microwave so much the staff named it Chef Mike.
  • I'm Not Afraid of You: Due to Ramsay's caustic, confrontational approach, some chefs/owners (especially younger, and bigger, guys) will try to physically intimidate or even threaten Ramsay. This is invariably his response. He even tells them to go for it if they really want to. Gordon has a black belt in tae kwon do, however, so heaven help anyone who would genuinely try to engage in an actual fight with the man.
  • Incompetence, Inc.: It's amazing how some of the restaurants were even open long enough to have Ramsay visit.
    • Dillons seemingly had no idea what they were doing. They served Gordon a "vegetarian" platter that included meat, then went on to serve him a "beef" bhuna that was actually an expired lamb bhuna, then were forced to serve a frozen salmon, one of Gordon's no-nos, because they didn't think to prepare for his arrival, and served old potatoes with it. Gordon ended up shutting the place down and hiring professional cleaners because the staff hadn't kept an eye on the state of the kitchen or food storage, and as a result their ingredients were hideous; one of the managers described the meat as "putrid", there were cockroaches and flies all over storage, and Gordon's breaking point was a freshly-cut rotten tomato, the other half of which had been served as a tomato rose.
    • Fiesta Sunrise. Every bit of food in the kitchen is so incredibly unfresh that Gordon lost his temper and shut the service down from how horrible the quality was. Plus the kitchen's infested with cockroaches that were all over everything, which disgusted Gordon and the manager's wife and stepdaughter.
    • Cafe Hon's owner clearly did not think things through, from what we see in the example service. Not only does she stop the service to complain about the artichokes—not after, but as everyone is working in the kitchen, bringing everything to a standstill and causing things to back up—but also pulled a dozen items off from the available menu (referred to as '86-ing.) It wasn't because they ran out, it was because there were one or two complaints. It was a disaster, needless to say.
    • P.J.'s Steakhouse. As one owner, Joe, constantly sat down at a bar to drink wine and watch television, the other owner, Madalyn, would be unnecessarily rude to customers that had complaints. At one point, she walks away from a customer, icily dismissing them.
  • 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.
  • Interspecies Romance: Ramsay makes a few jokes about this when the owner of Mill Street Bistro introduces him to his pet goat, and remarks that said goat is "jealous" when it tries to headbutt Ramsay.
  • It Came from the Fridge: Some restaurants routinely have boxes upon boxes of spoiled, moldy food that the appalled Chef Ramsay orders thrown out.
  • 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. Knowing Ramsay and his hatred of lying, he's probably eaten some nasty stuff in his days for the sake of knowing.
    • In one episode, he described certain food as tasting like "flypaper" and later on "It tastes like a leather belt."
    • One episode has a customer saying his meatballs "taste like cat food." When Gordon asks him how he knows what cat food tastes like, his response is "Long story."
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Gordon Himself. He initially comes off as brash and loud, but shows genuine concern for the well-being of the restaurant and its staff (and in many cases, his initial jerkishness is understandable, as he frequently deals with owners and/or employees who stubbornly refuse to accept responsibility for their restaurant's failures).
    • 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.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: In-Universe; Dinnertime tends to be busy for any restaurant on day one of Ramsay's visit because everyone's heard he's there for an episode. Could overlap with Bile Fascination when you consider that he's only there because the restaurant is failing and they might either want to see if it's really that bad or just don't care either way. This works out well for Gordon since he can observe how well the kitchen functions under those conditions, and get opinions from the customers on the state of affairs.
  • Kayfabe: Gordon is falsely accused of this in the Blackberry's episode when he found a dead mouse at the restaurant's door - they blew up at him for "planting it" right before talking behind his back about one they found before. Gordon took the accusation about as well as you might expect.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Many of the owners come across like this, but the most notorious are:
    • 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 Recap page here.
  • Language Fluency Denial: The Mexican kitchen crew at Fiesta Sunrise pretend not to understand English when Gordon tries to instruct them. He sees through it immediately.
  • 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.
  • Lethal Chef:
    • 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.
    • Mama Maria's 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.
  • Lethal Eatery: In conjunction with Lethal Chef.
  • Let's See You Do Better: Joe from the two-parter episode of "Mill Street Bistro" is an example of this, alongside outright denial. When Amy tells Joe that the Elk Medallion is too tough to even chew for Ramsay, and they charge an outrageous $35.00 for the elk on top of that, Joe eats it himself and says "[Ramsay] is dead wrong, elk is gonna have a bite, gonna have a chew, it's characteristic of it, it's never gonna change. That is a tender piece of elk." In fact, Joe said, that at his expense, he would go to one of Ramsay's restaurants that serve elk and he'd demand instructions on how elk should be made.
  • Lighter and Softer: While he certainly isn't going to pull any punches over incompetence and unsanitary conditions, Ramsay is nowhere near the ogre he is on Hell's Kitchen. Even at the worst times, he seems respectful of the fact that this restaurant does not belong to him, especially in the UK series.
  • Liquid Courage: The manager of Jack's Waterfront downs a big shot of ouzo to steady his nerves before speaking to Ramsay, who spotted him doing it and tears him a new asshole for it.
  • Locked in a Freezer: Played for laughs in "Prohibition Grille" when he saw the belly dancers and wanted to stay there until it's done.
  • Loveable Rogue: The employee who constantly steals food and wine from the kitchen in Lela's 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 Child:
    • Jim and Jeff, the twin brothers who own and operate Capri. Both of them alternate between acting childishly petulant when Gordon tries to help them to bursting into tears at the slightest provocation.
    • John of Mama Maria's also qualifies. He's not necessarily lazy or careless, he just won't abandon the pizza-making post, the job he had as a child. Ramsay convinces him it's long past due for him to become adult and take charge of things.
  • 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.
  • Master of None: One establishment, Mangia Mangia, attempted to combine a causal sit-down Italian restaurant with a drive-thru. All this did was rush the food-making process and stress out the staff.
  • Medal of Dishonor: Ramsay has named Piccolo Teatro owner Rachel as the worst owner he met in the UK version, and Amy's Baking Company owners Amy and Samy as the worst owners from the US version. Rachel, because unlike nearly all the other owners seen in the UK version, she didn't even try to make the restaurant a success after he left— on top of not caring what happened to her father note  and chef note  as a result of her own laziness and arrogance, and petulantly trying to blame Ramsay to his face for her own failure. As for Amy and Samy? Well, the fact that an entire seperate page is dedicated to the Amy's Baking Company episode alone should tell you everything you need to know.
  • The Millstone: In "Peter's," Gordon outright tells the man himself to his face that the restaurant would run better without him.
  • 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 Tim. It got to the point where she claimed in a newspaper that Tim was actually an actor who duped her into hiring him, then deliberately did as bad a job as possible for the sake of making some good television, resulting in Ramsay successfully suing the newspaper that printed the article.
    • 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 Trust a Trailer:
    • 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, which the "coming up" segments prior to the commercials also implied. 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 Job Breaking It, Hero!: In Season 1 Episode 8 LeLa's, Gordon isn't too impressed with head chef Randy. He blindfolds both Randy and sous chef Lex and runs both through a simple taste test of 2 meats- Lex identifies both correctly but Randy fails(they were chicken and steak). On this basis, Gordon makes Lex the new head chef for relaunch night and demotes Randy to sous chef. For some reason, one would think that someone as experienced at this as Gordon Ramsay would consider kitchen experience as a factor rather than a taste test, because Lex proved unable to run the kitchen, to get any food out(to make things worse, the town's mayor was in the restaurant) and lacked any real experience, and eventually walked out due to the stress. Randy decides to take charge and get the kitchen back into order, because he's actually run a kitchen before, and somehow saves the reopening night. Lex did return but was demoted. Even Gordon later admitted that he'd screwed up.
  • 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, where he's almost apologetic to have to send the waitress back with the food.
  • Noodle Incident: In the "Pantaleone's" episode, a customer tells Gordon his meatball sandwich tastes like cat food. When Gordon asks him when he's ever eaten cat food, the customer just replies "Long story."
  • Once an Episode: Given that this is "Gordon trying to save a failing restaurant", each episode tends to follow a particular pattern, almost by definition.
    1. The episode starts out with the narrator briefly introducing the failing restaurant, followed by comments from the owners and staff of the failing restaurant, accompanied by footage of the place running badly. Occasionally the narrator will state how *this* restaurant might be Gordon's hardest gig yet.
      1. Gordon arrives and meets the people of the restaurant. This quickly establishes the personalities of the personnel involved. Sometimes somebody gets to meet Gordon prior to his arrival, giving Gordon an early chance to have a more private conversation. Finally, Gordon is seated and has the place serve him a meal. Since the place is failing, Gordon is likely going to be appalled by the decor, the service, the food, or all of the above. And he will call it as it is. Some of the crew will not react to this well, creating tension early on. Sometimes to the point where there could be a firestorm in the kitchen before Gordon even finishes his meal.
      2. After the meal, Gordon 'lets' the place know his opinion on the food, the environment, and the staff. Giving the crew a chance to backtalk out of frustration, or to be spineless forcing Gordon to be frustrated.
    2. Gordon oversees a session of dinner service. Seeing the place in action allows him to have insights as to why the place is failing, insights he calmly shares with the audience by popping out of the restaurant and speaking to camera, or by directly grilling the owners/workers at the place. The "calmly" part is not guaranteed.
      1. Gordon investigates the kitchen and storage, finding either 'subpar'(read: rotten) ingredients and/or tonnes of filth. If it's not during work hours, Gordon will voice his disgust to the audience, and will bring this up eventually. If it's during work hours, this will prompt Gordon to demand knowing who is responsible for the mess.
      2. The service ends badly, possibly with Gordon shutting the place down either due to bad service or health hazard. Armed with the aforementioned insights, Gordon has some facetime with a few key people, demanding change (sometimes immediate), and finally bid them a good night.
    3. After a night's rest, Gordon gathers the employees and employers for a meeting to report his findings. Demanding some form of improvement on the personnel, who are occasionally inspired by this. If the place is filthy, there will be a cleaning in the schedule somewhere. If the ingredients aren't good enough, Gordon will try to get something fresh. Here, Gordon will also introduce some changes to the place, such as a few new dishes to the menu, or bringing in some help, testing the water while hoping the changes will lead to a better second service or relaunch. Skip to step 4 if relaunch comes next, which happens quite frequently if the owners are cooperative.
      1. Gordon oversees the second service, which will see some positives due to the changes Gordon has made. However, Gordon's name will draw in a larger-than-usual crowd and the staff will struggle to handle the increased ticket count while adapting to said changes. This is the step where most breakdown occurs, leading to people getting into arguments, getting fired on the spot, or even outright quitting.
      2. Gordon gathers everyone for a post-service meeting to bookend the day. Gordon mostly repeats step 2-B, except this time Gordon has seen how the restaurant reacts to his smaller changes, and will have an even greater understanding of the place. This allows him to demand some big changes, which he then follows up by declaring a relaunch of the establishment, after which he bids everyone good night.
    4. Judging the place to be worthy of his salvation, Gordon brings in his designers and workers to revamp the place overnight.
      1. It's a new day, and the crew is rounded up and send to the front door of the restaurant (occasionally with blindfolds). They will find a Gordon who arrived early and see the place sporting a new exterior. Gordon invites the crew in to see the brand new interior, which will be *very* well-received by most, if not all of the crew. Cue manly tears, joyous screams, and lots of hugging.
      2. Gordon gives a rousing speech telling the crew why they didn't suck for once, implements the bigger changes he mentioned in the previous post-service meeting, and starts training the crew on the new routine just in time for the big re-opening.
    5. The staff struggles with the new drastic changes and packed house...
      1. But the crew ultimately pulls through and finish the relaunch-day service on a high note.
      2. The grateful staff waves goodbye as Gordon leaves the restaurant, gives a few cautiously optimistic comments to the camera, and proceeds to rides into the sunset.
  • Percussive Therapy: At Lido's, Gordon notices that the 30-year-old Point-Of-Sale system is the biggest headache in the restaurant, with him humorously pointing out that NASA engineers press fewer buttons to launch astronauts into space. He proceeds to bring the computer out and hit it with a baseball bat a few times, and proceeds to hand the bat to the employees to help them get out their frustration with the machine before presenting them with a brand new modern system that works much more effectively.
  • Plagiarism: When Gordon arrives at the Fish and Anchor, he recognizes one of his own recipes on the menu. It turns out the head chef had been stealing recipes from cookbooks, which led to massive backups in the kitchen as the recipes weren't intended to be fired off quickly in a restaurant kitchen, but cooked slowly at home. Gordon forcibly donated the chef's stack of cookbooks to charity and made him start from scratch.
  • 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?")
  • Pride: The defining fault of many restaurant owners is that they overestimate the quality of their food and service. They may think that their skills are top-class, or that their food is just fine in spite of what the "haters" say, or even that they're resistant to changes they don't agree with. It often takes verbal beatdown from Ramsay, and sometimes incriminating evidence, before they acquire the humility to rescue their restaurant.
  • Pride Before a Fall: Expect the chef of the featured restaurant to begin the show bragging about how damn good he is.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Gordon's shirt at the end of "Pantaleone's"... it's actually far brighter pink than the one worn by the owner's wife.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Gordon frequently gives these to chefs and owners alike.
    • The most scathing was probably to the eponymous owner of "Sebastian's", part of which is excerpted in the page quote, or in "Amy's Baking Company" (see here).
    • The speech Gordon gives the chef at Oceana is also among the most scathing. When Gordon sends his disgusting meal back, the chef spends minutes tearing Gordon down, saying that Ramsey knows nothing about Cajun food and making insulting jokes about Ramsey that make the kitchen staff break into loud laughter...which Ramsey overhears. Ramsey then inspects the kitchen, finds filthy equipment, dead mice, and tons of rancid spoiled food in the fridge, and then delivers a scathing point-by-point verbal beatdown, with a pointed, sarcastic "Chef" attached to the end of each detail and directed at the Oceana chef, all of it stated in a calm, even voice.
  • 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 self-aware.
  • Rule of Drama: According to this article regarding season 1's "Finn McCool's", the Fox editors chose to make up drama by claiming that Chef Brian left the kitchen and went home (when in fact he'd merely been asked to work the bar, and the vehicle shown leaving belonged to a plumber) as well as using footage of a Fox staff member dropping a piece of chicken on the floor and then into the fryer to claim that Brian had done this. Then there was the relaunch, in which Fox staff went behind everyone's backs and booked the restaurant for TRIPLE capacity, and the food critic, which was actually a college student sent to say things that Fox had told her to say(this had been her first and only restaurant review). It does make one wonder how much of the show overall really is fabricated, at least the American version.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Ramsay regularly threatens this, though to date has actually only gone through with it twice:
    • 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 walked out of the restaurant with intent to sell it off and would rather do that than have to look at Gordon.
    • Subverted in the episode, "Hot Potato Café". Ramsay almost went through with his threat to forsake the restaurant for dead because it was clear to ANYONE that everyone except the head chef had given up. The owners had to beg Ramsay to come back after as well as proving that they did care.
    • Subverted in the Fenwick Arms (UK): after the owners undo every change Ramsay has set down (the owner was very stubborn - 30 years of being a cook will do that to you), Ramsay sits them down and says that if they don't want their help, fine: he'd rather much spend the day with his wife than help out a stubborn owner. But Ramsay uses the sit-down to reveal the advert campaign he cooked up that he knows the owner will get behind, and stays behind for the rest of the episode.
  • Separated by a Common Language: In "Pantaleone's," Ramsay refers to the elderly owner/chef as an "old boy." The owner is at first insulted, before Ramsay clarifies that it's a term of respect for older men.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The D-Place/Saracen's Cafe episode saw the owners learn a lot about running a restaurant and becoming more assertive, firing their jerkass general manager and forcing the Brilliant, but Lazy chef to actually do his job properly. In the end, however, none of it actually mattered since their landlord had in fact decided to evict them from the premises before Ramsay ever got there, though didn't actually go through with it until after the initial visit. By the time of the revisit the owners (one of whom was heavily pregnant, on top of everything else) were facing near-certain bankruptcy and the loss of their home. The only person who actually benefited from Ramsay's visit in any way actually ended up being the chef, as he managed to get himself the job of head chef at the hotel based in the same building.
  • Shirtless Scene: A Ramsay changing into/out of his chef jacket scene happens on several episodes.
  • Sibling Team: A few restaurants:
    • Jim and Jeff, the twin brothers who own and operate Capri.
    • Moe and Rami, the co-owner brothers of the "Oceana" restaurant.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: What part of "Gordon fucking Ramsay" don't you understand?
  • Small Name, Big Ego: These are just some of the bigger offenders:
    • The 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 badmouths 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.
  • Sock Puppet: The owners of the Fish and Anchor were caught posting fake positive reviews of their restaurant, specifically claiming how the food at their restaurant was better than Gordon Ramsays' own. He made them delete them.
  • Spin-Off: Costa Del Nightmare
  • Stalker with a Crush: During their revisited episode, both Rita and Lisa from La Galleria 33 admit to Gordon that since their episode aired they've gotten lots of creepy fan mail, some from jailed prisoners and one from a guy with a foot fetish who wanted to buy Lisa's used shoes.
  • 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".
    • This gem from Oceana: Moe: 'I'm speechless!' / Ramsay: 'Good! I like it when you're speechless.'
  • Stealth Pun: The "Sandgate Hotel" episode is incredibly badly run, even by Kitchen Nightmares standards, and it makes heavy use of the Fawlty Towers Leitmotif.
  • Stopped Caring: In "Hot Potato Café", a trio of owners have stopped giving a shit about anything in the restaurant, and it was clearly evident in their dinner service that was witnessed by Ramsay. Nobody argued this point because they knew he was right. In fact, it's because of this that Gordon almost, by choice, turned his back on the Hot Potato Café and left, because if the owners don't give a shit anymore, why should he waste his time? They had to beg him to return.
  • 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. A couple of people, most notably the owner of the Kingston Cafe, have even denied being in denial, which only goes to prove Gordon's point.
  • 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.
    • Every time a chef or proprietor witnesses Ramsay's food selection leaving the pass and confidently says "I think Gordon's really going to enjoy eating that" or something betraying over-confidence or a dislocation from horrible reality. Oh dear. It never ends well.
  • 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: Oscars' (UK) had Ramsay challenge the 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.
    Gordon: "Oh fuck off-oh, not you!"
  • This is for Emphasis, Bitch!: In the US episode, Fiesta Sunrise, it turns out that the owner's bills are being payed for by his employee's husband, and to quote the man, this is what he said to the owner.
    Don (To Vic): I pay my bills, pal. I pay my bills! In fact, I pay your bills too, bitch!
  • This Is Gonna Suck: The staff of Mama Maria's (who were a whole lot more competent than the owner) knew exactly what they were going to be dealing with when Gordon Ramsay set foot on their premises, and spent most of the ensuing lunch service bracing themselves for the inevitable outburst.
  • 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.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Certain owners, if Chef Ramsay is successful in getting through to them.
  • 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.
    • In some episodes of the UK version (and a lot more in the US version), there will be a sequence of Ramsay's crew redecorating the restaurant's interior overnight.
  • Tranquil Fury:
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Troll: At the Prohibition Grille, the owner, Rishi, among other issues, used her former belly dancing career by giving extremely awkward performances, to the discomfort of all but Rishi, who was oblivious. For the turnaround, Gordon makes her swear to end the belly dances, but when he enters the restaurant during his revisit, the sitar music plays, he sees her arm around the wall clicking the castanets, and she peeks around, wearing her belly dancing headband. Gordon is shocked and afraid she didn't learn a thing, when she comes around the corner, smartly dressed and hqving pulled on her jacket, revealing it was all a joke.
  • 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.
  • Twitchy Eye: Chef Damien of Oceana blinks extremely frequently, sometimes even one eye at a time; this becomes especially pronounced when he is angry.
  • 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.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Adele from The Junction (formerly Flamango's), which is out of business, and Good God, was she ever an example of this. Adele was completely unappreciative of Ramsay's new changes, decor, menu... just everything about The Junction... she hated it so much, she would have rather shut the doors and go home. During interviews after the changes, Adele even insults Ramsay's attempts to help her failing restaurant and she had zero gratitude, nitpicking over every little thing just because it wasn't her precious tropical decor. In fact, Adele hated the changes so much, she reverted back to the old ways after he left, rendering his efforts to save her restaurant in vain, something she admitted to doing in a comment on the Kitchen Nightmares' official blog. It's probably because of this woman's immense refusal to change for the better that the restaurant eventually failed.
  • 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, Lenin 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, and it's revealed that as many as 1 in 10 chefs will experience a serious addiction to alcohol and/or drugs. Fortunately, Lenin's cirrhosis was early enough that with hospital treatment and help from the charity shown in the episode, he was able to beat his alcoholism and make a full recovery.
    • 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. (As of December 2016, the chef appears to have made a full recovery, but Mangia Mangia has closed down.)
  • Vetinari Job Security: A recurring issue is that someone on the kitchen staff will be insufferable and/or a liability but will still manage to avoid being fired. Usually they keep their job because the owner can't find a replacement, though sometimes it'll be because the owner(or whoever is their immediate superior) is too much of an Extreme Doormat to fire them.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot:
    • 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.
    • In Oceana, he threw up immediately after smelling rotten shrimp from the fridge. He was very fortunate that a trash can was right beside him at the time.
  • Wham Line: "Since my parents died."—John's response when Gordon asked him how long the specials sign had been up. Suddenly his resistance to change takes on a whole new meaning.
  • While Rome Burns: Ramsay arranges a screening for the staff of PJ's Steakhouse, to view what the word on the street is about their establishment. Several people have nothing good to say. Eric, the head chef, is actually smiling and eating popcorn, treating it like a joke... despite the fact he should be the one most ashamed.
  • The Wonka: Inverted, as the quirkiness of some restaurant owners end up hurting the restaurant, either because they over-complexify the food-making process, or they incorporate elements that have poor synergy with the restaurant environment.
  • You Have GOT To Be Kidding Me: Ramsay's reaction when Moe of Oceana suggests they go have a drink to debrief on the relaunch.
  • 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".
  • Your Cheating Heart: The interactions between Joseph Cerniglia and his waitress Jessica from the Campania episode take on a whole new meaning when you learn that the two were having a secret affair the whole time. Of course, his wife eventually found out, and promptly left him, taking their children with her.

Alternative Title(s): Ramsays Kitchen Nightmares

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Series/KitchenNightmares