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YMMV / Kitchen Nightmares

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  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • The belly dancers at Prohibition Grille.
    • The intro for "Le Bistro" shows a split-second shot of a dog in sunglasses riding a boat.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: Even in a series made of incompetent/ill-tempered restaurateurs, there are some examples that truly stand out:
    • During the "Burger Kitchen" episode, the owners are an elderly couple and their adult son Daniel. Over the course of the episode, it is revealed that the restaurant was opened after Daniel's grandfather (the husband's father) had passed away, leaving a sizable inheritance to his son and grandson. The grandfather had left his grandson's portion of the inheritance in a trust which the son used as start-up capital for the restaurant, without his own son's knowledge or permission. Basically, Daniel was presented with a fait accompli and felt he had no choice but to go along with it, despite not having any interest in being a restaurateur, taking on a job as a kitchen manager. On top of that, the restaurant itself was in dire financial straits, with his parents constantly coming to him for further funds to meet payroll, not keeping accurate books as far as his initial and continuing contributions to the restaurant fund, belittling his fiancée when she volunteers her time to help him out, and constantly stonewalling him when he comes to them wanting official documentation about his 50% share in the business. The best they do is a handmade document printed from a home computer that looks like the legal equivalent of an I.O.U. written on a cocktail napkin. The overall situation, and resulting discord, was so great that the result became one of the few two-part episodes in the entire series.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: The Only Sane Man in each restaurant will inevitably become this, knowing the problems but too powerless to change anything without Gordon's help. For example:
    • Katy and Miranda from Amy's Baking Company are very popular. Both are woobies for being young girls who have to put up with their unstable owners and not getting tips, but Katy got it worse when she was told to leave for asking if Amy was sure of something... after Amy had to correct herself, meaning it was probably a smart move... then she was berated by Amy for walking away... which Amy just told her to do... then she got fired. Poor girl. Meanwhile, Miranda is popular for being a Sad Clown and constantly joking around about the state of ABC despite obviously hating working there.
    • Wendy, Daniel's girlfriend in the Burger Kitchen episode, fit this for being the only one supporting him and calling his parents out on their abusive behavior.
    • Also from the Burger Kitchen episode is David Blaine, the head chef for the first part. He is abrasive, rude and on the verge of losing his sanity... but he's also completely and 100% right throughout the whole episode. In the context of the utter insanity of the restaurant, his outbursts are downright cathartic, and the fans love him for it. Also, like Mama Mary below, being able to make a dish Ramsay enjoyed definitely contributes.
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    • Mama Mary from the Blackberry's episode has quite a lot of fans and sympathizers due to funding the restaurant out of her retirement fund, calling her daughter out for rejecting Ramsay's help and walking out during their dinner service, and being grateful to Ramsay (in contrast to her daughter). Being able to make food that Ramsay likes doesn't hurt much either.
    • Steven, the affable waiter from the Black Pearl. He got along exceedingly well with Gordon, and even returned to talk about the Black Pearl shutting down in one of the Revisited episodes...causing an hilarious awkward-silence moment with Gordon.
    • Rami from Oceana was quite well-liked and sympathized (especially by siblings who have overbearing older ones) due to being the more reasonable sibling, and trying to rein his more arrogant older brother to listen to Gordon Ramsay. He also got along well with Ramsay, and listened to his advice and words. It's also telling when Ramsay left for the first day to sort things out, he hugged Rami, while he just left Moe. His snark and how he tricks Moe to just accept Ramsay's words was also pretty hilarious.
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    • Sara from La Galleria 33, for just being so blatant in how much joy she took in pointing out how bad the restaurant was, to the point of constantly smiling and laughing. She went out of her way to trick Gordon into ordering a dish so bad that even the owners knew about the complaints.
    • Lou from Sebastian's, because in contrast to her boss, she had a true, strong passion for cooking, was actually good at it, and was 100% on board with all the changes Ramsay made in the restaurant.
    • In Tavolini, Van, and to a lesser extent, Joli. Unlike their completely incompetent parents, they held a good head on their shoulders in trying to run the restaurant on their own, being completely honest to Ramsay about their problems, as well as very susceptible to his help. Just go to any comment section about the episode, and most viewers will shower Van with their admiration, saying he should've been the owner of the restaurant in the first place. Also, head chef Michael, for humbly accepting Ramsay's criticism instead of being in denial about its quality, as well as successfully taking over the service by himself the first night when the owners had a mental breakdown amidst of it. Really, everyone in the staff except for the owners are ensemble darkhorses.
    • In Downcity, we have Rico, the co-owner. Compared to his partner Abby, he was very willing to accept help from Ramsay, knowing how much of a handful she was. The main reason Gordon stayed was because of his plea, as Gordon had already lost all respect for Abby by then. The waiters as well, for joking at the expense of the food and service, and also being level-headed.
    • Leone's Restaurant has several. First we have Rose, who owned the restaurant for a long time and was very devoted to making it successful. Then she ended up in a coma for two years, and during that time, her son Michael had deteriorated its service, making many viewers feel sorry for her. But she still tried to stay cool-headed, and even joked around a bit with Ramsay despite having troubles talking due to her aforementioned state. Then we have waiter Jon, mostly for his snark at the expense of Michael, as well as Trudy, for stepping up the plate and managing the restaurant in Rose's absence when Michael wouldn't.
    • The infamous Nino. Unlike most neglectful/incompetent owners in the series, most viewers seem to agree that Nino is simply too funny to hate.
  • Fountain of Memes: Just about everything from the Nino's Italian Restaurant episode.
  • Growing the Beard: While few people have argued that the US version is outright bad, most agree that Season 3 was a marked step up from the previous two, due to the postscript sequences that show whether Ramsay's efforts actually counted for anything in the end (perhaps surprisingly, just to be fair, they have shown several instances where they didn't), along with a more diverse selection of restaurants rather than the bistros and Italian restaurants that Seasons 1-2 tended to focus on.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: During Gordon's visit to Campania, he warned that the business was about to "float down the Hudson River". Cut to a few years later, when owner and head chef Joseph Cerniglia's body was recovered from the Hudson River after a suicidal jump off the George Washington Bridge. Unsurprisingly, this episode is not aired on TV anymore, at least in the U.S.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The first Revisited episode of the American series is subtitled "Gordon Returns". Five years later, a sidequest involving enlisting the aid of "Gordon Gourmet" to help save a failing restaurant appears in a video game called Lightning Returns.
    • The owner of Cafe Hon trademarked the word "hon" and tried to sue or C&D anyone in Baltimore who used it commercially (including the city itself), which led to a negative reputation of her and her restaurant. It's practically identical to what the Fine Brothers on Youtube would do years later with the word "react".
  • Ho Yay: Palpable in the Chiarella's episode between Gordon and the troubled but fundamentally sweet owner, Tommy. When Gordon saves the day, there is much hugging, mutual admiration and Tommy even kisses him on the cheek when they part company. It's ramped right up though in the revisited episode, where Tommy shows off his bench-pressing skills in his basement gym before telling Gordon he loves him when he finally leaves, after finding out that Gordon has part-funded his badly needed liquor license. Aww!
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • David Blaine, the (initial) head chef of the Burger Kitchen. While he engaged in some major Jerkass behavior, such as repeatedly accusing one of the owners of being bipolar and then semi-seriously threatening to hit one of the others (resulting in him being fired midway through the two-parter), it was clear that he was a pretty talented chef who had been hamstrung by the owners' obsession with using frozen Wagyu burgers, and had been working for several months without pay. He was also the tenth chef that had left Burger Kitchen. Despite his nastiness, many of the points he made about the family's inability to run a restaurant were correct.
      • From the same episode there's Daniel: his own bad attitude makes it hard to feel sorry for him when David threatens him; but when one remembers he was forced into a job he didn't want after his father stole $250,000 from him, it's hard to blame him for being so bitter.
    • The owner's husband in the Fiesta Sunrise episode comes off as aggressive and confrontational with the manager (to the point of almost starting a fistfight on camera), but it is revealed that not only is he paying his own bills, but he is putting money into the restaurant to keep it from failing and even paying the manager's bills because of the manager's incompetence.
    • The family in the Kebab Room - the children don't have any money, and are working at the restaurant for free, seven days a week, and the stress and suppressed resentment really shows in how they treat each other.
    • The UK series has Alan Love and Nick Anderson, owners of Ruby Tate's and Rococo respectively. Both were reliving past glories that left them stuck in the past and unable to move on. Both proved to be rather egotistical (Alan in particular was flat-out manic), uncooperative, and resistant to any changes to their restaurant. They also were both looking at foreclosure and homelessness. Both men broke down in tears on camera talking about the failures of their restaurant.
    • Trevor, the former head chef from the Mangia Mangia episode. He starts out being shown as a cocky, indifferent, incompetent (and often violent) prat with a bad attitude, but he eventually caves in and tearfully admits his chronic depression and addiction to crystal meth that is heavily implied to be a result of it after a particularly bad service — during which Janelle screamed at him that his life didn't matter and that he would be better off dead — culminating him in him being sent to Drug Rehab, paid for by Ramsay on the condition that the owner at least considers rehiring him after he cleans up.
    • Fay from Zayna's Flaming Grill. She obviously needs help, but is so afraid of failure she lashes out at everyone (including her own niece). When one realises that the main reason she lashes out so much is because she's afraid of losing the restaurant (which has been her dream for decades), she becomes more sympathetic.
  • Memetic Badass: Somewhat Downplayed, but NINO is often referred to by YouTube commenters on clips from other restaurants, usually with facetious jokes like "Nino would never do this!" (e.g. "Nino would always make sure the food was out on time!" or "Nino would never lie to Gordon!")
  • Memetic Mutation: "This is all ROTTEN!" and "it's fucking RAW!!" Typically with as thick a Scottish accent as possible.
  • Narm: It's impossible to take Ruby Tate's updated name "Love's Fish Restaurant" seriously after Wheel of Fortune. (A quick-puzzle's solution was "Wish list", but the only letters revealed were _ish l___, a contestant guessed Fish Love.)
  • Nausea Fuel: Has its own page.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Some of the kitchens are filled with rotten food (Dillon's and Fiesta Sunrise in particular, both of which also had insects crawling around everywhere), which is not only disgusting but very dangerous given that poorly prepared food can kill you, or at least make you very sick. (This happened in one episode when a customer had a rotten lobster, and in the UK pilot where Gordon threw up after eating a rotten scallop and flat out told the owners it could've killed him.)
  • Signature Scene: Of course, the "Hello, my name's NINOOOOO!" scene from the Nino's Italian Restaurant episode.
  • Squick: The state of many of the kitchens and food storage areas makes one wonder how many of the customers do not end up with food poisoning (in fact, only one instance was shown of this happening), as well as how many health inspectors are either not doing their jobs or are taking bribes. It also makes one wonder if the restaurants they eat in every day may have the same conditions in the back.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: In the Dillon's episode, Gordon suits up as a steam cleaner in a uniform with equipment that almost looks like something out of Ghostbusters. The upbeat synthesizer music accompanying the scene is obviously a nod to Ray Park Jr.'s Ghostbusters theme song.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • The American version includes the usual reality TV tropes (excessive use of flashbacks, cheesy and continuous background music, and replacing Gordon with the narrator from The Dog Whisperer). Most importantly, Gordon no longer has exclusivity on deploying Cluster F Bombs.
    • Several restaurant owners say this about Gordon's changes. As it turns out, they make the place better more often than not.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic:
    • While David — the head chef in the Burger Kitchen, is shown to be beaten down and he does show potential when Gordon asks him to cook a burger and it turns out well, his disrespectful and uncaring attitude towards Daniel and his girlfriend makes it difficult to feel any real sympathy for him when Daniel finally has enough and fires him for talking back one too many times.
    • Janelle, the owner's daughter from Mangia Mangia, with regards to the incidents involving her and Trevor — the depressed head chef who is later revealed to have a hidden crystal meth addiction. Although Trevor was acting like a Jerkass for most of the episode, most of the time she's seen literally screaming at him over the slightest provocations and using a variety of incredibly personal insults. Though she breaks down over the fact Trevor tried to punch her and has gotten physical against her whilst he was high, the fact that Trevor says this was after she told him that nobody loved him or cared about his existence, and that he'd be better off dead doesn't help. It's harder to root for her in hindsight once it's revealed just how bad his depression and drug problem really is, especially after reacting with evident glee when he was fired for it.
    • While the family that owns Sushi Ko are in a very tough spot in both their relationships and the restaurant, and their episode is considered one of the most tragic ones, Lisa can be a little hard to root for, given that she tends to speak for her husband and talk over him while simultaneously ranting about and berating him in front of Ramsay to the point where even he asked her to stop.
  • What an Idiot!: Many, many times.
    • Many of the owners in the American version are clueless, but Moe from Oceana is truly something special.
      • One example among many: after Moe revealed that he refused to write down his recipes because he was afraid of other restaurants stealing them, Gordon calls him a "busy idiot" — somebody who spends all his time worrying about the wrong things. Moe was so upset by this that he refused to do anything. To get things back on track, his brother claimed that in England, "busy idiot" is actually a compliment. Moe believed him.
      • Moe also refers to Gordon's home country as "British" (rather than "Britain") as heard in Moe commenting that Gordon should "go back to British."
      • Amusingly, while well-meaning, Moe's brother also seems to think that people from "British" don't speak English. Just...just go with it.
    • A couple of said antagonistic owners undid all of Gordon's changes the moment he left. They both closed several months later.
    • On the UK version, both Piccolo Teatro and Bonaparte's closed within a short time after Ramsay's visit. The owner of the latter threatened to sue Ramsay, claiming she had been "set up".
    • When Ramsay revisited the Walnut Tree Inn he found the business still failing due to the sky-high prices the owner was charging, and stormed out after the owner bluntly told him that he'd rather see the inn go out of business than look like a cheap restaurant. Guess what happened? Then, for an encore, some more sensible businessmen bought the inn shortly afterwards, set up a menu that was more along Ramsay's guidelines, and made the restaurant into a success once more.
    • The owners of Zeke's in the US version, on the confession cam, complain about Ramsay and state that he doesn't know what he's talking about and until Ramsay's name is on the lease, Ramsay doesn't know what it's like. Let's see... failing restaurant versus five 3-Michelin (out of 3) star restaurants. Sure, Ramsay knows nothing about how to make a restaurant successful... Then to make matters worse, after Gordon renovates the building and improves business, the owners close down shortly after and sell the restaurant, because they figure that Gordon's donated renovation can make them a lot of money if they sell the place in its repaired condition.
    • Tim Gray, head chef of Bonaparte's. It's hard to tell if he's arrogant or brain dead. After being drilled for a week into becoming a half-competent chef, he manages to forget it all within the span of a few months by the time Ramsay comes back. This results in him being fired. The best part of it all? Ramsay, after the episode, offered Tim the chance to learn on the job at one of his restaurants. Tim refused. Then, despite being exposed as possibly the worst "chef" in Britain, he tried to get his own TV show. Unsurprisingly, it was denied. He's still getting into kitchens, and still getting fired.
    • The parental owners of the Burger Kitchen. Lots of examples pop up, one of the most blatant ones being their investing in a restaurant despite knowing nothing of the business, as their son pointed out. Then they stole their son's inheritance money to buy the restaurant and were confused as to why he was upset about that.
      • Additionally, when Gordon demands that the executive chef — continually backed into a corner and forced to cook food he doesn't believe in with recipes that aren't his — cook him a burger to show him his skill without being hampered by the owners, the owners try to show their own chef up by cooking one of their own recipe burgers and then deliberately hamming up bad reactions to the chef's burger after Gordon dismisses theirs.
    • Every. Single. Time an owner or chef says that Ramsay can't know what good food tastes like because he's from Britain, followed by some snide, nationalistic, ethnic insult about how "he's from a country where they think scones are delicious" (as in the Barefoot Bob's episode). Never mind the fact that Ramsay is one of the foremost chefs in the world, has sampled dishes from nearly every cuisine the world over, knows how to cook food from a variety of cultures, and has an impeccable palate, so refined that he can taste when food is frozen. Nope. He's British, so he must just not know what good, American food tastes like. Right.
    • Hell, any chef that insists "my food's good" or some variation when Gordon first arrives - if their food is so good, then why is most of the city avoiding the place and why is Gordon disgusted by eating it?
    • La Riviera from UK season 2 had a clean restaurant, a generally competent owner and manager, a trained staff, excellent and fresh ingredients, a proper decor and good food. What was the problem? The owner hadn't done his research into the area- the small Scottish town simply wasn't interested in high-priced fine French cuisine and as a result, saw very few customers. This lack of basic research cost the business a fortune.
    • Retroactively Denise of "Cafe Hon." Wanting to Trademark "Cafe Hon" would be one thing, but the word "Hon" itself Note  which is a cultural icon in Baltimore, to the point of being a city-wide Verbal Tic? How else would the people of Baltimore react? And that's not even mentioning her going after anyone who would use the word "Hon."
    • Any restaurant that doesn't clean out its kitchen thoroughly, even if only doing so prior to Gordon's arrival; especially once Kitchen Nightmares had a known formula typically involving crappy kitchens. Lampshaded in UK episode The Priory, who has chef blast his fellow head chef because the kitchen wasn't cleaned prior to Gordon coming.
    • From "Park's Edge", co-owner Richard is vilified by a reporter for not running his restaurant well. Richard brilliantly responds by accusing the town of being racist. Naturally, this destroyed any business he had left.
  • The Woobie: Has its own page.


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