After a 10-year absence, foul-mouthed British Michelin-starred chef Gordon Ramsay is back with a fresh series of Kitchen Nightmares.
After wrapping his last show in 2014, Ramsay and his crew are back for an eighth season, opening the coolrooms and oven doors on 10 US east coast restaurants with big problems.
Some might be weary of Ramsay belittling restaurant-chef owners before building them up with a shiny new menu and kitchen, but the 56-year-old has more than 22 million followers on his social media accounts.
“Gordon does not disappoint with his first impression meal descriptions! ‘Coq au vin, my a—’,” wrote one, quoting Ramsay after he tasted a restaurant’s French chicken and wine dish.
Another described him as the ultimate king of “tough love”.
Ahead of the premiere this week, executive producer David DeAngelis told pop culture website Parade he reckons Gordon Ramsay – whose restaurants hold seven Michelin stars – has evolved from the early days of Kitchen Nightmares in 2007.
Apparently, he’s kinder.
“What’s going to be different is Gordon himself,” DeAngelis said.
“Gordon in 2023 is different than Gordon was in 2013. I think he has evolved in the last 10 years. I think you’re going to find a wiser – I don’t want to say kinder and gentler Gordon Ramsay – but I think there is an element.
“It’s Gordon without any pretence, it’s not Gordon on a cooking game show. It’s just a guy named Gordon who walks through the front door of your restaurant and desperately wants to help.”
Shot over five weeks, Ramsay and the tough-stomached crew head into 10 restaurants across New York and New Jersey which survived the pandemic, but need a helping hand.
‘Out-of-control chefs, dirty kitchens, horrible food’
Rest assured, this season will still have all the elements fans have come to know and love.
“This season, we visit restaurants in crisis in New York and New Jersey, whose owners have called on me and my team in a last-ditch effort to save their struggling businesses,” Ramsay said.
“Throughout each restaurant revamp, we will dive deep into the root cause of their issues, whether it be family drama, health code violations, staffing issues, dirty facilities, lacklustre menus or simply bad food.
“These restaurants are in serious need of help, and I am so glad they called on me to help bring them back to life. I can’t wait for you to see the transformations.”
Adds DeAngelis: “Everything that people love about Kitchen Nightmares will be back, including out-of-control chefs, clueless owners, lazy staff, dirty kitchens, and horrible food.
“For us, New York and New Jersey ticked all the boxes because we knew we could get big personalities … east coasters are known to be open and honest with their emotions, big characters for sure, and a wide variety of restaurants,” he said.
What is wrong with them?
In the first episode, Ramsay weaves his magic at the Bel Aire Diner.
He sees a 40-page menu, a chaotic kitchen, two brothers in turmoil and a poorly kept stock fridge complete with rotting food.
Oh, and people call him Gordon in this series, not Chef Ramsay.
“The meat fridge is a perfect example. I mean, there are things that I’ve seen, smelled and tasted that have forever changed how I will eat in the restaurant,” DeAngelis said of the diner.
Who has coq au vin on a menu in a diner in New York or a lobster tank?
There are chefs who have to go through a menu to see if they actually serve certain dishes.
There’s a chef who calls himself a culinary gangster (which rubs Ramsay up the wrong way).
Another restaurant couple have been engaged for six years.
“It was incredible to watch Gordon navigate that episode, because Gordon takes mental health in the restaurant industry very seriously in his own restaurant group.
“Gordon really understands the mental toll that a restaurant can have on you,” said DeAngelis to Deadline.
He says it’s the “best time” for Ramsay to bring the show back, “to see if he can’t help some of those restaurants that have made it through the pandemic … and see if he can give a lifeline and get them back on track.”