Where there are bad restaurants, there are bad kitchens. With the new season of Kitchen Nightmares (premiering Friday, September 23, at 8 p.m. EST / 7 p.m. CST on FOX), master chef and restaurateur Gordon Ramsay seeks to transform another series of train-wreck eating establishments, starting with Blackberry's Catering and Family Restaurant in Plainsfield, New Jersey.
I was recently invited to join in a media conference call with Gordon Ramsay to discuss Kitchen Nightmares. As an ardent admirer of Ramsay (ahem, I mean, of his cooking), I was thrilled at the opportunity to (virtually) meet the Chef.
Usually, I have to mind my sailor's mouth in professional scenarios. However, since I would be speaking with Gordon Ramsay, I wondered if, in fact, I could relax a bit and let the occasional f-bomb fly.
Within minutes of the conference call, it became apparent that Ramsay saves the curses for prime-time. He was extremely polite (apologizing profusely for being five minutes late to the call), sincere and, above all, enthusiastic about the new season.
But still very much himself. When asked if he ever tired of giving failing restaurants another chance, Ramsay replied: "Do you know what, I am getting tired of giving second chances, but they're part of the issues that are taking place on a daily basis, and that's to do with the economy.....Do they deserve a second chance? When they are arrogant, obnoxious, and they're not prepared to listen and they want to cook for themselves as opposed to the customers, then, yes, I won't give anyone a second or a third chance."
Although I appreciate Ramsay's tough love approach on Kitchen Nightmares, I had always wondered if he ever questioned his treatment of a restaurant's employees. So, I asked him if he ever second-guessed his reactions or decisions. Ramsay's answer:
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"I act on impulse and I go with my instincts. I've had a lot of success; I've had failures, so I learn from the failure. I talk about it... I shoot from the hip. I have to get straight to the truth, and it's not because we're panicking and we're not there for ten days. In the U.K. versions, we're there for nine, ten days at a time. Here [in the U.S.], we're here for a week and because of the work that goes into that week, the research from every critic to every article to the opening night, the first six months, the financial implications, we turn it upside down. We really turn it upside down. So I don't pussyfoot around. I really get straight off, so I never second guess it. I go for it straight away."
And Gordon, that's why I love you and your show. In a time when "pussyfooting" and excessively PC speech abound, your potty mouth and no-nonsense techniques are most refreshing. Guess I'll have to wait until September 23 to see if they're still effective in reviving restaurants.