Home > 2008-04: April Newsletter > This Month on TV: Ramsey Kitchen Nightmares

This Month on TV: Ramsey Kitchen Nightmares

April 1st, 2008

This new reality show from FOX has world-class chef Gordon Ramsey taking on the challenge of complete restaurant makeovers throughout the U.S. One of the first episodes was at The Old Stone Mill in Tuckahoe, New York and its owner Dean.

In spite of not being profitable for more than a year, this high Gold owner fought like crazy during the first two-thirds of the show against all of the high Orange Ramsey changes. But like the story of Restaurant Makeover earlier this year, here’s a hint: Don’t bet against the high Orange will and skill to turn things around.

Changing direction of the restaurant is a sign of weakness, argued Dean, in a last ditch effort to avoid changing the menu in any way. Yet Chef Ramsey’s comeback hit the Gold owner even harder: “Look at how you dress, your hair, the cutlery – everything is immaculate, but you serve crap for food! It’s more important that it gets out in a certain time, but you don’t give a crap about the quality. You’re scared of change – you can’t handle it!”

By this time, Dean seemed somewhere between puking and wanting to hit Ramsey, especially since he was being criticized in front of his staff. A sure kiss of death is to ever criticize a Gold in front of other people. OK, but Ramsey didn’t know – and didn’t care. In fact, he had to bring in his design team to re-design the restaurant during the night, in order to avoid more hassles and push-back with the owner.

The redesigned restaurant received great reviews, but it was Dean’s wife who had to be the first one to embrace it. “I didn’t know this would involve any kind of makeover” was Dean’s response with that deer in the headlight look. But Ramsey got right back in his face: “You’re scared of failure AND you’re scared of change!”

In the kitchen itself, the chef had given up and admitting he had lost his passion for cooking due to Dean’s micro management. Out front, Dean had hired a fellow Gold to manage his restaurant. That made sense as his Gold valued, and looked for, a manager that shared his ideas of organization, décor, cleanliness and efficiency. But it was his manager who also cracked badly and became so stressed that he simply walked out: “I’m just not ready for all these changes.” In the background of many scenes, Dean was often straightening something out, sorting and re-arranging cutlery. At least those were things he could control, and find comfort in, during this high-stress time.

Yes, the show is a little over the top. Hello? It’s a reality show and it’s on FOX! Yes, it’s heavily edited and attempts to create drama. But the Colors stresses and conflicts are as real on the show as they are for all of us, every day, when we don’t understand. Do most of us handle it differently or better? I don’t know – only you do. Does it sometimes get to this point? Yes, probably. But then, don’t most of us not really fight for things, listen, accept change or become willing to look at something slightly differently until it’s almost too late?

This episode ended with a cut-in from a few months later. Dean looked totally in control and even received the keys to the city from the mayor. “I needed the change. I couldn’t wait any longer. Now I have something to be really proud of, and I’m excited about what the future holds.” I did send Dean and his wife a copy of the Colorful Personalities book and a note. Knowledge really is power and better late than never…

PS: Many episodes get even more confrontational as lots of chefs are high Orange, and supremely confident that their food and restaurant will blow Chef Ramsey away. Stay tuned for some heavy duty Orange-Orange conflicts.

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