An overdramatized, overedited, and overly entertaining reality show, Kitchen Nightmares is Gordon Ramsay at his peak. Thanks to Gordon’s forceful personality, as well as the colorful characters we see on the show, Kitchen Nightmares is a dramafest in the best way possible. What do you think goes into running a business? Being organized, open to criticism, and able to work as a team? Well, it seems like that’s not always the case. Here are the Top 10 Most Disorganized Kitchens In America On Kitchen Nightmares.
Starting out with the first episode of the very first season, Peter’s is an Italian restaurant in West Babylon, New York. The biggest and most frustrating issue with this place is the financial situation: they’re going broke, and it’s completely the owner’s fault. Peter is spending his money on things unrelated to work, like expensive suits, fancy cars, and other such luxury items. Has this guy never heard of budgeting? Things get intense when they roll out a new specialty dish, only to have it blow up in their faces. The chefs aren’t communicating with each other, the wait time for the meals is over an hour, and servers don’t know which tables to bring the food to. Forty minutes into the night, the kitchen even runs out of ingredients to make The Special! All of this results in customers leaving hungry and mad. What makes it worse is once the customers get sick of the waiting, they take it out on the servers. Over the course of the night, multiple customers just up and leave, and can we really blame them? This kitchen is full of yelling, and the head chef is taking out his frustration on anyone unfortunate enough to be in his line of sight. This chaos was apparently too much for the owners to handle because they closed down the restaurant in 2008, just one year after the episode aired. Bad publicity for bad management? Seems fair.
Sabatiello’s is a restaurant in Stamford, Connecticut, and owned by Sammy Settembre, well known in the area for working the pizzeria with his brother Benny. At the beginning of the episode, everything seems great. The decor is beautiful; Sammy vouches that the food is excellent and just can’t put his finger on why things aren’t going his way. The reason he’s enlisted Gordon Ramsay’s help is that he’s over a million dollars in debt, and he needs to find a way to keep his restaurant open while continuing to make profits. When Gordon Ramsay enters the kitchen, he’s actually impressed. It’s spotless: no grime on the counters, no rotting meat on the shelves…. Sure, it sounds like these are low standards, but have you watched this show? The kind of kitchens they show sometimes, yikes! But Sammy’s team is doing pretty well. That is, until Ramsay opens one of the fridge drawers. He’s shocked at what he finds: raw meat kept right next to cooked meat. If you’ve cooked at least once in your life, you know that this is a big no-no. Ever heard of cross-contamination? The foodborne pathogens from the uncooked meat can and will hop over to cooked meat, then be served to customers, and all of that tends to end in food poisoning. This is exactly what you don’t want to happen. The fact that this man owned a restaurant for years and wasn’t aware of his mistake… It’s no wonder he was so far in debt.
8. Spanish Pavillion
Opened in 1976, this restaurant has been in the same family for three generations. It was started by Antonio Fernandez, who passed it on to his daughter and grandsons upon his retirement. The only problem is, they’re constantly feuding! His two grandsons, Michael and Jerry, barely come to the restaurant, and when they do, they’re at each other’s throats! It’s up to their mom, Balbina, to pull them apart, which isn’t exactly an easy task. Before Antonio retired, the restaurant was thriving. They had good customers, the food was well-liked, and there was even a line out the door on some days. But only five years after his retirement, most customers have vanished, and the business is now over half a million dollars in debt. Things start poorly when Gordon orders a lobster, which he can immediately tell was dead before it was cooked, and it only goes downhill from there. Their lobster tank houses dead and decaying lobsters, the servers wear stiff uniforms, and the food just isn’t good. There’s raw meat everywhere – all kinds just stacked on top of each other. There aren’t any labels showing the date the meat was bought or even to indicate what kind of meat it is. There’s even one grotesque moment where Gordon tips over a bucket full of chicken, and all the juices come pouring onto the tiled floor. Ramsay wonders out loud who’s buying all this meat, and for what purpose? It’s not like the restaurant is getting that many orders. However, possibly the most horrifying thing is when he heads upstairs and finds a live pigeon. In one of his most iconic lines to date, Gordon Ramsay tells the camera crew that the pigeon is the freshest thing in the kitchen, and for obvious reason, we believe him.
7. Mama Maria’s
Based in Brooklyn, New York, Mama Maria’s is an Italian restaurant connected to Sal’s Pizzeria. The two restaurants were opened by the owner’s parents, Maria and Sal, and were both passed onto one John Esposito. Overwhelmed by having to run two restaurants at once, John decided to focus more on the pizzeria, leaving Mama Maria’s to run into the ground. Things start of. rocky when Gordon stays to observe the dinner service. While the kitchen is extremely fast in service, the food sent out is of extremely poor quality. At the beginning of the night, a woman complains that she’s found a pork bone in her dish – and she’s a vegetarian. Ramsay berates the owner, who gets defensive and simply says that that’s the way they’ve always done it. A few minutes later, Ramsay finds a distressed woman outside the bathroom, claiming that her friend is sick. He asks her what her friend had to eat, she says the lobster. Ramsay rushes to the kitchen, demanding the kitchen to remake the dish that was served to the customer. With a closer look, he can immediately tell the lobster is rotten. Rotten lobsters can lead to food poisoning and possibly even death. In other words, they had to call the ambulance, and while the customer turned out fine, it was a big blow to Mama Maria’s reputation.
6. The Curry Lounge
The Curry Lounge was a restaurant based in Nottingham, UK. Ran by Arfan Razak, this restaurant was fairly new but was losing around £3000 a week. Why? Well, the main reason was because of the wide variety of dishes. While the cooks were extremely experienced, they struggled to keep up with all the different recipes, slowly leading to disaster. When Gordon Ramsay sat in on the dinner service, he noticed something: Razak is trying to please everyone at the expense of things that make a restaurant successful. For example, the vast menu selection means it will take a lot longer for the food to be cooked. However, later on, Gordon discovers that the curries are made from the same three stocks! He makes the cooks prepare every dish on the menu, blindfolds the servers, and asks them to identify the dishes. Short answer: they couldn’t. The only thing they could identify on the menu were the chips. On top of that, Ramsay also found out that the only fresh food on the menu is the naan bread: everything else comes in cans and jars. It only goes to show that you can have the most experienced chefs in the world, but without proper leadership and management, it all comes crumbling down.
Based in Ponoma, California, Lela’s is a fine dining restaurant struggling to stay open, despite being founded only 8 months prior. When Gordon Ramsay sits down to order the food, he notices many spelling mistakes on the menu, and many of these items aren’t even available to order. When he asks one of the cooks if anything on the menu is fresh, the cook says no, everything is frozen. Why? Because they want to keep things from going bad. What’s most notable about this episode is how much Ramsay clashes with one of the head chefs. When he inspects the fridge, he discovers that it’s not even cool – it’s actually borderline hot. All of the meat inside is going bad, and the smell coming from inside is vile. Later that day, dinner service is a disaster, mostly because the kitchen actually runs out of food to serve. They end up serving customers the only thing they have left: powdered mashed potatoes. Not only is the kitchen messy, but the staff is having issues of their own. One of the staff members decides to leave early without telling anyone, and when Gordon catches up to him, he sees that he’s stolen a bag full of food and a bottle of wine. When this is brought up to the owner, she has no choice but to fire him. All in all, this restaurant was a mess, and even though Ramsay managed to improve things, Lela’s was shut down for good.
4. The Secret Garden
Owned by French chef Michel Bardavid for 7 years, the Secret Garden was a French restaurant based in Moorpark, California. It’s easy to see from the beginning of the episode that the owner will be difficult to work with. Later conversations with fellow workers confirm this theory. When Gordon walks into the kitchen… oh dear. It’s literally a health hazard. For one, there’s mold everywhere. The food containers are growing mold. The place hasn’t been cleaned in so long that the fridge itself is growing mold. In a typical Gordon Ramsay fashion, he shoves his hands into all the disgusting things he finds, ripping them apart so we can see exactly how atrocious the hygiene of this kitchen actually is. What’s the perfect way to top off this hazardous walkthrough? Maggots, of course. When Gordon discovers the maggots, he runs to the bathroom and locks the cameramen out, but you can still hear him retching. With the sound of Gordon throwing up in the toilet, the owner Michel is shown on camera, humming and walking along to see how Gordon’s inspection is going. It’s genuinely hilarious. While you would want your food to be kept in a hygienic fridge, it seems like it was just too much to ask from this restaurant, and it closed down a few years after the episode aired.
3. Kati Allo
Owned by a husband and wife in Flushing, New York, Kati Allo was initially a successful Greek restaurant. Things started to go downhill when some family members who used to work at the restaurant moved on to other things. As the restaurant declined, so did the marriage between the owners. When Gordon asked one of the waiters about the owners, she said they fight almost every day and that their relationship is falling apart in front of their very eyes. Ramsay orders a few of the dishes and states that the food is a bland pile of worms. Yummy picture. However, when he brings up the restaurant’s poor food quality to Manny, one of the owners, he’s told that there’s nothing wrong with the food, even though it’s revealed that they stopped using fresh produce a little over a year ago. The worst part of the episode, though, is when Gordon goes to inspect the kitchen. He digs his hands into all the rotten fruit and vegetables, sniffs things that are years out of date, and announces that they need to close down the restaurant before they give anyone food poisoning. Instead of taking responsibility for this, the head chef immediately became defensive and blamed it on everyone else around him. Just a little heads-up: if you can’t take criticism, maybe don’t ask Gordon Ramsay to come help fix your restaurant.
2. The Old Neighborhood
Getting off to a bad start, Gordon Ramsay sits in one of the most depressing chairs as he waits in the lobby. He criticizes the dusty blue chairs, and when he removes the cushions, he finds old sugar packets and garbage built up over the years. He demands that the owner clean the couches and moves on. The garbage isn’t the only thing he finds: he’s also greeted by a mannequin wearing a baseball cap, a leopard print dress, and leather gloves. A strange sight indeed. Based in Arvada, Colorado, the Old Neighborhood has been around for 25 years and is owned by a couple: Randy and Alexa. While the restaurant initially had good business, customers’ visits have slowed down, and the couple doesn’t know how to dig themselves out of this rut. Gordon complains about the stench of the booth and notices flies and rat droppings everywhere in the restaurant. In other words, the place is filthy and in a complete state of disrepair. Somehow, the kitchen is even filthier than the dining area. The floor drains aren’t working properly, leading water to pool everywhere, and the grime on the oven is so thick, you can’t even tell it used to be silver. Gordon then looks up to check the meat thermometers – which are placed directly into holes in the wall. So unsanitary. Although the Yelp reviews were more positive after Ramsay had changed things up a bit, the restaurant closed a couple of days after the episode aired.
1. Amy’s Baking Company
Perhaps the most infamous of all restaurants to appear on Kitchen Nightmares, Amy’s Baking Company was opened in 2006 by Samy and Amy Bouzagio. There are so many things we could say about Amy’s Baking Company, but we’ll keep it brief: the food is disgusting, the owners steal tips from the servers, and if you say one wrong thing, you’re exposing yourself to a slew of verbal abuse. One example of this is when a customer wanted to leave the restaurant after waiting at least an hour for his food. Instead of letting him go, Amy threatened to call the cops while Samy was blocking the door to prevent him from leaving. While their kitchen is actually pretty clean, the management refuses to take any criticism and has gone through hundreds of servers. This is the only restaurant Gordon Ramsay has ever given up on, and to that, we say good riddance!