Gordon Ramsay is perhaps most famous for shutting down his chefs with searing insults, but he’s also been known to shut down entire kitchens when a restaurant isn’t performing to his standards. We went through a ton of Kitchen Nightmares episodes to bring you a deep dive into the top moments when Chef Ramsay had seen enough and decided to close down the kitchen.
10. The Grasshopper
It’s actually pretty rare for Gordon to completely shut down an entire kitchen or restaurant, as he has to actually feel like peoples lives are basically in danger to do so but in cases like the Grasshopper restaurant, it was pretty clear that things were near that level when Gordon visited for his sit-down. Unlike with other shutdowns, though, Gordon didn’t let the Grasshopper stage it’s first night of service (where he typically goes through to see how the kitchen is run, the front of the house is run, etc.) as he discovered pretty much immediately that the kitchen had a serious problem with cross-contamination. Cross-contimination is, as Ramsey puts it, basically the first thing that you learn as a chef NOT to do and it’s as if that was the specialty of the Grasshopper as they were storing all sorts of different raw and cooked meats near one another in the smaller refridgerator in the kitchen. That prompted Ramsay to delve into the walk-in freezer where things went from bad to worse as there was more cross-contamination and really just a ton of contamination period, with super slimy chicken breasts as well as a large piece of salmon that looked as it it’d been “attacked by cats”. Because of that, Ramsey shut things down until those issues could be addressed and from the looks of it things couldn’t have happened any sooner.
9. It’s Not Bread Pudding, It’s Rotten Shrimp
This inspection didn’t start out great as Ramsay found a display cart (as the manager emphasized, in a strangely proud way as “Display purposes only) that had food that was at least a week old but in reality had to be a year or more old as it was as hard as a literal rock (as Ramsay points out). After slow service leads Ramsey to some plates of food that appear unchecked, things go from bad to worse as he discovers a lot of rotten spinach on the plates that are just waiting to be sent out. The sloth-and-slovenly chef calmly explains that the spinach comes “pre-washed” to the kitchen, something that Ramsay clearly had never heard of before because it doesn’t happen and that’s where you get food poisoning that’s capable of killing people as there is literal animal and human waste of spinach, folks. But if that was the only bad thing this kitchen wouldn’t be on this list, as Ramsay ends up finding out that someone actually sold from the aforemetioned “Display Only” tray, beyond that, there some rotten shrimp sitting above the “Display Only” dessert tray that was so old that the chef mistook it for an old bread pudding. In fact, it’s still hard to tell what exactly it was, but it was definitely “bubbling” as Ramsay pointed out, right before shutting the entire kitchen down as he’d seen enough… Or in the case of that Shrimp Pudding, he’d seen more than enough.
8. Everything In There Was Putrid
This entry could’ve also been titled the case of the missing half of tomato, as in one part of the video, Ramsay finds half of a recently sliced and rotten tomato, and asks if it had been recently sent out (presumably because he wanted to dive between the customer and the other half of the tomato), as the staff sits around acting like it wasn’t sent out, a customer is shown eating the other half and that’s the least of this restaurants problems. The clip that shut the restaurant down starts with Ramsay going down to the basement and immediately finding rat traps and rat droppings as well as copious amounts of fruit flies and cockroaches. When he asks the owner if the restaurant has rats, the owner, Mohammad, states that “rats are everywhere”. As Ramsay starts looking around the kitchen at the meat “selection”, one of the staff members quotes the title of this entry, that everything in the kitchen was literally “putrid”, as it was. It was really not even meat anymore, but some sort of meat goo that you can smell even if you’re watching the video. That’s all Ramsay needed to see as he saved a few of the customers lives by shutting down this dump at least for the day and considering that most of the restaurants on the show still ended up going out of business, it’s probably for the best that no one is eating whatever half tomatoes Mohammad was selling.
Why, indeed. While this kitchen wasn’t the worst that we’ve ever seen on Kitchen Nightmares, it’s up there in terms of the general mismanagement that went into cooking that much food for a restaurant that maybe gets 20 customers a day. Ramsay went into the walk-in freezer and found enough food to feed an entire army and went through it, disgusting bit (and type) by disgusting bit. It was clear that the owner thought that buying in bulk was the way to go and then that cooking in bulk made more sense after the bulk food started to go bad (as it’s harder to both tell and get sick from old, cooked food than old, uncooked food). There were pounds and pounds of left over mixes for burritos, enchaladas and just straight up ground beef (that looked like it was sitting atop some cheese as the oil/fat had solidified into a gigantic, disgusting mess. After he found the “cement mix” like refried beans (and the sound that they made) he asked the owner to carry the beans out to the customers who were currently eating them. After he refused, Ramsay asked why and the owner said because he was embarrassed and that’s the exact-wrong answer for someone who is charging people to eat that same food. So, Ramsay took things into his own hands (and arms, and back, as it was heavy enough to break a table, literally) and showed the customers what they weren’t going to be missing. Never has a group of customers been more relieved to be in a shut down restaurant.
6. What Do you Want Me To Do? Stand Here and Cry?
In what is labeled on YouTube as potentially the most disgusting kitchen Ramsay had ever seen, this kitchen was BAD. It wasn’t just the food but the general cleanliness of the entire kitchen was one of the worst in the history of the show. From top to bottom, there was dirt, grime, mold… In levels that are so bad that it’s as if the kitchen hadn’t been cleaned in years (let alone the every-other Tuesday that one owner claimed, or the 95 out of 100 the other owner claimed). When he asked the head chef if he knew how dirty the kitchen was, he admitted that he did and Ramsay said he should be ashamed of himself and he should as everything that possibly could’ve been disgusting about this restaurant was. There were dog food bags in the walk-in freezer (that he said was for “fish”), half cooked meat (“I’m not a throw-away guy”), pesto sauce that looked radioactive and on top of that a general malaise or near-laughing expression on the faces of everyone responsible that it’s amazing that they were even in business in the first place, let alone for the years it obviously took for the kitchen to accumulate that much filth. It’s bad.
5. Old Pork
This one is sort of sad, but at least has some self-awareness that other restaurants don’t have as at least the main server in Diana knows that the problem with this restaurant is the food. That could mean more than one thing and in the case of this restaurant, does, as it’s not only serving bland and crappy food but also food that’s basically unsafe for human consumption. While it did hide it better than some of the worst restaurants on this list, it’s just as bad when it comes to crimes like cross-contamination, spoiled food and kitchen hygeine. So, this show made it a lot further than others on this list, at least to a night of serving actual customers. Ramsay got into the kitchen itself, though, and started to find a ton of different issues the kitchen from frozen food (that is advertised as “Never frozen” and all sorts of unlabeled meat that’s frozen in chunks. The biggest or best (or worst) soundbite comes from that jar of molasses, that’s apparently been in the fridge since Thanksgiving (this episode was filmed in July, by the way) but from the looks of the jay it may have been Thanksgiving 1985. When Ramsay stumbles across an old piece of pork that looks similar to one that he was served earlier that day you can actually hear the panic in his voice that builds to the anger that he rightfully had towards this sloppy, filthy restaurant and those “responsible”.
4. Lobster Almost Kills a Man
We don’t often learn the names of the restaurants that are used in the clips from Kitchen Nightmares’ YouTube channel, as the shows are split into small internet-sized clips and repackaged with click-bait-y headlines but it was hard to miss the name of Sal’s Pizzareia as the owner used that named while calling for an ambulance for the best timed food poisoning in the history of food borne illness. Apparently, once a lobster (or really anything) starts decomposing it releases a lot of ammonia and that’s something that could end up killing a human being, something this poor customer of Sal’s learned as he immediately became ill and was vomiting in the bathroom before Ramsay caught wind of what was happening (thanks to the fellas friend who was by the door and had said that he had gotten sick but had stopped talking). Thinking that the man may have been dead, Ramsay ordered the same meal to figure out what was wrong with it and immediately smelled the ammonia coming from the bad lobster, it’s from there that he implored the owner call 9-11 and the owner did just that, before asking for a shot of vodka to calm his nerves and for the cameras to be shut off just as Ramsay was about to shut this kitchen down. That definitely was a first!
3. A Pigeon in the Kitchen
This example didn’t show the shutdown on the clip itself but you had to have known that it was coming as while this kitchen didn’t necessarily have a ton of rotten food sitting around, it did have a ton of FOOD sitting around that was just waiting to go rotten, including a ton of dead lobsters (which as we’ve seen can be deadly) oh, and not to mention… A pigeon flying around in the kitchen! While most restaurants deal with critters like cockroaches and mice or even rats (that are all attracted to the throw-away food) but considering that this kitchen apparently throws none of it’s food away, I guess that’s how you get birds in your kitchen? Beyond that, the seafood sauce had a dead lobster inside of it, not a cooked lobster but a dead lobster and there was enough food to feed an entire army. This stereotypical italian family has a stereotypical italian American argument between mother and son in which you can tell that the son is simply overwhelmed and there are just certain people that can’t handle the stress that comes from running a retaurant let alone running and cooking for that restaurant and it was clear that Micheal was just in over his head, and so he compensated by ordering enough meat to feed an army and talking about running away to his best friend, that pigeon.
2. Hoarders and Restaurants Don’t Mix
There are a few personality traits that don’t mix with being responsible for food safety, cleanliness and just a general good atmosphere for a restaurant and at the top of that list has to be whatever traits lead someone to hoarding. While food hoarding can make sense, for a failing restaurant it’d be hard to throw away any meat or produce but beyond that keeping old broken down pieces of furniture and equipment makes little to no sense. This is a two-part disgusting video that is summed up by Ramsay stating that “This place is littered with shit”, and you’ll understand his point of view when you’ll hear how he found some years old shoes hidden underneath one of the booths in the restaurant, a joker card in one of the seats in the lobby and lots and lots of rotten meat juice. On top of that, there’s the cross-contamination from cooked food and uncooked food, food equipment and the inside of a wall and just crap everywhere. This is definitely one of the bloodiest kitchens in the world and like Ramsay states, it’s “Criminal” and to sum up the cluelessness of Randy, when Ramsay asks why they need so much “Shit”, Randy says “We serve that, Shit”, with clueless pride. Good riddance.
1. This One Takes the Cake
This restauran prided itself on it’s fast food service and apparently it’s equally fast food returns from it’s customers and perhaps if they’d taken their time, at least with Ramsey around, they would’ve avoided him going into the walk-in freezer, at least when he did (or before they’d had a chance to hide all the evidence hiding in that house of horrors). This video is rough, and it’s clear that the amount of negligence and filth really has put Ramsay over the edge as he typically doesn’t reach the levels of screaming and just confusion that he does on his other whose like Hell’s Kitchen (because that’s part of him prepping those chefs for the high pressure world of running a restaurant that clearly a lot of people can’t handle) and because he typically has empathy for people in the restaurant business. However, this video shows Ramsay at prime levels of Ramsay-ness, screaming expletives and really doing it in a way that might work on someone who’d let things get the filthy in the first place. He makes it about money and that’s something that a failing restaurant owner might understand, even if he’s clearly been a slob long enough to let his kitchen reach those levels. At least there wasn’t a pigeon flying around, I guess?