Gordon Ramsay’s famous television show, Kitchen Nightmares, has seen it’s fair share of wacky restaurant owners over the years. However, one of the strangest was restaurant manager Nino, of the aptly named Italian restaurant Nino’s. Not everyone knows about Nino’s most iconic appearances on the show, so we searched for the best Nino moments to catch you up to speed on his bizarre and hilarious antics!
10. Nino’s Cleaning Talk
When Ramsay first walks into the restaurant in Long Beach, he is not expecting to be dealing with a guy quite like Nino. At first they get off to a good start, as Ramsay sits down with the family to get a feel for the daily operations of the restaurants. Nino reassures Ramsay that he is a hardworking man, claiming that he does all the janitorial work around the dining rooms and kitchen. Ramsay is skeptically impressed, but Nino doesn’t stop there and continues to list everything he does, from cleaning bathrooms to dusting off old bottles suspended from the ceiling to cleaning booths. In fact, Nino jumps up to give Ramsay a little demonstration of his cleaning talents, pulling apart a booth seat to try and show where exactly he cleans. Nino’s family is watching this cleaning demonstration as well, and his sister Carina, brother Mike, and mother Inge are less than happy. Ramsay definitely has his hands full with this family!
9. Disgusting Dining Room
While Nino is supposed to be the restaurant manager in charge of both the kitchen and dining room, Ramsay starts to question how much he really manages once he is shown the dining room. One of the worst feelings is accidentally brushing against someone else’s old gum stuck to a piece of furniture, something that Ramsay unfortunately experiences when he tries to sit at a dining room table. While Nino is begging Ramsay not to judge him too soon and bragging more about his cleanliness, Ramsay is revolted as his knees hit piles of old gum stuck to the table! Nino tries to say that there are only four pieces underneath the table, a lie that becomes more and more obvious as Ramsay uses a knife to scrap off piece after piece. Ramsay gets a slap on the wrist from Nino, who berates him for scarping off the gum during business hours. When Ramsay sarcastically asks when he should do it instead, Nino laughs and tells him to come in at 8am the next morning to clean with him. Ramsay doesn’t find Nino’s jokes funny, and is even less amused when Nino implies that Ramsay would have old gum on tables at his restaurants too. As a Michelin star winning chef with fancy restaurants open all over North America and Europe, Ramsay is furious and quickly lays down the law, assuring Nino that his standards are far higher.
8. High Standards Nino
One of the first things that Ramsay always does when he arrives at a Kitchen Nightmares restaurant is obvious – he has to taste the food. After his initial meeting with Nino and his family, Ramsay sits down to order some classic Italian dishes… or so he thinks. He is first served with a plate of chicken piccata, which he labels as dreadful after his first taste. Nino immediately ambles over to see what the fuss is about, and Ramsay asks Nino to touch the chicken to see how gross it feels. Nino doesn’t appreciate Ramsay’s criticism whatsoever, and refuses to test the chicken. Ramsay is confused that Nino won’t just touch the chicken to see how soggy it is, but Nino is not backing down. Nino explains that he’d test food in the kitchen, but believes that it’s unacceptable to quality test food in the dining room. This act of superiority is too much for Ramsay, who cuts him off right there. Ramsay is furious that Nino had no problem with seating him at a table covered in old chewing gum with cobwebs everywhere, but draws the line at simply touching a piece of food with his finger. Nino grows more and more defensive as Ramsay calls him out for being in denial and crazy, but in classic Nino fashion Nino just laughs it off and walks away, leaving behind a very confused Ramsay!
7. Meatball Madness
Ramsay’s tasting experience only gets worse as his pasta is later followed by a dish consisting of a single meatball. After taking his first bite, Ramsay declares that the meatball tastes 54 years old and is nothing but mush. Once again Nino is forced to face the reality of his food, as it is not quite living up to his ten out of ten rating. As Ramsay begins to attack the marinara sauce that the meatball came in, Nino gets saucy himself and claims that it’s all a matter of taste. Ramsay demands to know when the meatball was made, and Nino promises that he watched it being made just two days earlier. When Ramsay asks if Nino is too scared of the chefs to double check, Nino jumps in and says that he is not a guy who’d be afraid of his chefs. To add more fuel to the fire, Nino adds that he is definitely not scared of Ramsay either. Obviously not expecting this defensive reaction, Ramsay tries to figure out if Nino is threatening him. Things get a little more awkward for Nino as he finally does ask a chef when the meatballs were cooked – and he finds out that they are actually five days old! Maybe that will teach Nino to debate about food with Chef Ramsay!
6. Nino’s Time Off
In his initial meeting with Ramsay, Nino makes it seem like he puts in nine hour days at the restaurant every single day. However, when Ramsay arrives to observe a typical dinner service at the restaurant, Nino isn’t exactly the hard worker that he claims to be. Ramsay watches as Nino’s siblings rush around the restaurant seating guests, running the kitchen, and expediting food. Nino, on the other hand, prefers to disappear into a room and catch up on his favourite TV shows! Naturally Ramsay and the family are not amused by Nino’s laziness, and things only get worse when Nino walks out of dinner service to hang out with his mom and dad for a relaxing family dinner. While most restaurant workers would be stressed about running a perfect dinner service, Nino is more than happy to bail on his siblings and enjoy his mom’s home cooking! When his mom gently tries to chastise him for doing no work, Nino complains that he hasn’t eaten all day. Unfortunately for Nino, Ramsay isn’t very sympathetic! By the time Nino finally plods back into the kitchen, he still isn’t ready to work. He decides to just stand awkwardly at a table in the dining room, looming over customers and looking like a very creepy dinner guest. His sister Carina explains that this is a typical day for Nino – watch TV, eat, and intimidate customers, with as little actual work as possible!
5. Nino’s Early Retirement
After Ramsay tastes the disastrous dining menu, he has to talk about the restaurant’s numerous issues with Nino and the rest of the family. By this point in time Ramsay has realized that Nino doesn’t respond the best to constructive criticism, but he tries one more time to make Nino see how terrible the food is. Unfortunately, Ramsay’s efforts are in vain. As Ramsay calls the food furry and old, Nino keeps claiming that he makes the best Italian food ever. His brother Mike is clearly not on Nino’s side, and states in an interview that he thinks that Nino has to be unstable to believe the things that he does. While his family just shake their heads in exasperation, Nino talks about how all of his friends always come to the restaurant to eat – ignoring the fact that the restaurant is filthy, hugely in debt, and practically empty most days. Ramsay grows so frustrated by Nino’s ridiculous arguments that he has to leave and go for a walk, while Nino continues to laugh at everything Ramsay has tried to say. With the family now alone together, Nino attempts to get some pity from his family by saying that Ramsay is targeting him, but everyone else sides with Ramsay. Mike blows up at his brother, calling Nino the biggest problem in the restaurant and saying that he should be forced into an early retirement! An all out family argument ensues, with Nino continuing to avoid taking any sort of responsibility.
4. Nino Gets Nasty
It’s never good to be described as the worst employee in a business, but it’s even more embarrassing to be described like that if you’re the person who’s supposed to be running the business! That’s the conundrum Nino finds himself in when Mike reveals just how useless Nino truly is… but the next Nino moment proves that Mike has a point. While customer service should be one of Nino’s principle concerns as restaurant manager, he instead attacks a group of customers when they claim to find a hair in their meal. Nino explodes at the accusation and starts to scream at the customers, creating a crazy story in which he blames them for planting a hair in their food. When the customer tries to refute Nino’s bizarre lie by showing how their hair colour doesn’t match the colour of the hair found in the food, Nino just blows it off by explaining that he himself is bald. Nino clearly is in denial that the hair is from one of his chefs or servers, and decides to keep blaming the customers instead – probably not the best form of customer service!
3. The Proof is in the Picture
When Ramsay first meets Nino, all Nino can talk about is how much time he invests in cleaning the restaurant from top to bottom. After this cleaning claim is proven wrong due to the numerous gum chunks attached to Ramsay’s table, Nino starts to feel protective of his weird cleaning tales. Ramsay returns to his table to find that Nino has slapped down a sheaf of photographs for him to look at – all of Nino cleaning. Ramsay can’t understand what was going on, as not many people take staged photos of themselves cleaning! Another strange thing to consider is that Nino would have had to have enlisted the help of someone else to stand back and take the photos of him cleaning, but none of his family admitted to performing the odd task. Also, it’s unclear just how long Nino had been preparing those photos to defend his bizarre cleaning stories – were they just for Ramsay, or had he been holding onto them for ages? Nino’s mother is equally befuddled, and she says that it doesn’t make sense to her why he would waste time taking those pictures in the first place. She destroys her own son when she says that if Nino cleans something, she should simply be able to look at the thing and see that it’s clean, instead of needed pictures to prove it! Ramsay agrees!
2. Nino’s Refrigerator Nightmare
After visiting so many floundering restaurants on Kitchen Nightmares, Ramsay has learned that some of the worst secrets are hiding in the kitchen refrigerators. During an abysmal dinner service Ramsay decides to do some exploring of Nino’s restaurant, slipping into the walk-in refrigerator at the back of the building. He is immediately greeted by disorder, with old mushrooms sprinkled across the floor in a room that obviously hasn’t been cleaned in weeks. Ramsay stumbles across a bag of the same meatballs he had eaten for lunch, and the chef insists that everything in the refrigerator is fresh from Friday. Ramsay isn’t convinced. He finds more disgusting things, from noodles swimming in a gross liquid to what looks like spoilt chicken pieces. Ramsay runs to fetch Nino, who claims to be completely knowledgeable of everything in the refrigerators. Nino digs his own hole even further by lying and telling Ramsay that he does a full cleaning of the refrigerators every single night – which is impossible given the state of spoilt food inside. Nino refuses to take responsibility for the open bags of meat, and when Ramsay finds a disgustingly wilted red pepper Nino starts to make up new stories. Nino claims that peppers can spontaneously go bad insanely fast, and then denies that the restaurant would ever serve something like that. He ignores the point about how unsanitary and dangerous his food storage practices are, and brushes it off by saying that he can’t do everything right. So far he hasn’t done anything right!
1. My Name is Ninooo!
Throughout this episode of Kitchen Nightmares, it becomes clear to Ramsay that there is a huge rift between Nino and the rest of his family, especially when it comes to Nino and Mike. Mike verbalizes his frustrations with Nino over and over throughout the show, calling Nino lazy, a bad worker, and a bad son. All of their tensions culminate during an argument about what Nino actually does for the restaurant. Mike grows increasingly sarcastic with Nino, before snapping and calling Nino a pathological liar. If you’ve learnt anything about Nino by now, you’ll know that Nino doesn’t take that kind of comment laying down. Nino fires back that Mike is just biased against him because he’s attending a recovery program while Mike lives in a fantasy world. Then Mike starts in on his iconic tirade against Nino, bashing him for doing nothing around the restaurant. In a fit of passion, Mike mimics Nino approaching customers, throwing his chest out and exclaiming, “Hello, my name’s Ninooo!” As Ramsay watches this absurd scene unfold he has to bury his face in his hands, overcome by the craziness that is Nino and his family. Mike’s hilarious Nino impression has become a memorable moment for all Kitchen Nightmares fans, with countless remixes and memes spawning off from the original. It looks like our friend Nino will go down in history after all!