Like a knight in shining armor on a noble steed, Gordon Ramsay has spent years traveling across the United States, valiantly saving restaurants and diners from the brink of bankruptcy by giving them the people skills and culinary finesse required to run a successful one. As well as helping out the owners and staff of these restaurants with his show, Ramsay has also given us a show that is darn good fun to watch. People freak out and get mad and grow and it’s spectacular to watch. Here are 10 fascinating facts about the show that you won’t get from just watching it.
10. You may recognize the opening title theme
The opening title theme from the show is actually an old classical song that has a lot of history. It’s a traditional song from the Eastern Mediterranean region. The earliest recording of it is from 1927, the sound of which was influenced by the music of the Middle East. It has since been covered by Martin Denny, the Beach Boys, the Ventures, Consider the Source, and the Trashmen. It was also sampled by the Black Eyed Peas for their song “Pump It.” You probably recognize the more popular recording from 1962, a surf rock version by Dick Dale, since that’s the one that Gordon Ramsay has used for his opening title sequence (the one where he has knives thrown at him and then throws a knife at the camera, supposedly shattering our screen) and it’s also the one that Quentin Tarantino used for the cool opening credits of his darkly comic crime masterpiece Pulp Fiction. It plays right after Pumpkin and Honey Bunny begin robbing a diner and kicks off one of the most killer soundtracks in film history. These uses have all helped the song to become one of the most recognizable in all of popular culture, which is awesome.
9. The show has taught Gordon a lot about international cuisines
Gordon Ramsay does a lot of interviews to promote the show, and during one of them with a handful of reporters, he was asked what he had learned from doing the show, and surprisingly, he said that the thing he has learned the most about from doing this show is international cuisines. It’s certainly very interesting. He explained, “What I’ve learned more than anything is the research that goes into the ethnic restaurants. This year, Greek restaurants are highly gender, fusion, Asian. So, I quite like being selfish where you’re…and delving into, I suppose, the estimating importance of re-establishing it. We’ve just done a smokehouse here in Atlanta initially…It was amazing, but the whole setup was extraordinary. They had these $14,000 smokers, amazing. It was like Rolls Royces in the kitchen. I turned up and they served me smoked wings and they were smoked wings from three days ago. And yet, they were taking fresh wings out. They were so scared of being busy [that] they got themselves so booked out in advance with ordering the food and cooking on an industrial sort of level, as opposed to an authentic level. So, I love delving into that authenticity.” That’s great, right?
8. The show made Gordon tone down his swearing
Gordon Ramsay has always been known as the chef with the foul mouth who uses a lot of swear words. It certainly hasn’t made him any friends. Fellow celebrity chef Delia Smith has gone so far as to say that with all of his swearing, Ramsay is a disgrace to the culinary world. When he was asked about the rampant swearing on his show in an interview with the Guardian, he said, “Fuck!” But then he explained that his excessive use of bad language in the show has gotten him to reflect on his swearing and tone it down. “When you saw those two Kitchen Nightmares condensed into one – last year, when they had those 298 ‘fucks’ – I wasn’t proud of that. There has come a time when, at the age of 43, I’m getting a bit tired of the foul mouthed bully chef. But I’ve never tried to get the Great British blue rinse nation to start falling in love with me. I don’t want a radical change where I have to put a woolly hat and scarf on and go round every Women’s Institute and improve their Victoria sponge or show them a much better recipe for spotted dick.”
7. All of the restaurants featured in season 2 closed down
Over the course of seven seasons of the show, it was determined that 60% of the restaurants that were featured eventually closed down. No matter what Chef Ramsay came in and did – whether it was changing the look of the place or changing the menu or even changing the staff – those restaurants were still doomed and still had to close their doors. It is thought that season 2 of the show is cursed, because all of those restaurants closed. While 90% of the restaurants featured in season 1 eventually had to shut their doors and season 3 had a closure rate of 75%, season 2 boasts an astounding 100% rate of failure. Literally every single restaurant featured in the second season of the show was shut down within a couple of years of their episodes airing. There were twelve episodes in the second season of the show, although one of them was a “Revisited” special going back to check up on the progress of a restaurant that Gordon already made over in the first season. So, there were eleven restaurants in season 2 – Café 36, Fiesta Sunrise, Jack’s Waterfront, J. Willy’s, Trobianos, Handlebar, Sante Le Brea, Sabatiello’s, Hannah & Mason’s, Black Pearl, and Giuseppi’s – that all closed within a couple of years of being featured on the show.
6. The producers got the title from an on-camera Gordon Ramsay outburst
Gordon Ramsay is known for his angry outbursts on the job. While he was shooting the pilot episode of the show, he had one of his signature sweary outbursts that ended up giving the series its title. The producers were not sure what to call it. They had a few names under consideration, like “Kitchen S.O.S.” and “Ramsay to the Rescue,” but they weren’t really happy with any of them and they wanted to come up with something new that sounded snappier and fresher. They were still struggling with it when it came to the time of the follow up visit to the restaurant. The restaurant featured in the pilot episode was called Bonaparte’s and usually, during the follow up visit, Ramsay gets to congratulate the restauranteurs for taking on his advice and shaping up and finally having a super efficient and successful restaurant. But with Bonaparte’s that wasn’t the case. When Ramsay found out that the restaurant was in even worse shape when he came back to it than when he had first arrived to help them, he yelled out “This is a living fucking nightmare!” The producers loved the “nightmare” thing and it gave them a title to use.
5. Gordon Ramsay has noticed a shift in the reality TV landscape since he started
Although he is really a chef at heart, it’s hard to deny that Gordon Ramsay’s real job is that of an entertainer. He’s a TV star who has presented a ton of his own reality shows, from competition series to more Ramsay centric shows like this one. He said in an interview with Deadline that he’s noticed a shift in the reality TV landscape in his day. He said, “Well, viewers are so much savvier now than even a few years back. So, the integrity and the intelligence of the viewers today are far more important than ever before. Youngsters, especially my demographics, are bored more easily nowadays. So, I’m trying to change up the formats – I’m making them more vibrant and bringing in a little bit more realism in there, less fake. I think today, you have to be a little bit more honest and I’m trying to sort of…almost deglamorizing some of the shows, which is far more pleasing to the high octane sets and formats that worked ten years ago. Look at the success of The Voice and how the judges get up there and open up with a cracking song. They put themselves in the competitors’ situation more often and that’s what I’m doing now. But first of all, and this has never changed and never will, I take nothing for granted.”
4. Some of the subjects have accused the producers of misrepresenting them
As with pretty much any reality TV series or documentary, the subjects of Gordon Ramsay’s show have often criticized the producers for supposedly misrepresenting them in the edit. It is said that editing, if it’s done in a certain way, can make you look bad. Just ask anyone who’s been miffed with Sacha Baron Cohen in the past few weeks. But if there is footage of you doing something, then you did it. There’s no getting around that. Still, in a couple of cases, some of Ramsay’s subjects have objected to the way that they were portrayed. Martin Hyde of the Indian restaurant Dillon’s in New York actually tried to sue the producers in 2007 when he claimed that the show was edited to make him look like an “angry” boss and “a lazy idiot,” and that the “satisfied” customers who came into his restaurant after Ramsay’s makeover were actually just extras who the producers had hired. He said that his restaurant’s biggest earner of revenue is its cabaret bar, which the producers apparently refused to film. Hyde said, “I’d love people to be able to see the unedited footage. Gordon called me a fake – but the whole show is a fake.” The lawsuit was eventually thrown out by a judge, so make of that what you will.
3. Ramsay has figured out the pattern of why restaurants fail
After spending so much time at failing restaurants and fixing them, Gordon Ramsay has noticed a pattern in what makes restaurants fail. He explained, “Most of them become static. They forget to fight to move on. They get there and they open. They trade, but then they – unknown to them – they’re in a time warp from the first minute that door opened. The secret of any successful business in a restaurant is staying in front of your customers and moving on that person before with the lady in front of you. The secret is to stay in front of your customers, because once you’ve opened these businesses, you’re in it. The only way you can improve is by going and eating out, because you can’t disappear for two months and travel and understand. The biggest problem is, they get comfortable and then they forget to fight. They forget, okay, we have to move on. Everything has to evolve. You don’t need to go fine dining crazy, but you need to work up with new ideas. The staff is going to be inspired, and so they get complacent, because they think that they have a restaurant, but they don’t understand what’s open within a five mile radius. And that is something they need to know on a daily basis.”
2. The end credits contain two very telling disclaimers
In the end credits of every episode of this show, there are two telling disclaimers that shed some light on the way that each episode is made. The first one says this: “The producers may have provided customers at the restaurant with a financial contribution towards the cost of their meal.” So, when the Gordon Ramsay makeover of the restaurant and its menu gets “some buzz” around town and attracts customers to the place until it is “fully booked,” what is really happening is that the producers are paying people off to come in. The second disclaimer says this: “The footage shot in this program has been edited such that in places it is shown in a different time sequence than actually shot.” So, some of the reaction shots of people are taken from different points and aren’t actually genuine reactions to whatever happened right before it, or some outbursts aren’t directly related to some things that some people said. Since this is reality television and those kinds of practices are used all the time, it’s hardly surprising that the show isn’t entirely honest in its editing, but it will change the way that you watch the show and cause you to watch it with a grain of salt.
1. The infamous Amy’s Baking Company has since shut down
Gordon Ramsay has had to deal with a lot of terrible restauranteurs in his day. Some of them have been incredibly stubborn in thinking that their food is fine just the way it is and that the customers are the ones who are wrong. But few of them – maybe none of them – have been quite as terrible and quite as stubborn as the proprietors of Amy’s Baking Company. They threatened to stab their customers and responded viciously to negative online reviews and stole tips from their own employees and kicked people out if they dared to criticize the food. There have been very few times that Gordon Ramsay has found people to be so stubborn that they are beyond help, but in this case, he walked out. Well, it should come as no surprise that in 2015, a couple of years after Ramsay gave up on Amy’s Baking Company, the restaurant closed down. They posted on their social media accounts to announce the end of the restaurant with a black and white image of the sky marked with the words “THE END,” although the caption reads: “Or is it the beginning #amysbakingcompany #movingonup.” Let’s be honest, though, it probably is the end.