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Chef Gordon Ramsay restores hope to reality television

Updated on June 16, 2013

Chef Gordon Ramsay

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Acclaimed chef Gordon Ramsay and the reality television show star of Kitchen Nightmares gave viewers something to talk about Friday night with the latest installment of his hit television show. He finally walked away from an attempt to save a restaurant.

There are countless reality television shows that have experts in the industry helping out business owners in dire straits. SpikeTV's Bar Rescue shows bar expert Jon Taffer helping bars that are in dire straits, not only teaching the staff and renovating the bar, but providing them with a completely new concept to help them succeed. Bravo’s Tabitha Takes Over has renowned hairstylist Tabitha Coffey helping struggling hair salons, bars, hotels, etc to clean up their mess and get their acts together. Food Network has Chef Robert Irvine fix up restaurants on Restaurants Impossible. Finally, Chef Ramsay has two television shows to help restaurants and hotels: Kitchen Nightmares and Hotel Hell.

Kitchen Nightmares has a long history on television. The show first appeared on the BBC as Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares in 2004. The United States saw their own version of the show in 2007, aptly titled Kitchen Nightmares. In 2009, Ramsay opted not to continue his contract for his UK show, while the American show has been going strong ever since its inception. Ramsay also is the host of Hell's Kitchen, Master Chef and Hotel Hell.

Some businesses still fail after getting expert help. Tabitha Takes Over, for instance, saw the closure of approximately 10 businesses out of the 40 they helped in the first four seasons of the show. That’s a 25% closure rate, and infers that the owners either didn’t learn or didn’t care enough to learn their lessons and keep their businesses open. Some may wonder if the business is only in it for the publicity or the renovation, with no intentions of ever following the prescribed changes that are meant to give success.

In all shows that involve rescuing a business, there are episodes that make the viewer wonder why the host bothers trying. Some are completely worthless as business owners, making mistakes that can make us scream at our televisions in horror at the amateurish business decisions. Others are horrible human beings who scream at their staff and mistreat customers in a manner that begs the question, why are they in a business that requires customer service and dealing with the public?

Of all the businesses ever portrayed on this brand of reality television, ABC Bistro (or Amy’s Baking Company) literally takes the cake. The Scottsdale, Arizona pizzeria and bakery was featured on Kitchen Nightmares on Friday, May 11, 2013 episode of the popular reality television show. The restaurant, which cannot decide if it is a bakery, pizzeria or bistro (even their own website has different descriptions for the restaurant, as well as different names to also include Amy's Pizzeria and Bakery) was in need of more than a renovation. Owners Samy and Amy Bouzaglo gave a display of misguided arrogance that was enough to stump anyone, Chef Ramsay included.

The episode began with the airing of what film crews caught in the day leading up to Chef Ramsay’s arrival at ABC Bistro. Among other atrocities, owner Samy yelled at and physically assaulted a customer who was questioning the delay of over an hour on a pizza he ordered. Co-owner and head chef Amy came out to verbally abuse the customer alongside Samy, and threatened to call the police on the customer. Samy screamed at the customer that he must pay for the pizza, which he never received. Amy continued yelling at the customer until he was allowed to leave.

If that scene was not enough, Samy and Amy told Chef Ramsay that their problem wasn’t their food, but their customers who criticized them online. They referred to them as “online bullies” and “haters”. They said that whenever someone posted a bad review online, they would attack back since they were attacked first. Chef Ramsay was appalled at this behavior, but it was just the beginning. First he found that their desserts were wonderful, but upon further investigation he found the rest of the food terrible. The pizza he received had undercooked dough, the burger was a mishmosh of flavors that proved incompatible and had a soggy bun, the salmon burger was a dry salmon cake with a dry bun, and the ravioli was inedible. He was told by owner Samy as he ordered that the ravioli was made fresh, yet he found out that it was frozen ravioli, which Amy defended every step of the way as the best ravioli.

Chef Ramsay soon found that their bad food was not their biggest problem. Amy refused to take criticism, cutting off Chef Ramsay’s words at every possible turn. She interrupted him so much that she continued to believe he said the salmon burger was dry with a soggy bun, when he clearly said the burger had a soggy bun and the salmon burger had a dry bun. She also said he never told her what was wrong with the food, which is baffling since she clearly confused his comments on the burger and salmon burger and therefore must have heard some criticism. She soon turned her “the-world-is-against-us” conspiracy theory against Chef Ramsay himself, as he became one of the “haters” who inexplicably wanted to bring her down. The Botox-ridden food diva could not bring herself to admit she may not be able to cook. This was mainly because her husband shielded her from criticism her entire cooking career. He told her nothing was wrong with the food, and the waitress was expected to put food directly in the bin for dishes to be washed instead of inform the wannabe chef of the returned food items.

ABC Bistro owners refuse to let waitstaff keep tips

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To make matters worse, the owners perpetrated possibly the worst scam on their customers in the history of restaurants. Tips that were left for the wait staff ended up directly in the owners’ pockets. The wait staff was not allowed to keep any tips, and the owners readily admitted that they kept all tips. Samy’s reasoning? Because he did most of the work. Yet he refused to allow the waitress to use the POS system, which she had used in countless jobs before ABC Bistro. This and other actions on the part of Samy limited the duties the wait staff was allowed to perform. It feels as if this was a deliberate act in a selfish attempt to lend credence to his claim that he did most of the work and therefore deserved to keep their tips.

The maltreatment of the staff did not end there. A food runner was publicly humiliated and wrongfully terminated on national television for confirming to which table the food was to be delivered. Amy had told her one table, then corrected herself, and the food runner rightfully asked, “Are you sure?” Amy took that as a slight and berated the food runner then and there. The mistreatment and humilation continued after that night’s service, where Amy screamed at the food runner before firing her, all while cameras rolled. If you are appalled at this incident, know that this manner of treating the staff is par for the course. Chef Ramsay had met with two previous employees to get an understanding as to the manner ABC Bistro operated. He was told that they had fired around 50 employees in a year and a half. When confronted with this knowledge, Amy lied and said that they had not done that and the former employee was lying. Yet Samy immediately contradicted Amy and stated they fired over 100 staff members in a year’s time – far worse than what the former employee stated. Amy did not even begin to admit she was wrong; instead she became frantic and left the table, stating she had nothing to eat or drink in the past day and needed some water.

Within a matter of minutes of this conversation, Chef Ramsay threw in the towel. He said that he was there to help, but for the first time in Kitchen Nightmare history, he had found owners that could not be helped. With that, the crew packed up and left.

With Chef Ramsay’s final speech at the end of the episode, it was clear that he sees Kitchen Nightmares as more than a television show. He views it as a way he could share his secrets of success with struggling business owners and help them thrive in one of the toughest industries to own a business. Chef Ramsay truly has passion for what he does, and he wants to instill passion where it has been lost in other owners and chefs. He truly cares about the businesses he helps and, more importantly, cares about the customers that patronize these restaurants. When viewers see owners who do not care get help for their business, they wonder why the host of the show doesn’t just walk out and help those that really need it. Yet with this episode of Kitchen Nightmares, Chef Ramsay restores hope to reality television. One can only hope that other hosts of similar shows take note of Chef Ramsay’s bold actions and also walk out on the undeserving.

Yelp! ~ a popular review website

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Since the airing of the episode, the owners have claimed they were misrepresented and that they don’t yell at their customers and their food is great, yet a review of Yelp! demonstrates otherwise. Looking at their reviews before the episode aired shows that they were terrible people even back in 2010. One can easily find their attacks back at those who gave bad reviews, written there for the whole world to see what kind of people they truly are. It doesn’t take a television show to tell us they are bad people who will never change. The public has shown their response to the airing of the episode and how they feel about the owners’ mistreatment of staff and customers like. A Yelp! campaign has been launched to shut down this restaurant. As of last night, there were 603 Yelp! reviews, most of which were prompted from the airing of Kitchen Nightmares. Many have been removed, leaving 484 reviews at the writing of this Hub. New reviews are being added constantly. In addition, ABC Bistro’s Facebook page has lit up like the fourth of July with Amy’s “haters” expressing their disdain for the couple and their behavior.

Don’t take the word of this Hub, Yelp! or Facebook. Judge Samy and Amy for yourself. Watch the full episode here: http://www.fox.com/kitchennightmares/full-episodes/29299267648/amy-s-baking-company

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    • zaton profile image

      Zaton-Taran 3 years ago from California

      Very good summation, Angie. I saw this episode online (the only episode I've ever seen of Chef Ramsey's show) and was engrossed. It was almost mind-boggling. I fear the people who own that restaurant need mental health treatment, to be so clueless. Great hub!

    • LennyP profile image

      LennyP 3 years ago from Iowa

      I much prefer the British version of Kitchen Nightmares. The American version is so over edited and sensationalized. The British version is much more down to earth and Ramsay behaves like a human being who is trying to help people.

    • Angie Martin profile image
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      Angie Martin 3 years ago from Frazier Park, California

      I'm right there with you, Lenny!

    • tonymead60 profile image

      Tony Mead 3 years ago from Yorkshire

      Angie

      a well written and interersting argument on behalf of chef Ramsey.

      I've seen his shows over the years and I don't like the chap at all. I don't like his bullying or his use of foul language. He is often right but there are better ways of telling people that they are wrong than f.ing and blinding at them.

      We have far better chef's in this country than him and they don't need to use the constant flow of gutter language that he uses.

      regards

      Tony

    • Angie Martin profile image
      Author

      Angie Martin 3 years ago from Frazier Park, California

      I am right there with you on the foul language and bullying. I personally do not curse, so I find it difficult to listen to those that litter their sentences with it. Yet, I do think overall he is a good chef. Is he the best? Not at all. But producers are more concerned with entertainment value than who is the best. I have long since been fed up with reality television, but found it fascinating that in this one episode, he stood up to someone who deserved it and they didn't get all the free renovations, like so many other undeserving business owners. Thanks for your comments!

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