Before Gordon Ramsay became a name chef in reality TV over in the United States, he was a name chef in reality TV over in the United Kingdom. He’s had his share of shows over there, but the one I’ve actually enjoyed the most is the one I’m reviewing here, Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. You may recognize the name from Fox’s Americanized version of the show, but viewers of BBC America/Canada or Food Network Canada would tell you that Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares is a superior version – and the International Emmy it received would seem to back up that claim. Mind you, it would seem that no one is winning the Reality Show Emmy in the U.S. as long as The Amazing Race is around.
Like most reailty shows, Kitchen Nightmares has a fairly standard format:
– Overview of the restaurant.
– Ramsay comes and samples the food.
– Ramsay tells the chefs and owners that the food sucks.
– The chefs/owners resist as Ramsay tries to make changes to the restaurant.
– The restaurant struggles as Ramsay brings in diners to illustrate what he was talking about.
– The chefs/owners cave to Ramsay’s suggestions, often a signature dish or theme.
– The restaurant brings in a hefty amount of money as Ramsay brings in people for a “relaunch”.
– Ramsay comes back in a month to do a quick check on the restaurant.
If you’ve watched the U.S. version of the show, you will notice that there’s less focus on the personal relationships and Ramsay swearing, and more of a focus on what is actually going wrong with the restaurant. I’m not going to lecture you on which version you should like better, but personally I find myself more drawn to the British style of the original – the U.S. version frankly seems to enjoy beating us over the head with issues and yelling. Everything seems more natural to me – but then I did marry a Brit, so maybe I’m just used to a British style.
The four episodes we get here focus on four restaurants – Bonapartes, The Glass House, The Walnut Tree and Moore Place. Of these, I think that I found Bonapartes to be the most interesting due to the story after the story: the London Evening Standard claimed that – based on the statements of the owner – Ramsay had faked much of the problems of the restaurant. Ramsay sued and won Â£75,000 in a settlement. I’m also a little partial to The Walnut Tree as well since that was the first episode I saw.
In addition to the four episodes, there is a “double dip” episode for each entitled Revisited which consists of a slightly condensed original episode and a new 5-10 minute segment where Ramsay goes back to the restaurant (anywhere from a month to a year later) to see how things are going. And it’s interesting, because while in the U.S. version everything is sunshine and roses with all the restaurants and details like managers disappearing are swept under the carpet, the UK Revisited segments give you a much more realistic story. Chefs relapse back into old habits. Owners still refuse to change. Strange as it might be, it’s refreshing to see things don’t always end up perfect and that Ramsay can, in fact, admit defeat.
The video is in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, with English subtitles. It’s nice enough for what it is, and is grainy enough to give you that documentary feel.
Production notes and a bio on Chef Gordon Ramsay.
A very entertaining disc that you’ll enjoy if you’re a fan of Ramsay or food. If you’re not into reality shows though, this probably won’t change your mind about it.
Acorn Media presents Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares: Complete Series One. Starring Gordon Ramsay. Running time: 387 minutes. Rated Unrated. Released on DVD: MARCH 03, 2009. Available at Amazon.
Tags: DVD, Gordon Ramsay, Kitchen Nightmares, reality TV