Gordon Ramsay's shows are always famous for his raw honesty, his yelling, and his hurtful (but—let's face it—funny) insults. Fortunately, Kitchen Nightmares wasn't spared from any of that.
This particular series first aired in 2004 in the UK for 6 seasons and then migrated to the US, where it ran for another 7 seasons, each fluctuating in numbers of episodes. It revolved firmly around Gordon Ramsay paying a visit to a different restaurant every episode and essentially tearing it apart for its own good.
Ramsay judged the eateries based on their menu, appearance, kitchen, and service—and we already know how harsh this infamous chef is with his words and his tone. No one's complaining; it makes for great entertainment, and we have to remember that most of it's exaggerated just for us viewers. Ramsay goes on to transform everything he dislikes and thinks will bring in more business—but at the price of his temper.
"Change" is very much the key word in this article—for the better and the worse. Something either starts off bad and is changed for the better, changed for the worse, or changed for the better but still fails for other reasons.
As you'll find out soon, there are a few things that we didn't know about Gordon Ramsay and the behind-the-scenes of his Kitchen Nightmares. Some have to do with Ramsay himself, the overall production of the show, reports and statistics, the owners, and the businesses themselves.
20 Sometimes, The Food Wasn't As Bad As It Was Made Out To Seem
The entire show was based on the dwindling quality of the restaurants featured on it, so it may come as a surprise to hear that the quality of food wasn't always that bad. Sometimes, this was exaggerated to entertain viewers, or Ramsay's superior palate just made too big a deal of small imperfections compared to what he's used to eating.
One of the eateries, Finn McCool's, had Spring Rolls removed from the menu since Ramsay thought they were disgusting. Those Spring Rolls were actually a customer favorite and were put back on the menu for that reason.
But sometimes, it really was that bad. At Amy's Baking Company, customers were witnessed sending back their food, genuinely disappointed by it.
19 The Rat In The "Blackberry's" Episode Was Real
The first episode of season 5 featured the Blackberry's eatery where there was sound criticism about the food and a rat that stole its five seconds of fame on camera.
Ratatouille's appearance was a complete surprise and 100% not planted for the viewers' entertainment. Although the rodent didn't do any cooking, it did cause a massive scene in the kitchen and made for great entertainment.
Despite being a relatively clean restaurant, Blackberry's was no stranger to rats solely due to the neighborhood where they were located. After just seeing the buildings across the street from their business, you'd know where that rat traveled from.
18 One Restaurant Closed Before The Episode Aired
Lela's is the restaurant in question. It was reported that the restaurant's website had been shut down before its episode aired on television. This really isn't a surprise, considering their history.
Before Ramsay was asked onboard to help out, the restaurant was struggling so much only eight months into the business that they were considering shutting down. At the end of the episode, the message that flashed across the screen stated that they were, in fact, closed due to severe debt.
Makes you wonder how Gordon Ramsay feels about these situations. Is he happy because these restaurants were just bad? Or does he feel guilty about the part he played in their closing?
17 The Infamous Episode "Amy's Baking Company" Was 100% Real
If you watched the episode that featured Amy's Baking Company, you might've noticed that the two owners weren't quite all there.
It wasn't even about Gordon Ramsay or the show itself per se. The owners already had a reputation of threatening customers for giving bad reviews and ranting over social media. It's no wonder they closed their doors!
There was so much conflict within this eatery that the Kitchen Nightmares crew didn't get to finish their transformation by the end of the episode. The owners had too many severe tantrums and blowups, and the food was claimed to be mediocre at best.
16 Gordon Ramsay's Temper Bursts During Filming
Ramsay is famous for his on-camera outbursts. We, as viewers, laugh when this happens because a lot of the times, he comes up with funny ways to express his frustration.
The question here was always: is he genuine or is he acting? The answer to that: It's genuine in any real-life kitchen.
It isn't just a show for the cameras; it's how he is. It's how he copes with the imperfection and injustice of the food he's dealing with. Let's not forget that food, and high-quality food, specifically, is what Gordon Ramsay is passionate about.
However, it is indeed purposely taken to a higher level than usual.
15 Most Of The Restaurants Featured On The Show Closed Down
Despite the fact that Gordon Ramsay visited these eateries in hopes of reinventing and reviving them, 80% of the ones featured throughout the series ended up boarding their doors shut shortly after their episodes aired.
Given the fact that the restaurants were already doing bad and that was the reason they had the professional chef turn his cameras on to yell at them in the first place, it could be expected. His transformations may have cut it in the beginning, and his celebrity appearance might have created a buzz of popularity for the restaurants, but these things can wear off quickly, especially if the quality of food, service and the cleanliness aren't kept up following his departure.
14 A Restaurant That Closed Claimed It Was Due To Its Makeover
Sometimes, things go south for the restaurants featured on Kitchen Nightmares, like for Chappy's, but we have to ask—if things were going well enough to have roughly 200 customers a night, why be on the show?
The owner of Chappy's claims that Gordon Ramsay ruined his business with the changes he made. It seems that nothing on the menu survived the transformation, which didn't sit well with his customers and led to a decrease in foot traffic.
If these claims are true and that's the real reason business declined for Chappy's, that's a tragic fate for a passionate restaurant owner.
What's most tragic is that the official reason for the restaurant closing its doors was due to taxes not being paid.
13 Ramsay Didn't Interact As Much With Owners As It Was Implied
Despite what Kitchen Nightmares make you think, Ramsay doesn’t actually spend that much time with the owners of the restaurants featured in the episodes.
We're made to believe that the chef is there from day one, teaching and developing the owners for success. The reality is that the only time he actually takes to even converse with them is on camera.
The producers are there every step of the way, sometimes probing the business owners with manipulative questions that could lead to on-camera outbursts, but not Ramsay.
He hardly interacts with the owners, but in the end, they're usually happy with the results of the work of the Kitchen Nightmares team.
12 Free Meals Offered At Ramsay's Arrival For Overbooking
It seems the plates were compensated in cost for the customers but also that not all the customers were real. There were extras hired to sit in at the restaurant on top of the regular diners.
This is actually presented as a disclaimer that flashes over the screen for a few quick seconds at the end of each episode.
Considering that Ramsay is a celebrity chef and cameras are present, it's safe to believe this generates enough talk to have customers lining up to be part of it all. Throw in the guests hired, and you've got yourself an overbooked restaurant, causing chaos for the eatery and a boost in our entertainment.
11 Special Editing In Post-Production Adds To Drama
The same disclaimers flashing at the end of every Kitchen Nightmares episode as the previous one mentioned also states there's special editing to display drama to the audience. Some footage is edited to the point where film is moved around to create scenes or is used in different sequences.
This is done in every reality television show and is actually said to not be as heavily used for this particular one as for the others.
However, the actors hired in connection to the other disclaimers are encouraged to complain about their food or service, which also adds to non-editing-related drama.
10 Two Owners Of Restaurants Were Once Actors ‒ Coincidence?
Two owners—and these are only the ones we know of—whose restaurants were featured on Kitchen Nightmares had past experience in the craft of acting.
The first is Tatiana Leiva, who has her certificate from a London Academy. Don't let this deceive you‒acting isn't her career. She was originally the waitress of the eatery she now owns.
The second hidden talent is Sebastian Di Modica, owner of Sebastien's. After his restaurant closed down, he popped up in another movie in 2013. Both have IMDb pages you can visit.
It truly is just a coincidence that the backgrounds of these restaurant owners included dabbling in acting and has nothing to do with the production of Kitchen Nightmares.
9 The Owners Of One Restaurant Used Kitchen Nightmares
It seems that there was one eatery in particular that didn't actually need the assistance of Gordon Ramsay and wanted only to meet him. This is coming from someone who worked as a chef at this restaurant, but there were no specifics as to which one.
The owners took the golden opportunity they had before them to get the Kitchen Nightmares crew into their restaurant, let them change the menu and whatever else was needed, and then put everything right back to how it was prior the visit immediately after Ramsay's departure.
The business owners didn't actually need his help at all.
8 The Manager Of A Featured Restaurant Was Let Go On Camera
Let's get straight to the point on this one. The manager of Dillon's, the second episode of season 1 of Kitchen Nightmares, was fired on camera by Ramsay himself for the world to see.
Embarrassing, right? Would it be even more embarrassing if you were fired for all the wrong reasons on top of this?
Apparently, the manager only managed the bar and cabaret portion of the restaurant, which wasn't even featured on the show. The crew refused to film this part of the business, and it's where 70% of the revenue came from.
Matters of the kitchen, for which he was fired, weren't his responsibility.
7 One Restaurant Was Featured For Its Chef
Thinking on the lines of restaurants being featured on Kitchen Nightmares for the sole reason that they're in trouble would be false.
In one particular case, the reason the restaurant was chosen to be on the show was simply for its chef.
This chef had auditioned for Ramsay's other show, Hell's Kitchen, and was selected to be a participant; however, this auditionee decided against pushing through with his participation. He was a single father unable to leave his five-year-old child for six weeks for Los Angeles where the show is filmed.
Instead, Gordon Ramsay came to him in 2007 at the suggestion of a Kitchen Nightmares producer.
6 Gordon Ramsay Learned More About International Cuisine On Kitchen Nightmares
During one of the many interviews Ramsay has done to promote the show, he revealed that what he learned the most through filming Kitchen Nightmares was actually about International Cuisine.
He confessed that the research that goes into ethnic restaurants interests him and that he likes the authenticity of the food that comes out of it—so much so, that he has a new show coming out based on exactly that.
He'll be traveling the world in Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted, where he'll be exploring the cuisine and then holding a kitchen competition against the locals. The twist is that he'll be cooking with his own interpretations, rivaling the real deal that the locals will whip up.
5 Gordon Ramsay Never Watches His Own Shows
During another interview, Gordon Ramsay admitted to something else entirely: he doesn't watch any of his own shows.
Ramsay revealed that he refrains from watching his shows to avoid feeling self-conscious or becoming self-obsessed. He doesn't want to start thinking about getting a make-up artist or changing his walk.
He'd much rather be watching Deadliest Catch or going out to dinner (notice how they both revolve around food).
And this response came from a whole different question on whether he's ever gotten punched on the show before—Ramsay asked back if he really came across that angry on screen! He really has never seen himself…
4 Kitchen Nightmares Isn't Gordon Ramsay's Favorite Show
On his record between the UK and the US, Gordon Ramsay has a lot of productions that have helped chefs everywhere to achieve Michelin stars for their restaurants, but it seems this doesn't impress him. He's confessed that the show he's most proud of is actually a documentary called Shark Bait.
In an interview, he claims, "Shark Bait was an amazing documentary where I went off to Taiwan, hijacked a boat, and tried to stop finning‒shark fins and the decimation of sharks and the population. Shark Bait was one of the biggest and most prolific [shows] I've ever done."
3 All Of The Restaurants From Season 2 Closed
Season 2 of Kitchen Nightmares hosted all of 12 restaurants, and all 12 of these poor, unsuspecting businesses sadly closed down. This was inside the short span of 2 years.
That's a 100% closure rate for eateries that Gordon Ramsay tried to make better with reinvention.
Talk about a disappointing and cursed season! Ramsay must have felt responsible for these owners' failures...
The restaurants that are no longer in business are Handlebar, Giuseppi’s, Trobiano's, Black Pearl, J Willy’s, Hannah & Mason’s, Jack’s Waterfront, Sabatiello’s, Fiesta Sunrise, Sante Le Brea, Café 36, and Sushi Ko.
Was it done on purpose that the last episode of the season ended with a KO?
2 Ramsay Regrets Ending The Show
The only reason Kitchen Nightmares ended was that Gordon Ramsay was tired of seeing the restaurants he'd visited over the years reverting back to their old ways just to close their doors and then him getting the blame for it from the fans. He was the one receiving the whiplash from it all.
Ramsay seems to be the type of person who's passionate about his work and wants to share that with others as well as share his knowledge to help them succeed. So, when he set out to film this series, that's likely what was his goal was.
It isn't very fulfilling when you give your all to someone and then, when they don't listen, have to watch them fail and take the blame.
1 The Show Came Back
It has a similar concept to Kitchen Nightmares but with a spin: Ramsay has only 24 hours to transform the eateries into successful businesses. As previously confirmed, he did regret ending the show and just had to revive it in some way.
This chef knows just how hard it is to survive in the restaurant business and wants to continue trying to save and restore the livelihoods of these participants.
Ramsay also now has a mobile kitchen in his 70-foot trailer named "Hell on Wheels," and there, he teaches the staff how to cook.
Guess he really didn't like the nightmare-ish condition of those other kitchens...