Kitchen Nightmares

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Kitchen Nightmares Episode Recaps

Spanish Pavilion

Spanish Pavilion

Aired: 1/21/11

As the third season of "Kitchen Nightmares" commences, Chef Ramsay sets out to help the struggling Spanish Pavillion Restaurant in Harrison, New Jersey. The family business was opened in 1976 by Antonio Fernandez; 20 years later, he left the successful restaurant to his daughter Balbina and her two sons, Michael and Jerry. When they took over the business, the eatery was the place to be, with lines out the door. These days? Not so much.

The restaurant's cooks and manager explain that customers complain about the food and don't think Michael and Jerry care about the business anymore. There are also complaints from the staff that Michael, who is supposed to be the head chef, is barely in the kitchen anymore. Michael, meanwhile, feels that his brother is the one who shirks his restaurant responsibilities since he recently became a town councilman. Jerry admits that sometimes he doesn't even want to be at the restaurant, thanks to Michael's incessant screaming and yelling, which wears him out.

Mom Balbina finds herself in the middle of her sons' bickering and spends most of her time making sure they don't kill each other. One thing's clear: Spanish Pavillion is in trouble. On a Saturday night, the restaurant will only do 10 to 20 dinners, says Michael, and it has debts of more than $500,000. Michael breaks down crying and says that he'll do whatever it takes to succeed.

Chef Ramsay arrives during lunch and tells the waiters that they look like undertakers in their formal tuxedoes. After being introduced to Jerry and Balbina, Chef Ramsay has a seat at a table, where Jerry gives him a little history of the restaurant. The Chef orders the lobster bisque, the paella marinara, and a chicken dish in garlic sauce, recommended by his waiter, Joe.

When the soup arrives, Chef Ramsay says it looks disgusting and that the lobster looks like it was "dead before they cooked it." Jerry assures him that the lobster came from the tank in the restaurant, so Chef Ramsay checks it out himself and, sure enough, he finds a dead lobster. That could mean that the other lobsters are full of bacteria if they've been feeding off their dead tankmate. Michael finally emerges from the kitchen and tells Chef Ramsay that the staff checks the lobster tank every day.

Next up, the chicken and garlic arrives and Chef Ramsay must drain off the olive oil that the meat is swimming in. He declares the chicken itself absolutely dreadful. Jerry admits that it's dry, and Chef Ramsay sends the plate back to Michael in the kitchen, who insists that it's great. Chef Ramsay says if Michael thinks it's good chicken then Chef Ramsay is "screwed." The paella is overseasoned and overcooked, and Jerry is embarrassed it was even sent out of the kitchen. After sharing his opinions with the staff, Chef Ramsay is surprised to hear that Michael didn't cook a single thing and didn't even taste the items before they went out to the dining room.

Later, Chef Ramsay observes a dinner service, which starts out with Michael behind the bar, rather than in the kitchen. Dishes soon start getting sent back to the kitchen - including raw chicken and undercooked scallops. Both brothers rush back into the kitchen where, instead of improving the situation, they start arguing with each other and the kitchen staff. Things get so out of control that Michael ends up violently shoving cook Al.

While Michael cools down outside, the kitchen pulls it together and sends out the last orders of the evening. After Spanish Pavillion shuts down for the night, Chef Ramsay tells the gang that he's never seen such a disorganized, fragmented service.

Chef Ramsay arrives early the next morning to do a little investigating. He finds bags and buckets of unlabeled shellfish in the freezer, and the walk-in refrigerator is jam-packed with way too much meat and poultry. The upstairs fridge is even worse, with more dead lobsters, disgusting storage bins, and even a pigeon flying around the kitchen.

When the owners arrive, Chef Ramsay shows them what he's found and tells Michael he's burning through money by buying so much food ahead of time. Michael accepts the blame and says that he's overwhelmed. When Balbina tells Chef Ramsay that what she's seen today isn't the Spanish Pavillion she knows, he tells her that her sons are going to have to work together to make the place succeed.

Later, Chef Ramsay gives Michael a lesson in how to make a modern version of a garlic chicken. Next, Michael makes an octopus dish, and (surprise!) Chef Ramsay likes it. Both items become that night's specials, but waiter Joe has some trouble remembering the new dishes after dealing with the same menu for 20 years.

During dinner service, Michael works behind the line while Jerry is at the pass. Michael is not all that confident, but not only do customers order the specials, they're also thrilled with what they get. But later, as the orders roll in, Michael starts to buckle under the pressure, and customers get frustrated with the long wait. When a customer sends back a chicken special, Chef Ramsay is horrified to find out that they've used spoiled chicken... and no one in the kitchen even noticed.

Finally, (unspoiled) food starts leaving the kitchen again, thanks to Jerry's stepping up to lead, and most customers leave happy with their meals. Chef Ramsay tells the owners and staff that the quality control has to be much better, but Jerry's performance tonight was "bloody good."

Overnight, Spanish Pavillion gets a modern makeover with updated tables, china, and color schemes, and a new warm, inviting atmosphere. The next day, Jerry, Michael, and Balbina are thrilled to see the improvements. Chef Ramsay shows them a map of the 40 other Spanish restaurants within a two-mile radius. It's an opportunity for them to stand out, since those eateries are all serving the same old food. He shows them a table full of the menu's new homemade, authentic tapas dishes, including lamb meatballs, bacon-wrapped dates, and sautéed prawns with garlic. This is going to be the menu that turns things around for Spanish Pavillion. And now for an even bigger change - no more tuxedoes for the waiters!

It's time for the big debut dinner service, and both brothers are concerned about how the other will do. The kitchen gets a great start, and the customers love the new tapas plates. But as the dining room fills up and a party of 12 arrives, things get a bit chaotic, and Michael starts getting confused, which turns the dining room into a waiting room. As Jerry tries to restore communication, it becomes clear that Michael simply isn't listening. Michael starts to lose his cool, and Chef Ramsay calls him aside. He tells him that he has to keep it together and show his brother some respect. Michael manages to turn things around, and the team completes dinner service on a high note.

Later, Chef Ramsay tells Balbina, Michael, Jerry, and the staff members that tonight confirmed that Spanish Pavillion is back on the map and ready to compete since they've made an amazing transformation. Chef Ramsay then privately tells the brothers that they have the opportunity to turn the restaurant around. Jerry is a great leader and if Michael stays focused, he'll get there. Michael admits that Chef Ramsay did more to help than he ever expected.

In the weeks that followed, Jerry embraced his new role as expediter, spending more time at the restaurant, while Michael remained in the kitchen and customers continued to be impressed with Spanish Pavillion's new and improved food.

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