Kitchen Nightmares

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Kitchen Nightmares Episode Recaps

Kingston Cafe

Kingston Cafe

Aired: 4/15/11

Chef Ramsay is in Pasadena, California, to help the struggling Kingston Café, a Jamaican restaurant owned Dr. Una Morris, a practicing radiologist and three-time Olympian. Her son, Keone, is the manager, but the two don't see eye-to-eye on most things - especially when it comes to cooking dishes fresh-to-order. Keone wants to, but his mom doesn't.

She runs her restaurant with an iron fist, micromanaging every detail - from tablecloths to silverware placement, but she may be focusing on the wrong things considering that the place is empty and the diners who do come in are often unhappy. Waiter Matt says they're lucky if they get five customers in a day. Dr. Morris admits that Chef Ramsay is her last resort.

Before he heads to the restaurant, Chef Ramsay takes a meeting with Keone, who tells him his mother's "iron-fist" method of management is the eatery's biggest problem. Chef Ramsay nearly drives by Kingston Café since it looks like a house from the outside, but he makes it inside and sits down for lunch. As he passes the kitchen, he meets Una, who explains she "does everything" and is often in the kitchen too. She introduces her head chef, Daniel, but also explains that she - not Chef Daniel - designed the menu.

Chef Ramsay orders Jamaican patties, jerk chicken (marinated in a secret sauce not even the chef knows the secret to), and $20 oxtail. Upon tasting the patties, he calls them "gross" and "soggy" and hates the sauce. He finds Kingston's signature jerk chicken dry and overcooked, though Dr. Morris insists Chef Ramsay doesn't know Jamaican food. Finally, he digs into the oxtail, which he calls "a mess" that's "full of fat." Everything he's tried has been barely lukewarm.

He heads back to speak with Dr. Morris and the kitchen staff and tells them that the dining room feels cold and the food was horrendous. Keone chimes in and says he's always thought everything should be made fresh, but his mom quickly cuts him off. She tells Chef Ramsay that jerk chicken in Jamaica is typically dry, but their version is more moist than most. Chef Ramsay says he can accept dry, but not dry and inedible. Their argument escalates before Chef Ramsay leaves and returns later for dinner service.

As appetizer orders begin rolling in, the kitchen sends complimentary salads (served in martini glasses) out to every customer. Chef Ramsay is put off by the soggy pre-dressed salads and has a server dress one to order in a bowl - a much better strategy. As the meals start going out to customers, the complaints start coming back. And no wonder - much of the food was cooked last night. Dr. Morris vents to her son about how ludicrous Chef Ramsay is for expecting her food should be cooked fresh every day. Of course, Keone agrees with Chef Ramsay.

As Chef Ramsay starts digging through the refrigerator he finds Dr. Morris has an addiction . . . to plastic bags! Nearly everything is stored in them. He finally tells her that her strategy for running a restaurant "is packed with stupidity."

The next day, Chef Ramsay surprises Una with a visit to her medical office, located literally next door to the restaurant. He tells her that she's so smart, but she's unaware of the dramatic changes that need to take place to reposition the business and she's in denial - a claim she (surprise, surprise) denies. She explains that she's put $300,000 into the business and she can only operate for another month in this situation. She then accuses her son of not telling Chef Ramsay the truth. In fact, Keone doesn't always show up and is undependable. She breaks down in tears and says the servers care about her more than her son does. Chef Ramsay comforts Dr. Morris by telling her that she's not going to be dragged down by the restaurant and he's going to help her. Dr. Morris later admits that she's not used to asking for help.

He then sits down with Keone and asks how committed he is. Keone admits he was really passionate when Kingston Cafe first opened, but now his mom isn't approaching the business in a way that will make it work. Chef Ramsay tells him about his mom's credit card bills and how close the Kingston Café is to closing. He tells Keone to drop the bravado and focus on his family. Next he brings the whole Kingston team outside to show them his plan for tonight - a barbeque on the patio with Keone at the helm. Everyone's excited.

That night, customers are offered the regular menu inside or the special barbeque menu - including salmon, chicken, and roasted corn - on the patio. Back in the kitchen, Chef Ramsay can't get over the fact that the staffers are still using the bizarre bag system and that Dr. Morris instructed them to serve day-old rice and beans. While there's a party atmosphere on the patio, customers in the dining room are waiting forever on their meals and are unhappy with what they get.

Afterward, Dr. Morris admits that she was really impressed with how diners enjoyed the barbeque, whereas inside "everything was bad." Chef Ramsay then shocks everyone when he rolls out a wheelbarrow full of plastic bags and dumps it on the floor. He says the staffers need to get into the habit of cooking fresh ingredients on the day they're being served.

The next morning, Chef Ramsay reveals the restaurant's makeover, which has given the place a true Caribbean feel and includes a more visible sign out front. He's also replaced the stale old menu with a new selection of fresh items like barbeque chicken, kingfish, and a tamarind-marinated skirt steak. He hands out T-shirts to the waitstaff, which means they get to ditch their more formal white shirts and ties.

At the start of that evening's dinner service, appetizers are going out at a steady pace and customers are thrilled with what they're eating. Soon, however, head chef Daniel begins getting flustered as the tickets start piling up. Next, Chef Ramsay catches Daniel sending out a severely overcooked piece of fish.

As dinner service starts to fall apart, Chef Ramsay gives Keone a pep talk to get him to step up and take charge. He does . . . and then begins arguing with his mom, prompting Chef Ramsay to chime in and tell her to step back and let Keone "find his voice." Keone's leadership eventually helps stabilize the kitchen and most customers leave happy.

Later, Chef Ramsay commends Keone on a job well done and wishes them luck. Before he leaves, he has a private talk with Dr. Morris and tells her she's got to commit to making Keone part of the business or let him go. It's her decision. Outside, Chef Ramsay says that he hopes Dr. Morris, successful physician and Olympian, can add successful restaurant owner to her resume, because she deserves it.

Shortly after his departure, Dr. Morris decided to encourage Keone to continue his education and step back from the restaurant. Una, however, is more dedicated than ever to Kingston Café and to maintaining the standards Chef Ramsay implemented

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