This week Chef Gordon Ramsay travels just ten minutes away from the Jersey Shore to Oakhurst, New Jersey. There he will try to help overwhelmed restaurateur Mike, who lost his way when his father, who was also his business partner, died three years ago. Now alone at the helm, Mike has allowed his establishment to fall apart, but he refuses to see the problems and is unwilling to seek help.
Opened in 1996, Mike & Nellie's was the lifelong dream of Nellie Farber and his son, Mike. Mike's daughter, Lexi, who acts as the restaurant's hostess, says that Nellie made everyone feel special in the front of the house, while Mike held up his end of the business as head chef. Samantha, Mike's other daughter, who works as a server at the eatery, says that the restaurant has become "Mike and nothing" since Nellie passed away.
Now Mike has had to take over all of his father's responsibilities while maintaining his own. As a result, the restaurant has been neglected. Diners have complained of bugs, and the carpet is moldy. Even though the owner believes the food is great, patrons are clearly dissatisfied. Sous chef Daniel says that his cousin Mike is the problem - having to take care of everything and drinking quite a bit.
Samantha picks up Chef Ramsay and brings him to Mike & Nellie's. Lexi greets him, and after telling her she's glamorous, he asks her what the smell is in the restaurant. He questions whether someone died there last night.
Chef Ramsay then meets Mike, who admits that he hasn't renovated in the 15 years since the restaurant has been open. He rates his own food in the "upper nines" on a scale of one to ten. Jeanine, the server, agrees with Chef Ramsay that the smell he's noticing is the mold in the carpet.
The kitchen prepares a few dishes that Chef Ramsay has selected from the menu. He samples the linguine with shrimp sauce first and declares it bland and watery. Next up is the Chicken Murphy, which Mike's daughters and Lou the manager agree does not look appetizing. After tasting it, Chef Ramsay declares it "a hot joke." The Steak Nellie tastes like charcoal to the culinary expert.
The chef tells Mike that he thinks the menu is outdated and some of the food is inedible. But the headstrong cook insists that his dishes are not the problem at the restaurant.
Word has spread that Chef Ramsay is in town, and the dining room is filled for the evening service. Mike pumps out the food, but the patrons aren't happy with it. The chef notes that due to the chaos in the kitchen, the place is going down in flames.
When all the guests have left, Chef Ramsay gives his report: "No one is monitoring standards, and no one seems to care." In a private moment with Chef Ramsay, Mike admits that he drinks too much and that he is "lost in space." He says that life is just too tough and he's just trying to make it, but his passion has faded since his father died.
The next day, Chef Ramsay meets with Lexi and Samantha at the family home. He tells them that their father was on the verge of giving up and that he's concerned about how much Mike is drinking. They all agree that Mike is hurting and driving himself into the ground. The girls ask their father to let go of some of the responsibility and trust his staff. He says that he's willing to listen.
Next, Chef Ramsay tours the kitchen at Mike & Nellie's, where he makes a series of shocking discoveries, including finding contaminated food in the fridge. As the team gives the restaurant a thorough cleaning, Mike even throws out his beer. Then Chef Ramsay moves on to a cooking demonstration for Daniel and Mike, which leaves them both feeling inspired.
Now that Mike has seen how his steaks can be improved, Chef Ramsay moves on to the makeover. While he focuses on replacing the carpet, his crew works on one of the most dramatic renovations in the history of "Kitchen Nightmares." When the work is completed, he reveals a new sign declaring the restaurant a steakhouse - Mike's lifelong dream. Chef Ramsay then walks the staff inside, where the modern art and new décor reduces them to tears.
He presents the new, sophisticated menu to the group, which includes Maryland crab cakes, Angus sliders, a variety of premium steaks, and macaroni and cheese. They are all thrilled when they sample the new fare.
But the real test will come that night when it's time for Mike to relaunch M&N's. He'll have to prove that he can relinquish some power to Dan and let his cousin help handle the load in the kitchen. Service starts smoothly, but just an hour later, Mike jumps in and starts confusing matters. When Chef Ramsay intervenes, Dan regains control. The kitchen has found a rhythm, and the food goes out without a single complaint.
With M&N's on track, Chef Ramsay compliments Mike on his transformation and tells him he believes in him. He tells Lexi and Samantha to look after their dad.
In the weeks that follow, business at the restaurant is booming. The updated menu is a big hit in the New Jersey town. Dan is excelling in his upgraded role in the kitchen, and Mike is embracing the change.
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