It's Part 1 of the most intense "Kitchen Nightmares" of the year, as Chef Gordon Ramsay heads to the Burger Kitchen in Los Angeles. There he finds a family struggling with father-son issues, a marriage that's being tested, and a son and mother who can no longer communicate. The food is beyond atrocious and the out-of-control chef has given up.
In 2010 Alan and Gen Saffron opened a restaurant called the Burger Kitchen on L.A.'s trendy Third Street. Avid meat-eater Alan had always dreamed of opening an eatery, and he to do so, he took money from his son, Daniel. But in an interview Daniel states, "I was kind of dragged into this."
As for the food, Alan explains that all the burgers on the menu use Australian Wagyu beef, but executive chef David Blaine complains that the pre-made patties are dry and don't taste good. He admits that the restaurant suffers because a dysfunctional family manages it, and their tension filters down to the staff. Marilyn, the server, describes the chaotic work environment as "a train wreck and a half."
Daniel is frustrated that his father treats him like a child, not an equal partner. He confesses that he's at the end of his rope without a soul to lean on. He believes that Chef Ramsay is the Burger Kitchen's last hope.
>When Chef Ramsay arrives, he is impressed with the location and de?cor. He sits down with Alan and Gen, who tell him that the 16-month-old business is losing up to $6,000 a month. They point to their ever-changing menus and a constant turnover of chefs and servers as a basis for their problems. But they also tell him that the website Yelp is killing them - giving them poor critiques and deleting five-star reviews. Chef Ramsay is skeptical and tells Alan that he feels his conspiracy theory is the result of "watching too many Bond movies."
Alan reveals to Chef Ramsay that he funded the restaurant initially with his own inheritance and later supplemented that investment with cash he took from Daniel's trust. He confesses that his son did not know about the transaction until after he had taken his money. Surprisingly, Alan says, "My son has a great deal of resentment towards me and I don't know why."
When Chef Ramsay asks him to rate the restaurant's food, Alan gives it four out of five stars. The chef orders a California burger, the cowboy burger, the Australian meat pie, and the award- winning natural burger. He complains that the food is bland and tasteless and that the meat is raw. Still he's amused when the $39, one-pound cowboy burger arrives with a normal-sized bun, dubbing it "a cowboy with a very small hat." Worst yet is the Australian meat pie, which is flavorless and wrapped in soggy dough.
Clearly, one of the biggest sources of tension exists between David and Gen. He calls her a nutcase, and she feels that hiring him was an error in staffing. Gen blames Chef David for the poor quality of the food, saying that he's really a pastry chef. When Chef Ramsay calls David on the carpet for the lack of taste in the burgers, the cook insists that he's not allowed to deviate from the recipes.
A fight soon erupts between Gen and David, who says that he has not been paid his wages. Bringing it back around to the food, Chef Ramsay charges David to go buy groceries, return to the kitchen, and a cook a burger his way.
In the meantime, Chef Ramsay visits Daniel at his apartment and chats with him and his girlfriend, Wendy. Daniel tells the chef that he was infuriated when his dad took his money for the restaurant. He explains that he can't even get his folks or the accountant to show him the company's books. He admits that he just doesn't trust his father anymore.
Back at the restaurant, David prepares what he calls the "redemption burger," using his own menu. Alan decides to prepare a pre-made Wagyu burger as well. Chef Ramsay tastes Alan's creation first and calls it hideous. But he loves David's presentation and declares that it is delicious. Upon hearing his opinion, a frustrated Gen storms out of the restaurant.
As guests arrive that evening, Daniel will work alongside his father and mother for the first time in ages. Despite ticket system confusion in the kitchen, the burgers are leaving the kitchen quickly. But the customers are dissatisfied, and a lot of food is sent back. Daniel and David have a heated argument over the chaos, and Daniel throws the chef out of the restaurant just 90- minutes into the dinner service. The front of the house is suffering as well, as guests flee the establishment.
Chef David returns, not to cook but to demand his outstanding $1,000 check. He tells Gen she can take $20 out of his payment to buy herself some Prozac. She writes the check and asks Daniel if he can put the money in the bank to cover it the next day. When Wendy tells Daniel's parents that he isn't giving them any more cash, another fight blows up.
All the drama is more than Daniel can take, and he breaks down in tears. Chef Ramsay takes him outside to have a talk. Can Chef Ramsay fix this mess? Tune in next week to find out.
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