Kitchen Nightmares Episode Recaps



Aired: 1/13/12

Chef Ramsay travels to College Park, Georgia, 20 minutes south of downtown Atlanta, which is home to the world's busiest airport. Just up the street from the tarmac is a smoke house called Michon's. The restaurant was opened in 2002 by Al and Gaye Wilson and their daughter, Natalie Michon. The parents named the eatery after their daughter because they hoped to pass it on to her one day.

When Al Wilson was in charge, employees say that the establishment ran smoothly. But when his lung collapsed and he had to have an operation, he was forced to stay home and take a break from work. Without Al's oversight, the cooks are running the kitchen their way. As a result, they're serving microwaved and pre-prepared food to the unsatisfied customers.

Al is disappointed that Natalie isn't stepping up to the plate and taking charge in his absence. The employees say that she only comes into the kitchen when she's hungry. She considers herself a hands-off manager, saying, "It's too much energy to be frustrated."

Wanting to stay on top of what's going on, Al has posted 18 cameras around the restaurant and is unhappy with the direction his business is taking. The problems are only compounded by the fact that the proprietors are $200,000 in debt. Gaye fears that without Chef Ramsay's help, Michon's will have to close.

Before he heads to the restaurant, Chef Ramsay and Al meet at a local hotel. The owner admits that he wants to retire and turn the business over to Natalie. Al says his daughter "has the smarts" but that he needs to "get it out of her."

Chef Ramsay is impressed with the decor of Michon's when he arrives, but he's disappointed to hear from Natalie that she hides in the back a lot. After pressing her to do more than human resources, Chef Ramsay asks to sample the food. Natalie is offended by this comment but when Chef Ramsay asks a server what Natalie's role is, she simply says, "She makes sure we get paid."

Chef Ramsay sits down to sample the menu. He's shocked to hear that he can't order potato salad because the cooks don't like to peel spuds. While he waits for his food to be delivered, Gaye brings him a smoked chicken wing. He likes the sauce but is disappointed by the day-old, dry meat.
He's no more satisfied with what follows. The smoked chicken gourmet salad contains rotten tomatoes, the brisket is rubbery, and the cornbread is "like a mouthful of sand."

After sampling the menu, Chef Ramsay goes to the kitchen to have a chat with the staff. He meets Archie, Terrance, Terrell, Phil, and Joe - but none of them can say he is the head chef. Chef Ramsay is distressed to learn that the only food he sampled that wasn't microwaved was the salad. He is uncharacteristically at a loss for words and walks out.

That night at dinner service Chef Ramsay finds that the kitchen staff isn't cooking, they're simply reheating. Outside he discovers the Rolls-Royce of smokers and declares that the food that comes out of it is "delicious." But he can't understand why they are holding back the meat for a later service and not sending it directly to the diners.

Upon further inspection, Chef Ramsay uncovers tubs of chicken wings that have been sitting for days. Appalled by the discovery, the chef is determined to give Natalie and the staff a massive reality check. He tells them that he is mortified by the surplus of old food, saying he's never seen anything like this.

Despite a beautiful dining room, the best equipment, and a full staff, the ship is rudderless, Chef Ramsay says. He pulls Natalie aside to have a word with her. Reminding her that the restaurant is named after her, he asks why she hasn't taken charge. He challenges her to stop sponging off her parents and threatens to get her fired.

In an attempt to get through to Natalie, the chef asks the family to observe a staff meeting via a monitor. The employees are clearly begging for leadership and consistency. Chef Ramsay asks Natalie if she is ready to step up and take the bull by the horns. She says that she is ready and she wants to take over. A tearful Natalie tells her parents that she plans to make sure her dad's vision is realized.

Chef Ramsay tells Natalie that he was touched watching her express her feelings to her parents. He pledges his support to her and urges her not to be afraid to make mistakes. In return, Natalie admits that she now trusts Chef Ramsay's vision. Her first mission is to elect a leader in the kitchen, and she chooses Terrance.

With order in place, Chef Ramsay reveals the new menu to the staff. They are excited by the pulled pork, beef brisket, and smoked chicken wings. He introduces Natalie to Chef Adam, an expert in barbecue who was trained under acclaimed Chef Tom Colicchio. Adam will be a consultant for the restaurant for the next month, helping guide them through the transition.

When Michon's relaunches, Chef Ramsay invites a group of barbecue experts. The kitchen stumbles when Terrance and his team are overwhelmed by the new menu. But under Chef Ramsay's direction, Natalie takes charge and helps them refocus. While the cooks regroup, she takes the VIPs on a tour of the smokers.

Having managed to satisfy both her team and diners, Natalie has risen to the occasion. Chef Ramsay announces that the restaurant is in the capable hands of its "exciting and dynamic" owner, Natalie.

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