Kitchen Nightmares

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The Olde Stone Mill

The Olde Stone Mill

Aired: 10/17/07

Situated forty-five minutes from Manhattan, Tuckahoe is a wealthy town in New York. The Olde Stone Mill was established six years ago when owner Dean converted a mill into a restaurant. He did all the carpentry and construction himself. Yet the place is empty. Michael the chef has lost his passion for cooking. The staff doesn't even want to eat there. With an assisted-living home next door, the customer base is mostly elderly.

Gordon arrives on motorcycle and is impressed with the exterior of the mill even though he can't find it because there's no sign. After meeting the staff, he sits down to eat. The waiter assures him that the crab cakes are fresh. He also orders shrimp, chopped salad, risotto and tilapia. Gordon notes that the waiter is unabashed about chewing gum.

When he is served the crab cake, Gordon is perplexed by a sour mayonnaise flavor. The shrimps are deep fried in filo dough, and Chef Ramsay does not understand why this dish is popular. He then makes fun of the chopped salad in the shape of an upside-down ice cream cone. Dean is not happy by the slight. As for the salad's taste? "Please don't make me eat any more of this sh**," Gordon says.

The tilapia is served in the paper, and he laughs that it looks like "sh** in a bag." Not even the risotto dish is right. "When a restaurant can't cook a simple mushroom risotto dish, it's a big worry," Gordon sighs.

Gordon consults with Dean about the dishes. Dean explains that the crab cake is made with canned fish even though the waiter said otherwise. Gordon makes Dean taste everything he was just served. "Honestly, your food's crap," he tells him. Dean is angry, but doesn't let it show.

Gordon sits down with Dean and his wife Barbara for a heart-to-heart. Barbara is willingly kept in the dark about their financial situation. She'd rather be ignorant than be hurt by the truth. Dean confesses that he is currently in debt for half a million dollars. Barbara starts to cry.

Gordon observes that night's dinner service. Since it is Saturday, it's busy. Chef Michael is frustrated as the kitchen becomes busy. He complains to Gordon that he's alone in there. Dean and manager Tom only work the front of the house. An hour into service, and the overly-embellished dishes finally emerge from the kitchen. Tom remarks to Gordon that they serve things like calamari in a huge martini glass so that the presentation masks the fact that the food "sucks."


Customers complain about their meals. Dishes are either cold or not good. Things get sent back, which overwhelms Michael. Dean becomes an even bigger burden by coercing the chef to rush more plates out. When Michael says that he was not happy with the risotto, Gordon asks why he even served it. Michael explains that he is just trying to get food out, per Dean's orders. Gordon confronts Dean about why he'd rather have food served quickly than being good. More complaints come in about the risotto being "disgusting" and two plates of it are sent back.

Gordon gathers the staff after the restaurant closes. He doesn't understand why nobody wants to address the fact that their food is horrible even though they all know it. Dean was causing more damage by rushing the risotto when Michael was not happy with how it turned out. Gordon isn't sure whether Dean even wants to improve his business. Dean starts to argue back that he is committed. Gordon says that he spent the entire night bothering customers about how they liked their meals. "You're a fake," Gordon says. Dean curses back. Gordon accuses him of having it his own way this whole time, but he must change.

Gordon sets out to explore the neighborhood competition. He finds many Italian restaurants. Gordon enters the local butcher and, after looking at the glorious meat for sale, wonders why there are no steak houses in the area. He returns to the Olde Stone Mill with a slab of prime rib and convinces Michael that serving this as a special will make his life easier. They start to cook together. Gordon shows him how to do a simple chopped salad. Michael laughs when Gordon takes a torch to disintegrate the funnel cone used to shape the salads.

Gordon sits down with Dean and the staff to propose a solution. He suggests they become a steak house because there's nothing else like it in the area. Dean is resistant to the change, still unsure that it will attract customers. Gordon is adamant that they re-launch the next day with a radically new menu. He secretly has his design team spruce up the place that night.

The next day, he shows the staff the sign he had made for the building. It formerly had no indication that it is a restaurant. Gordon brings them in to see the alterations. Historical relics are put on display to show customers the history of the building alongside photos of Dean restoring it. The dining room has been rearranged to bring warmth in with banquettes and richer colors. The dark colors were too depressing. There are new plates, linen, tableware and fresh flowers. Dean admits that the décor looks great.


Next, Gordon presents the new menu. He got rid of just about everything, adding more steaks and fresh fish dishes. The chopped salad has been revived. Gordon advises the front of house staff how to show off raw steak to the customers to solidify that it's a real steakhouse. Tom has problems remembering the script, proving that the staff is ill-equipped.

With all of the changes garnering buzz in town, the Olde Stone Mill is fully booked for the night but the staff can't get it together. Dean is intimidated when the Mayor of the town shows up. Tom still has problems with the new menu, and Gordon is annoyed watching him work the floor uncomfortably. He tries to calm Tom down. Yet when Tom returns to the floor, he cannot hide his sweat. Gordon pulls him aside again and asks him to clean up.

While some customers are enjoying their meals 45 minutes into service, not everyone has been served. The Mayor is on the unfed list. Dean goes back to yell at Michael, who is not receiving orders properly from the printer. Dean doesn't listen to him, and Michael is frustrated that no one is responding to his cries for help. Gordon summons Dean to the kitchen, and Dean only yells at Michael. Dean's screams are heard in the dining room.

Gordon is forced to regroup the staff and chefs to get them on track. Dean attends to the table to assuage the starved customers. The printer in the kitchen is fixed. The night finishes just about successfully.

The next morning, Gordon asks Dean if he's scared of failure. Gordon explains that he personally failed his first time out but kept going. Dean finally realizes he has to step up. In the weeks that follow, Dean becomes a leader in the front of the house as well as in the kitchen. Tom starts to gain confidence in his role as manager. Michael rekindles his passion for cooking and the food is vastly improved.

To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Olde Stone Mill building, Gordon organizes a barbecue for the town to celebrate. The Mayor gives Dean the key to the city and the local news covering the event puts the restaurant in the spotlight. "Now, I think you have something phenomenal," Gordon tells Dean before he leaves. With one last parting gift, Gordon shows Dean that he has made the name of the restaurant projected on the side of the building with light. Dean is touched.

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