Spouses Mitch and Maureen Sandler bought The Grasshopper Also, an Irish pub in Carlstadt, N.J., shortly after they got married 17 years ago, along with Maureen's father, a successful restaurateur with 40 years experience. At first, business boomed, but eventually the crowds waned.
Maureen says that she simply doesn't know what happened. Floor manager Annette says that though Mitch works a ton of hours, the majority of his time is wasted, and his communication with his staff practically nonexistent. Because of that, the food is suffering. Mitch's father-in-law, who goes by the name Chief, also says that Mitch doesn't stay on top of quality control. Mitch, on the other hand, thinks that he's simply being made the scapegoat.
Chef Ramsay arrives and is greeted by The Grasshopper's three owners; he asks to speak with all of them individually. First, he talks to Maureen about the strained relationship between her husband and her dad. She says that when business began faltering, her dad started blaming Mitch, and her allegiance lies with her husband.
Next up, Chef Ramsay speaks with Chief and learns that it cost $3 million to get the restaurant up and running. Chief thinks that Mitch is one of The Grasshopper's biggest problems, and he regrets giving him part of the business.
Finally, Chef Ramsay speaks with Mitch, who says that The Grasshopper's biggest issue is that his father-in-law puts so much blame on him. Mitch believes that the restaurant's food is good. Chef Ramsay is about to decide for himself.
When floor manager Annette comes over to take Chef Ramsay's order, he asks her what she thinks is wrong with the place. Annette says that it's a lack of management and she'd only rate the food a three on a scale of one to ten.
Chef Ramsay starts with the French onion soup, and while he waits, he notes the ugly décor in the dining room. In the kitchen, Chief tries the soup and doesn't think it's fit to serve. Chef Ramsay agrees and says that it tastes like someone dropped onions into boiling dishwater. Chief gives Mitch an "I told you so" speech and wonders how he's going to get the kitchen staff to do the right thing.
Next Chef Ramsay tries the shepherd's pie and right away calls out the fact that the dish is made with beef, while a traditional shepherd's pie uses lamb. He hates the glue-like gravy and has Maureen try it too. She realizes that it's cold to boot. Finally, he gives the fisherman's platter a try and ends up spitting out the bland and rubbery scallops - not a good start.
Chef Ramsay heads back to the kitchen and asks head chef Mario what he thought of the food. Mario says that he thought it was OK, but Chef Ramsay insists that the food is bland, was cooked dreadfully, and has no flavor.
He grabs a container of raw, previously frozen scallops from the fridge and finds them soaking in liquid. Upon further inspection of the fridge, he discovers a bevy of frozen ingredients, disgusting chicken, blood from meat mixed in with mozzarella sticks, and raw and cooked items stored together - a huge no-no. Mitch, it turns out, has never gone through the fridge.
Chef Ramsay moves on to the storage cooler and finds slimy chicken and war-torn-looking salmon. A disgusted Chef Ramsay explains that he would have never taken a bite of anything at this restaurant had he been aware of the situation.
Based on what he's seen, he says that The Grasshopper should not open for dinner tonight. While Chef Ramsay takes a walk, Maureen, Mitch, and Chief talk about what they should do. Maureen says that Mitch's focus should have been on the kitchen and food, and it wasn't. Finally, a leader emerges during the kitchen cleanup, but it's not Mitch; it's Maureen.
The next morning, Chef Ramsay stops by Maureen and Mitch's home, where he speaks with Maureen about how much Mitch has been worn down over the years. Chef says that they need to get her husband to put some pride back into his work, and he'll need Maureen's help. He then heads back to the restaurant to inspect the newly cleaned kitchen and instructs the kitchen staff to set up for service.
Chef Ramsay has a private conversation with Mitch and tells him he has to step up and lead tonight. Then he turns his attention to the menu and adds two specials: an authentic shepherd's pie and fish and chips. He gives the kitchen guys a quick lesson in how to make both dishes, and they all love the finished product.
Just before dinner service, Chef Ramsay becomes disconcerted by some of the kitchen staff members' questions about whether or not they should pre-fry the fish and if there's a way to speed up a burger's cooking time.
Finally, it's time to open the doors for dinner service. Chef Ramsay finally gets the cooks to listen and respond to Mitch when he calls out orders. But he's also worried about the antiquated, handwritten ordering system.
After a slow start, food makes its way to the dining room. While customers are pleased with the specials, the regular menu's items continue to bomb, and dish after dish is getting sent back to the kitchen. Chef Ramsay also realizes that the cooks don't know how to cook burgers to the proper temperature. He becomes even more frustrated when he sees the cooks reverting back to their lazy ways and sending out bad shepherd's pie - the same dish he just taught them to make hours earlier.
After dinner service Chef Ramsay explains that he has to do something drastic and calls in a talented local chef named James who will work to relaunch the restaurant with a new menu.
The next day, Maureen, Mitch, and Chief find an all-new Grasshopper. The colors have been lightened up, and the restaurant is brighter and cheerier, with a more modern décor and a beautiful communal table in the center. Chef Ramsay also reveals a new computerized ordering system, which will make things much more efficient. Then it's on to the menu.
Gone are the greasy, uninspired dishes, and in their place are new, vibrant Irish-American selections, including Irish potato skins, Irish ale stew, and a shepherd's pie with mashed potatoes. The entire staff is thrilled. But how will the big dinner service go?
When the service kicks off, James is behind the line, overseeing the cooks, while Mitch expedites. Appetizers get out quickly, and the customers are happy. Now the pressure shifts to Mitch to keep the momentum going through entrees, but he begins to stumble while calling out orders, and the kitchen screeches to a halt.
When a frustrated Chief comes in to try to help out, he ends up getting into an argument with his daughter, prompting Chef Ramsay to stop everything and have James step up and expedite. Mitch ends up relegated to food runner, and somehow he manages to screw that up too by delivering the wrong dishes to the wrong tables.
Finally, with Mitch completely out of the kitchen, things turn around, and the dinner service ends with happy customers exiting the restaurant. Later, Chef Ramsay has a difficult conversation with the owners. He says that the restaurant will not succeed unless they make necessary staff changes and listen to James' instruction. After he leaves, Chef Ramsay says it's been one of the toughest "Kitchen Nightmares" he's ever dealt with and that he wishes Chief were 20 years younger, because there's no one there who can fill his shoes.
Days later, chef Mario is let go, and James stays on as a consultant to properly train the kitchen staff. In the weeks that follow, Mitch takes Chef Ramsay's advice to heart and finally learns to step up and become the leader he needs to be.
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