Kitchen Nightmares

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Kitchen Nightmares Episode Recaps

Ms. Jean's Southern Cuisine

Aired: 11/16/12

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Chef Ramsay is headed to Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, which is home to Ms. Jean's Southern Cuisine, opened 12 years ago by retired special education teacher Ms. Jean Gould.

The restaurant's prep cook, Sharneil, says that Ms. Jean is the type of person who will help you if you're in a bind - but she also concedes that her boss has an attitude problem. Mike, the cook, puts it more bluntly when he says the boss is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. But Ms. Jean says she's mean because her employees are lazy.

Part of the problem may be that when customers complain, the proprietor believes they're lying. Her philosophy is "the customer isn't always right." As a result, the restaurant is frequently empty. On top of that, the owner is swimming in debt and admits that she's in need of help.

While Chef Ramsay waits for his car to pick him up, Ms. Jean pulls up with peach cobbler in hand. She asks for a minute of his time before he goes to visit her establishment.

Ms. Jean tells him that her biggest problem is her staff. She explains that they are constantly on their phones and taking breaks, and these habits are contributing to the fact that she can't keep clientele in the restaurant. And she's just plain tired because she wears so many hats as waitress, manager and cook.

When Gordon arrives at the restaurant, there is no one there to greet him. He sits down with the employees and tells them Ms. Jean's opinion of them. They quickly turn it back on her and say that she has an attitude problem.

Gordon calls Ms. Jean into the conversation. She says she doesn't have a mean streak; she's just a serious person. But she is frustrated because she feels like she doesn't get any respect from her staff.

Having witnessed the major rift between owner and employees, Chef Ramsay is ready to try some good old-fashioned soul food. He decides to order staple items like the chitlin dinner, fried corn, red beans, black-eyed peas - and finds out that none of them are available. They don't even have gravy.

He finally settles on the pork chops, ribs and mac-and-cheese. As he waits, he samples the iced tea, which is so sweet that he sends it back. He also does a little exploring and discovers Ms. Jean's exercise bike in the hallway.

Seeing that one of the customers has a soggy bun on her burger, Chef Ramsay sends her food back. The move causes Ms. Jean to unleash her fury on the kitchen staff.

Gordon finally tastes the ribs, which he finds have a weird saltiness to them. When the mac-and-cheese arrives at his table, it is still bubbling from being prepared in the microwave - plus it's overcooked and bland. And he finds the pork chop to be depressing.

Ms. Jean chalks his criticism up to the fact that the British chef doesn't know how to cook soul food, and she defends her menu items. The owner flips her wig - literally - onto the counter and declares that Chef Ramsay can wear one of her hats.

When he returns for dinner service, Gordon finds the reception area to be like a waiting room at a doctor's office. As diners arrive and place orders, there is chaos in the kitchen. While Ms. Jean tries to get the staff to follow her lead, the employees insist that they each handle their own tickets.

In the front of house, Chef Ramsay spots the hostess chatting on her cell phone not once but twice. After arguing with Ms. Jean, an employee quits.

Dissatisfied with the quality of the food, customers start to send dishes back. Gordon realizes that they are being served dry, leftover chicken from lunchtime. As they discuss the issue in the kitchen, Ms. Jean melts down and says she just can't do it anymore.

When service is complete, Chef Ramsay sits with Jean, Mike and Sharneil. He shares his belief that no one seems to care. The three agree to work together, but Gordon implores Ms. Jean to improve the flawed system that she has established.

The next day he brings the owner and staff to a movie theater and shows them the world premiere of "The Other Side of Ms. Jean." The short film features frank critique by past customers, who explain why they won't return to the restaurant.

Back at the eatery, Ms. Jean is welcomed by former diners. She apologizes to anyone whom she had mistreated and guarantees that they will not be served without a smile in the future.

With Ms. Jean's reputation on the mend in the community, Chef Ramsay moves forward with one of his biggest makeovers ever. The next day he unveils renovations in the restaurant that include murals on the walls and handcrafted tables.

To go along with the restaurant's dramatic new look, Gordon has come up with a new take on the food. He wants to send out a message of comfort and fun with his catfish po' boy, barbecue pulled-pork sliders, slow-braised oxtail, and blackened and fried catfish.

Even the mayor comes out for the relaunch. Ms. Jean is in charge, and everyone is responding well to the new system in the reorganized kitchen. Despite a bit of miscommunication with the front of house, the proprietor gets dinner service back on track.

Most importantly, the customers love the food. Seeing that "Ms. Mean" has left the building, Chef Ramsay says goodbye and tells Ms. Jean that he's rooting for her.

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