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DVD Review: Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares – Complete Series Two

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The packaging is inaccurate as this three-DVD set presents the original four episodes of Series Two that aired in summer 2005, but also the four episodes of Series Three that aired in winter 2006. There are also two episodes when Ramsay revisited Momma Cherri’s Soul Food Shack and La Riviera, which aired during Series Four in autumn 2006

Observing the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix” theory, the program’s format remains exactly the same as Chef Gordon Ramsay comes to the rescue of struggling establishments and does his best to turn them around in a week, offering suggestions from changing the menu, the décor, and even the staff as he teaches the basics of restaurant management and astonishingly, even cooking. Each episode features an epilogue where Ramsay returns after a month or so to see how the restaurant is faring. The eight episodes show restaurants on the brink of ruin for a myriad of reasons.

Series Two begins with Lanterna, an Italian restaurant in Letchworth, Hertfordshire. The owner/chef Alex is a young man unaware of his limitations, thinking all he needs to do is call himself “Alessandro” and drive a BMW he can’t afford with a personalized plate that reads “A1 6hef.” Ramsay seeks out Alex’s Italian cooking mentor and finds him driving a cab.

The owner of D-place in Chelmsford, Essex has had the restaurant for five years. They serve a fusion menu, and the French chef, who formerly ran a Planet Hollywood, battles with the restaurant manager.

Momma Cherri’s in Brighton, East Sussex serves American soul food. Ramsay is surprised to find it tastes delicious, but the issues stem from Momma’s lax management with the large staff. When he revisits, and the DVD allows viewers to jump right to the roughly 12 minutes of new material, the Soul Food Shack has expanded to triple its size and becomes the Momma Cherri’s Big House, but Ramsay is disappointed as they have fallen into old, bad patterns to accommodate the growth

Multi-millionaire Barry Larson, who made his fortune off fast food franchises, owns La Riviera in Inverness, Scotland. He has a top staff of French chefs and uses top-of-the-line ingredients, but the prices are too high and the dishes are too elaborate. Yet, they are resistant to Ramsay’s suggestion of simplicity. When he revisits, he finds they took his ideas and put them into a brassiere, which is successful but they are still running the renamed Abstract in the same elaborate manner.

Series Three opens at The Sandgate Hotel in Sandgate, Kent where four different restaurants feature 168 dishes, including Japanese, which the chef doesn’t know very well as his sushi reveals. The place is overstaffed, the owner too lax with the staff, and the menus excessive.

Clubway 41 in Blackpool, Lancashire suffers because the chef doesn’t have a great deal of experience and his girlfriend, with no culinary background, picks odd flavor combinations, such as mixing salmon and strawberry, and brie and nectarine. They have a café downstairs that runs moderately well, but the fine dining upstairs isn’t working.

Oscar’s in Nantwich, Cheshire is a heartbreaking story as the woman put her retirement into restaurant having never run one before. Her son is the chef but he’s an alcoholic, and is taken to the hospital when he passes out during a service. Ramsay reveals addiction is a problem in industry as chefs deal with the high-pressure demands.

La Gondola in Derby, East Midlands is another case of a woman, not knowing anything about the restaurant business, buying one because it seemed like a good idea after she got half million quid in a divorce settlement. The chef, who had been there since the ‘70s, doesn’t take the job seriously.

What’s intriguing is Ramsay seems to honestly care about saving these restaurants, more than the owners and staff at times, some of whom seem to not grasp why he was brought in to help. He swears constantly on these uncensored shows, which doesn’t seem like a proper motivator. These two series of Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares remains compelling as it presents regular people trying to make a go of it with a restaurant, and he offers valuable tips applicable to other businesses.

To read the current state of participants of Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, News of the World did a recent update.

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS