As per a request, I was a Production Assistant on Gordon Ramsay's "Kitchen Nightmares" (U.S.) AMA.
Just open a really shitty restaurant, hire that person at said restaurant, and submit it to the show. He'll do it for free!
No question, but I just last night watched my first British episode of Kitchen Nightmares (The Gondola, Derby) via Amazon. Wow, it's a lot fucking different from the US fucking episodes. Fuck.
The BBC version is much better in my opinion. Everything seems to be more off-the-cuff and an entire renovation team generally doesn't come in and completely change the interior.
Lots more bonding with the employees he's trying to help.
I agree completely.
Yes, in this episode they chucked the moldy old plastic table flowers and put white tablecloths out, and that was about the only interior changes that were made. The menu got thoroughly updated and abbreviated, though. I really enjoyed this episode. He made a lot of common sense improvements. This particular place hadn't updated their pricing in decades and they were losing money on every dish they served, which was just frozen and reheated crap anyway.
The more I watch Ramsay, the more I like him. I had only seen him in Hell's Kitchen prior to Kitchen Nightmares, so I thought he was just a cunt who liked yelling and berating everyone. It's really not the case and probably trumped up a bit for that particular show. You should check out F Word, his new prison cooking series and his travel show - all really good stuff.
The F Word is my absolute favorite, and his travel show in India really showed a side of him a lot of people don't really know exists. Everyone just sees commercials for Hell's Kitchen and immediately goes "Well, that guy's a huge prick". When in all actuality he's super nice and talented. I mean, he went out of his way to introduce himself to me and ask how I was, twice.
Bahahaha! In the States they are calling it "Ramsay Behind Bars". Apparently The F Word was either too risquè or taken by another show here.
These are actually two different shows. The F Word is about his restaurant and competitions and celebrity guest cooks, and Ramsay Behind Bars is well...self explanatory.
Yeah, I much prefer it. I'm a massive Gordon Ramsay fan and have seen all his UK shows, and usually stay away from the US version. (Obviously I'll be watching the episode I worked on though).
I picked that episode at random, and in it Gordon really seemed to bond with the youngest member of the kitchen staff and went out of his way to encourage the kid and give him lots of advice on how to carry on in a professional kitchen. That was really cool because the head chef had bonded with the microwave and was only interested in doing "ding ding dishes" and as soon as the menu was revamped and they actually started getting business again he blew out the door to nuke food in a pub kitchen.
I actually haven't seen that one, but I'll have to check it now. Thanks! Have you seen his show "The F Word"? It's my favorite of his.
Is his temper all show for the cameras or does he really act like he does normally?
Honestly, it's mostly all him. You never see him get mad off camera, but that's because he doesn't have a reason to. The only time I saw him explode was during the dinner service when the kitchen staff was serving food that was a legitimate health risk. Like, it was horrific, and he was furious, and I think rightfully so. He only gets mad when he has a reason to, otherwise he's a very funny and nice dude. You can even see that in all of his UK shows. The US versions like to selectively edit to play up drama.
What does a production assistant do, exactly? What's the best part? The worst? And, finally, would you rather assist on a production where someone had to cook 100 duck-sized horses or .. nah, fuck it. I'm not asking it. Thanks for the AMA!
You're welcome! A Production Assistant does anything that needs to be done. That can include going to the store and getting dry ice, getting Gordon coffee, going to the store and getting anything else they need, driving crew to and from their hotel, standing outside the restaurant during shooting to make sure no one comes in, setting up and breaking down base camp, etc.
It sounds kind of fun, actually! Like it would be something different every day.
What's the dry ice for?
The dry ice was because we had to turn off a lot of coolers during filming of interviews because they were really loud. So the dry ice was to keep things cold while they were turned off. It was definitely a ton of fun, and I really enjoyed my experience on it.
Have you ever eaten his cooking? Is it really that good?
When they re-do the restaurant, they re-do the menu as well. Gordon and his head chef come up with the menu, and his touring kitchen team prepare it. I got to try that, so while it wasn't prepared by him personally, it was his dishes.
How were those dishes?
Suuuuper awesome. They were pretty straightforward, but delicious. We ate them way too fast. It was great.
How much notice do the restaurants get letting them know that Gordon and the film crew will be coming? Do they know the exact date of arrival or what?
Hard to believe those people don't go and completely clean out their pantries/fridges/freezers before he gets there.
They get a good amount of notice. In the case of the episode I worked on, the owners son submitted the restaurant to Kitchen Nightmares, the team contacted the restaurant, and they agreed to it. So at least a few weeks in advance. I'm equally surprised about that. I don't know if they were asked not to for television? But I never heard anything about that.
Was he really that aggressively-British in real life? On the show he seemed like he could bloke-out at the drop of a hat.
Most definitely. One of the days it was a torrential downpour and he was walking to the restaurant from his trailer and I heard him say something like "Blimey, I love this fucking weather. Home away from home". And yes, he was being incredibly sarcastic. That was the most British thing I witnessed.
What was the restaurant in Everett? I'd like to go there.
It was formerly the Prohibition Grill in downtown, but now it's the Prohibition Gastropub.
I am a big fan of Kitchen Nightmares (the brit version). My question is : Do restaurants that suscribe for the show really want help ? Have you ever seen one of these restaurants being on the show for the publicity that it gives ? Because when you see Gordon going back a few months/years later to the restaurant, some of them had changed nothing. Sometimes they even get back with their old menu.. How do the show deal with that ? Thanks a lot for doing this AMA by the way!!
You're welcome! A lot of the times the reason that they're in a bad situation in the first place is poor management, so it can't always be helped that they don't want to accept advice or help, even if it is from Gordon Ramsay. The restaurant I worked with was very open to change and help though, and even went as far as to replace their head chef. I have yet to visit the restaurant after working there, but am actually planning on going back this Thursday. I have high hopes for it.
Does he really throw up when eating some of the restaurants cooking? Does he ever say anything off camera about how shitty some of the food is?
I'm not aware of any time he's actually thrown up due to the cooking, but it's possible he did in the past. The restaurants are picked specifically because they're awful, so the bad things he has to say about them are generally true. And actually they try to capture all the shitty things he has to say about the food on camera for dramatic purposes, and he definitely doesn't censor himself. He's also not acting or playing anything up though, the food was pretty damn bad. (I had eaten there before filming as I'm a local).
I feel like he pukes at least every other episode.
Seriously? I've never seen that before. Huh.
Sometimes it is considered an insult to ask people who worked on reality shows this, but is anything on the show staged? scripted?
Not from what I saw. Obviously they have a schedule and idea of what's going to happen, but the show makes itself. They don't make the restaurant shitty on purpose, they don't fabricate situations to be more dramatic, etc. The most they do is selective editing in post-production, but no, nothing is faked or staged live.
What do you think was the biggest transition of a restaurant from 'shitty' to 'good'. By that I mean what restaurant did you think Ramsay reformed the best?
Oh man that's tough as I only worked on one episode, but I do watch the show, and I think that the "Burger Kitchen" episode was a damn good one.
Did the crew members also taste the food from the restaurant that was being filmed?
We got to taste the new menu, but not the original bad food. The only reason I had is because I am local and had been there before.
What places that you've gone to through the show have been your favorite?
I was actually only a local PA when they came to Everett, WA. As much as I loved working on the show, and tried to get a touring gig, they are all mainly from LA and have no reason for touring Production Assistants. They just put out a call for local help when they're in your area. Sorry for not having a more interesting answer!
Reality TV usually hires locals as PAs while importing Camera Ops, Camera Assistants, the team of producers, and any grips/electricians.
In this instance, the PA's were the only local bit. All other positions mentioned were touring, and based in LA.
- Has anyone ever just had enough of his shit and whacked a sauce pan up the side of his head?
- If there is actually any behind the scenes footage of that, I'd pay money to see it.
I don't believe so, as he usually knows what the hell he's talking about compared to the person he's talking to.
Where do you guys get all the customers to come in on the first dinner service? Are they locals or actors? I have never seen so many people complain about bad food before, usually they just leave.
They are locals that sign up through some sort of online casting call. Although at one point during the service we were desperate for people, so we would accept people off the street if they asked. Of course they'd have to sing paperwork and everything, but no, they're just average people.
Oh goddamnit I was on my phone.
Does Gordon ever just relax? It seems like he has so many projects going on. What does he do during his off time (if you know)?
I would imagine he spends time with his family, the dude is seriously busy though. No idea how he does it all.
When the beginning shows the shot of the manager standing with his/her arms crossed, sometimes portraying them as a villain in that shot, is he/she just plain asked to stand like that for a shot? Are they ever hesitant to do that for fear of looking like an antagonist?
Also, when does the camera crew actually show up because they're always in their filming before it shows Ramsay entering.
The camera crew shows up a few days before Ramsay, does interviews, sets everything up, etc. So that when he's there they can knock filming out in like 3 days. Also I'm not aware of any such villain shot, but I imagine they would just ask them and they'd do it.
I call it villain shot because it's usually shown when previewing the coming episode, and in between snippets of the boss getting mad, it will show that shot of them standing and looking at the camera very cinematically.
Ah, yeah. The producers are probably just like "hey look at the camera all menacingly" and they do it because, well, they're on tv.
Were you at the one on Court Street in Brooklyn over the summer?
I was not. Unfortunately I didn't have a touring gig with them, so I only worked on the one in Everett, WA.
How can I find out what restaurants Ramsay's going to visit next and is there any way I can be at the restaurant while hes there during service? I don't care if the food sucks
I would be able to give you a heads up, but this season is unfortunately wrapped. I know the people who came in during the dinner service signed up through some sort of online thing, but I'm afraid I don't know the specifics. Your best bet would be to keep your ears open and if he comes to your town, you'll probably hear about it. You could always then go down to the set and ask about being on the show. It only worked for one person when I was working on it, but hey, they got on the show. Sorry I couldn't give a better answer.
Hello, the episode aired last night. I feel like the owner may have been coached a lot to dumb it up -- was she really blissfully unaware of basic restaurant knowledge as she was portrayed?
Did it finally air? That's awesome. I'll definitely check it out. If I remember rightly, the owner was pretty clueless. I don't remember her name right now, but she had a lot of weird shit going on like belly dancing and what not, and had no prior restaurant experience. So no, I'm pretty sure she was actually that dumb. If I recall, she was running the restaurant into the ground, and the head chef. He got fired, and she turned it around.
Here ya go! I just felt while I was watching it that this woman was too stupid to be real. I don't know in what world belly dancing belongs in a southern fine dining steakhouse upscale however the hell she described it...but stranger things have happened. Thanks for the AMA!
Yeah! I'm really surprised someone found it after the episode actually aired. That's awesome. Yeah. OH. Her name was Ricci I think. She had no idea what the hell she was doing.
There was a post that made front page featuring video of the supposed belly dancing...so I went looking for other posts being a fan of Gordon Ramsey and his shows.
I just couldn't believe how much BS she had bought into from that terrible chef...it was too weird to be true but sounds like it was legit!
It definitely was! She was just really really clueless. The belly dancing made the front page? That's awesome. I was there for that. It was even weirder in person.
He has in shows that aren't "Kitchen Nightmares". The whole point of the show is to find a shitty restaurant and fix it up, so unfortunately it's going to be formulaic in the way that every restaurant is...well...a nightmare.
Are the contestants acting to a script sometimes? It seems like every episode there has to be a recurring drama. I mean where do you find those people? It's like they can't even cook a Pillsburry Cinnabon without burning it...
They are not. I assume the Producers have a team of people who scout out the worst restaurants, and then base the episodes around them. I know they're submitted to the show, and the show probably picks the worst. It is really bad, but it's not scripted.
I would imagine it just has to do with bad management, you can't change a person, just the restaurant. Although I haven't heard this statistic before. Can I get a source?
You would think its bad for publicity, but it's actually the exact opposite. It brings in TONS of business, so I'm not sure how or why they close after he comes through. It's also good for business because the place is all fixed up, so people flock there.
Has Gordon ever stated his displeasure with the overall quality difference between the US and UK versions of his shows in your presence or at all that you know of? What were those complaints specifically? An obvious example would be the played up drama that is at the core of "reality" TV.
To be honest, I just don't think he has time for that. He has so many projects going on that I don't even know if he watches his own shows. At the end of the day he still fixes the restaurant, so I would imagine he's happy.
Do they tell the customers to be very vocal in there complaints?
Not that I'm aware of.
Is he as sexy in real life? ;)
Oh yes. It was funny, I got a lot of middle aged ladies coming up to me telling how much they have a crush on him.
What is the funniest thing Ramsay has done/said?
YouTube "Gordon Ramsay How To Treat A Lady"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GN_SscjOPks For the lazy.
My biggest regret is that I couldn't ask him if he had seen this.
Did you ever want to punch Gordon Ramsey in the face for no reason?
Not even a little. I'm a huge fan of his.
So is he really as big of a dick as he comes off as on tv when you work with him?
Nope! Very funny, humble, and nice. He's not even a dick on the show, he gets legitimately angry about things that people should get legitimately angry about.
How much money would it cost to have Gordon Ramsey personally berate a person of my choosing?
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