It could simply be I haven’t had TV for a number of years and anything that shows up on hulu is just that much more appealing, but I’ve found myself oddly drawn to Kitchen Nightmares on Fox.
Allow me to sum up every single episode on the show: Local restaurant’s in the red. They request, EBA-style (or Ouendan-style, if you prefer) the services of international cooking superstar Gordon Ramsay. He shows up, orders a meal, and tells them how awful it all is. Owner/manager/chef takes umbrage, they get in a shouting matching with Ramsay. This is a bad idea. Ramsay is really good at shouting. He yells at them for a while, and they sulk off.
Then comes everyone’s favorite: the unsanitary kitchen sequence! Ramsay rummages through the fridge and kitchen and uncovers all the mold and rotten meat and flies. There are even cooks throwing chicken wings they found on the ground into the fryer. Look at what goes on inside the kitchens of America, unsuspecting consumer! Restaurants like the ones you go to each day! There are probably rat droppings in your turkey club right this second!
So, they clean the kitchen, Ramsay comes up with a new menu, they futz with the decor, and they relaunch. The the crowds are huge, things get chaotic, at least one staff member storms out, but then they turn things around and everyone learns an important lesson about humility/hygiene/teamwork/leadership/frugality/hard work/using fresh produce. Ramsay finally stops swearing at people to tell them how much they’ve improved, and the whole staff rhapsodizes about how Gordon’s the coolest dude ever. Dee Snider showed up one time too.
I can’t quite articulate why I find the whole thing compelling. There’s a few insights into good restaurant practices (keep the menu small to focus on quality and to lessen the strain on the fridge and kitchen, find a signature dish that fills a niche in your community) and even one or two cooking tips, though far less than the BBC version of the show apparently. Really though, I think the actual reason is because in the back of my mind I think owning a restaurant would be pretty cool. Everybody thinks this. This is why every single sports player opens up a bar and grill when they go pro and have more money than they know what to do with. But even though I imagine myself owning my own place, I unconsciously yearn for a loud British guy to yell at me about how hard it is and that I shouldn’t try. But wait, maybe if I have enough passion, I could succeed too! You’re right, Gordon, I should live my dream of opening my own okonomiyaki place!