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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Kitchen Nightmares: The Olde Stone Mill

Posted By on Thu, Oct 18, 2007 at 2:51 PM

RFT editorial intern Jeanette Kozlowski is a big fan of bad-boy British chef Gordon Ramsay. Each week she'll recap the latest episode of Ramsay's new FOX series Kitchen Nightmares.

It's sad to say thus far on these Kitchen Nightmares adventures that we haven't even traveled two hours outside of Manhattan yet. In the BBC version, I believe Ramsay had journeyed across Europe by this point (well, at the very least, ventured out of England). Unfortunately, we are back in boring ol' New York this week -- Tuckahoe, New York, to be exact.

The Olde Stone Mill suffers from an emptiness that only a lack of customers can bring. The building itself, an old mill purchased six year ago by Dean, the restaurant owner, definitely has a presence. Only that presence isn't of a restaurant -- it's of a picturesque building. When Ramsay zooms in Hells Angels style, he nearly passes up the mill.

The few customers frequenting this joint come from the retirement home next door. Why isn't anyone showing up? That's what Ramsay is about to figure out.

DAY ONE After waiting thirty minutes for his first meal (note: there's nobody in the restaurant at this time), the crab cakes he orders "taste really strange" and have a "sour mayonnaise flavor." Once again, he asks the waiter if the crabmeat is fresh, and the waiter says, "Fresh crabmeat." Later on Ramsay discovers the waiter meant it was fresh from the can.

"I've eaten some prawns in my life, but fuck me -- that's a first," he says after one bite of the shrimp cocktail. The chopped salad "looks like it was squashed into an ice-cream cone." Apparently Chef Mike thought it was a good idea to press the salad with the kind of funnel typically used in oil changes and such. Luckily the plastic yellow funnel he used wasn't coated in motor oil or anything. Ramsay vocalizes his disgust: "Please don't make me eat anymore of this shit." Yet his statement only foreshadows more shit to come.

At the same time, Dean is boiling over with anger by Ramsay's snarky comments. "He was in my house, and he was embarrassing me," he says. Ramsay persists, and insults Dean and Chef Mike more: He calls the tilapia stuffed with lobster "gross" and exclaims it looks "like it came out of a baby's diaper." And of the mushroom risotto: "Sadly, it's hot and disgusting." If a chef can't even successfully cook a simple risotto, he says, "it's a big worry."

Ramsay thinks Dean doesn't "have a fucking clue" whether the food served at The Olde Stone Mill is palatable. Since Dean is risking his family's finances on this business venture, you'd think he'd notice the gag-inducing dishes. Ramsay bluntly states, "My eight-year-old daughter could cook better than that." And, oh man, Dean doesn't like being taunted by the big-shot chef. "I wanted to take the plate and smash it on top of the chefs head." Ha, I dare you.

DAY TWO It's always astounding when restaurateurs discuss their financial situation. When Ramsay gets Dean to open up, we find out Dean owes $500,000, and he losing more money every week. His wife, Barbara, plays a Stepford Wife and would rather not know about her family's finances. She says, "I just choose not to deal with it right now; I'll let him deal with it."

During the dinner service, Ramsay observes that the entrees take longer to come out of the kitchen because of the embellishments Chef Mike insists on. Even though the meals look all fancy-schmancy, it doesn't mean they taste the same way. And most shocking of all: There's no quality control. Chef Mike could care less. "It's the same fucking shit everyday," he retorts. Then owner serves the offensive sustenance to customers only to have it sent back to the kitchen almost immediately.

Of course, Ramsay is straight up with Dean. He interrogates the clueless owner: "Do you know how much damage you're causing?" He thinks Dean strolls from table to table pleading for compliments from patrons. Ramsay calls Dean a fake; Dean calls Ramsay a fake; Ramsay calls Dean a fucking fake; more arguing ensues.

DAY THREE After discovering there's no steakhouses in Tuckahoe, Ramsay decides it's the obvious way to go. Chef Mike agrees to the meaty concept. "I'm excited to learn my own dishes, take my own spin on them and hope he doesn't come back and throw me under a bus," he says. The easy-going chef even loved it when Ramsay melted his chopped salad funnel with a crème brûlée torch.

Meanwhile, Dean isn't satisfied with Ramsay's solution, and by exercising the logic of a 13-year-old, he fights back once again. Ramsay's response: "I have 12 successful restaurants and you, my man, have none." Oh, snap!

DAY FOUR As always, Ramsay's design team works wonders to "spruce up" the place. The team didn't have to do too much, but what they add (new place settings and table cloths) takes the dining area up a few notches. Dean also gets a gorgeous, expensive-looking stone sign (free of charge) to ensure people recognize The Olde Stone Mill.

A complete overhaul of the menu upsets some. The highlights from it include: • Porterhouse steak • Rib eye • New York strip steak • Pan-seared halibut • Crispy salmon • Steamed muscles • Creamed corn • Chopped salad (sans funnel shape)

Overall, the re-launch goes as expected. Tom, the general manager, freaks out at first because he can't remember menu items, and then he starts sweating all over the place. He wins for crybaby of the episode, even though Barbara got all weepy earlier. She had a legitimate reason though -- she's married to a retard.

Also, I must note that FOX added Ramsay's changing scene a few episodes ago, which was a staple in the BBC version. I'm amazed the network cut it to begin with; you'd think five seconds of a half-naked Michelin-star-winning chef would make the ratings soar.

As for The Olde Stone Mill's fate, FOX doesn't say much. The place must be doing OK since it has a website. Anybody else have any ideas?

Lesson learned: If you want to make a lasting impression, have the mayor wait an hour for a steak.

Next week: Get out your party hats because we finally leave New York. Hooray! Ramsay ventures to Vegas to tell someone: "I've never ever ever met someone I believe in as little as you." Gotta love the drama.

If you want to watch this week's episode, click here.

-Jeanette Kozlowski

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