Oh no, Gordon Ramsay forgot the “sometimes you can just say nothing” rule and has decided to open his angry British mouth to decry food and drink spots that were forced to close because of the pandemic. The Guardian reports that during an interview with Radio Times Ramsay said that while the past two years have been “devastating” for the restaurant industry, at least now the “crap’s gone.”
When asked if he was referring to any restaurants in particular he said:
Well, just shitholes in a prime position and taking advantage because they’re in a great location, and they’ve got the footfall. But now we’ve wiped the slate clean, which is good.
Oh, Gordon. Gordon Gordon Gordon. It’s a bad look as one of the biggest celebrity chefs in the world to talk shit about any facet of your industry. When a restaurant closes, people lose their jobs, in many cases their livelihood and life’s work. The last thing they need is a multimillionaire—who, by the way, was criticized for laying off 500 employees in March 2020 despite his enormous wealth—screaming about how it’s okay because their restaurant was “crap.”
Even though Ramsay’s whole Americanized persona was crafted around angrily yelling at restaurant owners on Kitchen Nightmares, at least the purpose of that show was to help small businesses succeed. Although, now that we mention it, was that ever truly the idea?
The success rate of Kitchen Nightmares is astonishingly low. Reality TV Updates keeps a running list of the restaurants from both Ramsay’s show and Bar Rescue, tallying how many are still open. Out of the 77 restaurants Gordon Ramsay swooped in to save with his beef wellingtons and a fresh coat of paint, only 17 are still open—that’s a 22% success rate, or as my high school math teacher would say, a failing grade.
This is, of course, in part because Ramsay is but one man stopping by these restaurants for but five days, and if things are really in rough shape, that’s not going to change anything long term. But we should also consider the havoc wrought by the production process. Back in 2018, Oceana Grill, one of the few featured restaurants that is still open, sued Ramsay and the producers of Kitchen Nightmares claiming defamation. The restaurant claimed that footage of Ramsay vomiting after opening a bin of shrimp and discovering dead mice in the restaurant were staged to create more drama in the show. Even after the restaurant is “fixed,” it could be hard for potential future customers to rid those images from their mind before stepping foot in the restaurant.
There’s also the notion that some of the featured restaurants may not have needed saving in the first place and any changes only made the joint worse. While it may seem like a silly concept, it could be a strategy for producers to ensure the success rate isn’t as bad as, well, Kitchen Nightmares’ success rate.
And it’s not completely unheard of: In 2016 the owner of the highly successful Chicago restaurant Hopleaf Bar was approached by producers from Bar Rescue to be featured on the show, Eater reported. But the owner declined, saying, “I don’t know that we are in need of such, of being saved.” (At least Bar Rescue can boast that 56% of its featured bars are still open, even though that is, in fact, still a failing grade.)
I won’t make as lofty a claim as to say that Gordon Ramsay was out here trying to deliberately shut down restaurants; you can come to your own conclusion on that. But based on his recent comments about “crap” restaurants, he may not have been too sad to see any of those spots featured on Kitchen Nightmares go. He certainly won’t be invited to save my “crap” restaurant anytime soon.