Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares: Complete U.K. Series One
by Jef Burnham
Available on DVD March 3, 2009 from Acorn Media.
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Before celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsay, graced American television with his tirades of bleeped-out expletives and hilarious aphorisms on Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen or Kitchen Nightmares, Ramsay got his start in television on the U.K. original, Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. The original series is much the same as its latter, American counterpart but with a decidedly different tone all around.
The premise of the series, for those unfamiliar with it, is that Britain’s multiple award-winning chef, Gordon Ramsay, travels to struggling restaurants around the country, spending a week there in an effort to lead them down the path of culinary success. Along the way, he butts heads with various egotistical owners, chefs, waiters, etc., often resulting in Ramsay screaming profanities two inches from their faces.
Ramsay’s personal narration of the series sets it apart from the American one as being immediately more personal. Ramsay is also seen here playing football (that’s soccer on this side of the ocean, of course), visiting local pubs, and hitting the streets to survey potential customers, all with the chefs of the nightmare kitchens in question. As such, Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares is a considerably more pleasant viewing experience than the Fox version, yet retains all the vulgarity that made Ramsay so popular.
In the first episode, Ramsay visits a basement restaurant called Bonaparte’s, the owner of which would later sue Ramsay, claiming he staged the soiling of her kitchen for the series and put her out of business. Ramsay won the suit. He also visits The Glass House; the world-famous Walnut Tree Inn, where he and the owner audition chefs with a Hell’s Kitchen-style cooking challenge; and a giant, purple, prison-looking restaurant in Surrey called Moore Place.
It is important to note that this series consists of 4 episodes. Later series have more, but the first has only 4. The cover of this set, however, boasts 8 episodes. This is because the episodes were later re-aired as Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares Revisited. The Revisited episodes are virtually the same as the originals, except that Ramsay’s visits from a couple months after each episode’s filming are replaced with visits from a year later. Although this 4-episode discrepancy could easily be used by a company to charge a higher price for a DVD, this set will be reasonably priced around $20, so no harm really.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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