Kitchen Nightmares: Lela’s

Gordon Ramsey
Tonight’s episode took Gordon Ramsey to Lela’s in Pomona, CA. What he found there was a restaurant that billed itself as a “fine dining” establishment, but which didn’t have some of the food the menu listed, frozen food, and a lot of yelling. They couldn’t even serve him a brownie ala mode because the homemade brownies went missing. Not a really good first impression. The owner, Lela, was in big trouble.

Gordon’s entrance into the kitchen didn’t go over well with the executive chef, Ricky. Gordon’s criticism of the lamb, which was served in chocolate mint sauce was that there was hardly any meat on the lamb, was met with “That’s just what we buy here, and that’s what we serve”. The chef doesn’t like what Gordon has to say.

The next day, the inspection of the kitchen doesn’t go well either. The refrigerator has a temperature of 51 degrees, there’s food in there that’s going bad, and even the tomato soup Gordon had at lunch.

While the staff cleaned up the place, Gordon took a walk around the area and found out that most of the people around the area were young people on a budget.

The dinner service that night didn’t go well. One of the customers ordered sea bass, and when it should have been time to get the order, the head waitress, Tabitha, found out they were out of sea bass in the kitchen! Back in the kitchen, Gordon finds potatoes on the stove… made from potato flakes. A sous chef attempts to slice some cake (also brought in) and even that goes wrong. The expiration date has passed. To top it off, the staff starts to take off near the end of service.

Gordon tracked down one of the prep cooks, Buzzard, and confronts him about the “goodies” he’s taken from the restaurant without permission. They go back into the restaurant to tell the owner. After they unpack everything (food and wine) and Buzzard asked how he can take things from a failing restaurant, he walks out.

After service, Gordon told Ricky he wasn’t the “executive chef” he thinks he is.

The next day, Buzzard came back. Gordon told Buzzard that the things in Lela’s belonged to the owner. Lela ended up firing Buzzard.

Then they did a blind-folded taste test, where Lex (the sous chef) and Ricky were blindfolded. Lex identified everything correctly, and Ricky didn’t. Gordon asked them both who was the better chef, and Lex said he was. Ricky disagreed.

On day four, Gordon give Lela a day off to get pampered and a make over. Meanwhile, Gordon takes charge to change the menu from “fine dining” to casual. Gordon tells Lex and Ricky to create their idea of what a “Pomona salad” would be. The wait staff tried it, and they liked it.

Next Gordon came up with a “Lela’s Famous Burger” recipe, and take it to the streets to let people try it. Lela comes back from her makeover. The restaurant gets a makeover too, and to tell you the truth, other than a red couch and some butcher paper on the tables, I didn’t see all that much of a difference. The staff thought it was a lot different though.

To prepare that night, Gordon made Tabitha the manager, and Lex the head chef. Ricky, of course, didn’t think that was fair.

At dinner time, the restaurant was packed; even the mayor arrives (Gordon arranged that). Thirty minutes in, no food has gone out. When it finally does go out, not everyone at the table gets food at the same time. An hour in, the kitchen is still arguing with the front of house. Finally, Lex leaves the kitchen to cool off.

Lela goes to confront Lex and they argue. Lela tells him that they need to serve the food, and Lex tells her that he doesn’t like the way she’s talking to him. Lela lays down the law, and says if Lex doesn’t want to work, he should leave.

Lex leaves.

Gordon chases after him, and tries to talk to him. Lex continues to his car, and Ricky chases after him. It’s no good. Lex jumps in his car and takes off.

Ricky steps up and the orders start to go out of the kitchen. The customers really like the food, in spite of the wait. Lex returns after he cooled off, and stepped back into his role as sous chef.

Gordon was very impressed with Ricky, and Ricky really appreciated it. I thought Ricky did a great job and really turned that kitchen around.

During the rest of Gordon’s stay, things continued to improve: the staff, the service, and the food. Things were looking up.

Five months later, the bills had piled up and Lela’s was forced to close.

Overall, it was interesting to watch, and I’m sorry the place ended up closing. It would have been good to get more than a 10 second “what happened after Gordon left” synopsis. I remember in one of the show in the British version of the program, they tracked down the people that were at the closed restaurant to find out what happened.

I suppose that even finding out that little bit of information is an improvement over what they first did on the show (which was nothing), but I sure hope for the next round of restaurants they spend the last ten minutes of the show going over what happened after Gordon left.

3 thoughts on “Kitchen Nightmares: Lela’s”

  1. After reading this (because I am on my laptop) I have to say that Gordon posesses the ability to Multi Task, As does the staff of Lela’s. The restaurant is a good concept, but, has no business being in the Art District of Pomona. I have been there. Although “Downtown Pomona” is trying to improve, there is definately no room for a “semi Fine Dining Restaurant in that Area. Take that concept to claremont and you Might have a chance. I have had the dis-pleasure of working with one of the servers from Lela’s and I have to say that she needed to surround herself with better staff. Sometimes servers show good on paper but cannot play the same game. i had to rid of that server as the show was being taped and her cousin too. I guess the Apple doesn’t fall from the tree. I Dined at Lela’s once after the taping and I really Likeed my food. he service was a 5 on a scale of 1-10 and definately would not consider it a “Fine Dining Restaurant”. We had the pleasure of serving Mr. Ramsey and his gueats as they stayed in the Hotel that I work at and he even dined here. We serve a California Cuisine. We are very particular not to claim being a fine dining restaurant even though we use table cloths, serve lobster tails and wear suits. Be careful to all those reastaurants that call themselves fine dining just so they can jack up the price. Fine Dining consists of a Comfortable, Beautiful, Full Ambiance that only each individual can create with Great Service, Good Wine and A desire to be the “BEST RESTAURANT THEY CAN BE!!!

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