Kitchen Nightmares – Sante La Brea

Dante and his two sons were having problems. Dean is the owner/cook/janitor. Sammy and Arthur (his sons) are servers. Mark is the host/manager, who Sammy considers an interior decorator. They’re in about $200,000 in debt at the time of taping.

Gordon Ramsay was set to arrive in Los Angeles to help the Sante La Brea, and the chef didn’t show up, which put everyone on edge.

When Gordon finally arrived, he didn’t seem to impressed with the appearance of the outside facade of the restaurant. He was even less impressed with the inside, when Dean started to give him the tour of the “newly remodeled” restaurant. There was grass/vegetation growing in aluminum trays up on a shelf. Dean grabbed one, and to Gordon’s surprise, he ate a bunch of whatever was growing in that tray! Gordon asked about the menu, and Dean said they have vegetarian and regular versions of the dishes… and the chef didn’t show up.

Gordon wanted to get to the root cause of the problems with the restaurant and Dean said it’s money. Mark spent $5,000 on a display of “product”, and Dean said Mark is just a big talker.

Mark described what he does as trying to make the restaurant look more hip, fresh and modern. He said that he wanted to make the place “look like no place you’ve ever seen”. Gordon told him that he “definitely, definitely not wrong there”. Mark took that as a compliment.

Gordon went out to the terrace outside the restaurant and orders food. First comes a Turkey Patty melt, which he said doesn’t look healthy, and ended up feeding it to a dog that a nearby customer brought in. The next thing that cam was a stir fry ….er, something… called Mofu Tofu… not even sure what that is. Either was Gordon. Finally came the blackened salmon, which is dry and “too fishy” for salmon. Gordon took that to indicate the fish might not have been refrigerated properly.

Gordon talked to Dean, and told him that the food looked like a dog’s dinner and tasted hideous. While talking to him, Gordon started to feel sick. They went to the back of the restaurant to look where the food was being kept. The was rotten food, frozen turkey melting with frozen salmon in the same container. Gordon said it was a disgrace.

Dean and his sons is done to talk with them. The chef, Aurelio, came two hours late, and the owners confronted the chef about it. They sent him back to the kitchen to take care of things. Things are really emotional for him.

Gordon went to observe what was happening in the kitchen, and asks about the condition of the food. Aurelio said he’s “just a cook”, and Dean stepped in to say it’s his (Dean’s) fault. Aurelio said (in the one-on-on camera interview) that he can do pretty much want he wants at this place, and that’s why he never left.

At dinner service, the customers complained amongst themselves that the food is bad. Gordon went to the kitchen, and found a package of what Dean called “Unduck” – fake duck. Dean said it was popular. Next up – fake fish! “Unfish”! Gordon wasn’t impressed.

Gordon confronted the staff after service. Gordon said that nobody took responsibility for service. Gordon said the main problem was the food, and that he didn’t like conditions of the kitchen. He wanted that kitchen cleaned, and put an “F” over the “A” health inspection report, with the instructions that he’ll personally take that “F” down when the conditions of the restaurant is an “A”. They throughly cleaned the kitchen throughout the night.

The next morning, Gordon met with Dean at the top of the canyon for a pep-talk, and told him to say what he wanted to, to the staff. Dean didn’t seem into it at first, merely talking quietly about what he would say. Gordon told him he really needs to get into it, and yells as an example. Dean still didn’t get it, but in the end was really yelling about what he wanted his staff to do to change things at the restaurant.

So what happens back at the restaurant? The first person Dean confronts is his son, Sammy. Sammy thought this was great.

Gordon inspected the kitchen, and everything looked great. The “F” came down.

Next up, Gordon showed how to make some great looking dishes.

Before dinner service, Gordon gathered everyone together and told them there was a serious infraction the night before – and brings in a police officer to handcuff Dean! Of course, that was all for show – Gordon just wanted to make sure that Dean was the one giving the orders, not picking up after everyone else in the restaurant. They were all a little freaked out about this, and were relieved it was a stunt.

Food service started, and the first thing Gordon noticed was that Mark was sweating a lot. Mark said that he didn’t like wearing deodorant.

Back in the kitchen, Gordon caught Dean trying to help with cooking, which quickly stopped. Dean got more into ordering other people around.

They run out of the halibut special, and Mark takes an order for three anyway. Dean was pretty upset about this, and told him that he shouldn’t be taking orders. Next up, Gordon found that Mark was putting menus under his sweaty arms. Dean sent Mark home to get a new shirt; Gordon went out to get deodorant at a convenience store.. They meet back at the restaurant and Mark put on the deodorant.

Gordon then got the police officer to take the handcuffs off of Dean, after Dean promised to not fall back to his old ways.

Unfortunately, things still weren’t going well. A customer found hair in food, and another had cold pasta. Dean brings it back to the kitchen, and confronts to Aurelio, and argued with him.

Afterwards, Gordon has good news and bad news. Good news – the specials went quickly. Bad news – the rest of the food is bad. He told them they’re relaunching the next day.

Gordon’s staff went in and changed everything: new benches, new shades, new paint – a complete change. The new menu brought out the emotion in Dean, and he gave Gordon a big hug. He showed them the food, and it looked great. They tried it all, and they liked it.

That night at relaunch – Mark started taking orders, and Dean didn’t like that at all. He really confronted Mark forcefully, and Mark got the message. In the kitchen, Dean confronted Aurelio and they have it out. The chef didn’t want to listen, so he left. Gordon yelled after him to stop, but he kept driving away.

Gordon thought that Dean’s gone a little overboard on confronting staff. Aurelio turned his car around, and went back to tell Gordon that he was sorry. Dean saw him and they started to argue again. Aurelio said he was owed $140. Gordon gives him $100, and told him the rest comes after service. Then Gordon took Dean aside and told him that he has to take a deep breath.

Customers were waiting for their food because of Aurelio’s absence; Gordon got everyone together and tells them they have to pull together to get through the night’s service. After this, things seemed to go a lot better.

At the end of the night, Gordon said things went a lot better. He again took Dean aside, and told him that he has everything he needs to succeed, and that he wanted to place to succeed.

In the end, it really looked like it would.