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"Kitchen Nightmares" Returns With Its 1st Pennsylvania Visit

Chef Gordon Ramsay.
Chef Gordon Ramsay.

In two seasons of trying to rescue struggling restaurants around America, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has visited eateries mostly in New York and California, with some stops in the midwest and New Jersey.

 When his Kitchen Nightmares returns for its third season Friday night on FOX, Ramsay will make his first stop in Pennsylvania, visiting the Hot Potato Cafe in Philadelphia.

 The restaurant, according to FOX's website, is "tearing a family apart. Passion, motivation and spirit fueled the restaurant when it was founded two years ago, but all of these mandatory ingredients are now in short supply."

 That's usually the case with this show, which follows the same formula each week: A restaurant is failing, usually due to bad management, unappealing food, an overcomplicated menu, or some combination of all three factors.

 Ramsay -- host of Hell's Kitchen, along with a British version of this show and a light-hearted talk/magazine show called The F Word -- tries to help bail them out, often with fairly drastic solutions. He'll overhaul the menu, change the restaurant's focus, redecorate inside and out and suggest that unhelpful employees be fired.

 The British Kitchen Nightmares deals mainly with the food, putting conflict between owners on the back burner. Here in America, the tone is more combative: Ramsay vs. the owners, Ramsay vs. the managers, the managers vs. the cooks, etc. Some of the conflicts feel a bit contrived. Others -- like when Ramsay comes across an unsanitary kitchen, or a cook trying to pass off canned foods as "fresh" -- are more authentic.

 Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. In the past, some restaurants have ignored Ramsay's advice, while others were just too far in debt to make it, even after a successful revamp.

 The Hot Potato Cafe, in any case, is still around, eight months after Ramsay visited. This week, they've been promoting their Kitchen Nightmares appearance on Twitter and Facebook.


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