June 06, 2006

Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares

I was a big fan of Bravo's Top Chef and look forward to Fox's Hell's Kitchen, which has a similar format with a little more hype and bombast.

But if you want to have as good a glimpse into the restaurant business as you are likely to get on television, I'd recommend Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, in which Ramsay makes a field trip to unsuccessful restaurants and intervenes.

Sometimes, food quality is the major issue, but most of the time, the problems are in the kitchen (with unmotivated chefs, food wastage, or unfresh food) or in the front of the house (with poor service, confused menus, and horrible business practices). A common theme is an owner-chef who refuses to delegate, mucking with the kitchen when his or her time would be better spent in the front of the house.

Ramsay is still tough and grumpy, but exceedingly fair. While he has little use for pampered would-be chefs, he feels for proprietors who love food but don't know how to execute. Unfortunately, BBC America isn't available on many cable systems. If you're lucky enough to have it on yours, check out the show.