24 Hours to Hell and Back

 

Gordon Ramsay may be a master chef, but he greatly overrates his own expertise in helping struggling businesses recover. The tragedy is that no one wins in these encounters, and he demonstrates the delusions that emerge from his arrogance.

Ramsay is known for his nasty temper as a master chef, although he shows his ability to charm people in another show as he travels internationally to learn the cuisine of other countries. The irony is that in that show he allows at least a week to pick up the basic knowledge and techniques of that country.

But a few years ago, he decided that he could also rescue troubled restaurants with the expertise he’d acquired in running his own businesses and creating successful menus. I was spared watching this most recent production, “Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back,” until recently; apparently the producers decide season by season whether to renew his contract.

Why is this particular show so pathetic and outrageous? Ramsay’s strategy involves somehow setting up secret cameras in a restaurant; the resulting videos are supposed to tell him everything he needs to know about the restaurant’s problems. After viewing these videos at his leisure, he shows up to tell the restaurant owners that he will save their business — in 24 hours. I’m serious.

Of course, he tries to impress them with his reputation to help him persuade them. In the episode I saw, the father of the family had died, and the son (56 years old) was put in charge. The son was in a constant battle with his mother about the management of the restaurant. But Ramsay was sure he could save the day.

After a 24-hour marathon of lecturing the manager, the grandson, and the restaurant staff; after teaching the grandson how to prepare a limited number of dishes; after getting the staff to work with renovators to give the restaurant a completely new look; after overhauling the kitchen; and after coaxing everyone (especially family members) to hug each other, they were ready for their reopening.

With their debut, the usual conflicts erupted, but Ramsay put out the fires to save the day. Overall, the reopening was a success. And Ramsay hopped in his truck, on to other desperate restaurant owners who want him to work his magic.

Three months later, the grandson/chef sent Ramsay a video of his father, who is acting out his old behaviors, yelling at and insulting staff.

What a surprise.

It’s difficult for me to nail down precisely what I found the most outrageous about Ramsay’s efforts: his arrogance that allowed him to believe he could turn around a business in 24 hours; the havoc he wreaked on a family that was literally struggling to survive financially and emotionally; or his willingness to produce a TV program no matter the costs to his clients and their relationships with each other.

*     *     *     *

But mostly, Ramsay’s story is a harbinger for me, a metaphor for the disaster this country is facing. Many years have passed since the seeds were planted by an arrogant elite to infest this nation with the virus of socialism, just as small businesses can be weakened by their own naivete. Our political infiltrators have pursued their goals with unmitigated arrogance, invading our schools, the government, the corporations, and the media. The results are in full flower, and many of us wish there were an easy way to quash their efforts.

The first thing we can learn from Ramsay’s story is that the issues of that restaurant were a long time in the making and its origins with all its problems were planted long ago, in early family dynamics and tensions. In government, both political parties shrugged their shoulders over the years as they watched invasive growth taking over every healthy seedling that could have stopped the invasion. And now we want a remedy that will kill the entire infestation. Now.

We must take responsibility, all of us must, for where we are.

We must realize that correcting our path and removing the elite jungle forces can’t be done overnight (as in Ramsay’s 24-hour promise). But in our case, every one of us who recognizes the problems can choose to see ourselves as mentors to those who are just waking up. As hard as it might be, we must be patient. We must realize that, just like a failing restaurant, the problems were planted long ago, and it will take consistency in word and action to make this country what it was intended to be, what it deserves to be. We mustn’t act like the elite on the other side and act as if we have all the answers. In fact, we need to encourage those who might be “turning around” to offer their own input and help them believe that they can be part of the solution. When we look at the schools of Loudon County, that is precisely what they did. They spoke up out of anger and fear, not arrogance. People on the left and the right joined together to protest the outrage of those who have corrupted, and wish to continue to corrupt, our schools. Everyone can have a voice and a say, as long as we all keep the ultimate goal in front of us:

We are fighting for freedom.

We are fighting for our future.

We are fighting for our country.

And we can do it by combining humility with strength and our fears with courage, and remember our love for the United States of America.

Published in Politics
Ricochet editors have scheduled this post to be promoted to the Main Feed at 7:33AM (PT) on January 17th, 2022.

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  1. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Ramsey is simply falling in on the long-standing formula of Jon Taffer’s Bar Rescue. The formula requires conflict, yelling, a reconciliation, and a short term happy ending with a grand reopening. 

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Ramsey is simply falling in on the long-standing formula of Jon Taffer’s Bar Rescue. The formula requires conflict, yelling, a reconciliation, and a short term happy ending with a grand reopening.

    I’ve seen some of the other shows. But I don’t think any of them expect a 24-hour turn around. I think he wanted to up the stakes no matter the cost.

    • #2
  3. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Interesting metaphor. Success in restauranteering involves lots of elements that only a handful of which can be corrected quickly. We had a local restaurant that underwent a “rescue” by a different reality show than Ramsay’s but it is now closed. I never went to it even after seeing the “rescue” program that no doubt made it a better restaurant than it had been. That was because their specialty was a food genre I do not fancy. Apparently I was not alone. When whatever number of people in the area appreciate that genre are divided by the number of restaurants that feature it on the menu generates too few customers to sustain you then the handwriting is on the wall. The enthusiasm of the owner is insufficient; it takes capital, skill, selectivity, marketing, ambience and persistence. And just plain good fortune. Restauranting is like the fighting terrorism slogan: we have to get it right every time, they only have to get lucky once. “They” in the restaurant business is any one of a large number of problems that can stampede clientele away from you. A nation, unlike a restaurant has some self-healing properties if it is truly citizen run — mainly that the people can’t just run to somewhere else and have incentives to figure it out. But once a nation falls under tyranny those self-healing qualities are destroyed. 

    • #3
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Rodin (View Comment):
    A nation, unlike a restaurant has some self-healing properties if it is truly citizen run — mainly that the people can’t just run to somewhere else and have incentives to figure it out. But once a nation falls under tyranny those self-healing qualities are destroyed. 

    The question then arises: has the tyranny here progressed so far that it can’t be reversed? One advantage we may have now is that the face of the tyranny is Joe Biden and his regime. They are beyond inept, and are failing miserably. This may be the opportune time for us to get our act in gear while they are down. I so hope that the Republicans are putting out a plan for government, while we fight in the trenches. Thanks, Rodin.

    • #4
  5. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Nah. If we tear it all down and rebuild it from scratch the way I tell people to do it, everyone will be happy. Or else.

    (Good article, btw.)

    • #5
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    Nah. If we tear it all down and rebuild it from scratch the way I tell people to do it, everyone will be happy. Or else.

    Hey, Reticulator, there are days when I’d love to jump in and help! Believe me! And thanks.

    • #6
  7. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Ramsey is simply falling in on the long-standing formula of Jon Taffer’s Bar Rescue. The formula requires conflict, yelling, a reconciliation, and a short term happy ending with a grand reopening.

    You are right that there is no such thing as 24 hour relationship counseling success, that long term underlying problems do not get fixed overnight.

    • #7
  8. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    I never could get into anything Ramsey has done.  To me, he’s the Andrew Dice Clay of cooking.  A lot of F-words and slamming cookware around but not much else.

    • #8
  9. The Scarecrow Thatcher
    The Scarecrow
    @TheScarecrow

    I only just a few minutes ago finished rereading Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, which is primarily about how the medium tailors, constrains, dilutes, and otherwise alters – shapes – the message. I had read it several times in the nineties; it was a life-changing perspective for me.

    I wondered yesterday what I would think now, so I read it again. Every syllable of it was riveting, and the older man reading it was crushed by how prescient it was, and how nobody listened. And here we are.

    Anyway, this case struck me as a perfect example of Postman’s point about the futility of communicating certain concepts and ideas with the wrong medium. In this case, obviously, television.

    Television is an entertainment medium. It is nothing else. This dude claims he can effect a good – in this case solve this restaurant’s problems – in an hour of television; actually solve their problems!

    Good god. No. 

    What he can do is make a television program, an hour’s diversion for simpletons. Then off to his next conquest. Leaving behind wreckage and bewilderment in his wake.

    Reminds me of Gilderoy Lockhart.

     

     

     

    • #9
  10. Franco Member
    Franco
    @Franco

    For some reason I’m very interested in why and how businesses fail. But restaurants are most interesting. I watched a few episodes of Bar Rescue and tired of the main guy’s overbearing manner, and the formulaic aspects reveal themselves.

    Piggybacking on Rodin’s comment above, and the OP, so many things can conspire to tank a restaurant. It could be the food. It could be service. Location, menu, competition, acoustics , (my bugaboo – when you have to yell) the vibe or personality, the design.

    Ive worked in three very high end restaurants. Laheire’s in Princeton, NJ and L’Auberge owned by tennis player Helen Siegel Wilson, and The Garden in downtown Philadelphia. All French cuisine. As I look back I realize I was a very, very good busboy. My parents were told – by the owner –  I was the best busboy Laheire’s ever had. This was a restaurant that Albert Einstein frequented for his lunches when he was at the Institute for Advanced Study.  Some busboy no doubt discarded some of his napkins scribblings.

    I was efficient. I prioritized, I made the whole flow work. The waitresses loved me. They were French ooh la la, but older. I was just 20. More than anyone else in the restaurant I made them money by turning over tables and providing service. They likely overtipped me, and I had plenty of money, which I spent liberally and not all to good ends.

    I loved the work. It was very demanding.

    Now and for decades, I go to a lot of restaurants. Not too often the type of places I’ve worked, ( If I’d only invested  those tips properly in plastics) but the level of service is degrading on an increasingly steep curve. The high end are better than ever, but  below that, it’s sad.

    I worked for a guy who owned several restaurants in Philadelphia. The Copabanana, Cafe NOLA nearby and I worked at Paper Moon on South Street. Several of my friends and roommates at the time worked as managers and wait staff for both entities.

    Both were successful but Cafe NOLA – a very nice successful Cajun place, had to move, or he wanted to expand… the new location only a block away and  somehow it didn’t work.

    Then in the restaurant biz, you are very vulnerable to employee theft so when you DO eventually succeed, you get thievery.

    You can’t just place cameras and play fly-in-therapist.
    The show sounds ridiculous and it’s a great metaphor for our ridiculous leadership.

     

     

     

    • #10
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    The Scarecrow (View Comment):

    Anyway, this case struck me as a perfect example of Postman’s point about the futility of communicating certain concepts and ideas with the wrong medium. In this case, obviously, television.

    Television is an entertainment medium. It is nothing else. This dude claims he can effect a good – in this case solve this restaurant’s problems – in an hour of television; actually solve their problems!

    Good god. No. 

     

     

     

     

    You make a number of very good points, Scarecrow! Especially the point I singled out. For those people who love to watch car crashes or people killed, it’s just right. For those who are caring people, it’s just too ugly.

    • #11
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Franco (View Comment):
    You can’t just place cameras and play fly-in-therapist.
    The show sounds ridiculous and it’s a great metaphor for our ridiculous leadership.

    Indeed. Our betters think they can mold and shape us because they know exactly what we need. Or what we should want. They have no idea who we are or what matters–to us or the world. And they just keep messing it up. Thanks, Franco.

    • #12
  13. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Franco (View Comment):
    and it’s a great metaphor for our ridiculous leadership.

    Yes!

    • #13
  14. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Indeed. Our betters think they can mold and shape us because they know exactly what we need. Or what we should want. They have no idea who we are or what matters–to us or the world. And they just keep messing it up.

    But enough about public health policy. 

    • #14
  15. Franco Member
    Franco
    @Franco

    These shows have one thing in common. The contestants always have to supplicate themselves and be humiliated. The only important thing in the world is succeeding on that show with her as a chef as a singer as a comedian or entrepreneur they are in a fact reality game shows or just game shows.

    What snippets I see in trailers for Gordon Ramsay’s show makes me dislike him intensely, makes me wonder why someone who is just cooking something for someone else to eat  be called on the carpet for something extraordinarily esoteric.

    Cooking is not a competitive sport! I think I’d be happy with the best 10 million cooks in the world. 
    Im happy listening to the best 10,000 violinists in the world, all overqualified to play at a wedding.

    The best 1,000,000 chess players in the world can beat me easily.

    I find these chef shows boring.

    Remember The Galoping Gourmet?

    How far we’ve come….

    I can’t imagine how much of a sophisticated palate a person would have to have to contemplate these things. Which we cannot, ourselves, taste!
    Even if you could taste them I can’t imagine that something could be that delicious to aspire to. 

     

    • #15
  16. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    Queer Eye isn’t likely to make any Ricochet top ten lists, but my wife likes it, because their makeovers are usually clever and sensible, and the five men are likeable. This is a Netflix remake, or continuation of the original series of nearly a generation ago. But there are differences. The subjects of the makeovers used to be ordinary folks, or mild eccentrics, like a friendly older woman who collected baseball memorabilia. There was nothing particularly gay about the food, wardrobe, or advice about furniture. Part of the show’s humor was its honesty: the lifestyles of the subject and the cast were wildly different, and they didn’t pretend otherwise. 

    The “Fab Five” were caricatured like the Fab Four in Yellow Submarine; they had a headquarters, where they’d finish each episode watching highlights. It was pleasant and funny.

    The new version is too, but it’s too predictable. The old show had a certain innocence about it. The new one is more packaged and slick. Worse, the selection of subjects is woke. With rare exceptions, they’re all “persons of color”, usually at a big social/economic disadvantage to the cast–a pair of middle-aged black women who operate a ribs joint, or a black physical trainer. They too gratefully accept the advice and defer to the show’s makeover without much visible feedback. After all, they’re getting what amounts to thousands of dollars of free stuff, plus they’ll be on television. 

    So I was interested when the subject was a young Asian woman who runs a tiny, trendy bakery in Austin, because she wasn’t quite as grateful or as quick to take their advice. She didn’t break the boundaries of the show, but she was balky, depriving the producers and writers of that gushy moment, the usual climax of the show, when the ugly duckling becomes a swan. She pretty clearly didn’t see herself that way. 

    • #16
  17. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    The new version is too, but it’s too predictable. The old show had a certain innocence about it. The new one is more packaged and slick. Worse, the selection of subjects is woke. With rare exceptions, they’re all “persons of color”, usually at a big social/economic disadvantage to the cast–a pair of middle-aged black women who operate a ribs joint, or a black physical trainer. They too gratefully accept the advice and defer to the show’s makeover without much visible feedback. After all, they’re getting what amounts to thousands of dollars of free stuff, plus they’ll be on television. 

    They’d probably claim that they are adjusting to the times, but I think they’re trying to convert all of us to their wokeness. I guess we’re just not behaving ourselves. I get so tired of the woke agenda showing up everywhere. 

    • #17
  18. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    Queer Eye isn’t likely to make any Ricochet top ten lists, but my wife likes it, because their makeovers are usually clever and sensible, and the five men are likeable. This is a Netflix remake, or continuation of the original series of nearly a generation ago. But there are differences. The subjects of the makeovers used to be ordinary folks, or mild eccentrics, like a friendly older woman who collected baseball memorabilia. There was nothing particularly gay about the food, wardrobe, or advice about furniture. Part of the show’s humor was its honesty: the lifestyles of the subject and the cast were wildly different, and they didn’t pretend otherwise.

    The “Fab Five” were caricatured like the Fab Four in Yellow Submarine; they had a headquarters, where they’d finish each episode watching highlights. It was pleasant and funny.

    The new version is too, but it’s too predictable. The old show had a certain innocence about it. The new one is more packaged and slick. Worse, the selection of subjects is woke. With rare exceptions, they’re all “persons of color”, usually at a big social/economic disadvantage to the cast–a pair of middle-aged black women who operate a ribs joint, or a black physical trainer. They too gratefully accept the advice and defer to the show’s makeover without much visible feedback. After all, they’re getting what amounts to thousands of dollars of free stuff, plus they’ll be on television.

    So I was interested when the subject was a young Asian woman who runs a tiny, trendy bakery in Austin, because she wasn’t quite as grateful or as quick to take their advice. She didn’t break the boundaries of the show, but she was balky, depriving the producers and writers of that gushy moment, the usual climax of the show, when the ugly duckling becomes a swan. She pretty clearly didn’t see herself that way.

    As I read this, my wife was watching this very show next to me. I’ve only been watching/reading it in pieces (blessedly, she wears headphones), but there is way more preaching than I am comfortable with, the championship-winning trans weightlifter that they helped become more feminine was perhaps the most gratuitous of the lot so far. 

    • #18
  19. Vince Guerra Member
    Vince Guerra
    @VinceGuerra

    I’ve watched most seasons of Hell’s Kitchen and many episodes of Kitchen Nightmares as well as several of Ramsay’s instructional videos (my son has been in culinary arts classes for a couple of years now) so I guess you could say I am a fan, however I couldn’t even finish the only episode of 24 Hours I tried. It was terrible for all the reasons you identified.

    Contrast that with Kitchen Nightmares, a show he did several years ago. If you haven’t seen it, you might want to give it a go instead. The premise was the same – take a struggling business, identify the problems, teach the  industry principles for success, and wish them luck – but the difference was that he spent a week with the restaurant. Now a week is certainly not a lot of time but it’s a far cry better than a few hours. What he often encountered were two things: bad food, and management issues.

    The shows would start with a surprise lunch visit where he sampled things on the menu and took in the patron experience. Then he’d inspect the kitchen, freezers, grease traps, etc…After that he’d sit down, meet the staff, and dig into the relationships and business practices. Inevitably heart issues would emerge and you got to see a different side of Ramsay who seemed genuine in his desire to help. Often a problematic employee needed fired but the manager had been resisting it.  Sometimes a family business had family drama to deal with. It didn’t always work out but sometimes it did, at least in the short term. The key takeaway on that show was that it takes time and some serious demolition in order to uncover the underlying issues.

    • #19
  20. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Vince Guerra (View Comment):
    Inevitably heart issues would emerge and you got to see a different side of Ramsay who seemed genuine in his desire to help.

    I have certainly seen a nicer side when he travels to other countries, Vince. I wonder why he decided to set ridiculous expectations overall. It’s like he thought our society has become so crude and cruel that we expect that kind of behavior. Actually, I’ve watched some of those shows, but when it comes to reality shows, I prefer veterinarians and Alaska!

    • #20
  21. Vince Guerra Member
    Vince Guerra
    @VinceGuerra

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Actually, I’ve watched some of those shows, but when it comes to reality shows, I prefer veterinarians and Alaska!

    I credit Ramsay with teaching me how to cook perfect hash browns and a decent steak. The producers of this new show just wanted chaos and drama. It was a terrible idea.

    My favorite reality show was Dude, You’re Screwed, a show where five survivalist experts take turns kidnapping each other and setting one of them in the middle of nowhere with 100 hours to find civilization or get rescued.  Unfortunately, they stopped making them after a sleep-deprived dude almost died going over a waterfall.

    • #21
  22. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Ramsey is simply falling in on the long-standing formula of Jon Taffer’s Bar Rescue. The formula requires conflict, yelling, a reconciliation, and a short term happy ending with a grand reopening.

    I liked The Galloping Gourmet.  The only conflict in it was deciding when he would take his “short slurp” . . .

    • #22
  23. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Stad (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Ramsey is simply falling in on the long-standing formula of Jon Taffer’s Bar Rescue. The formula requires conflict, yelling, a reconciliation, and a short term happy ending with a grand reopening.

    I liked The Galloping Gourmet. The only conflict in it was deciding when he would take his “short slurp” . . .

    I think of him saying “First, you take a leek…” every time I see them in the supermarket.

    • #23
  24. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Ramsey is simply falling in on the long-standing formula of Jon Taffer’s Bar Rescue. The formula requires conflict, yelling, a reconciliation, and a short term happy ending with a grand reopening.

    I liked The Galloping Gourmet. The only conflict in it was deciding when he would take his “short slurp” . . .

    I think of him saying “First, you take a leek…” every time I see them in the supermarket.

    I remember watching one show where he cooked liver, and then had a hard time trying to find someone to drag out of the audience to eat it with him . . .

    • #24
  25. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Reality shows creep me out – I don’t want to see that most of our population are inveterate drama queens. Nor do I like the way they bow to authority on cue. 

    To one degree or another, we all code shift depending on who is there to see. 

    When I want to see something dramatic I’ll choose professional actors every time – they come off so much more human. 

    • #25
  26. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    TBA (View Comment):

    Reality shows creep me out – I don’t want to see that most of our population are inveterate drama queens. Nor do I like the way they bow to authority on cue.

    To one degree or another, we all code shift depending on who is there to see.

    When I want to see something dramatic I’ll choose professional actors every time – they come off so much more human.

    I once spoke with a woman whose son was in pre-production for a reality show (I won’t say the name).  I was surprised that the shows are scripted, but they are.  What you see in a reality show is not real life, but written and directed for the cameras.

    • #26
  27. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Flicker (View Comment):

    TBA (View Comment):

    Reality shows creep me out – I don’t want to see that most of our population are inveterate drama queens. Nor do I like the way they bow to authority on cue.

    To one degree or another, we all code shift depending on who is there to see.

    When I want to see something dramatic I’ll choose professional actors every time – they come off so much more human.

    I once spoke with a woman whose son was in pre-production for a reality show (I won’t say the name). I was surprised that the shows are scripted, but they are. What you see in a reality show is not real life, but written and directed for the cameras.

    So they’re paid to act like they’re not acting. I can’t decide if they are the best or the worst of actors. Just make them stop, ok? 

    • #27
  28. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    TBA (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    TBA (View Comment):

    Reality shows creep me out – I don’t want to see that most of our population are inveterate drama queens. Nor do I like the way they bow to authority on cue.

    To one degree or another, we all code shift depending on who is there to see.

    When I want to see something dramatic I’ll choose professional actors every time – they come off so much more human.

    I once spoke with a woman whose son was in pre-production for a reality show (I won’t say the name). I was surprised that the shows are scripted, but they are. What you see in a reality show is not real life, but written and directed for the cameras.

    So they’re paid to act like they’re not acting. I can’t decide if they are the best or the worst of actors. Just make them stop, ok?

    Well, I imagine there’s a lot of improvisation and a lot of retakes.

    • #28
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