Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares USA, Channel 4 - TV review: 'An ersatz Italian restaurant in Colorado makes Ramsay flip his lid'

 

Did we appreciate Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares enough when we had the chance? This week the TV chef announced the imminent (though not immediate) end of the TV show on which he built his reputation for gruff cookery critique. The first of a two-part Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares USA (Channel 4) took place in Woodland Park, Colorado, known as the "City Above the Clouds" where the TV chef was hoping to improve the prospects of a decidedly non-celestial Italian restaurant.

Mangia Mangia's menu was Italian, but only because the other two restaurants in town were Chinese and Mexican. Owner Julie had never set foot in Italy – "I'm Irish!" she said indignantly, when asked. This in part explained the restaurant's interior, which looked more like a KFC in a motorway service station than an authentic Tuscan eatery, replete with its own drive-thru window.

All of which might have been excusable, if only the food had been edible. The veal piccata included uncooked veal, the lasagne was served frozen in the middle and the head chef was an untrained, unenthused 22-year-old called Trevor. The prep cook had it pretty spot-on when he summed up Mangia Mangia's culinary philosophy: "The food isn't cooked with much love – it's cooked with stress and a microwave." Can you blame Gordon Ramsay for being angry about that?

Rude men have long occupied a prominent place on television. But unlike Jeremy Paxman (whose disdain often suggested boredom) or David Starkey (whose insults seem motivated mostly by a desire for continued media attention) or Simon Cowell (who is merely playing his part in a pantomime), Ramsay's rudeness comes from the heart. He really cares – not about other people's feelings, obviously, or the ongoing survival of their businesses, but about maintaining basic standards in the catering industry. The diners of Woodland Park, Colorado, deserve better and Gordon Ramsay is determined to see that they get it.

Since the end of Kitchen Nightmares was announced, it's been reported that more than 60 per cent of the restaurants Ramsay attempted to reform during the show's 12 series have since closed, many within a year. This might be read as proof that his measures have failed, but it also demonstrates just how long "restaurants" – I hesitate to use the word – such as Mangia Mangia have been getting away with it. Now, after 10 years, the nightmare is over for lazy restaurateurs. That's very bad news for the rest of us.

It would also have been nice if a bit more effort had put into the compilation of Commonwealth on Film, which began a four-part series on BBC4 last night. Like last year's Britain on Film, it was a half-hour collection of archive clips organised around a theme. We saw interviews with Britons emigrating to Canada in the 1950s, Barbadian bus conductors learning how to operate a ticket machine in 1960s Chiswick, and we met Abdul, a morose Bangladeshi fisherman struggling to feed his family. More amusing were the barefoot lorry drivers on Australia's long, straight deserted roads: "If you're going along and you get a bit tired of it, get your book out and have a read," said one.

The theme was work, but beyond that any connecting thread was difficult to discern. Britain is familiar enough to British audiences that archive clips can be easily understood, but the countries of the Commonwealth are many and varied and Commonwealth on Film would have benefited from some more contextualising information. It was often near-impossible to establish where in the world the footage had been filmed, let alone which decade it had been filmed in.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing