Since the season finale of “Kitchen Nightmares” aired, it seems like the show is all anyone’s been talking about. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you must have been away from your computer all week or you live in a remote yurt in the woods. I’ll give you the briefest of brief updates and you can do the rest of the heavy lifting yourself if you’re interested. Spoilers after the jump.
On the episode, Amy and Samy Bouzaglo, owners of Amy’s Baking Company, flipped out to the point where Gordon Ramsay left in the middle of the episode. It’s worth noting here that I’ve seen every episode of this show (six US seasons and five UK seasons because I’m insane like that about cooking shows) and although Gordon Ramsay threatens to leave almost every single time, it’s never actually happened. It’s come close to happening many times because part of the appeal of the show is that most of the owners are — at the very least — strange. Sometimes they’re just straight up batcrackers like the Bouzaglos.
OK, back to the Bouzaglos and the things that are most cray about them: they don’t pay their servers tips, they’ve fired over 100 staff members, they yell at their customers, they blame all of their restaurants problems on “haters,” Amy talks “cat” (like actually speaks like a cat), and they used to live in Las Vegas and be a gangster and stripper respectively, but have since found God. (Don’t quote me on that gangster/ stripper thing, that was just what I gleaned from the subtext of the dialogue, but I’m usually dead on about that kind of stuff.)
After the show aired, the Bouzaglos had a complete meltdown on their Facebook page. They say that the whole show was sensationalized and that they’ve received death threats. There were also a bunch of fun comments worth looking into on Yelp. And, if that weren’t enough, a former staff member did an AMA on Reddit. Now the Bouzaglos are claiming that they didn’t actually post the insane stuff on their Facebook page — that they were hacked and that the FBI is involved. OK. I think you’re caught up.
I’ve been following this story very closely, but have been avoiding writing about it for a few reasons. Firstly, I grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Amy’s Baking Company is like a block away from my high school. I believe I used to go to that plaza for lunch. But I think the restaurant was something else back then. There was a bakery called Amy’s that I used to frequent. Obviously, I remember the name because, duh, that’s my name. Also, they had the most amazing sourdough rolls. That’s what I ate for lunch every single day my sophomore year. I believe the two are unrelated. I’ll have to call my dad and have him do some reconnaissance.
Secondly, I am a huge fan of “Kitchen Nightmares.” As I confessed already, I’ve seen every episode. LITERALLY. And I’m not going to lie, part of me felt weird that this is what it took to get the world to pay attention to, what I think, is a fantastic show. But I can stay silent no longer. This episode was really something, but I guess what I’d like you to know is that there are other episodes of that show and other cooking shows altogether that are just as worthy of your time and attention.
My point being: the best possible outcome in this scenario is that this episode of “Kitchen Nightmares” sparked your interest in cooking television. If that’s the case, I’ve done a brief breakdown of some other equally amazing food shows that you might want to check out:
1. “Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares”
You’ve met “Kitchen Nightmares” via Amy’s Baking Company, but this is the UK version which is way, way better because Ramsay swears more and always takes off his shirt. It’s more raw. Less sensational. It’s very British. Everyone has great accents and are way more polite for the most part.
You’ll like it if: You enjoy tough love with a happy ending. (Or looking at Gordon Ramsay’s bare chest).
2. “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations”
Bourdain is like the hot, swashbuckling pirate of the culinary world. In this show he travels around the world, immersing himself in each culture through their cuisine. It’s really something.
You’ll like it if: You have the travel bug. It’s great vicarious television for when you’re single, hungry and broke and want to imagine that you are traveling to Thailand with your hot lover to eat Guay teow.
3. “Top Chef”
Hosted by Padma
Lackshmi Lakshmi, with head judge Tom Colicchio (also hot!), this cooking competition show features the most elite up and coming chefs.
You’ll like it if: You consider yourself a foodie and know all the best chefs and restaurants in the country. If you know the terms “souvit” and “molecular gastronomy,” you’re gonna love this one.
This is also a cooking competition show, but in a different way than “Top Chef.” Each episode features four chefs who are given a mystery basket full of random ingredients (i.e. canned chicken, goldfish crackers, lemonade and broccoli) and have 20 minutes to make a masterpiece out of them. The judges who change regularly (but sometimes include hot Chris Santos) eat the food and decide who gets to go on to the next course. One chef gets chopped each round until only one is left standing to claim the $10,000 prize.
You’ll like it if: You’re into learning about bizarre foods that you didn’t know existed (kohlrabi) and watching people work under extreme pressure.
Another show featuring Gordon Ramsay! Restaurateur Joe Bastianich and acclaimed chef Graham Elliot join him to mentor amateur, at-home chefs. Last season a blind girl won, Not kidding. I cried my face off.
You’ll like it if: You are an amateur chef — it will give you hope that someday, you too will be able to make a perfect soufflé — or you don’t know how to cook, but like to root for the underdog.
6. “Cupcake Wars”
This one is kind of like “Chopped” but with cupcakes. The contestants from bakeries around the country are competing to have 1,000 cupcakes at a big event. The event changes every episode. Sometimes it’s a Grammy party and sometimes it’s a rodeo. It just depends. Added bonus: there are hot carpenter brothers who build the displays for the cupcakes. So really, this show has a little bit of everything.
You’ll like it if: You’re a sugar freak who loves carpenters.
I could go on and on here. I really could. But start with these and we’ll go from there. Some other shows that get an honorable mention are: “Top Chef: Just Desserts,” “Sweet Genius,” “Iron Chef,” “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution,” “Around the World in 80 Plates,” “Hell’s Kitchen,” “Ramsay’s Best Restaurant UK,” “Freaky Eats,” and “Worst Cooks In America.”
And now I feel embarrassed that I actually watch all these shows and that I don’t even know how to cook. I’m weird.