'Kitchen Nightmares' Recap: DownCity, Rhode Island

By Asha Brodie,

Kitchen Nightmares Recap

When Chef Gordon Ramsay made his way to Rhode Island’s DownCity Restaurant, he could not have anticipated how challenging this visit would have been. Chef Ramsay was faced with the difficult task of giving advice to owner Abby, a woman that her employees described as Cruella de Vil.
If you thought Chef Ramsay used profanities, then you should meet Abby, a woman who not only had an extensive repertoire but a knack for being stubborn.

DownCity is located in Providence, Rhode Island and is owned by Abby and her friend, Rico. We find out that Rico has a full-time job and during the day he leaves all the restaurant responsibilities to Abby, a woman that has been in business for 33 years. Although she has longevity in the industry, Abby’s staff does not think much of her. We gather that the restaurant was once successful but this has changed over the years. According to the staff, Abby is part of the problem and she does not want to own up to it. The servers call her not so nice names and hate the dictatorship environment that she has created.

Meanwhile, co-owner Rico who is well aware of Abby’s erratic behavior is afraid to declare bankruptcy and ultimately close the restaurant because he said by doing that it would affect his day job. With no one else to turn to, Rico called upon the assistance of Chef Ramsay but not before warning that the chef would have his work cut out for him.

When Chef Ramsay arrives, he greets the two owners and after chatting with them a bit he asked Abby how she would rate the food in her restaurant. Abby emphatically replied “a ten” which led Chef Ramsay to mention about the bad food that he had had for room service at the hotel next door. Chef Ramsay went on to give a very negative report about the food that he had at his hotel earlier that day and Abby finally admitted that her restaurant was the one that catered to the hotel. Chef Ramsay told her that the food was disgusting but Abby wasn’t going down without a fight. She praised her food to the very end.

It’s that time of the show when Chef Ramsay had to taste food from the menu and Abby and Chef Ramsay had their second face-off when she volunteered to suggest the dish that Chef Ramsay should try; he sent her away with a few words, she cursed at him and then left.

Chef Ramsay ordered the calamari with crispy wings and hot sauce followed by the 3 way nachos which was described as a “party in your mouth” and the award winning meatloaf. By the time they got to the table, Chef Ramsay was disappointed. He complained that the calamari looked wet and that it was chewy, soggy and disgusting. The servers agree; they think the food is not up to par and so they are entertained by Chef Ramsay’s comments. Chef Ramsay described the “party in your mouth” as a “funeral in my mouth” adding that the meal looked dreadful and that he threw up in his mouth. The servers could hardly contain their laughter by the time they get back to the kitchen and Abby is upset that all the food is coming back with bad reports. After eating the award-winning meatloaf, Chef Ramsay said it was lukewarm and disgusting.

Chef Ramsay is ready to see the person behind the horrible meals and learn that the restaurant does not have a head chef but just Jimmy, the guy who stood in for the chef that Abby had fired. According to Abby, Jimmy would not get the chef title until he proved himself. Chef Ramsay did not like the idea but he did say that there was no guidance in the kitchen and consistency in the food and wanted to know who came up with the restaurant’s huge menu. We later find out that Abby was the one behind the menu selection and Chef Ramsay called her a “dreamer” because of how high she rated the food. He exits the restaurant.

After the chef blows up on her, Abby retreats to a sofa as she contemplates closing the restaurant and opening a hot dog stand on the beach. She believes that Chef Ramsay was wrong because the meatloaf was the one dish that put them on the map and she expresses this to her staff that later joined her.

Abby is disappointed that her staff is on Chef Ramsay’s side; they hate the meatloaf and said that they only eat it because they work there. They also told her that they would not have dined at the restaurant if they were not employed there and did not like the extensive menu either. Abby said it felt like they were stabbing her in the back and wondered why they never came forward with the information until that day. They told her that it was because she never listened to them or talked to them and that she was in denial.

Rico shows up unaware of what went down earlier that day and he is eventually updated on the affairs. Chef Ramsay returned again this time to talk to Rico about the restaurant. We learn that Rico works for a credit union by day and bought the restaurant afterwards. He told Chef Ramsay that closing the restaurant is not an option since he can lose his day job because of the line of work that he does. He told Chef Ramsay that the restaurant was a million dollar investment and that it was a lot to lose.

Later that night, the restaurant opened for its dinner service and Chef Ramsay walked into the kitchen to see it messy from counter to floor. Soon he leaves in search of the refrigerator and storage room and to his dismay it’s even worse than the kitchen. He stumbled on old lamb bones, chicken carcasses and a host of other icky things. Meanwhile, upstairs in the kitchen, Abby is sending food back because customers are not pleased with them.

With dinner service in high gear; Chef Ramsay summoned both Rico and Abby to see the mess they were harboring in their storage area. Abby does not believe what she sees; she said there is clearly a mistake as she would never keep her kitchen that untidy. She immediately blamed Chef Jimmy for making all the food go bad and Chef Ramsay is now noticeably pissed because Abby started the blame game. Ramsay called her out on it by saying that she wasn’t prepared to appoint Jimmy as her head chef but was ready to do it now in light of the untidiness and spoiled food. While Chef Ramsay tried to talk some sense into Abby, she turned to Rico and told him that they should sell the business. Chef Ramsay, upon seeing Abby involved in the conversation while he talked, immediately tried to find out what was going on. Abby tells Chef Ramsay, “It has nothing to do with you,” and proceeds to curse at Chef Ramsay. Wrong move! Chef Ramsay called her a “stuck-up precious little bxxxx’’ and she flipped him the bird and walked out. Chef Ramsay shouted out that she was in denial and reiterated about the filth he had found in the storage area. It’s a screaming and cursing match between Chef Ramsay and Abby and he even told her that she needed therapy. They get close to the dining room area and Abby asked Chef Ramsay to leave her restaurant because he was a “disgrace to the industry.” Chef Ramsay walked out through the dining room area and she follows him spewing profanities and insults. Rico immediately followed Chef Ramsay and pleaded with him to stay; while Abby is in the kitchen grumbling that Chef Ramsay could go to hell. Back outside, Chef Ramsay promised Rico that he would stay and help them only if Rico wanted it that way. Rico said yes.

The next day, Abby is remorseful about her behavior the previous night. She said she felt bad about what had happened between herself and Chef Ramsay and was humbled and willing to listen to him. When Chef Ramsay showed up that day, he made it clear that he was not at the restaurant to rub her failures in her face but rather to get her to the point of owning up to her mistakes and get the restaurant to where it used to be. Chef Ramsay meets with the staff later that day to hear their grievances about working at the restaurant and it all leads back to Abby and her behavior and treatment towards them. The staff is also appalled by the large menu and the distasteful food; they want to know how to fix it. They also made it clear to Abby that they only worked at the restaurant because they couldn’t find other jobs and just wanted a way to earn money. Abby is willing to change and push control; anything to turn the restaurant around.

For the second dinner service, Chef Ramsay has cut down the menu by half and has introduced a roasted chicken, a dish that turned out to be a big seller that night. The orders for that night’s dinner service came in quite rapidly and it also left the kitchen at equal speed as well. Everything seemed to be off to a great start as customers raved about their meal. This would be short-lived as a mix-up of tickets confused the kitchen staff and slowed things down a bit. This delay goes on for an hour and some of the diners started to lose their patience. The onus is on Chef Jimmy, Abby deems him incompetent since he is not able to even work with a smaller menu. After the dinner service with most people walking out ahead of time, Chef Jimmy is summoned outside where he is given a stern talk by both Rico and Abby. Later, Abby tells Chef Ramsay that her staff had failed and she had lost confidence in them. Chef Ramsay calls for backup in the name of his friend Chef James who he assigned to train the chefs at DownCity restaurant. He promised that Chef James would bring the staff to a respectable level and prepares for the next day re-launch.

The next day’s re-launch did not include an interior transformation but rather the creation of beautiful meals that were not only aesthetically pleasing but tasty too. Chef Ramsay rolled out a menu of appetizers and entrees which included goat cheese trifle dip, honey spiced chicken wings and meatball sliders, all in a concise menu. For the entrees, Chef Ramsay suggested seared lamb chops, lobster mac and cheese and bacon wrapped Angus meatloaf. “Here’s the real party in your mouth,” Chef Ramsay quipped, and they were all amused. Abby was noticeably blown away by the addition to the menu; her knees buckled when she tasted the meal adding that she had no idea that food could taste so good. She begins crying and this convinced her staff that she has a heart and soul after all.

Abby is on a mission to make things work and with imported Chef James at the helm of the kitchen, the restaurant opens for dinner. Among the dinner guests was a popular Boston blogger who had visited the restaurant once before and given bad reviews. She was the one they had to impress that night and there was a struggle to do so when a communication problem occurred. Abby panicked and so too did Chef Jimmy; they strived to not have a repeat of the previous night’s dinner service. Meanwhile, the blogger is losing her patience; she starts tweeting about the incompetence. Chef Ramsay, a follower of the blogger’s Twitter account, had privately logged on to follow her in order to read her comments. She tweeted that she was “waiting too long for appetizers” and this sparked cohesiveness with the kitchen crew. Not only did the blogger eventually get her meal, she expressed delight about it as well. The rest of the diners also enjoyed the food and vowed to return some day.

After a successful dinner service, Abby is optimistic about the future of DownCity as she strives to become a better leader. She is happy that the restaurant is getting back on the map again and thanks Chef Ramsay for making it happen. In the end we see that although Chef James stayed on to further edify the staff, Chef Jimmy is finally promoted to the head chef status.



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