May 13 2008
Restaurant info: Glass House – Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares: 13/05/2008
This week Gordon finds himself in Ambleside Cumbria in a quant place “Glass House” this time he has an owner who does’nt have a clue andd ahead chef who is being payed far more than he is worth.
The Glass House is ran and owned by Neil farrell and he is deep in debt, to the exstent he does not eevn switch on his mobile phone. His head chef is Richard (37 years old the same as Gordon) trained at Claridges (before Gordons time) and well paid 25,000 pound a year. The head chef openly admits to questioning his own ability and passion in the kitchen.
Well here goes Gordon again, Richard has decided to serve his signature dish’s, Duck croquet Richard ensures they do not send the old stale ones to Gordon, when they arrive they are well dry, laced with chilly and theres even a bone in one of them.. Not of to a good start. Gordon requests a standard and one of my own personal favorites Lamb Shanks. These arrive with a side of French fries but oddly appear to be on a bed of mashed potatoes (odd) the dish is dissected like any good autopsy, the meat is oily the chips smell burnt (stale old oil) all together not the best ever seen. Gordon lament no wonder the punters are not coming all this stodge for 30 pounds..
Kitchen cannot handle the pressure of 106 covers on a Saturday night. Food is backing up, patrons are waiting over 40 minutes for their starters. This all looks too familiar. The kitchen has no communication, front of house also are not working well, Neil is not looking or acknowledging the issues he seems to be blind? Neil speaks to Gordon during service and said “Gordon you would be doing me a favor if you just bought this business” Well that did not sit well with our host.
So lets create a list:
• Head chef has lost enthusiasm and control in the kitchen
• Kitchen has no respect for their head chef
• Only 1 kitchen staff member other than the head chef has any formal training (1st year trainee chef)
• Kitchen porter has no idea
• No communication in kitchen
• Little or no communication in the front of house
• The owner has no idea and is too soft on his over paid under performing head chef
• Food is too fussy and there are very strange combinations
• Bad hygiene
• No leadership in the kitchen or the business
• No signage visible form the street
• Nothing to show this is a restaurant
• Menu has 90 items
Ian sent one of his team in a week earlier to recon the Glass House, hidden camera in tow and we see extremely poor hygiene in the kitchen, plastic containers of not so fresh produce. Pesto being prepared on the floor like mixing paint on a building site just poor food handling and overall mess.
Open sandwiches at lunch time to replace the overly fussy badly cooked menu, there is to be 6 starters, 6 mains and 6 puddings (deserts). This is of course not taken well by the owner as he doesn’t want to become a glorified sandwich shop, but Gordon explained that one of the best sellers at Coleridge’s lunch menu is in fact sandwiches. The team in the kitchen are enthusiastic about this fresh menu, the food is easy to prepare and looks fantastic. The taste well if the the actions of the team while sampling is an indication I would say it hits the mark. One of the team manages to eat 3 of the mackerel open sandwiches while Gordon is asking them what they feel is wrong and their own areas that they can improve (this is something that the head chef should be already doing as the team leader).
Some of the teams feedback is right on the money:
· When we get busy I have to keep reviewing the tickets as I am given too much to do
· We are not always given tasks until the sh#it hits
This just supports the usual issues in most of the kitchens, no leadership or direction. Normally in all the great kitchens the head chef is likened to a air traffic controller making sure that all the incoming and outgoing traffic is monitored and moving at a good pace, this is what is lacking here.
10 pound lunch, Gordon has devised a 3 course lunch for a fixed price, this takes off as a success and the diners love the freshness and presentation. The kitchen and front of house too like that the food is easy to prepare and service is quick (10 – 15 minutes from order to table) this is what is needed to get the lunchtime workers back [remember they only have 1 hour to order and eat]. Now with Gordon assisting Richard in the kitchen all the sections within the kitchen are talking and working together.
Gordon does not believe that Richard is worth his pay, so as Neil appears to not have “the bottle” to do anything about this he recommends that both Richard and Neil have the night off, but they must eat in the restaurant (secretly), Gordon informs the kitchen team that he has given Richard the night off but does not tell them he will be eating at there tonight. Now it’s time to see how good the team are, Gordon informs the kitchen that they will all be taking 30 minute shifts as the head chef. This may backfire and Gordon will be left with egg on his face.
Now the fun begins but to my surprise the kitchen is talking and working together, orders are going out quickly and the quality is good. The kitchen staff are shinning without Richard and their doing themselves Gordon doesn’t even have to give any instructions. Meanwhile Neil and Richard are eating up large, the conversation looks a bit staged with Richard constantly stating the food is like “sex on a plate” , bur will this open Neil’s eyes that the kitchen can function without the boat anchor Richard… Apparently not, after service both Neil and Richard go down to the kitchen, Neil is ecstatic with the efforts of one and all in there, but Richard comes out with a speech that they are his team and he is happy they all have not performed badly. Hang on it sounds like Richard is responsible for this nights success?
Gordon laments to the kitchen “Mistakes Stay In the Kitchen”, now he turn to the menu, 90 items far too many this is quickly cut down to 6 starters, 6 mains and 6 puddings (18) much easier to prepare and cheaper to maintain stock. Classic simple fair (sound familiar) The staff really need a dedicated leader and the food needs to to get out quickly and with a high level of quality.
Gordon has arranged for 70 of the most influential people form the area to attend the opening, the new menu is classic but simple, a fish Sheppard’s pie that can be prepared earlier and only need be reheated during service, a fresh Caesar salad that is dressed without anyone’s hands ever touching it and simple fresh desert bread and butter pudding. Even Richard should be able to run this without any trouble. The night starts well Neil has booked the 70 starters to come in shifts (well that’s a good start) But its not long before Richard show that he cannot control the kitchen, he is yelling but no ones listening, salads are going out without dressing and he blames the staff. [Sorry that the 747 hit another 1 but its not the controllers fault] Gordon has had enough of this bollocks and if Neil wont do something he will get the full rathe of Gordon, Neil needs to stand up and do something or he will lose here.
After service Neil gave Richard 3 choices :
2. Take a pay cut
3. Get stuck in and prove yourself within 30 days
Richard chose # 3 we will have to see
1 month later:
Well it’s cold and the snow is falling when Gordon returns, What’s changed Neils still there as the owner, Ian and carol have left the kitchen (more on that later) and the porter Randel has gone, but Richards still there. He appears to be slipping back into his ways but only time will tell. The bsuiness is making money. The menue is not too large [good] butRichard just cannot help himself, he has created a rissoto with Pomegranite seeds as garnish (that’s just weird) and Gordon cannot believe it. Well that’s our lot for the Glass House.
Breaking news (NEW feature):
(18 November 2004 11:46 http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2004/11/18/56273/nightmares-chef-quits-connaught.html)
Claire Porter, the Lake District chef who was offered a job by Gordon Ramsay at Angela Hartnett’s Menu restaurant in London’s
Connaught hotel, has left just weeks after joining.
The 24-year-old, from Lake District restaurant the Glass House, in Ambleside, impressed Ramsay when she worked alongside him
during the filming of his television series Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares earlier this year.
Porter only began cheffing part-time after working front of house. She had never been to catering college and had considered
quitting the kitchen to run a bookshop.
But Ramsay persuaded her to pursue a career as a chef instead. Porter took his advice and moved to the capital to work
alongside Hartnett at the beginning of October.
Ian Waddle who was also given a job by Gordon Ramsay at Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s quit after just three weeks, as he was unhappy with its long-hours culture.
The Caterer & Hotel keepers publication reported:
“Ramsay told Waddle at the Glasshouse: “I can’t believe you’ve only been cooking for three months. You’re a f****** natural.” But, according to Glasshouse owner Neil Farrell, Waddle hadn’t enjoyed Claridge’s and felt there was more to life than doing the same thing over and over again during a 19-hour day.”
“Kitchens the engine room”
“Mistakes never leave the kitchen”
“sex on a plate”