Chef Gordon Ramsay visits Campania in Fairlawn, New Jersey bought by Joseph Cerniglia only 18 months ago but it is already close to closing it's doors. The staff are always playing around and no one takes the business seriously. The kitchen is barely functional with broken fridge doors and a broken oven used to store cloths. Gordon arrives to meet Joe, meanwhile the staff are loudly goofing around in the kitchen. Gordon sits down to try the food and Joe comes out of the kitchen to meet Gordon. He points at Gordon and then goes back into the kitchen. Gordon orders the tortellini soup, ravioli and pistachio and cranberry crusted chicken. Whilst he is waiting Gordon hears the antics going on in the kitchen and is not impressed with what he hears. The soup is bland and tasteless with bought in tortellini, the ravioli is covered in sauce filled with garlic and the chicken has grilled zucchini that looks like "a bison's tongue" and is dry and sweet. He goes into the kitchen to confront Joe and Head Chef Gene and Joe contemplates whether it was a mistake to appear on the show. Gordon inspects the fridges and is surprised to find that the fridges are stocked full of food. With customer numbers low, Gordon sees where they are wasting their money. It becomes clear to Gordon from what he sees that Joe is not up to managing the business side of the restaurant.
Gordon arrives to witness a dinner service and realises that the staff are acting like the restaurant is a high school and the restaurant is overstaffed. Some of the staff have to go and Gordon asks Joe to make his first change, which is to send home some wait staff. Gordon is left to greet the guests whilst the females flirt with the boys in the kitchen. The customers are left in the dining room waiting for food with one customer resorting to ordering a takeaway pizza! When the guests receive their food, the huge portion sizes mean that most of the guests leave with leftovers for the next day. Gordon can see that this is another waste of money, when Gordon mentions this Joe gets defensive.
The next day, Gordon meets with Joe's wife to find out more about the situation and she tells him that if the restaurant fails that they will lose their house. Determined to turn the restaurant around Gordon introduces a signature dish for the restaurant to make them stand out, meatballs. They head out into town to promote "New Jersey's Best Meatballs" by handing out samples and flyers. Joe confides that he is in $200,000 of debt and Gordon tells him that he needs to start taking the business seriously. Overnight the restaurant is given a makeover, complete with a brand new oven and smaller plates as well as the revamped menu with smaller portions and featuring the signature meatballs. To motivate the staff and challenge the kitchen they play a game of "server bingo" with the first server to sell everything on the menu winning $100.
On relaunch night, the restaurant is packed and the food leaves the kitchen at a good pace. However, there is a lot of drama in the restaurant! An older woman finds her steak "tough" and complains, Gordon sees that there is nothing wrong with the food and tells her to stop causing trouble and talking out of her rear, he also advices other customers to ignore the old bat. Joe feels the pressure and steps out of the kitchen to tour the dining room, whilst he does the kitchen backs up leaving customers waiting. Another woman says loudly whilst leaving that her pasta tasted like Ragu in front of Joe's Mother which upsets her. Meanwhile, another woman starts a fight in the parking lot accusing the complaining customer of complaining to get a free meal and wine as she continued to eat the meal. A police car drives by whilst this argument takes place. Gordon gives Joe a pep talk about being strong and not letting customers complaints affect him. With his new attitude Joe pulls the kitchen back together for a successful finish to the service. Gordon appeals to Joe to try and be strong without giving in to customer's complaints. Joe returns to the kitchen with a more serious attitude. He inspires the team to complete the dinner service. The team is pulled together for a pep talk and as a final parting task, they smash all the old, large plates.
What Happened Next?
Joe won Chef Central's Bergen County Ultimate Chef Competition in 2008 and came Runner Up in 2009. In September 2010 Joe sold the restaurant to Campania Holding Corp and 8 days later committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson river ,it appears he was in a relationship with a waitress Jessica. The restaurant closed in January 2011. Sage Restaurant, an American/Italian restaurant opened in it's place on 29th March 2012 with mostly good reviews.
Campania Yelp Reviews
Campania Restaurant FB Group
Chef's suicide occurred days after restaurant sale
Campania Restaurant closes its doors
Live from Campania: The end - Interview with Joe (An interesting read)
Ramsey Needs to Return To Campania in Fairlawn, NJ
Joseph A. Cerniglia Obituary
Campania chef Joe Cerniglia's death ruled a suicide (Lovely comments from regular/supplier at the bottom)
Joe's Secret Girlfriend at Restaurant
Two friends join forces to open Sage in Fair Lawn
Sage Restaurant Yelp Reviews
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