Friday, 7 December 2012

Kitchen Nightmares - Ms Jean's Southern Cuisine - OPEN

Kitchen Nightmares Ms Jean's Southern Cuisine

Episode Recap

Chef Gordon Ramsay visits Ms Jean's Southern Cuisine, Wilkinsburg, Philadelphia, the restaurant opened 12 years ago by retired teacher Jean Gould . She was persuaded to open a restaurant after cooking for her local church . The cooks think that she has an attitude problem and has split personality. When customers complain Jean argues with them and accuses them of lying. She deep in debt and the restaurant is empty on most nights. Jean approaches Gordon at his hotel with a peach cobbler in one hand. She asks him to talk before they go to the restaurant. She says her biggest problems are the staff, who are always on their phones, are lazy and that she is doing everyone’s jobs. Gordon arrives at the restaurant and there is no-one there to greet him. He meets the staff and tells them what Jean said about them, they retaliate by saying that she has an attitude.

Gordon sits down to try the menu and tries to order key soul food dishes such as chitlin dinner, fried corn, red beans, black eyed peas, whiting, veggie platter, sweet potato pie and  mashed potato, only to find out that none of them are available, as well as no gravy! He then orders pork chops, ribs and mac and cheese. His iced tea is “like sugar syrup” and he sends it back. He gets up for a walk about and finds Ms Jeans exercise bike in the corridor. He speaks to two customers and noticing that the  bun on the burger was soggy sends her food back. Gordons ribs arrive first,  they have a weird saltiness as if they have been in a brine. The mac and cheese arrives still sizzling and bubbling from the microwave. He says it is depressing, bland and overcooked. The pork chop is cooked in a full pan of grease and  it looks sad and depressing on a plate alone, it is also as dry as a mouthful of sand. Ms Jean tastes the dishes he returns and she does not take the criticism well saying he doesn’t know anything about soul food.

Gordon returns to watch a dinner service he compares the reception to be like a waiting room for a doctors surgery and has some banter with the staff and customers. There is chaos in the kitchen as the orders are stuck on the fridge. Jean attempts to control the kitchen but the servers decide they are going to do their own thing. Surprisingly the food gets out to the dining room but the customers are not impressed. Gordon ventures out to reception to find the hostess on the cell phone and after an exchange she quits. Gordon notices that a lot of chicken is being returned to the kitchen and discovers that the chicken is leftover from lunch.

 Jean breaks down in a big way and you can see her genuine anguish (it actually made me cry) and how much her staff really do care.  After what Gordon has witnessed he sits down Jean and the Chefs and they agree to work together and improve the current “horrendous” system. Gordon takes Jean and her staff to a theatre to show them “The Other Side of Ms Jean”. The short film features critique by past customers, who won't return as she doesn’t care, is mean and does not treat the customers well. Jean apologises to everyone she feels have been treated bad and promises that she is a new Ms Jean. Gordon gives the restaurant one of the biggest makeovers he has ever done and he has nearly doubled the capacity from 45 to 75 seats. Gordon also revamps the menu, the new food is southern comfort food with a fun twist including catfish po’boy, barbecued pulled pork sliders, oxtail and blacked or fried catfish, they samplethe menu and are delighted with it.

For relaunch night, the Mayor comes out and Gordon puts Jean in charge of the kitchen and the staff respond well to the new leadership and new system. Appetisers make their way out to the customers quickly and they are impressed with the new menu. The front of house lets down the service by not responding when their food is ready. The servers are under pressure and Marissa starts to feel the pressure and breaks down. Gordon stops the service temporarily and Jean gives her a pep talk. The Mayor is impressed with the food as are the other customers. Gordon chats to them all after service and declares that “Ms Mean” has left the building.

What Happened Next?

In the following days, the Mayor awarded Jean for her years of service to the community and June 3rd was declared Ms Jeans day. Ms Jeans is still open as Jean's Southern Cuisine but has moved to a new location, 807 Wallace Avenue, Wilkinsburg PA 15221.  Reviews are mixed but more recent reviews are positive.

Extra Reading

Jean's Southern Cusine Yelp Reviews

'Kitchen Nightmares' versus 'Ms. Jean's Southern Cuisine' Pittsburgh

Gordon Ramsay redoes Miss Jean's Southern Cuisine in Wilkinsburg (Review)

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