Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares - The Walnut Tree Inn - OPEN

Kitchen Nightmares The Walnut Tree Inn

In this Kitchen Nightmares episode, Chef Gordon Ramsay visits The Walnut Tree Inn in Llanddewi Skirid, Wales.

The Walnut Tree Inn is one of Britain’s most famous restaurants and has a Michelin star.

The restaurant was previously owned by Franco Taruschio OBE and his wife Ann for more than 30 years.

Franco is a famous Italian chef who was considered as one of the first celebrity television chefs.

The restaurant was later bought by Francesco Mattioli, another Italian who has managed some of London’s best restaurants.

Recently, Francesco had lost his Michelin starred head chef and had been cooking in the kitchen himself to save money.

This has been a disaster as Francesco is not a trained chef and shouldn’t be in the kitchen but in the dining room charming his customers.

There are more staff in the kitchen than there are customers in the dining room and most of them seem to be doing nothing.

Francesco does not seem to trust any of his staff and does almost all of the job himself.

Gordon sits with Francesco and tells him that the Walnut Tree Inn is amazing and that he serves good wine but he has to get out of the kitchen.

Gordon decides to try the food and tells them to cook him the best three dishes the restaurant is known for instead of giving him a menu to pick from.

He is served a boring porcini and parma ham lasagna and an over cooked fish stew served with unclean mussels and grit at the bottom of the dish.

Gordon goes to the kitchen and to give feedback to the staff on the cooking and presentation of the restaurant’s dishes.

The next day, Gordon sits Francesco down to discuss getting a new head chef.

They discuss the criteria and line up interviews, where they ask each of the candidates to cook a dish of their choosing.

The first candidate has high salary expectations but his pasta dish was raw.

The second candidate, the second in command at a Holiday Inn, Santorrosso cooked below average food.

Gordon bans Francesco from the kitchen putting down a tape line he is not to cross, giving him the opportunity to know the staff better.

He meets trainee chefs Blake and Spike, waiter/handyman Kevin and sous chefs Gary and Stefano.

Francesco says Gary is not a team player and that Stefano has the most experience yet he won’t let him run the kitchen.

Gordon puts Stefano in charge of the kitchen to cook a lunch for Francesco’s family and friends.

The food was late and the customers are left waiting. The lunch was a disaster.

He then swaps the leading role to Gary as he seems to have better communicating skills.

Gordon goes to the town to talk to the public and they say that they visited the restaurant frequently when Franco owned it.

They don’t go there as much since Francesco took over as it has a reputation for overpriced and poor quality food.

Gordon goes through the menu with Francesco and his staff.

Francesco claims the reason for the price of the dishes on the menu is the increase in price of the ingredients.

Gordon tells Francesco that he should promote one of his sous chefs as the restaurant has no head chef but he is adamant that he wants someone new.

In order to convince him to choose a head chef from within the restaurant, Gordon gets Gary and Stefano to cook a meal for Francesco and his wife.

So that he can see what his young chefs can do they are going to pretend Gordon cooked it.

Stefano gets to work with the team to prep for the evening service alongside his meal.

Gary only cares about preparing his own meal as he is so ambitious so Gordon tells him to take over the prep so Stefano can work on his meal.

Stefano’s ravioli and Gary’s oyster starters were delicious and Francesco approved of the taste.

The fillet steak prepared by Gary and sea bass main course prepared by Stefano were also fantastic.

Francesco and his wife loved the ravioli but Francesco is a little reserved about the beef as he would have loved it with potatoes too.

Gordon then reveals that the dishes were cooked by his Stefano and Gary, not by himself.

Francesco seems to be too stubborn to accept any of Gordon’s ideas including promoting the chefs.

Gordon sits with him to discuss lowering the prices of the dishes to bring in more customers and locals into the restaurant and improve sales.

Francesco says he doesn’t want to go on the cheap side and doesn’t seem convinced with Gordon’s argument.

He later agrees to follow his plan to lower the prices.

Gordon brings in Chef Spencer Ralph to take the role of head chef and his food impresses them both and they decide to hire him.

Gordon redecorates the restaurant giving it a cozier look compared to the cold and formal look it had before.

Gordon revamps the menu and teaches the staff the new items on the menu.

Kevin assisted with the repainting of the restaurant as he has been in the Walnut Tree Inn the longest and says the atmosphere is more like it used to be.

Apparently, people used to come for lunch and stay for hours, spending even more money.

Gordon feels a picture of Francesco and his wife is needed to finish up the look, which Francesco agrees to.

After a long day, the staff have a night off partying in the local pub and Kevin does karaoke in his pants!

For the relaunch, Gordon insists Francesco invites Franco to the relaunch night that falls on the 40th birthday of the restaurant.

While preparing for the dinner party, Gordon discovers Stefano is incredibly talented but also shy and that Gary is confident but not as talented.

They serve Canapes and Champagne to the guests.

Franco and his wife also graced the party with their presence.

The food was a big hit and all loved the relaunch of the restaurant.

They had a lot of fun and Francesco’s wife made a toast appreciating everyone’s hard work so far.

On Gordon’s last day, Spencer accepts the Head Chef’s job.

Gordon convinces Francesco that one sous Chef has to go and they decide on letting Gary go.

Before leaving, Gordon leaves them with a gift, a framed picture with the mussels he was served on his first day in it.



What Happened Next at The Walnut Tree Inn?


Gordon revisits a month later and Francesco is staying out of the kitchen.

Stefano has quit as he says that he wasn't given any say in what is happening in the kitchen.

Business was picking up but they lost their Michelin Star.

He revisits for a second time and business is slower again.

Gordon goes to see why people aren't visiting, the public still think the restaurant is overpriced and not value for money.

The prices at the restaurant are lower than previous but they are still more expensive than other restaurants in the area.

Gordon demonstrates that by tweaking the recipe he could lower the price without compromising quality but Francesco refuses to put prices down any lower.

The Walnut Tree Inn closed in February 2007 and Francesco became Restaurant Manager at La Petite Maison in Mayfair.

The Restaurant was reopened in December 2007 by chef Shaun Hill.

The restaurant has excellent Trip Advisor reviews and has been very successful, see their website here.

The restaurant was named AA Restaurant of the Year in 2008 and gained a Michelin Star in 2010 and has kept this every year since.

After the episode, Head Chef Spencer was working at The Swan Inn in Chiddingfold and Stefano was working at Osteria Emilia in London.

The Walnut Tree Inn aired on May 11 2004, the episode was filmed in 2003 and is Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares UK season 1 episode 3.


Read About More Kitchen Nightmares

Previous episode - The Glass House

Next episode - Moore Place

This post was last updated in January 2020.

4 comments:

  1. He said the one thing that drives me up a wall: "I don't care what they [the locals] think". As a business owner, it doesn't matter how "right" you think you are if no one comes in to do business with you! And yes, he's right in that if he could sell two of his scallop dishes he'd have paid for the shipment, but if no one comes in to buy two scallop dishes before the shipment goes bad because you're too stubborn to lower the price...Of course, not listening to Gordon Ramsay seems to be a common theme. People don't like to be told they're wrong, especially when it's something in which they've invested so much of themselves.

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  2. It constantly amazes me that these people call in Gordon Ramsay begging for his help, and when he shows them what's wrong they dig in their heels and won't listen.
    It's not like Chef Ramsay shows up of his own accord. These restaurants apply for his help.

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  3. This was a classic case of someone not understanding their surroundings. Francesco may have done a decent job running a restaurant in London but he wasn't in London any more and his attitude and approach managed to wholly alienate the locals. Whatever talents he may have had, they were ill-suited to managing a restaurant like the Walnut Tree and it comes as no surprise that he is back in London. That both the previous and later owners managed to succeed where he failed pretty much says it all.

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  4. This was one of my favourite episodes because it showed a lot of the dynamics around staffing issues and food pricing (two elements which are overlooked mostly on the US version, for instance).

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