La Lanterna - Kitchen Nightmares Update - Open or Closed?

Kitchen Nightmares La Lanterna

In this Kitchen Nightmares episode, Gordon Ramsay visits La Lanterna in Letchworth, Hertfordshire.

La Lanterna is owned by Chef Alexander Scott who opened the restaurant after being inspired by childhood Italian holidays.

He is supported in the kitchen by sous chef Aldona.

His best friend Gavin is Front of house manager and his girlfriend Emily is hostess.

Alex has re-mortgaged his house, maxed out credit cards and got loans to stay afloat and he is currently in £180,000 of debt.

Alex is losing £1000 a week and hasn’t paid himself a salary since he opened the restaurant.

Gordon arrives at the restaurant and meets Alex in the kitchen.

He learns there are only the two of them working in the kitchen and the food is Italian.

In the dining room, Gordon isn’t impressed with the fake 1980’s plastic Italian restaurant decor.

Gordon is given broken packaged breadsticks and he orders some Italian classic meals from the menu.

The minestrone soup which is oily and greasy and soggy.

The Italian sausage dish for main, which looks like 2 poodles penises doused in parsley.

For dessert he has a bought in amaretto cake, that is still frozen in the middle.

Gordon gives them feedback that the food and decor are poor imitations of an Italian restaurant and there is nothing authentic there.

The kitchen hasn't been cleaned and the floor and equipment is filthy.

The food storage is full of old food, packet sauces and there are even pot noodles in it.

Sous Chef Aldona is from Poland and she tells Gordon that she doesn't cook, she just uses the microwave.

Gordon walks out of the restaurant and sees Alex's car number plate which spells A1 Chef, leading to Gordon having an expletive ridden meltdown.

On the second day, whilst driving to the restaurant Gordon hears an ad on the radio for the restaurant.

Gordon observes a dinner service where Alex runs around the kitchen wired on Red Bull but is not cooking properly.

Alex admits that he would rather play golf than do prep for the restaurant and just turns up before the start of service.

Things aren’t much better in the front of house as Gavin isn't running the dining room properly.

Alex says he was trained by a well-respected Italian chef in the area and Gordon decides to pay this chef a visit.

Gordon meets Chef Mario who is now a taxi driver and he confirms he did train Alex.

Alex’s experience and knowledge is local to Letchworth and Gordon thinks he needs to form his own identity apart from second hand knowledge.

Gordon finds out that Alex hasn't paid himself for 4 months but after 2 weeks of running the restaurant, he spent £46,000 on a BMW and personalised number plate.

He spent the money on the car despite living above the restaurant and needed to replace the broken cooker.

As Alex has no money, Gordon persuades him to sell the car online to generate more cash for the restaurant and gets him a new cooker.

They put an ad up online in the hopes of finding a buyer.

Gordon calls some celebrity chefs including Anthony Worrall-Thompson to try sell the A1 Chef number plate with little success.

In the kitchen, Gordon sets a challenge for the chefs to make a pizza and the best will go on the menu.

Joe the porter is revealed to have trained as a cook so he will be taking part too.

They ask some people on the streets to come in and sample the pizzas to determine the winner.

A vegetarian is invited to taste the pizza and unknown to them at the time the vegetarian pizza actually had parma ham in it.

Aldona wins the competition with her pizza being added to the new menu.

Gordon then bans all plastic packaged sauces and cuts Alex’s menu in half.

That night they will be cooking using only fresh ingredients and serving a limited menu.

Gavin and Emily have no prior experience in working in a restaurant.

Gavin allows 40 people to arrive at once which puts pressure on the kitchen and it falls apart.

This makes Alex fall back to his old ways and the night is not as successful as Gordon had hoped.

Gordon confronts Gavin the next day and takes him to the middle of a field to build his confidence.

He needs to learn to control the staff and gain their respect by being more assertive.

Alex is cleaned up with a shave and a manicure before he is taken to through a taste test in the kitchen.

He and Gavin are made to taste three different pastas and choose which would go on the menu.

The last of the pasta is a Pot Noodle and they like it the best out of the three!

Gordon takes Alex to a 14-year-old Italian restaurant that has thrived on serving fresh, simple Italian meals.

Alex finally sees the light and says he wants to cook like them.

They go out the back and the restaurant is able to cook great food in a smaller kitchen than he has.

Back at the restaurant, they check online and see that Alex’s car didn’t sell.

With no money to spend the revamp is done on the cheap with a fresh coat of paint, paintings from the local art college and paper tablecloths.

Alex is trained on making the new dishes off the new slimmed down menu with cheaper prices.

They have set the relaunch night to take place on La Lanterna’s first birthday and they are fully booked.

Before they open Gordon motivates them with a message at the bottom of their menu saying they won’t be using microwaves or synthetic sauces anymore.

As the guests come in, Alex starts to crack under the pressure and service is slow with some customers waiting for over an hour.

Gavin is told to help give the kitchen some time to catch up by pushing the linguine and soup specials.

These dishes are already pre-prepared and can be pushed out quickly to customers.

He does well at selling the special and it works, allowing the kitchen to catch up.

The customers love the food that they receive after their wait and the relaunch is a success.

What Happened Next at La Lanterna?

Gordon revisits six weeks later, the pre-prepared vegetables are gone and the kitchen is much cleaner.

Alex is doing prep rather than playing golf, making his own desserts from scratch and was preparing home made ravioli whilst talking to Gordon.

Gordon tries his food including the homemade ravioli and likes it. The only criticism he has is that the veal is slightly overbeaten.

He has cleared £20,000 of his debt, takings are up and he is paying himself a wage for the first time ever.

He hasn't managed to sell the car or number plate yet.

Upon airing, the meat pizza and the vegetarian incident didn't go down too well causing outrage amongst vegetarians.

Within weeks this had dropped to less than £1000 a month and Alex had to file for bankruptcy.

La Lanterna closed ten weeks after the episode aired in July 2005 and the building was put up for sale.

Alex became a car salesman and his number plate is still in circulation.

La Lanterna aired on May 24 2005, the episode was filmed in 2004 and is Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares UK season 2 episode 1.

Read About More Kitchen Nightmares

Previous episode - Moore Place

Next episode - D-Place

This post was last updated in February 2022.


  1. What up with the frozen food in almost all programs of fixing up restaurants , and the cleaning?. Main problem in all kind of restaurants, they have lets say a crew of total 8 from which 2 or 3 are hard workers with passion, other 2 or 3 just for the paycheck with work acceptable but not with passion, other 2 or 3 just to get an easy paycheck and c what happens.
    I guess probably 1 or 2 of ten restaurants in the world have 90% of hard workers with passion while the rest go to mediocrity (culture of the wanted "easy succes").

  2. The pasta taste-test was shocking. I don't consider myself to have much of a palate, but even I know that pot noodles have a strange, fibery texture (unless they're overcooked and like paste), and I'd easily be able to tell them from fresh-cooked pasta if I were blindfolded... not to mention the difference in flavor! Too bad about the closing; it sounded at the end as if Alex was actually getting his act together.

    1. Mind you the pot noodle was prepared by Gordon...

  3. That poor bloke and the pizza, disgraceful. Its a shame the place went under, Alex had one thing the rest of these snobby, pompous owners had, he knew Gordon was there to help and he let him.

  4. That 'desirable' number-plate is now on a SORNed 1998 red Volvo

  5. The vegetarian guy was really nice. Do that to me and you'd have to pray not to be allergic to nuts, becuase I'm going to make you eat yours.

    1. A couple of hours in reality school and you'd forget your pompous New Age ways quickly.

    2. You can't really seriously call vegetarianism a pompous New Age idea. If you are truly naive and cold enough to not understand someone who has compassion for animals then you really are a lost cause of a human being.

    3. Compassion with animals? You should know that agriculture is one of the leading sources of water and land pollution. If you really think vegetarianism actually helps animals, you're a lost cause of a thinking human being.

    4. I wasn't convinced by this argument the first time I heard it, but now I've heard it from two completely different people, and just within a couple of minutes of each other, I'm sold!

  6. Well, it was on accident that was served to the vegetarian. I think Gordon was more embarrassed than mocking the guy, just trying to make light of the situation. It looks like they made sure he didn't have a reaction to the meat before he left.

  7. Not related to the article, but after watching KN US and now watching KN UK, the common denominator in this series is the warm home feeling of all restaurants Gordon visits.

  8. Looks like Alex works in the car industry now as a sales manager

  9. All the whining about the vegetarian getting some ham. Pretty sure the guy survived it. He didn't collapse dead there in the dining room did he? He wasn't intentionally slipped anything, no big deal.


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