Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares - Momma Cherri's Soul Food Shack - CLOSED

Kitchen Nightmares Momma Cherri's Soul Food Shack

In this Kitchen Nightmares episode, Chef Gordon Ramsay visits Momma Cherri's Soul Food Shack in Brighton, England.

Momma Cherri's is an American Soul Food Restaurant that is owned by Momma Cherri Charita Jones.

The restaurant has been open for three and a half years, can seat up to 40 diners and is suffering from a lack of midweek business.

Despite working at the restaurant 7 days a week she is currently £65,000 in debt and hasn't made a penny since opening.

Charita says that she has three to six months left at a maximum.

Gordon arrives and thinks the restaurant is quaint and cozy and it is like walking into her lounge. '

He enters the kitchen and speaks with Brian Moyo, who tells him that he was initially employed as the head chef.

However because of the finances he now works part time and Gordon asks who writes the menu and is told that it is Charita.

Gordon sits down for a meal. He starts with a Catfish Goujin starter with hushpuppies and pineapple salsa that he says is nice and light.

For his main course he has a clumsy mess of soul food including ribs, jambalaya, corn and succotash.

Gordon thinks the dish is phenomenal with tender ribs and great flavours and he even clears his plate!

He comments that for the first time ever he has cleaned his plate and takes his empty plate into the kitchen.

Gordon tells Charita that it was delicious and the spice levels were just right.

He tells her that it reminds him of home and home cooking and Charita wants to cry.

The next day Gordon returns to find Charita in the kitchen.

She tells him that she does all the prep herself so that she can save money.

However, most of the food she cooks goes in the freezer to be reheated and served a portion at a time.

As Gordon speaks with her she is preparing a tray of chicken wings that won't be served until 8 hours later.

Charita tells Gordon that they prepare the food and then serve it after a quick reheat and they also have 13 freezers.

Alongside her in the kitchen is part time cook Brian who arrives after most of the prep has already been done by Charita.

The part time staff seem to turn up whenever they feel like it for work with Lauren arriving 10 minutes late.

Aidy turns up after his shift in a garage and Gavin, who lives near door turns up whenever he feels like it.

Charita treats them like they are her children and does not discipline them when they arrive late.

Charita's husband Phil also helps out in the evenings behind the bar after he finishes his other job as a librarian.

Gordon observes an evening service and sees that the Chefs are just reheating and plating food that Charita has already prepared.

Charita is trying to do everything from cooking to plating and serving in the front of house.

She is the only one cooking from fresh and is paying two qualified chefs to reheat food and dress salads.

Gordon finds that Brian is very laid back and asks him to see if he can get through the service without laughing and he fails.

The next day, Gordon arrives and there is no one at the shack and fresh food from a delivery is left outside the restaurant.

Brian arrives late to the restaurant and Gordon tells Charita that she needs to punish staff.

In the kitchen Charita is batch cooking a weeks supply of mac and cheese that will be frozen and reheated when needed.

Gordon says that he feels for Brian as it is clear to see he has been sidelined as Charita won't pay him to prep and Charita does all the cooking.

He believes that this would lead to any chef losing some of his motivation as he isn't doing the job he is being paid for.

Gordon sets to work to turn the restaurant around and firstly he wants to ditch the frozen food and cook from fresh.

He reveals that the prices at £14/15 a dish are too high and with the portions sizes it means that most customers only have a main course.

Charita reveals that it was the bank manager who kept telling her to raise her prices.

Gordon thinks that by tweaking the portion sizes they can encourage customers to have three courses and spend more money.

They have a cook out on the beach to promote the restaurant and give out samples of the food.

It goes well as Charita is a natural sales woman and she gets a number of bookings for the restaurant.

Gordon removes Charita from the kitchen from the evening service and instead assigns her as the host.

Bookings start to pick up from the earlier beach exercise and for the evening service they are fully booked.

For the evening service, Brian struggles alone in the kitchen as it takes longer to cook from fresh.

Charita constantly interrupts but Gordon sees promise in him, he just needs to be reinvigorated.

The next morning, Gordon joins Brian for unpaid kitchen prep in his own kitchen at home.

Brian's first attempt at making a meatloaf was a disaster.

Together they cook a new and improved meatloaf dish that will be added to the menu.

Gordon explains the issues at the restaurant with a business cake with Charita to see where she is going wrong.

Charita reveals that she only pays herself £200 a week, less than her part time commis chef gets paid.

He reveals a new Soul in a Bowl concept, that will be a sharing platter at £10 a head and give them a chance to upsell on wine.

He thinks that a midweek 3 course menu will help drive midweek sales and fill the restaurant.

They take to the streets and visit a local radio station to promote the restaurant.

As a result they are fully booked for their midweek relaunch night and are doing two sittings.

On relaunch night, Charita toughens up on the staff setting out new rules that are told to all of the staff.

The main rule that is told to them is that they need to be on time and ready to work when the restaurant opens.

Brian initially struggles under the pressure but they pull it together and the first sitting is a success.

The relaunch evening was a success with happy customers and a happy Charita after taking over £1000 in food and drinks.

Gordon gives Brian a man to man talk before he leaves the restaurant.



What Happened Next at Momma Cherri's Soul Food Shack?


Gordon revisted two months later and business has improved and food leaves the kitchen quickly.

They decided to close on Mondays but they are fully booked for the rest of the week.

Gordon revisited the restaurant a year later and Momma Cherri's had moved into a much larger restaurant Momma Cherri's Big House.

They go through the reservation book and they are fully booked months ahead.

The restaurant is doing 1000 covers a week and they have taken on 9 chefs to be able to keep up with demand.

Gordon inspects the freezer and finds something he thought was a lasagna but it is a peach cobbler.

He finds tray after tray of frozen, preprepared food, undoing all of Gordon's work at the shack.

The food had gone back to the frozen and passionless food as they can't cope with the demand.

The customers were disappointed with the food they tried as it was not as good as they expected.

Many customers said that they would not return to the restaurant.

Gordon tells Charita that he didn't even want to eat there after what he saw in the kitchen.

Gordon decides to stay on to help them sort out the problems.

He worked with Charita and the kitchen staff to bring back the fresh food by reviving the soul in a bowl.

Brian adds a new dish to the menu, lamb cutlets with a beetroot salsa and Gordon thinks it is delicious.

In 2007 Charita released her cookbook "Momma Cherri's Soul in a Bowl Cookbook" and Head Chef Brian also left in 2007 to focus on art projects.

In July 2007 the restaurant was inspected and scored 0 stars in the food hygiene ratings.

Momma Cherri's closed in 2009 with large debts and they went into administration.

Charita opened Momma Cherris Speakeasy in Brighton but this closed after just two months.

Charita has made many television appearances on cookery programmes including This Morning on ITV, Market Kitchen on the Good Food Channel and more gaining her the "title" of a celebrity chef.

Momma Cherri has a Youtube Channel, with recipes and more.

In March 2015, a restaurant Caribsoul opened in Croydon serving Momma Cherri's recipes and Trip Advisor reviews were excellent but the restaurant closed in October 2017.

Chef Brian Moyo opened restaurant SoulFoo Food Bar in Brighton with his brother Aaron and Trip Advisor reviews were excellent.

Momma Cherri made appearances in the kitchen but they closed the restaurant in April 2018 to focus on Bad Boys, a takeaway burger business.

Momma Cherri's Soul Food Shack aired on June 07 2005, the episode was filmed in 2004 and is Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares UK season 2 episode 3.


Read About More Kitchen Nightmares

Previous episode - D-Place

Next episode - La Riviera

This post was last updated in March 2021.

23 comments:

  1. guess that is the bad side of celebrity...

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  2. Such a shame
    But Gordon helped her all her could, I even think he went far and beyond of what he usually does with Mammi

    No one to blame but herslef.

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  3. Man, I just watched the last 20 minutes of the 2007 show on the Momma Cherri's Big House. So sad to read that it closed. Was hoping to add it to my bucket list for some good soul food. :(

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  4. One of the best episodes. I just love Momma's very warm character.
    The fact that she was underpaying herself broke my heart. Only real honest people do that, and she belongs in the soul food. I might even consider buying her book!

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  5. Still the only episode from either country where Ramsay largely enjoys his initial meal?

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    1. Indeed. Never seen him finish a plate, or even most of it.

      Seems like Charita got greedy. Chef Brian became an Art student?

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  6. A real shame although unfortunately the writing was on the wall from the start. Unlike most other places the food was not the problem here it was that Charita had a poor head for business. After her initial spike in popularity she over-expanded by moving to larger premises and this proved to be her undoing.

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  7. I recent watched the episodes. I am very disappointed to read the bad news. The food was great. Gordon loved the food. I was surprised to see him enjoy the first plate. However, Charita poorly ran her business.

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  8. I wanted to leave a little comment to support you and want you a good continuation. Wishing you the best of luck for all your blogging efforts.

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  9. Not surprised it closed. She was not listening to a word Chef Gordon said. It was all yes yes .....hearing Chef but not listening.No humility whatsoever. Apparently she thought she had all the answers. An all too common affliction. I'm surprised that Ramsy wasted his time with her and a few others that have appeared on KN.

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    1. Don't be ridiculous. She listened to Gordon and still speaks well of him. She just expanded too much and wasn't good at business. Probably needs someone to help her with that. Gordon spent time on her cuz she was WORTH IT. And of most of the people on this show, she really deserved it. Go back to observing, cuz clearly u can't do it properly and it's better to just do that than speak ur mind and spread lies and misinformation.

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  10. I think she was set up for success in the original Shack, but over-reached with non-existent capital to get a lease on that HUGE building, cut corners on the food and down she went. What a pity.

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  11. Gordon should have just fixed the staff. She was fine and didn't need to change. I think Gordon messed up on this one.

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  12. One of my favourites on the re-watch so far. So good to see Gordon revitalise these people - sometimes we just need a good kick in the a! A real shame Charita overshot her mark - this stuff was way ahead of it's time.

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  13. yes as many have noted she was set to be a huge success as she was. It was trying to expand too much too fast the did her in

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  14. Really liked the episode and would have loved to see it still being open, perhaps go there some day and experience it myself. Sat to see it has closed...

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  15. Sad to see it has closed. Would have loved to go there some day and maybe meet the staff too.

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  16. It seemed like Charita Jones was a great cook but a bad manager. I think she would have been much more successful if instead of a restaurant she had opened a food truck or hawker stand. It would have been a smaller space to manage and she could have operated it without a full staff, only one or two employees or her husband. And she probably would have been much more profitable too.

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  17. I will always remember this episode as Gordon actually liked the food before he made any changes, which is rare. Pity she closed as she had all the tools and knowledge to make it work.

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  18. She's now on YouTube, and still talks glowingly about Gordon apparently.

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  19. She's obviously the creative type who can't run a business on her own. She's full of ideas and talent but doesn't know how to organize, deal with finances, managing employees etc.

    That kind of person needs someone to take care of that side of the business, so he/she can focus on the concept.

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  20. Please tell me momma Cherrie is still cooking though. Like, she's still following her passion of owning a restaurant.

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  21. It's a real shame, but some people just aren't suited to running a business. The food looked amazing and she's a real character, but she tried to run before walking :(

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