Kitchen Nightmares - Campania - CLOSED

Kitchen Nightmares Campania

In this Kitchen Nightmares episode, Chef Gordon Ramsay visits Campania in Fairlawn, New Jersey,

Campania restaurant was bought by Joseph Cerniglia only 18 months ago but it is already close to closing it's doors.

The restaurant is in over $250,000 of debt with $80,000 owed to suppliers and vendors at the time of filming.

Gordon arrives and isn't impressed that the restaurant is on a strip mall. When he meets Joe the staff can be heard in the dining room goofing around in the kitchen.

Gordon orders the tortellini soup, ravioli and pistachio and cranberry crusted chicken.

The soup is bland and tasteless with bought in tortellini, the "homemade elsewhere" ravioli is covered in sauce filled with garlic and the chicken is dry and sweet.

Gordon inspects the kitchen and finds that it is clean. He inspects the fridges and is surprised to find that the fridges are stocked full of food.

The fridges are stocked for a fully booked restaurant but with customer numbers as low as they are, Gordon can see that they are wasting money on produce.

Gordon arrives to observe a dinner service and realises that the staff are acting like the restaurant is a high school because the restaurant is overstaffed.

Gordon asks Joe to make his first change, which is to send home some of the wait staff.

The kitchen struggles with the orders and customers are left in the dining room waiting for food with one customer resorting to ordering a pizza!

When the guests receive their food, the huge portion sizes on offer mean that most of the guests leave with leftovers. Gordon tells Joe this is another way that he is losing money fast.

The next day, Gordon meets with Joe's wife Melissa and she tells him that if the restaurant fails that they will lose their house. Both she and Joe's mum worry about the stress this is putting onto Joe.

Gordon introduces a new signature dish of meatballs and they head out into town to promote "New Jersey's Best Meatballs" with 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 a revamped menu with smaller portions and 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.

A customer finds her steak "tough" and complains, Gordon sees that there is nothing wrong with the food and tells her to stop causing trouble, he tells other customers to ignore the old bat.

Joe feels the pressure and the orders back up in the kitchen.

Another customer says that her pasta tasted like Ragu and another customer is offended, causing a fight in the parking lot.

Gordon gives Joe a pep talk about being strong and not letting the complaints from disgruntles customers affect his work in the kitchen.

Joe pulls it back for a successful finish to the service with a more serious attitude.

The team is pulled together for a pep talk and as a final parting task, they smash all the old plates.

What Happened Next at Campania?

Business at the restaurant vastly improved after the restaurant was visited by Gordon.

Joe won Chef Central's Bergen County Ultimate Chef Competition in 2008 and came Runner Up in 2009.

Yelp reviews after filming were mostly positive with some menu items leading to criticism and some complaining of a long wait for a table or for food to arrive.

In September 2010 Joe sold the restaurant to Campania Holding Corp.

Eight days later Joe Cerniglia committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson river.

It later emerged that he was in a relationship with Jessica, a pastry chef who worked at the restaurant and not the waitress of the same name featured in the episode.

Campania closed in January 2011.

Sage Restaurant, an American/Italian restaurant opened in it's place on 29th March 2012 with mostly positive Yelp reviews.

Campania aired on November 28 2007, the episode was filmed in March 2007 and is Kitchen Nightmares season 1 episode 9.

Read About More Kitchen Nightmares

Previous episode - Lela's

Next episode - The Secret Garden

This post was last updated in September 2019.

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  1. It seemed obvious during the show that he was sleeping with at least one waitress... didn't it?!?

    1. yes it did. there's at one point when he touches her shoulders on the camera in the episode found on netflix.

  2. Im now getting to see these old episodes and sad to hear this is what happened.

  3. Yes, there was so much play in that restaurant that I was pretty sure there was some hanky-panky going on. Still, Joe seemed the last person one would think would commit suicide :(

  4. I had been watching the older episodes of Kitchen Nightmares and while learning of the affair didn't blow my mind, it really struck me when I heard he died. I know that there are likely some contrivances, etc. but I like to think some people are truly helped by Gordon and the show. It is truly terrible that this happened, Joe seemed to be a talented chef and well-meaning guy. It is so unfortunate that things went so far downhill for him emotionally.

  5. Just watched the episode and came here to read what happened next. As far as cheating, unsurprised ... I thought of that possibility while watching the episode. The suicide thing was a big surprise.


  6. I am going through and catching up on the early seasons and couldn't figure out why BBC America never shows this episode...well, now I know. Even if he was a lousy businessman and unfaithful to his family, Joe is still one of the more pleasant owners in the history of the show. RIP

  7. Just watched here in Brazil. I was very saddened by this news.
    André MM.

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. No they should air this episode it's insulting to me that they don't. Not airing it says to me that anyone who committed suicide should be forgotten. Dismissed. Not worthy to be remembered. Have a heart to heart message at the end don't write him off.

  9. I came here to talk about the old woman/family who were fishing for a free meal and a chance to be on tv and Gordon called her an old bag but it was clear as day he was sleepin with Jessica hell the show opened with her giggling and smiling and playing with him in the kitchen. Hope his wife had a great insurance policy and her and their kid are taken care of is all I have to say about the rest of it.

  10. Its sad that he took his own life, I dont care about the affairs he maby had, I do hope that the kids and their mom are okay and maby have some support from Ramsey and the others.

  11. Interesting ending to the story.

  12. Some of the comments on here are so insensitivity written. Imagine Joe's wife is reading these and everyone's chipping in their criticism about how much of an awful person Joe supposedly was. Rather than pass judgement why not just be kind? No one dare make any passing remarks or responses to what I am about to write.

    If Joe's wife is watching then I'll say this. It's beyond clear that Joe loved you so very much. He made a mistake but so does everyone, his error of judgement in no way reflects the extent of his love for you and your children. It is clear that he was under severe distress and suffered from mental heath issues but he was nonetheless one of the nicest, kindest chefs I've ever seen and known; he may no longer be here but his love for you and the children will forever endure x

    1. Amen, beautifully said. May he RIP and heartfelt love and prayers to the family always.

  13. I dined at Campania several times under the owner who Joe bought the restaurant from. That man was a damn fine cook and anything he made was delicious. I was told that once the sale was finalized, the previous owner was convinced Joe wasn't going to last long.

    Needless to say, he was right.

  14. It is truly saddening to hear what happened with Joe. There was a follow up episode where Gordon revisits them and they were doing really well. May he Rest In Peace. I wish his family well and hope they are doing okay.


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