Kitchen Nightmares - Zeke's - CLOSED

Zeke's Kitchen Nightmares

In this Kitchen Nightmares episode, Chef Gordon Ramsay visits Zeke's in Metairie, Louisiana.

Zeke's was originally owned by a local icon named James Flynn aka Zeke who died in Hurricane Katrina.

The cajun restaurant was bought by Darryl and Ellen Cortello in 2006 in an estate sale.

They sacked the staff, raised the prices but lowered the portion sizes and the food quality.

Gordon visits locals before the restaurant and they say they have stopped going due to this.

Gordon arrives during lunch service, is greeted by Ellen and orders some food.

He is told the menu has remained the same as the previous owners with a few additions from Darryl.

Gordon orders oysters Cortello, boiled shrimp, chicken fried steak and bread pudding.

He is not impressed with the food especially the mushy shrimp, shrimp he finds out is frozen.

The oysters are no good and the dish is depressing and the chicken fried steak is bland with no seasoning.

He is however impressed with the taste of the bread pudding, made by Chef Emil although the presentation didn't look good.

Gordon enters the kitchen to discuss the lack of fresh shrimp and tells them that the food was a low standard.

Darryl claims he doesn't have time to buy it from the fish market and it was his decision to use low quality cuts of meat.

Darryl claims Gordon knows nothing about New Orleans food as he has no food returned.

Gordon speaks with Emil and another cook who tell him that the owners only care about money and cut corners to cut costs.

At the dinner service Gordon discovers that the shrimp is bagged into portions and he is not impressed.

The food is not a hit with the customers, it is cold from sitting on the pass and the lasagne they are served was made a week ago.

Gordon announces to the dining room that it was made a week ago and the customers leave the restaurant.

The owners still see no issues and cannot see where they are going wrong as they are in denial.

Chef Ramsay calls a team meeting the next morning and encourages them to voice their views to Ellen and Darryl.

Jason tells them they are more concerned with customer numbers than quality food, customer service, respecting the staff and paying a decent wage.

Ellen defends it by saying they have had to use their own funds to pay the wages and Darryl angrily tells them "If you don't want to be here, don't be here".

Gordon sets a challenge for the chefs to go to the Grocery store and come back with ingredients to cook a seafood dish.

They make two well presented dishes, Salmon and Grits and Red Fish with Grilled Vegetables.

Gordon serves them to Ellen and Darryl, they love the dishes and Gordon reveals they are made by Emil and Jason and not by himself.

Overnight, the restaurant with a revamped menu full of fresh shellfish and aligator.

On relaunch night, some of the locals are present.

Gordon encourages the servers to push the seafood buckets and Darryl is expediting.

The kitchen starts to fall apart as he calls lots of tickets together and shows he is only focused on getting the dishes out quickly.

Gordon tells them to focus on one dish at a time and communicate better.

The relaunch turns into a success and the customers love the food and a local news channel arrives to cover the relaunch.

What Happened Next at Zeke's?

In the following weeks, customer numbers are up and morale has improved.

The restaurant is still open and Yelp reviews were mostly positive after Gordon visited with compliments to the food and service.

The average comments critique the portion sizes and suggest service could be hit and miss.

They hired a new Executive Chef Michelle Matlock, who had plenty of experience and some vegan specials for the menu.

Zeke's closed in October 2012 and was sold to new owners.

A sign stating the closure was taped the door of the restaurant.

Daryll and Ellen own LUCA Eats in New Orleans and reviews are excellent.

Porter & Luke’s opened in the former Zeke's in January 2013 and reviews are good.

Zeke's was aired on May 13 2011, the episode was filmed in January 2011 and is Kitchen Nightmares season 4 episode 11.

Read About More Kitchen Nightmares

Previous episode - Capri

Next episode - Oceana

This post was last updated in August 2019.

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  1. Are the 2 young chefs still there?

  2. where are the 2 young chefs? They seem so talented.

    1. Jason is a head chef right now, but I don't know what happened to Emil! I hope they are both doing great though, they seemed like they really loved cooking!

  3. No wonder the place failed with two ignorant, arrogant owners.

  4. fresh frozen shrimp, portions, wtf , eventually the standards fell again

  5. I think I want to chime in with the same question others have asked... what happened to Emil and Jason, the young chefs that seemed to have the acts together??? I sure hope some success came their way.

  6. Darryl is now a life couch. A quote from his linkedin page I found interesting: "I have made the transition from businessman to life coach. As a business owner for over 25 years, my true pleasure was realized in coaching my employees, specifically, working with them to unlock their capabilities."

    1. Oh the irony

    2. Lol!!! This dude telling people how to live their lives? What an absolute joke! This is why I have a hard time trusting industries like 'Life Coaching'. Go get coached by the guy who sells week old lasagna as fresh daily special. I'm sure that'll work out. Rofl, this whole story just gets better and better.

    3. Wow, that guy is a life couch now?! I would have pegged Darryl as more of a sectional or rocking chair kind of guy.

    4. He's a robot. Bleep bloop product -> profit bleep bloop.

  7. Lol "Some things are good frozen"

    1. Ice cream is good frozen!

    2. Frozen food can be decent... for eating at home. That's the thing though. What's good at home isn't good for running a restaurant.

  8. Watching an old episode of KN, and wondering what happened to this restaurant. I'm sorry to see that they have closed. The chefs seemed truly talented, and I hope they were able to get new, better, jobs.

    The owners didn't seem like they had taken much about respecting and paying their staff to heart, and I know from experience how that can ruin morale, and how bad morale can tank a company. It's such a shame, but a happy staff counts for so much.

  9. These two owners of Zeke's were very rude to their staff. These employee's were like family to each other due to their long career at Zeke's when the original owners opened it. I felt sad when I saw some of the staff tear up while owners listened with Gordon that they didnt want to leave each other. Then owner said don't want to be here ,leave, how selfish these owners were to employees that wemere dedicated and put up with owners crap so they could stay a family. Owners fate in the business was inevible and I hope best wishes to the staff employee's of this Kitchen Nightmare. I hope they all were blessed with rewarding careers. The chefs obviously new how to cook, I would like to eat wherever they are cooking now.
    RJ Yarbrough

  10. Watching it now. I know, I'm late but I'm sure they tried to sell it for profit with Gordon Ramsey's name on it. Jerks!

    1. Less debt they pass on to the taxpayers when they declare bankruptcy.

    2. Taxpayers don't take the hit on debt in bankruptcy, creditors do. Now back-taxes, on the other hand...

  11. This is what happens when they owners only care about money. You care about a food and have a passion for quality. The money will then come. -ShaneH

  12. I am curious on who owns the building now and what happened to it.

    1. Appears to be called Porter and lukes restaurant now and totally redesigned

    2. Itc called porter and lukes now

  13. They had great staff staying for them for so long. Can't pay them but they went on vacation 5 times a year.

    1. Wish I could go on vacation even TWICE a year, let alone five times. The fact they could even do that speaks volumes. That, and selling the place.


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