Friday, May 30 2008 | Comments (0)
Gordon goes to Coastal Brighton where Fish and Chips is a must have for tourists, and Alan Love's Ruby Tate's is one Brighton fish cafe in serious danger of going belly-up.
Gordon goes to Brighton to help former musical theatre and screen actor, Allan Love. Right off the bat, it is apparent that this isn't going to be easy. Gordon has gone head to head before with many chefs and owners in the past (we could psycho-analyze the Alpha Male in the role of a restaurant owner, and their egos, and hang ups...but we just don't have enough room on this page, frankly), but Allan has his own artillery of choice words to fire back at Gordon!
When Gordon pops in the place for the first time, the decor strikes him as loud and overbearing, the kitchen is a disorganized mess, and the fish is not Brighton's finest by a long shot.
And then there is Allan. Allan is a stubborn extrovert, who likes to have a good time, but has no idea how to run a business. RubyTate's is lacking direction, leadership, and passion. The staff may have talent, but it's hidden behind their jokes. There is no real clear hierarchy among the staff. Allan doesn't act like a boss and neither chef has control of the kitchen. The waiters are friendly and do their best, given the lack of guidance and direction. Everyone can laugh and have fun together, but no one takes it seriously. No one seems to care whether this seafood circus sinks or swims.
When Gordon approaches Allan mid week to start detailing the problems, it is clear that Alan is already fed up with Gordon's suggestions and observations thus far, and is possibly regretting becoming involved with the hard-hitting chef. But as Alan defends his choices, it becomes clear that he is passionate, but misguided and inexperienced.
Gordon tries to get through to Allan that, aside from improving the food, the decor of the place needs a face-lift. But, he doesn't just say, "Hey, Allan, have you thought about trying a new color on these walls?" Instead, in his unique Gordon Ramsay way, he insults the colors and dressing of the restaurant, and even attacks Allan's personal style, in the meantime, yelling something about Allan's "spray painted knickers!"
Well, that was the last straw for Mr. Love...He calls Gordon a Premadonna and tells him to leave. A few other choice words are thrown around as Gordon storms out of the door, claiming that the show is over, and that Allan is acting like a baby.
The next day, Gordon goes back, after the heat has cooled a bit. Allan says that he lost it when it became a personal attack on his style. They visit another local fish restaurant to understand what works, locally. As they sit and observe , they discuss the argument of yesterday. Allan admits that yes, things need to change, but that his personality must be a part of it. Gordon says that Allan's personality is loud and huge and will be noticed no matter what, and that Alan doesn't need to force his personality. He can allow it to come through. But that he has to start treating his restaurant as a business if he wants it to succeed.
After burying the hatchet, they take the staff out on a boat to figure out what needs to change. As they ride on the rocky waves, Gordon laughs that the "choppy water" is a good analogy for Ruby Tate's . They discuss that Allan is in denial of how bad things are. He has the staff write one good and one bad thing about Alan. All around, he is a sweet, loving, and fun boss, but he is a horrible leader. His staff needs (and desires) a stricter boss, who will lead them and not be so soft.
Next, Gordon leads them through the "Walk the Plank" exercise, making Alan throw a few of his staff members overboard. He makes his two chef's walk the plank, after they make their plead for mercy. Jamie's plea is that he can be Alan's head chef, but Alan laughs that just because he's an A**hole, doesn't mean he's a head chef. It's playful, yes, but the lesson is that he can't just be friends with his staff, he needs to reprimand them when they need it, and lead them, if he wants the restaurant to succeed.
That night, when they go back to work, Gordon tests the chefs, Jamie and Alex, to see who can really be the leader, and who really wants it. They need to prove they are hungry for the head chef job. Jamie is a slacker and gets confused easily at first. He's too laid back so Gordon tells him that he needs to shut up and just do it (the cooking). As orders stack up and other chef, Alex buckles under the pressure, and really can't hang. He keeps dropping food, and missing orders. In the end, Jamie took control, calling orders and keeping the food moving out the door.
After some lessons in the kitchen, Gordon tries again to approach Alan about the decor. Alan admits that since Gordon has made some other valuable suggestions, he'll trust him when it comes to the decor. Gordon then names Jamie as the head chef, telling Alex that he just isn't a leader. But, the final role is still missing - a leader. And that's Alan. He is the "lovey" and a good host for the restaurant, but he needs to now be a leader and take charge of his establishment.
Before the final day, Gordon, with Alan's new trust, gives the place a paint job - it's an off white with dark green trim and accents. It's a very sleek and moder look, without looking like a night club, as it did before. Alan thinks it looks too austere and says that it feels insignificant. But as Gordon explains, the decor can not just reflect Alan's personality, but it must also be inviting to his customers. Alan needs to also trust that his strong personality will shine through, no matter what. In addition to the internal update, Gordon renames the place "Love's Fish Restaurant." Not only because it's Alan's name, but also because Alan is a lover, and that should be reflected in the name.
The menu is updated to, giving customers three main choices for their fish - grilled, poached, and fried. As Gordon always says - Simple - right? But, even with the simplified menu, the kitchen, still suffering from disorganization, gets confused. Jamie, at least, is learning how to lead. Gordon has invited some "VIP's" to the restaurant, and they enjoy the food and table-side service. The customers all enjoy the new name and look, and things look promising.
Two months later, Gordon returns, but this time, incognito. He calls ahead and orders 2 fish and chips for take out. Then he sneaks in the back door. There seems to be order in the kitchen, and something is different - chef Alex is missing. Jamie tells Gordon that he couldn't train, and so he and Alan fired him. Wait - ALLAN TOOK ACTION! Good for you, Mr. Love - what a leader! The restaurant is hopping, and Alan, still the star attraction at the place, is running a business, instead of letting it run him. Gordon and Allan go to the shore to enjoy their Fish and Chips. Gordon gives Allan a "director's chair" with his name on it - reminding Allan to take charge, let his personality shine through, but to be the director of his establishment.
And it appears that Allan took Gordon's advice, and that it is still doing well, according to (mostly) positive customer reviews on their Facebook. To learn more about "Love's Fish Restaurant" check out their website.