Friday, May 23 2008 | Comments (0)
Gordon goes head to head with with a chef who spends so much time trying to reclaim his former successes, that he's losing touch with the present. Gordon helps him step out of the 90's and into his current struggling kitchen.
Welcome to the Rococo. Once it was a town gem, in King's Lynn, Norfolk. In the 90's it was a very respected, quaint establishment, when Nick Anderson bought it. He brought with him his high credentials (he was an award winning chef at the Crown Hotel, in Wales), and sophisticated, modern culinary skills. That was in the mid-90's. Now, everything is outdated at the Rococo, and over priced. Nothing has improved since Nick took it over. It is no longer quaint. Now, the front room feels stuffy and crowded, and the menu is pretentious, out dated, and over priced.
When he sits down to sample what the Rococo has to offer,
Gordon finds one of his own meals on the menu, and when he inquires about it, the waiter can't say where the chef got that recipe. (Hmmm...) He of course orders the mimicry, and it is predictably a disaster. Not only is the meal sub-par for the price, but the service is annoying, as well. The waiter hovers over Gordon as he eats. Gordon calls him a "hemorrhoid" on his, well...you can figure it out.
After the meal, Gordon goes into the kitchen to meet with the chef. He is a former Michelin Star winner, with many other awards to his credit. He once was a leading chef at the Crown hotel in Wales. But, since moving to King's Lynn, he hasn't updated his ways.
The next day, Gordon goes out on the town to learn more from the people. No one wants to go there because the general opinion is that it i s overpriced and not worth the time or money.
They literally have to call in friends and favors to fill the place so Gordon can even observe the kitchen in action. When it gets busy, chef and owner Nick Anderson can't get the meals out of the kitchen. He spends needless time on poor presentation - attempts to look outstanding. He wants his food to be much fancier than it needs to be. When Gordon looks at his ingredients he has high priced foods that don't get sold.
No wonder the Andersons are in over 100,000 pounds of debt.
Gordon comments that watching Nick run the kitchen is like "open heart surgery without anesthetic," and that he just piles "crap on top of crap" and that this practice doesn't make a meal better.
Gordon decides to do an exercise with the two Rococo Chefs, Nick, the owner, and assistant chef, Timmy.
He brings in bags of local vegetables and fish, and gives them 20 minutes to pout together a meal. The two chefs buckle under the pressure. They over look the simple possibilities and each have a hard time getting their meal done in the allotted time. Gordon dances around the kitchen as the two chefs sweat it out. When time is up - Nick's meal isn't bad, but could have been so much better, and Timmy's is better than it looks. Gordon reminds him, however, that it's the flavor of the meal that the customers are going to remember. They tried, but in Gordon's assessment, they both failed. They missed the point.
That night, Gordon let's him cook his menu for the last time. He continues to pressure him and poke him in the kitchen, questioning his every choice, but Nick doesn't get it. Gordon wants a reaction, so he can see that they guy has the heart to put into the necessary change to make his restaurant succeed. He doesn't get this reaction.
The next morning, Gordon is locked out. Nick won't even see him, he is that upset. Gordon says that he has never been locked out of a restaurant before. He says he'll wait till lunch, if he has to, and go in as a paying customer.
Nick finally lets him in, and tells him that he was really upset by the night before. But Gordon reminds him, that if he didn't think he had potential, he wouldn't be there. Gordon wants him to succeed.
He tells him that change is crucial; Nick has to let go of the time that has passed when he was successful, and forgive himself of his failures. He needs to let go, and focus on his current business. He has a young family depending on it.
On the last night, they launch a new menu under a new name - "Maggies," named after St. Margaret's Church across the street.
The new menu is full of locally grown vegetables and locally caught fish. The dining area is freshened up with simple linens and fresh flowers. The staff works hard to fill the restaurant with new customers, coming to check out this "new" restaurant.
When things get crazy, Nick steps up and shows some fire for the first time all week. He is invigorated by the new menu, and the challenge of actually having customers in his dining room that are eager to eat a good meal.
At the end of the night, the Customers agree, that the food was well priced, well cooked, and delicious. Nick agrees with them, and vows to maintain this change, and not go back to his "Rococo" ways. "Maggies" is here to stay.
When Gordon returns several months later, he is surprised to see one change that has maintained...there are actually customers in the dining room. It appears that Nick has kept his promise and maintained the new "Maggies" ways.
Sadly,upon some research, it has been found that Maggies closed its doors just a month ago. There is no explanation listed from Nick Anderson, the owner, but only the news that an Italian Restaurant will take it's place.
Reportedly, Gordon's publicist had no comment, according to King's Lynn news.