Sunday, May 12, 2013

Kitchen Nightmares: Amy's Baking Co.

Kitchen Nightmares
Episode:  6.16
Amy's Baking Company & Bistro
a.k.a. ABC Bistro
Scottsdale, AZ
first aired on 05/10/2013

Did you see Friday's episode of Kitchen Nightmares?  Although I frequently cite this show and others as examples of poor restaurant management, I don't usually discuss a single episode at length.  This restaurant is an exception.

Any and all viewers should watch reality shows with some skepticism.  Most shows in this genre up the drama a bit and work to make the host a little more heroic.  There are also cultural differences that might not translate well.  For example, the British culture avoids humiliating or shameful situations at all costs.  Finally, the limits of TV time require quick editing to get as much of the story in as possible.

And so it goes with Chef Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares.  Most of the owners on his show are completely incompetent.  They can't even keep a refrigerator clean or their equipment maintained.  How hard is that?  So the Owner's humiliation begins with a dressing down from Ramsay about the simplest things.

But not so with Amy & Samy (husband and wife), the owners of Amy's Baking Company & Bistro (heretofore:  ABC Bistro).  They keep their restaurant immaculate, have a passion for food, and sincerely desire a well-run restaurant.  Chef Ramsay complemented the pair on the kitchen (a floor cleaner than most kitchen tables) and the cakes in the display case (made fresh from scratch).

Key phrase from Gordon Ramsay:  "If the food here is as good as this cake, then why is there a problem at this restaurant?"

And that's where the fun begins.  Good heavens.  I hope I'm not being snarky.  Let me check the dictionary ... Nope.  I'm not being snarky, yet.  But I am doing my best Gregory House, M.D. impression.

First Red Flag: Amy & Samy met in Las Vegas where, according to both of them, Samy was a real playboy - surrounded by beautiful women every night.  But Amy put a stop to that and said (paraphrasing), "It's either me or the playboy lifestyle.  You can't have both."  And so Samy (btw, I am spelling the name correctly) gave up chasing women and married Amy.  She was all smiles.  What a powerful moment.  She was so good that he gave up several women to be with her.  This is an enormous ego stroke.

Second Red Flag: Samy retired from building custom-made homes when the housing market crashed.  He then spent $1,000,000, $1 million ... One million dollars .... wwwooonnnn mmilllllliiioonnn dollllarrrs) to open ABC Bistro.  Another ego stroke for Amy.

Third Red Flag:  Amy's bakes several desserts well (that's good).  She then develops a passion for cooking other things (that's good).  She believes that this passion makes here a good chef (that's a logical fallacy).  Cake cookers work under a different set of constraints from Restaurant Chefs.  This becomes evident later.

Fourth Red Flag:  Amy & Samy are both very defensive regarding their work.  Specifically, Amy said there was a drop in business when ABC Bistro received a bad review on the internet.  They retaliated against the vicious lies spread about them (their words, not mine).  Since then, they have spent a lot of time fighting the "haters" in the internet.  This is defending the ego.  Or should I say, "She can't stand having her reality challenged."

In Amy's defense, she did say that ABC Bistro had received many positive and glowing reviews.  And you can find those reviews on several web sites.  One good source is  BEWARE:  This episode has generated a lot of feedback on yelp.  You'll need to dig to the back to find those positive reviews.

Fifth Red Flag:  Samy keeps the waiter's tips and pays them an hourly wage.  This is contrary to every restaurant in America.  Chef Ramsay understands this.  Samy (being defensive) claims that he'll let the waiters keep their tips when they demonstrate skill at their jobs.

Sixth Red Flag:  Samy won't let the waiters use the Point of Sale System until they can demonstrate skill at their jobs.  This means that the staff has to write down their orders and hand them to Samy so that he can enter the order in the P.O.S. machine.  An unnecessary step in the process.

Seventh Red Flag:  Samy also handles all the sales transactions.  All cash and credit card sales must be brought to Samy to process .... until the waiters can prove they're skilled at their jobs.

If you confront Samy, "It's your job to train them.", you'll get a sharp rebuke.  What do you know about restaurants?  Samy actually owns one.

Eighth Red Flag:  Amy believes that God himself has given her this talent and purpose in life.  That's an incredible leap of faith.  Unfortunately, it's not born out by the way she treats the staff, her customers, or Samy.

Ninth Red Flag:  She & Samy have called upon Chef Ramsay for the wrong reasons.  They have both seen Kitchen Nightmares.  They know he is respected.  Amy quite naively stated, "I wanted you to come here to tell people that our food is really good."  Amy & Samy should know better.  Their restaurant is failing, it is getting poor reviews (despite the good reviews from 2010 and 2011), and other businesses in the area are doing well.  Ramsay's M. O. is to ferret out the problems and correct them.  That usually involves major changes on the part of the owners.

But it keeps getting better (he said sarcastically).

This is the only episode where the first fifteen minutes is nothing but cuts from the day before Chef Ramsay shows up to meet the owners.  They are both shown screaming and yelling at customers and employees.

Amy called the police when someone didn't pay for a pizza that was never served!  Yes, the guest ordered a pizza.  Over an hour later, the pizza had still not been delivered.  The customer said, "We don't have any more time to wait.  Just cancel the pizza.

Samy flew into a rage.  "No, you pay for the pizza you ordered.  Then you can go."  There was a confrontation.  They actually ended up paying for a pizza he didn't eat just to get away from these two people.

Chef Ramsay learned that 50 employees had been fired or left ABC Bistro in the previous year.  Samy corrected him.  There had actually been over 100 employees who quit or were fired the previous year.

I'll have to stop here.  There are several other details.  I highly recommend finding a repeat of this episode somewhere out there.

Two last things though:

One:  This episode enraged so many people that the yelp web page for ABC Bistro has over 500 reviews dated from Friday, May 10th and Saturday, May 11th from people who witnessed these two owners be cruel and unusual to almost everybody.

Two:  Chef Ramsay walked out.  He couldn't help them.

The restaurant is still open and running losses.  It will continue to be open until Samy runs out of money.

What a train wreck.  Really, it should be researched by psychology majors.



  1. The episode is here:

    1. Dear DemSign,

      Thank you for the link. I have used it to revisit Amy's Baking Company.

  2. These 2 are through; they can hemorrhage ALL the money they have left, and they are STILL finished. The Woman is Certifiably Insane, and the "Man" is a Sugar Daddy enabler to her Madness. Drama and
    food only might work in Dinner Theater. They are both despicable.

    1. Hello Justin,

      Thank you for the comments. I believe you are not just right, but more right than you know. I'm posting a "Revisited" article this evening trying to take a more clinical approach to the issue.

      I will let you conclude whether I'm a masochist or a sadist for doing so.