Tag Archives: Kitchen Nightmares

Crazy Amy and Samy The Hammer Are Back In The News(Amy’s Baking Company)

George Hodan (publicdomainpictures.net)
George Hodan (publicdomainpictures.net)

It has been a long while since I posted anything about the infamous Kitchen Nightmares visit to Amy’s Baking Company. According to the website TMZ,  Samy The Hammer attempted to attack someone outside of their restaurant. Details are sketchy but it appears the man was a drunk patron that Samy was waving a knife at (this is being disputed as a pen). A video of the incident can be viewed here at TMZ. KPHO is reporting that police were called at approximately 5 pm local time to investigate a disturbance.

Witnesses said Samy Bouzaglo, who operates Amy’s Baking Company with wife Amy, was waving a knife and yelling as he chased a drunken man out of their business, according to a police report.

The man was gone when police arrived and no charges have been filed. However charges are pending if and when the other person is located and interviewed. My guess is that drunk guy is getting a lawyer and planning legal action in the next couple of days.

Sources:
1. Amy’s Baking Company Owner Threatens to Shiv a Guy on Video (28 Sep 2014, Kitchenette blog)
2. ‘Kitchen Nightmares’ Star Threatens to Kill Patron With Knife(28 Sept 2014, TMZ)
3. Disturbance At Amy’s Baking Company Draws Police(28 Sep 2014, KPHO)

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Monday Musings

monday*The dog days of summer are nearly here and nothing new about Titanic II. My last posting reported the Chinese government and Clive Palmer locking horns over money. They accuse him of misusing (or possibly embezzling) their money and he is demanding royalty fees. Looks grim right now for Titanic II being built in China. Perhaps somewhere like Dubai might be next on the list as a candidate to build it.

*James Cameron’s Titanic is now streaming on Netflix (US). Kitchen Nightmares (US) seasons 1-3 are gone from Netflix but they now have seasons 4 and 5. They have the UK version as well.

*Speaking of Kitchen Nightmares (US), it is finished. This last season was a rushed on Fox. They put episodes back to back so it went very quickly. The successful UK program was ended a few years ago as well. Many consider the UK version to be superior. The UK version has Gordon doing the narration and going to restaurants in trouble. While he gets in the faces of bad chefs and stubborn owners, the conflict seen on most US episodes is not there. The US not only has the usual problems with chefs and owners but lots of internal strife as well resulting in some rather volatile episodes. Many accuse the producers of hyping conflict, which might be true. It is also likely some purposefully manufactured the conflicts to get Ramsay’s producers interested. What cannot be faked though is the bad food and poor sanitary conditions that he finds. Many of the restaurants closed after Ramsay visited them. But to call it a “Ramsay Curse” would be inaccurate. All of the restaurants he visits are on the ropes and losing money. Calling in Ramsay is the equivalent of calling in the fire brigade to save a burning house. Ramsay often does offer solutions and way out but, alas, he does not control other things.

Like lenders, lien holders, angry vendors, debt collectors, and government agencies to name a few. Even if a business can start making money again, the debt can be too high with interest and fees. In some cases, like Black Pearl, the minute Ramsay walked out went back to what they did before (and as Ramsay predicted closed within a year). Some have survived and are still open. Some closed a few years later due to the economy or other reasons. Ramsay tries to point them towards quality food served at modest prices to make money. Shortcuts are not allowed. Frozen meatballs are never as good as fresh. And microwaves are used only to heat sauces not to cook meals. Ramsay appears focused on Masterchef, Hells Kitchen, and Hotel Hell.

*Speaking of Hell’s Kitchen, there was high drama in the last episode. Joy decided, in the middle of service, she could not take it anymore and left. Ramsay could not believe she was doing this and tried to force her to rethink the move. But up to the dorm she went after tearing off the black jacket she had earned and began packing. Andie (who along with James assists Ramsay) tried talking to her and getting her to reconsider. She seemed almost ready to go back and apologize but ended up sitting down too long to think about it. Time went on, the service was done, and she did not go back. So she was out. Gordon had seen much promise in her but her actions showed she was not ready to run a kitchen. Jason was stunned as were the others she walked out. But it was her choice and she now has to live with it.

*When the name Walter Lord comes up, invariably people think about his two Titanic books (A Night To Remember and The Night Lives On) but he wrote many other historical books as well. He wrote about the Battle of Midway (Incredible Victory) and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 Dec 1941 (Day of Infamy). Both are good books and worth reading if you have the time. His narrative style puts you right there and learning a lot as you read. Some of his accounts, especially of the Pearl Harbor attack, are riveting. Check your local library to see if they have his books.

*Titanic often comes up in surprising ways. Consider the following from the British comedy Are You Being Served?, episode titled Our Figures Are Slipping:

Rumbold: I sometimes regard our whole organization as a ship at sea. Captain Peacock is at the helm, keeping his eyes skimmed. I am in the engine room making sure we all are going full steam ahead. And you men are the crew.

Lucas: What’s it called–the Titanic?

Have a good day or evening where ever you may be.


Titanic Musings

Wikimedia Commons (Wiegee)
Wikimedia Commons (Wiegee)

*Last year there was a theory that large numbers of icebergs in 1912 were caused by a rare celestial alignment. The theory, such as it was, received a yawn from the Titanic community. It does not matter whether the icebergs in 1912 were caused by a celestial alignment, a warmer current, or perhaps Marvin the Martian playing with his weapon on Mars. Titanic struck an iceberg because a lot of things went wrong. There was complacency of all kinds from the Board of Trade to Captain Smith deciding to speed up Titanic on a cold, moonless night through an iceberg field. Now researchers at Sheffield University disputes there was an abnormal amount of icebergs in 1912. They claim there was a “raised iceberg hazard” but it was not exceptional. But hold on because they claim that now it is much more dangerous because there is more ship traffic in the Arctic. And this means more iceberg incidents will occur. Well of course if your are moving through areas where icebergs normally float around in, the possibility of hitting one is not remote. Easy to avoid the ones that can be seen but no so the ones just under the surface or getting to close to a berg that has a much larger base underwater than can be seen.
Source: Titanic Theory Put On Ice: Icebergs Were Not At Dangerously High Levels In 1912 – But They Are Today
(9 April 2014,Daily Mail)

Lightoller, right, with third officer Herbert Pitman. Image: Public Domain
Lightoller, right, with third officer Herbert Pitman.
Image: Public Domain

* The upcoming Titanic memorabilia auction by Henry Aldridge includes a four page statement signed by Titanic’s surviving officers called “Letter of Marine Protest.” This document, signed by Titanic’s surviving officers, is part of the insurance claim White Star Line submitted. Henry Aldridge says of the document: “It is fascinating that the officers would seem to minimize their encounter with the rather large and ominous iceberg by describing it as a ‘small low-lying iceberg’. This could possibly have been an attempt to downplay the size of the iceberg due to the question of liability and who was to blame for the sinking.” Anyone who has submitted claims to insurance companies knows they want the who, what, when, and how the incident occurred. So the document says the date, time and location where it occurred that the ship collided with the iceberg. The iceberg is described as “ ‘growler’, or small low-lying iceberg.” To be fair to Charles Lightoller, the senior surviving officer, he did not see the iceberg and descriptions of it varied. I am not sure that saying it was low lying minimizes or changes the fact that colliding with it caused ruptures in the hull that sank Titanic. The lookouts did not see it until it was nearly upon them due to there being no moon and the stillness of the ocean. Other things are boiled down to simple factual statements like: “On examination it was found water was coming into several compartments; all hands were called on deck, the boats were ordered to be cleared, and subsequently filled with women and children.”

Later thanks to survivor accounts and witness statements at American and British inquiries, we learn much more about what happened. The insurance company–Atlantic Mutual–had to determine whether the loss was covered or not. Were the officers and in particular Captain Smith negligent in full or in part for what happened?If they denied the claim arguing Smith was negligent, they would have to prove that in court. Who handled the ice warnings and why were they not plotted out? Those and other questions would have to be answered in court. Did Smith know the danger or did one of his junior officers fail to inform him? Get the picture? It would be difficult to prove in court whether Smith was really at fault or one of his junior officers. You could argue indifference or complacency but it would be a long legal battle that might take years to resolve. They choose to pay likely because it would cost more in the long run to litigate the matter and end up paying more in the end. Did Lightoller cover up for Smith or other officers who did not properly plot out the ice field from the warnings received? Possibly but the statements given in the document are factually accurate and meant to neither overplay or underplay anything. Just the basic facts, to paraphrase Sergeant Friday from Dragnet. Atlantic Mutual paid out £3 million (one news report said Titanic was insured for $5 million). When Titanic was discovered in 1985 and later a salvage award was issued, I believe they or a successor company put a claim in with RMS Titanic, Inc. A settlement was reached and the amount paid to them confidential.
Source(s):
1. Titanic Insurance Claim To Be Sold(10 April 2014,Irish Independent**)
2.TITANIC INSURED FOR $5,000,000(Encylopedia Titanica)

*The Titanic Effect is something I call that happens when people recall other maritime disasters that are less known. Consider what is called “Minnesota’s Titanic.” On 13 Jul 1890, a paddlewheeler called Sea Wing was smashed by a wave and turned over killing 98 people (mostly teenagers and young adults). Ben Threinen and Fred Johnson are preparing a documentary about this tragedy so that people remember what happened. Most are stunned when they learn of it says Johnson. And properly so.
Source:Documentary To Recount ‘Minnesota’s Titanic’(11 April 2014,Post Bulletin)

*Dr. Paul Lee is involved in a new project called Titanic Global Database. He is collecting locations “relevant to the Titanic society as an aid to researchers and tourists. ” He plans to add new locations each week but the project is huge and is just starting. You can visit his website at paullee.com.

*With another anniversary of Titanic’s sinking nearly upon us, I always take out two videos to watch. One is the 1958 movie A Night To Remember (based on the excellent book by Walter Lord). Although it was made long ago, it still does the story right and never fails to entertain. Another is the excellent A&E documentary which goes through everything with interviews from survivors, researchers, and others. And it is narrated by David McCallum (Ducky on NCIS) who played Harold Bride in the 1958 movie.

Amy and Samy Outside Restaurant. Photo: Fox
Amy and Samy Outside Restaurant.
Photo: Fox

*Kitchen Nightmares is back! Once again we find out how bad some restaurants can become and in dire need of Gordon Ramsay’s help. Of course the season could not start without first going over what happened at the now infamous Amy’s Baking Company. It was the rare episode in which Gordon realized there was nothing he could do since Crazy Amy and Samy The Hammer were totally in denial about what was wrong. They were not interested in anything Gordon had to say or suggest. And America saw two people who either were the greatest actors of all time or truly crazed. The Internet went wild and so did they in responding. From what I saw, it looks like they have not changed much and in fact angrier than before. Now they are making wild claims that Gordon Ramsay sexually harassed Crazy Amy. They make this claim in a video and are declining to take it down despite threats from Fox and the production company. You can view the video at Radaronline. However on their recent appearance on Dr. Phil, they did not make this claim.

**Links to Republic of Ireland newspapers are not provided due to pay for links policy.


Sunday Scramble

*The official start of the baseball season is here! There are different ways to watch your favorite team, providing you can watch it locally of course.

1. Over The Air or Radio
Broadcast games have become fewer now that most teams have signed contracts with cable sports channels but are still shown. The cheapest alternative next to radio. Provided of course your local team is local. If your favorite team is, as they say, out of market, then continue on.

2. Cable + MLB Extra Innings
The easiest but costs more is the cable company bundle that has the sports channel on it. Mine costs $63 a month to watch both Giants and A’s. If you want to watch out of market games like the New York Yankees for instance, you can spring for MLB Extra Innings which costs a lot of money though some cable companies offer to break it up into smaller chunks you can pay over the season. Due to blackout policies, you cannot watch a local team either home or away on Extra Innings.

3. MLB TV
You can watch MLB games online at their website, through streaming devices to your television, and even on your smartphone. Here are the options fron lowest to highest cost.

1)AT BAT/GameDay Audio
The MLB AT BAT app is for most mobile phones and allows you to listen to any game that is going on, check scores, read news, and watch videos. You can select your favorite teams and get notifications on scores etc. You can also watch classic games. You cannot watch any games except the MLB Game of the Day. Also you can listen to any game being played at the MLB website. No mobile phone? Simply subscribe to GameDay Audio at the MLB site and listen through your computer. There are no blackout restrictions on GameDay audio. Cost is $19.99 with automatic renewal for next season. You do not have to subscribe to GameDay audio to use the AT BAT app but you will not be able to listen to any games. Note: listening to radio broadcasts will chew up a lot of data, so consider only listening when connected to Wi-Fi.

2)MLB TV (basic and premium)
You can watch most out of area games on your computer, streamed to your television through Roku and other devices, and on your mobile device. Basic MLB TV is cheaper but has fewer options. The AT BAT GameDay audio is not included and you can only watch via the website. MLB Premium comes with AT BAT GameDay audio, ability to watch on mobile and streaming devices, and choice of live or away feeds as well. Since GameDay audio is included, you also get the radio feeds when you stream to television. If a game is blacked out, you can listen to the game. You have to be a premium subscriber to access this feature.

Now the bad news: you cannot watch local games as they are blacked out both home and away. You can watch the archive (posted 90 minutes after game end) of the game but cannot watch it live. Also national games (FOX or ESPN) are blacked out though this year Fox is allowing people to watch it live for those on MLB tv except if the game is local.

If you are real baseball fiend and want to watch a lot of baseball, then MLB premium is probably your best choice at $129. 99. If you do not have a mobile phone or streaming but want to watch out of area games, then basic MLB at $109.99 will probably work for you. For those wanting to keep costs low, GameDay audio through the smartphone or at MLB site will work fine. You can also watch the MLB Free Game of the Day on your computer, through streaming device or smartphone.

The biggest issue (outside of tech issues with devices) is the blackout policies. Each team decides its territory which is not limited by geography. You can see a map here. Worst hit are people in the Midwest and some Atlantic states where multiple teams can claim rights so several ball clubs in different states, are blacked out. The Seattle Mariners claim all of Montana and almost all of Idaho. Hawaii is hit hard too. There are many SF Giants and Oakland A’s fans there. The Dodgers, Padres, Giants, Mariners and A’s all claimed Hawaii even though they cannot watch any of the games locally. That has somewhat changed now for 2014. Both the Dodgers and Padres are allowing a sports channel to show their games in Hawaii. But Giants and A’s are blacked out at MLB by those two teams. The Dodgers and Padres got smart while the San Francisco Bay Area teams are out to lunch on the matter. At least you can watch an archive of the game but it is not as good as watching it live. The only place to watch the regular season without any local blackouts is outside the U.S. I understand there is a following of baseball in England.

One other note: do not consider signing up for a dodgy service that will get you a live feed via an international satellite feed (or other means). They are committing theft under U.S. laws and once MLB finds it out, they cut it off and you do not get your money back. For your troubles if MLB finds out you subscribed, they will send a nasty letter reminding you about such illegal services. And for extra measure since they have your name and probably other information, good luck signing up for MLB audio or visual packages in the future.

*Amy’s Baking Company and there two nutty owners are back in the news again.  Crazy Amy is claiming Gordon Ramsay sexually harassed her. This couple must be desperate for attention these days and daring Gordon or Kitchen Nightmares to do something. Their attorney, if they have one, ought to be warning them such claims can lead (and often do) to slander lawsuits. I doubt many are giving it much credence though. But it may be time for Gordon to take the gloves off and put his foot down by making them stand in court to prove their claims. You can read about the claim here.

*Call me contrary but not impressed with Noah. The Ten Commandments (1956)may be fictional but at least it is closer to the original story than this latest Hollywood serving of a Biblical tale.

*Limes are very expensive these days owing to cartels and thefts, so I am told. The produce guy at a store I frequent told me that Chevy’s bought very expensive crates of limes without first checking the price. Ouch! Someone there will be walking out the door for that very pricey mistake. Lemons are cheaper and suddenly Cuba Libres will have a more lemony taste. Salsa too, where limes are often used, will likewise be changing as well.

*Tried watching the pilot episode for Caprica (the prequel to the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica). Snooze.

*The Amazing Race All Stars is pretty good though predictable in some ways. If there are lessons to be learned thus far is (1) Make sure you have a cab ready to take you away; (2) If the challenge is making drinks or doing d.j. work, do not assume you are just mixing drinks!

And that is it for now.


Saturday Titanic Scramble

*President Obama was not the only foreign leader to visit Northern Ireland recently. Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister, paid a visit as well. And not only did he bring goodwill, but likely new jobs as well.

*Taylor Swift has shared with the world that she and her cat watched Cameron’s Titanic together. Meanwhile James Cameron recently extolled the virtues of veganism. Connected? You decide.

Warning! Titanic Cliche Ahead
Warning! Titanic Cliche Ahead

*It is always amusing when local politicians decide to use Titanic to describe how bad something is. Take Graham Galpin, a borough councillor in Kent, UK. Now the issue involves asphalt in a shared space which has become pretty bad owing to trucks using it rather than loading docks and issues with the asphalt itself. This caused Galpin to say, we assume with all seriousness:

“I was interested to see it says engineering was carried out with professional care. It’s a bit like saying the Titanic was well built.”

So the logic here is Titanic is to asphalt as asphalt is to an iceberg. Hopefully no iceberg hits him for using a Titanic cliché.

*Chappy’s, in Nashville, TN that was featured on Kitchen Nightmares, has been shuttered. You probably remember this fellow who wore the oversized toque and disco style pants in the kitchen. His décor was from another time, had a large menu with prices that increased during the day, cooked meat and fish together, had some sanitary issues, and dissed the people of Nashville who panned his food as not understanding Cajun food. His restaurant was seized by the state tax authorities this week for failing to pay state taxes. Of course it is all Gordan Ramsay’s fault as obviously his restaurant was doing just fine until the foul mouthed Scotsman showed up.

Sources:
1. Our New Friend From The East Is Given A Titanic Welcome In Belfast(19 June 2013, Belfast Telegraph)

2.Taylor Swift Posts Video With Her Cat While Watching ‘Titanic’(20 June 2013, New York Daily News)

3.  Laying Of Pavement Is Likened To The Titanic(20 June 2013,This is Kent)

4. Another Amy’s Baking Company Drama? Chappy’s Shuts Down After Appearance On ‘Kitchen Nightmares’(21 June 2013, International Business Times)

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More Thoughts On The Kitchen Nightmare Beyond Hope

Amy’s Baking Company (ABC) has become a teaching lesson for business schools–in how not to deal with the public. And  thanks to social media, the lesson has spread far and wide. Samy and Amy Bouzaglo totally underestimated the negative response generated by the episode. Many people were suspicious, like a local food critic who was asked to report on ABC. That critic had not heard much about the restaurant except for the famous Amy blowout to a local food blogger in 2010. Crazy Amy, as she is now called, went national thanks to Kitchen Nightmares (KN). As that critic dug deeper she began to realize something was indeed amiss at ABC. And what was seen on the show has been confirmed by workers and customers interviewed later. And their crude attacks on the negative postings after the show confirmed that what they saw on the show was exactly who they–the Bouzaglo’s–really are.

One thing that food critic realized is that in all the time that ABC has been open, it never generated any buzz. In a sea of restaurants in Scottsdale, ABC never distinguished itself in any way. And that is telling. With mixed reviews on Yelp and elsewhere, there was nothing really that drew you to ABC unless you were just in the area and wanted to give it a try. Sometimes you might get lucky and get an okay meal. Or get an underdone pizza with a side of nasty attitude when complained to Samy. A recent trip by a local business writer found their drinks had bugs in it. And despite subsequent replacement drinks, the bugs were still in the glasses. Samy asked them to leave after that and they went down to a more popular restaurant to finish the meal they never had at ABC. They did give the server money to go up to ABC to get a pastry, which was delicious, but their treatment at ABC confirmed what was shown (except Crazy Amy never made an appearance).

A few seasons back Gordon went to a Philadelphia restaurant run by sisters who never ran a restaurant before. The speciality was potato (in fact that was in their name) but the food was terrible. The restaurant was empty and Gordon helped them revamp the menu. He also brought in a chef consultant to help the young chef, in fact a niece of one of the sisters, and things began to improve. A food critic that had given them a terrible review gave a glowing one after the relaunch. And for a while things were going good. Then that chef left and food quality declined. Restaurant hours changed and closing early, like 8pm on a Saturday night. By summer’s end in 2010, the restaurant closed. I bring this up because there are some similarities here. Neither Amy or Samy have any previous restaurant experience. They have mixed reviews on Yelp. While local restaurants are packing them in, many tables are empty at ABC.

Their over-the-top reaction to critics made things far worse and people looking for more dirt on the couple. Which they did find out. Crazy Amy was locked up for using another persons social security number to obtain a bank line of credit. She also has other prior legal issues as well. Samy is facing deportation. The exact reason is not known but possibly due to not disclosing criminal convictions in Europe in his residency application. Questions are raised about whether ABC actually cooks those wonderful pastries. Evidence suggests they are bought elsewhere and resold by ABC. There is also a disquieting rumor that ABC is a money laundering operation.

Amy and Samy wanted to let loose about Gordon Ramsay, KN and online critics with a press conference. Lawyers for the show sent a strongly worded letter reminding them of their contractual obligations, which meant they faced huge monetary damages if they violated. I suspect that guy in the funny toque and stripped pants down in Nashville got a similar letter after letting loose to the National Inquirer. I wish they had let Crazy Amy and Samy the Hammer have their press conference. It would have been memorable. They hired a public relations firm that handles such fires but they bowed out after a few days owing to a difference in strategies. The had a quiet reopening with a security guard to keep things civil. Attendance was thin and no one reports the restaurant is packing them in. Lots of gawkers wanting to see the now infamous ABC and perhaps get a glimpse of the pair as well.

The future does not look well for ABC. Restaurants that generate negative buzz rarely thrive. And profit margins are thin for restaurants. The restaurant did finally generate a buzz but not the one wanted by Crazy Amy and Samy the Hammer. And for business schools, ABC is a case study is how not to run a business or handle major public relations crisis.

Footnote:
Apparently Crazy Amy did give an interview after the warning letter to Radar Online. In the interview, she said some nasty things about Ramsay. That could result in Fox suing her for breach of contract.

Sources:
1. Amy’s Baking Company Kicks Us Out After We Find Flies In The Vodka (Three Times)(24 May 2013, Phoenix Business Blog)

2. Co-owner Of ‘Nightmares’ Eatery Might Be Deported(22 May 2013, Arizona Republic)

3. Amy’s Baking Company: Overcooked Reality and the Decline of Western Civility(21 May 2013 Phoenix New Times)

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KItchen Nightmares DVD’s

Gordon Ramsay Cookbooks

Update-Kitchen Nightmare Beyond Hope

Update#1- 20 May: The Phoenix Business Journal is reporting that Amy’s Baking Company has canceled its planned Tuesday press conference. It also reports that Rose+Moser+Allyn Public & Online Relations, is no longer working with them. The reason for the cancellation was due to online bullying. No word why the PR firm no longer works for them.
Source:Amy’s Baking Company Dumped By New PR Firm, Press Conference Canceled Over Threats(20 May 2013.bizjournals.com)

Update#2-20 May: The Phoenix Business Journal reports that lawyers for Fox and the Kitchen Nightmares production company threatened legal action. The letter reminds them of their contractual obligations and their conduct exposes them to $100,000 in liquidated damages. You can view the letter here. Jason Rose explains the “there were differences on public relations strategies” that led to the split.
Source:Jason Rose Explains Split With Amy’s Baking Company(20 May 2013,bizjournals.com)

—-
It is over a week since Kitchen Nightmares(KN) ended its season with Amy’s Baking Company, and it is still reverberating around the web. Yelp has seen massive amounts of reviews though most of them were not actual restaurant reviews. Many will be deleted since that violates Yelp’s Terms of Service. Comments on Yelp and other places drove Amy and Samy crazy. They used Facebook to respond and not in a kind way. Those posts have been deleted and now claim they were hacked. And they now have hired a public relations firm, Rose + Moser + Allyn Public and Online Relations to handle future communications. The damage has been done and many see their angry responses as doing more harm than good, perhaps cementing forever the image of them being crazy and flying off the handle at any criticism.

Worse it appears they will likely face an investigation by over the tips issue. According to KTAR, it is a violation of Arizona law to keep tips from servers. Despite their claim on Facebook, Samy admitted on camera he does keep tips and never shares it with servers. Now they say they do not “confiscate” tips from servers. That is an artful dodge but that is not the accusation. The accusation is (and confirmed by Samy) that do not get tips left by customers. That might be construed as possible theft if the tips are considered property of the server under Arizona law. With Samy’s admission on camera and sworn affidavits from ex-employees, Amy’s Baking Company could be hit with fines and other sanctions.

That might be just the beginning. Owing to her past criminal conviction of fraud (using someone else’s social security number to obtain a line of credit), tax authorities might check her books to make sure everything has been correctly reported. Then there is the real possibility of civil lawsuits looming over workplace harassment. Considering what was shown and what has been reported, a lawyer could make a real field day here by seeking damages.

Then there are questions as to whether she actually bakes those wonderful pastries we saw on KN. We never saw her cook any pastries and there was a Facebook entry, allegedly from Amy, that seemed to confirm the allegation. No doubt enterprising reporters will track down various bakeries in the area or beyond to see if she buys from them and resells at her store. She may use an alias in purchasing them (or even a third party) to conduct the transactions. In due course we will learn the truth. It is odd that an experienced baker would not know the difference between cooked and uncooked pizza dough as evidenced on the show.

What happened is being touted by public relations experts on how not to deal with bad publicity. Instead of getting in front of the story, they threw more gasoline on the fire rather than cooling water. And with so much negative publicity, even the best public relations expert is going to be of little help. Most predict that Amy’s Baking Company will close at some point because customers will be scarce and even Samy cannot pour money indefinitely into the restaurant to keep it afloat. Most likely they will sell the restaurant and move away no doubt cursing Scottsdale, the entire state of Arizona, and Gordon Ramsay on their way out.

Update:
Since writing this, I learned that Amy’s Baking Company is re-opening on Tuesday, 21 May. According to their Facebook page, some proceeds from reopening night“will benefit a charity organized to bring awareness to cyber bullying.” The press release also states: “The owners will likely be holding a press conference before the Grand Re-Opening and answer falsehoods depicted on a reality television show, including assertions that the restaurant confiscates tips from servers.” Again note they hedging in the above statement. It says “likely will be holding” which is not the same as will be holding. Also one wonders if this will be a real press conference or simply a venue for them to repeat their responses and accusations they have already made.

Again note the word “confiscates” is being used. Nice try but no one will believe that spin.

Sources:

1. Israeli Restaurateur Goes Viral With Online Meltdown(18 May 2013,The Jerusalem Post)

2. Amy’s Baking Company Reopening On Tuesday With Sold Out Event(16 May 2013,The Huffington Post)

3. Dept. Of Labor: Amy’s Baking Company May Be In Violation Of Law(16 May 2013,KTAR)

4. Amy’s Baking Company: A Real-Life Kitchen Nightmare(14 May 2013, The Daily Beast)

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Kitchen Nightmare Beyond Hope

UPDATED 16 May 2013-See Update 4 Below

Kitchen Nightmares had its season finale tonight in Scottsdale, Arizona at Amy’s Baking Company. This episode will be remembered for many startling things, none of them having to with an unsanitary kitchen. It is the first time ever, counting both the British and American shows combined, that Gordon Ramsay actually walks out saying there was nothing he could do to help them if they were not going to be able to help themselves. Amy’s Baking Company will be long remembered for a chef who could not take the mildest of criticism, firing a server for asking a question, for a husband who keeps all the tips believing the staff did not deserve it, and rudely treating guests who did not like their food or gave up waiting and tried to leave.

What makes this more startling is how the Amy Bouzaglo comes off. Her husband knows that she cannot handle criticism so returned food is tossed into the bin and says nothing to her. When Gordon criticizes her for using frozen ravioli, she gets defensive. When he tries to explain the pizza was undercooked she says it was fine. And when he points out the burger was ruined by a soggy bun and a weird combination of materials, you can see something is really amiss in her eyes and attitude. And clearly she is mad at the bad reviews she has gotten at Yelp and other places. She is like a bottle of nitroglycerin, unstable and ready to explode at the slightest movement that shakes things up.

And then there is Samy. This guy does not trust the staff so he is the only one allowed to enter in the orders servers bring to him. He will not train them to do it. There is also a doorbell to summon the washer to pick up the dirty dishes. As if keeping the tips (which could be a violation of state or federal law) was not enough, he had one of the staff wash his car. Gordon learns this by talking to two ex-employees. He learns the turnover is very high. The two say say 50 get fired but the number revealed by Sami is 150.

The relationship between husband and wife is stormy as well. They constantly argue and Gordon tries to get them to listen to the problems he sees. Except Amy will not listen. Now Gordon takes a different tact in this show. Instead of the usual scared straight approach of getting in the face with foul language, he tones it down knowing that here it will not work. He tries to ask Samy why Amy is so defensive and angry. He demurs wanting to answer that. Gordon tries talking to them at the end about the problems he sees and why she is so defensive. You can see the explosions going on in her eyes and body language. She gets up threatening to go home and gets some water. That is when, after she returns, he tells the both of them he cannot help. He realizes they are not interested in making any changes unless they are ready to make them. In his final talk to the camera later, Gordon says that they would never keep any changes he made. So he gets in his car and drives off as the production staff takes down the cameras in the restaurant.

This is a very disturbing episode of Kitchen Nightmares. This explosive husband and wife have real serious problems beyond just the ordinary problems of running a restaurant. What that is we can only speculate. However their bad treatment of servers and stealing tips ought to get some eager beaver attorney to take them on as clients and sue them. Whatever agency handles labor issues in Arizona also ought to launch an investigation of workplace harassment. And the people of Scottsdale ought to give them them the back of their hand and have nothing to do with them.

Finally this episode appears to have opened the floodgates over at Yelp. The reviews are not surprising considering what was shown. You can view them here. No doubt this will send Amy into the stratosphere about all the negative posts. I suspect more bad news is on the way.

There is a YouTube video of a news report about how Amy went after a bad Yelp review. You can view it here.

Update 1 (11 May)
Amy and Samy posted the following to their Facebook page yesterday:

We do not feel the need to make any excuses for our behavior on tonight’s show.
However we would like to make the following statement:
We do not, nor have we ever stolen or taken any of our servers ,waitresses, or waiters tips at Amy’s Baking Company.
We pay our staff members anywhere between $8.00 to $14.00 per hour to ensure that at the end of the week regardless of it being busy or not, that they go home with money and a well paid paycheck. As do many other restaurants.
They are aware of this when they are hired.
I would challenge any of our employees past or present to come forward with proof that we have ever done such a horrible thing.

So please enjoy the show!
Amy & Samy

Unfortunately, Samy admits he takes the tips and does not give them to the servers on camera.

Update 2 (13 May 2013)
Both Amy and Samy are now claiming Kitchen Nightmares misrepresented them. They deny shouting at customers and customers exaggerated problems on the show. They also say they have received death threats.
Source: Couple says they were misrepresented on ‘Kitchen Nightmares’(12 May 2013,UPI)

Update 3 (15 May 2013)
The Daily Beast has an interesting article about Amy’s Baking Company. The outrage over what was shown sparked numerous posts on Yelp (last check well over 1500 added since the show aired) and in other social media. The couple responded back on their Facebook page (posts deleted according to the article). Samy threatens legal action against those who posted negative comments and challenges them to come in a say them to his face. They now claim that recent postings on Facebook claiming to be from Samy or Amy were fake, including the one that claims they do not steal tips but pay the servers well. There is a claim that Amy does not cook the desserts on-site (and the article notes she is never seen to cook them) and possibly done by someone else (a post claiming to suggest this was also deleted). They now claim their Facebook, Twitter, and website have been hacked and they are pursuing the matter with authorities.
Source: Amy’s Baking Company: A Real-Life Kitchen Nightmare(14 May 2013, Daily Beast)

Update 4 (16 May 2013)
As reported in some forums and now confirmed, Amy Bouzaglo pled guilty in 2003 to one count of misusing a social security number to obtain a line of credit. She was sentenced to 14 months in jail, 36 months supervised release, and restitution of $36,294.95. She appealed the plea deal, which was denied by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals since she waived right to appeal. In 2008 she sought to modify the original sentence (she cannot be re-sentenced due to the deal in place) and submitted evidence that her life had changed (marriage, business, ties to community). At this time it is not known what decision was made. The case is U.S. v. Amanda Patricia Bossingham, U.S. District Court of Arizona, Case #02CR00477-001-PHX-MHM.
Source: Kitchen Nightmares Most Hated Couple: Owner Is Convicted Felon!( 15 May 2013, Radar Online)

 

Titanic Musings: Ismay Home For Sale; Titanic II update, THS Reviews and more!

1. Normally a house sale would not be here except it was once the home of J. Bruce Ismay, J. Bruce Ismayformer chairman of the White Star Line and Titanic survivor. No need to rehash that story except to note some news reports erroneously connect him as the person who boarded a lifeboat wearing women’s clothes (nope, that was not Ismay). Costello Lodge, in Casla, Galway Ireland was once his home from 1914-1939. Also some reports indicate he exiled himself there after Titanic’s demise but that is not true. He did other things but led a quieter life outside the public. The property has changed hands over the years and the current owners, Jack and Agnes Toohey, purchased it in 1981. It goes up for auction tomorrow and you can read the details of the property here.

Needless to say this has generated a buzz with many people wanting to see the place where Ismay once lived. A recent auction of things inside the house drew a large crowd though very little was from Ismay. According to Galway News, so many people showed up they had an overflow crowd. The auction lasted from 12 noon until 9pm, the longest that auctioneer had ever conducted an auction. There was some Titanic memorabilia but most came from the current owners. 74 years after his death, Ismay still generates interest.

2. Titanic II Updates-Signs that Titanic II is proceeding forward are indicated with Palmer’s White Star Line inking an agreement with V.Ships Leisure that will be providing ship management services. According to Marine Log: “V.Ships Leisure 200 shore-based and 7,000 crew members provide services to more than 120 cruise ships, ferries and super yachts. These services are in many cases customised to meet the specific needs of clients including the ability to provide integrated deck and engine and hotel management as part of the same service offering.”

Clive Palmer also reports that applications to work on Titanic II are coming in. While some are applying to captain it, Palmer says the best jobs will be the activities director along with the head of food services. If recent meals at his Titanic announcement parties are any indication, you will not be taking Titanic II for its low calorie food.

3. Titanic Commutator, the official publication of Titanic Historical Society, had reviews for two books in its recent edition of current interest.  One is Steven Turner’s The Band That Played On about the famous Titanic musicians. Tim Trower gives this book mostly high marks saying it is well researched and gives good overview of who these musicians–including that of Wallace Hartley–were. Yvonne Carroll’s book, A Hymn for Eternity, is focused on Wallace Hartley although it covers the other musicians as well. Turner is enthusiastic about this book. “During a time that has seen a plethora of ”must have” books, this reprinted (and corrected) slim volume of  A Hymn For Eternity is a book that I would willingly spend part of my rapidly diminishing book budget on…” (Okay, full disclaimer here. This site is partnered with Amazon so I will shamelessly plug these books in this blog. It is your choice to buy them or not.)

4. Gordon Ramsey, the fiery chef of Hell’s Kitchen(HK), recently admitted in a news interview that many cheftestants were chosen not for their cooking skills but entertainment value. Really? I am shocked like Claude Rain’s character was in Casablanca to learn there was gambling going on. Everyone who has watched this show long enough knows they stack it either with actors or those with low kitchen skills to create drama for the show. And it works since it usually gets Ramsey yelling that they are a bunch of donkeys! In Kitchen Nightmares(KN) it is no secret they often have people come in to specifically say how bad the food is (which is not so hard considering that Gordon has tasted the food already). KN is a different show from HK with real restaurants run by the clueless, foolish, and sometimes arrogant owners who have totally messed up their business. And usually the restaurants are in dire need of his help because things are going bad. They just do no realize how bad until he digs around and shows them.

I have been watching, thanks to Netflix streaming, not only the UK version but now the U.S. version as well. I have gotten to the end of season 2 and it really is astonishing what he does find. Statistics are also interesting. 7 out of 9 restaurants in the first season (US) closed. In season 2 all the restaurants are closed. The reasons for closure can vary but fall into distinct groups:

1) Failure to change
Not long after the show aired, the owner/chef decided to go back to the way it was. Customers dropped off again leading to closure. They usually blame it on Gordon for changing the menu.

2) Financial
Debts are so high that even if the restaurant is successful, it cannot be sustained.

3) Government shut down/Eviction by landlord
Restaurants have to pay taxes and if they do not, the state shows up and shutters the place. That has happened to several restaurants Gordon helped. Sometimes the owner goes on and establishes himself elsewhere. Others fold up and go away. Another reason is the landlord raises the rent forcing the restaurant out of business. This happened in the UK version and in the U.S. one as well.

4) Economic downturn/Changing tastes
Many restaurants folded in recent years due to the economic downturn. People stopped spending money in restaurants and financing became tougher to obtain. Another reason is customers tastes change. Many notable old fashioned Italian restaurants in San Francisco have closed in recent years. These old style family places are out of sync in a city that wants more trendy, lighter fare (but there are exceptions to that rule). Their clientele became older and younger people were no longer coming in.

Of course that recent fellow down in Nashville, the one who wears that silly toque and stripped pants, falls into category 1. He knew KN would show the unsanitary conditions, how he cooked fish and meat together (a major faux pas) and generally disdainful of the local people would get bad press for him. So he picked up the phone and called that prize winning newspaper, National Enquirer, to vent before the show aired. He claimed Gordon had wrecked his business by changing the menu, making him wear real pants and take off the toque, and really cook good food again. Yet we know his restaurant is suffering. A news report from 2012 says he was near foreclosure but obviously managed to get financing. He was forced to admit, just before the show aired, that people were going to see things they did not like. Since he has returned to the old menu (and one one wonders that hideous décor), he too may be closing his doors in a year like many others. Blaming it on Gordon is convenient but in the end the restaurant owner has to take responsibility.

Sources:
Ismay House
1) For Sale: Infamous Titanic Survivor’s Connemara Retreat(3 May 2013, Daily Business Post)*
2) Connemara Auction Generates ‘Titanic’ Spending Spree(7 May 2013, Irish Times)*
3) Thousands Turn Out For Titanic Auction(9 May 2013, Galway News)*

Titanic II
1)V. Ships Leisure To Be Titanic II Ship Manager(7 May 2013, Marine Log)
2) Clive Palmer Says Staff On Titanic II Will Receive More Than A Pay Cheque(8 May 2013, The Australian)

Hell’s Kitchen/Kitchen Nightmares
1)Gordon Ramsay Admits Some Hell’s Kitchen Chefs Not Cast For Their Talent(blog)(6 May 2013, realityblurred.com)
2)Exclusive Interview: “Gordon Ramsay Wrecked My Business!”(26 Mar 2013, National Enquirer)
3)Chappy’s On Church Facing Foreclosure(25 Jan 2012, Nashville Business Journal)

*We do not provide links to Republic of Ireland newspapers due to policy of demanding payment for links.