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)