“Kitchen Nightmares” may be back to its same-old failing-business antics nine years after Season 7’s conclusion in 2014. But don’t expect the same Gordon Ramsay to return to the long-running Fox fan favorite.
“Since it hasn’t been done in nine years, you’ve just got a different Gordon Ramsay and more evolved Gordon,” executive producer David De Angelis told TheWrap.
De Angelis is a producer well aware of the many sides of this particular celebrity chef. He started working with Ramsay in 2013 on “Hell’s Kitchen,” the show that made Ramsay a reality star — and one known for his temper and blunt criticism. Over the years, De Angelis has also worked with Ramsay on “Next Level Chef,” a series De Angelis noted shows off Ramsay in a “mentor role.”
“There’s a little more kindness, a little more compassion and much more desire to help people get better,” De Angelis said. “I think you see that in ‘Kitchen Nightmares’ as well.”
Based on the British reality series “Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares,” the original U.S. version of “Kitchen Nightmares” followed Ramsay as he toured the country and spent a week at a time with failing restaurants as he tried to fix their businesses. Though there’s been some talk about bringing the reality series back over the last year, it’s Season 8’s focus on the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic that cemented this continuation for Ramsay and his team.
“[Ramsay] has a large organization that was able to weather the pandemic pretty well, but there were hundreds and hundreds of mom and pop restaurants that did not weather the pandemic very well. So if there was any time to come back, now was it,” De Angelis said. “Gordon really wants these restaurants to succeed more than anything. As much as we want him to go and find horrible things in the kitchen and disgusting refrigerators and freezers, more than anything he wants these restaurants to survive.”
“[Gordon Ramsay] is an important partner of ours and building Studio Ramsay global has been a priority,” Allison Wallach, president of unscripted programming at Fox Entertainment, told TheWrap. “The last time, he did the show close to a decade ago. He owned about 10 restaurants. The Gordon Ramsay who’s coming into your restaurant today owns over 100, and he’s a real businessman. The tone of it is bigger, and the intensity is greater.”
De Angelis noted that the series will see Ramsay at “his most intimate, at his most raw and at his most accessible.” Rather than the “yelling Gordon” most “Kitchen Nightmare” fans are used to, Season 8 will focus on Ramsay telling “deeper and richer stories” as he tries to help his subjects.
Proof of that shift is Ramsay’s interest in the mental health of the owners, staffs and chefs he helps.
“It’s a huge issue in the restaurant industry — in all industries, but specifically the restaurant industry,” De Angelis said. “It’s such a high pressure industry, and I think that stigma of mental health probably hung over this industry and still does.”
Ramsay isn’t the only one who’s changed over the course of nine years. “Kitchen Nightmares” is debuting in a completely different cultural and technological climate than used to exist. In 2013, when social media reactions to a Season 6 episode led to negative online reviews for Amy’s Baking Company, the idea a reality show could have such an instantaneous cultural impact was a novelty. Now that’s become the norm.
“The reactions on social media to this new series is going to be a whole other layer,” De Angelis said.
The EP also noted that social media itself has become a whole new quadrant the series has to worry about when it comes to its restaurant makeovers. In some episodes, social media experts are even brought in to improve or update a restaurant’s online presence.
“Gordon is very aware of the power of social media and how it works in restaurants,” De Angelis said. “Diners today won’t walk into a restaurant and they haven’t looked at their social media pages. I think millennial or Gen Z diners, for sure.”
But though its host and climate have changed, prepare for the broad strokes of “Kitchen Nightmares” to remain the same.
“Gordon said he’s amazed at how either people have forgotten the lessons that he taught them over the last decade or they just never really caught on,” De Angelis said. “A lot of the same things that he saw 10 years ago are still happening in restaurants today.”
New episodes of “Kitchen Nightmares” premiere on Fox Mondays at 8/7c p.m.