web
counter

the walking dead / snl / mindhole blowers / netflix / celebrity facts / marvel / liveblogging the 90s


Kitchen (and Elsewhere) Nightmares: Amy's Baking Company 2: The Reckoning

By Brock Wilbur | TV Reviews | February 6, 2014 | Comments ()


Amys-Baking-Company-facebook-freakouts.jpg

Last week it was announced that the season premiere of Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares will return to Scottsdale, Arizona to follow-up on last season’s finale episode featuring Amy and Samy Bouzaglo, owners of Amy’s Baking Company. In May of 2013, Ramsey visited the bistro and, amidst problems with the owners, walked out before performing a kitchen makeover, for the first time in the show’s history.

The anticipation for February 28th’s return episode has caused my brain to declare martial law and I am sweating hot fire. Without exaggeration, this is the most important episode of television in this, or any, generation.

amy-baking-1.jpg

From 2007 to 2009, I worked in reality TV, ranging from writing to editing to on-set production. As someone who had never been exposed to the genre (save for The Real World and the entirety of The Osbournes), it was, to say the least, an eye-opening experience. On rare occasions, when the medication doesn’t work right, I feel pangs of regret for the contributions I made to that “culture,” especially when I encounter younger people who treats others terribly, and can’t help but think a “persona” I helped form might be responsible.

The odd side-effect of this time I lost in those coal mines of the American soul, is that I now have a profound appreciation of certain reality productions. For example, the Real Housewives series manages to create an entire season’s worth of well act-structured entertainment from a measly few days of production, using and often embarrassing people who have so much money that any who dared disrespect them publicly outside of the show’s narrative would probably be disappeared to an uninhabited island or the concrete foundation of a construction site.

Kitchen Nightmares, like most other cooking and/or makeover shows, never caught on with me because a) the production was so straightforward and b) its focus seemed squarely on things that have never mattered to me, namely cooking and/or makeovers. Then, last May, I saw this episode:

What I had gone in expecting to merely be an episode with heightened personalities and some obvious emotional control issues turned out to be a national spectacle. Those around me became confused as to my elaborate dedication to the fallout and to my binge re-watching of the episode. The reason? What begins as a simple tug at a loose bit of string winds up unraveling not just the lives and histories of all involved, but the medium itself.

For those completely unaware, Gordon Ramsey visits this small restaurant, operated by the husband and wife team of Samy and Amy Bouzaglo. In 2006, Samy had invested “one million dollars” in making his wife’s dream come true, and since then he had operated as house manager and she as head chef. Since then, the restaurant had been plagued by staffing issues (mostly stemming from treatment and the management’s stealing of tips) and poor online reviews. The discussion of the latter revealed to Ramsey that Amy (the real life version of Elizabeth Berkley’s character from Showgirls) believed all of their negative attention to be the result of a vast conspiracy. Also, she believed she could communicate with cats, but that had little to no effect on the poor quality of food served during Ramsey’s visit. Samy violently threatens one unsatisfied customer which leads to the production team having to intervene, and the inability to communicate results in Ramsey’s decision to leave the restaurant. The episode ends with the production team (on camera) dismantling their lights and removing mics from the owners, who are still explaining why they are right and every single person in the world is wrong.

Amy-3.png

My original fascination with the episode had stemmed from Fox’s ability to put, what was to my mind, obvious serial killers on national television. There is something about the conviction and pure delusion with which Amy speaks of her culinary expertise that physically pained me to watch. Not for the embarrassment or other such reality tics, but rather because she personified the emotional knee-jerk I feel whenever I speak proudly of my work. I rarely do so without a small dig at my own expense, and it’s worse when I try to take a compliment, yet knowing that I cannot help but feel that Amy’s unblinking terror is what I put out into the world. It’s much like the internalized social terror of hitting on a girl at a bar and then watching an episode of The Pick-Up Artist, only to cower at the thought that someone might perceive you similarly. Amy’s neurosis was at once alien, reflective, and almost enviable, in a world where such dedication can usually be linked to success.

After the episode aired, a string of social media posts from the restaurant attacked fans in a PR meltdown, spiraling so quickly that Amy and Samy came forward to claim that their accounts had been compromised by “haters” and that law enforcement was involved in the investigation. A number of public relations firms were hired and fired in a matter of weeks, allegations were raised that Amy had been to federal prison, Samy had mob ties, Samy was in danger of deportation, and when the restaurant claimed they had treated their employees fairly, one came forward with this contract, which contained a non-compete clause for an entry-level food service industry job. The social media posts continued, written in the same style as the “hacked” missives, cementing the lack of an original attack, and leading to a restaurant shut down.

The Grand Re-Opening of Amy’s Baking Company was set for the end of May 2013, and I was headed to Scottsdale to cover it for another publication. There were some vague threats made about journalists attending the event without prior approval, and much to my dismay this journey fell apart the day of. The important part of this re-opening was not the anticipation of meeting Samy and Amy in person or sampling the amended cuisine, rather the reports of what truths would be revealed. On social media and in promotional interviews, the couple promised to reveal the degree to which what America had seen was created by Gordon Ramsey and his production team. Fox network made a simple press release, reminding the Bouzaglos that any violation of their non-disclosure agreement would result in a crushing lawsuit.

This was it. This was when everything became genuinely “important” because this was “reality” fighting Reality fighting reality. This re-opening and the information relayed from the owners would set a new standard for how we interacted with such entertainment, and in turn, how it was produced. If they fell on their swords, albeit to save their business, producers would have to worry about similar credibility links in all shows, especially if Amy’s Baking Company were revealed to be the helpless victims of a ruthless industry, or worse, coached into destroying their own lives. While such a huge inversion seemed impossible, as a former employee of that industry I knew better than most the range of possibilities. As someone with a trained eye in this kind of thing, I had no ability to gauge the degree to which this was staged, and I had to know.

Later that night, the internet began leaking news from the event. The re-opening of Amy’s Baking Company was dull. The food and service were serviceable and the hosts said little to nothing. The aforementioned grand reveal was toned down into a restatement that they would one day clear their name, and that was all they’d say on the subject. In terms of resolving this media circus, it was a wet fart.

Since then, Amy’s Baking Company has avoided most publicity, aside from a line of t-shirts and hats inspired by their famous quotes from the episode, which seemed an odd move for a couple who unofficially had claimed the entire event was staged or some how manipulated. In interviews, they have discussed their continuing work with the Yelp review site, and the feedback they have given towards revising their user policy to avoid “online bullying” such as what destroyed their business. Then, for two people who wanted to life to return to normal, they announced the production of their own reality show, shortly followed by their “decision” to cancel filming in November. At that time, they reiterated their dedication to clearing their names, and it seems like February 28th is their chance to do so.

So why does this new episode mean so much? While Kitchen Nightmares is an entertainment production, whose methods of “upping” drama are easily discoverable online, the truth is that it is impossible to manipulate anyone to such a degree without their consent. Editing, coaching, and even planting actors could never result in the kind of episode the Bouzaglos created last time unless they were either completely complicit or completely insane. There is simply no middle ground. When the cameras shot this episode, either Samy and Amy put forward the real version of themselves, aware of the tricks, and will present a version that even with editing and heightened drama reveals a valley of incongruity between this and their last outing, or Amy will yell at Gordon Ramsey in catspeak and Samy will kill a PA with a bat.

It no longer matters whether the original episode was real or scripted, what matters is how both these crusaders for justice and the producers of a reality show will treat a situation that no one has encountered before, wherein both sides seem set on mutually assured destruction.

This episode marks an opportunity in for popular culture to either break the fourth wall or discover that we have agreed to become the fourth wall. It is a moment that I have anticipated ever since the terrible waste that was The Hills’ deus ex shrugina, and that such a revelation could come from a goddamned cooking show, of all places, seems fitting.

If you’re placing your bets, the bio on Amy’s Baking Company’s website now reads:

amy1d.png

Yet, this is what Amy posted from her joint Facebook account with Samy just days ago:

Samy.png

Welcome to Thunderdome.

Brock Wilbur is a stand-up comedian, writer, director, and actor. You can check out his website for a listing of all his work, check YouTube for stand-up acts, or follow him on Twitter.








Are you following Pajiba on Facebook or Twitter? Every time you do, Bill Murray crashes a wedding.


Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • Virgie Cousins

    But the Feb 28th was a repeat of the season finale, not a new show. What happened to the revisit.. BBC did not show it last night.

  • Carlos M. Morales

    " Every shit come to here " Is he saying that people that eat there , are SHIT ? r he want people t go shit there ?

  • dwight mannsburden

    If they were acting, then move over Meryl Streep.

  • Logan B.

    I love that amy actually posted the link to here on abc's page. Even though everything is says is the same stuff that she calls "haters" for posting the same exact info. You point out that it showed samy admitting that he keeps the tips, or mention samy assaulting a customer or their criminal records and she blocks you. A story gets written that says the exact same thing and says how crazy they are, and she proudly posts it on their publicity page. Nutso!

  • Dave Butner

    I don't see it listed in the tv guide for Feb 28 and it shows up in the DirectV guide as coming 05/2014.

  • Logan B.

    It was originally supposed to air on Feb 28th. Then later it was announced that it was postponed. No reason given. Oddly they were also on Dr. Phil, and that episode was scheduled to air and then was also postponed, also with no reason given.

  • ikoihil

    Rumor is (in local news articles from AZ) that Amy is suing, trying to block embarrassing footage from being aired. That's why its been "indefinitely postponed."

  • Santina

    Probably being recorded Feb 28th

  • Angelique

    The thing is, I have seen their comments on Facebook, their crazy news stories. I can't imagine that these 2 people could possible have corrected their behavior in the few weeks since their last crazy posts (or apparently more recently) If the above is correct then they even bash Ramsey AFTER the taping of this show that possibly might correct anything. Sounds to me like a perfect stage for more crazy.

    OOOH and if you haven't followed their facebook page, it seems Amy isn't even making her desserts, a woman posted her stores link on their page where clearly Amy or someone had stolen her images from her site and posted as their own desserts at Amy's Baking Company (facebook page)

  • 6RID8U6

    It's been verified since the original episode aired that Amy gets all those desserts from Costco and simply repackages and resells them (with a pricing markup of course). She even admitted to this publicly but has since been curiously silent on the point.

  • Holly

    I don't think the desserts were from Costco; Costco doesn't have a wide variety of cakes, and most of them are your typical sheet cake. I think she was ordering them from someone else.

    I notice that on the website it now says she bakes the treat every day, herself. I doubt this is true, but it's interesting that they're still trying to slip that one by.

  • Holly

    Great read, Brock!

  • Brock Wilbur

    Thanks as always.

  • bcarter3

    On the "reality" of Reality TV: Watch the final 10 seconds of the Amy's Baking Company episode. Gordon Ramsey's car engine magically starts and turns over while Ramsey's hands are no where near the car key--they're busy fastening his seat belt.

    I know this is a terribly minor amplification and adjustment to reality, but if the producers go to the trouble to fake this tiny, trivial detail, it says something about their credibility on more important matters.

  • Alexandra Trigili

    Just rewatched the ep on YouTube and Gordon Ramsay absolutely turns the car key before he fastens his seatbelt. Have a look: http://youtu.be/7uPOGxUtZvk
    If your going to draw conclusions, at least base them on accurate facts.
    Also, nothing will change the fact that Amy is bat$&!t crazy and Samy is a bully

  • This was a delicious read. I'm putting "coal mine of the American soul" into heavy rotation.

  • Erica O.

    As a former Phoenix food blogger working prior to and during this idiocy, I can report that they are genuinely crazy. And the food is mediocre. They should just retire and spend their days cooking "gourmet" food for their little gentleman cats.

    Instead, they will continue to keep the mediocre restaurant going on bad publicity and middle America dining there for the novelty of it.

  • Jackie Pressley Sproat

    Love that the HuffPost article they quoted recently was written in 2013. So timely. So topical.
    Can't wait to see the new episode. Her brain is a bag full of cats. You can smell crazy on her.... (yeah...I stole the line but it SO fits!).

  • Bert_McGurt

    "In terms of resolving this media circus, it was a wet fart."

    You'll do nicely.

  • BWeaves

    Kitchen Nightmares is the reason I almost never eat out anymore. However, I love to watch it. Ramsey may be rude, but he's always right. Once the owner or chef finally starts taking his advice, things usually do turn around. He really does care that the business makes a go of it.

    However, these two, these two? I don't know what they were expecting Ramsey to do for them, but they didn't listen to him. Wouldn't listen to him. They were right. They're food was perfect. It was everyone else who was wrong.

    And yet? You know, I did not see Amy make a single dessert the entire show. All I saw her bake was pizzas that were returned. But it was all the tweets and Facebook updates and "we've been hacked" and crap after the show that really sent it all over the edge. I will be watching their return, you can bet on it.

  • "The Hills deus ex shrugina"

    All that potential for absurd drama, SQUANDERED!

  • jkebeans

    The article said Amy had to be restrained from attacking a customer during filming. Sounds to me like maybe she shouldn't have any contact with customers at all. Ramsay can be a total A hole but he does get the job done in the end. Maybe she should of just sucked it up.

  • JJ

    It's not even "important," with the ironic quotes. You were actually sent to cover this for a publication? I fail to see how whatever-the-hell-this-is reality television bullshit and the subsequent coverage is anything but the tail wagging the dog that is in turn eating itself ouroboros-style.

  • It's called media consolidation. It's normal for the same conglomerate to own the company produced the show, the network it airs in, some of the radio stations that are talking about it the next day, and magazines that write articles both praising and condemning it

  • kasper

    These may be two of the smartest people around. They let Gordon Ramsey make them look like monsters, play it up in social media, and get tons of free promotion for their once-failing restaurant. And they are selling shirts as well.

    Not saying these are the nicest people in the world, but they probably are nowhere near how they act. How do I know this? Well, for starters, the tip stealing. You know what hasn't happened since this episode aired? A lawsuit. You are going to tell me that no Arizona lawyers watched this episode and contacted former current and former staff? Why was no lawsuit filed, nobody wanted to get money from these supposedly horrible people?

    No doubt what we will see on February 28 will be as scripted as anything else on television.

  • Karen Glammeyer Medcoff

    sadly they were investigated, and found that they weren't doing anything illegal. shitty as hell, yes, illegal, no

  • manting

    Because no attorney is going to sue to recover lost "tips." Most decent attorneys are over 200$ an hour and its simply not cost feasible to sue for a few hundred dollars worth of tips. Also its not tip stealing if the waiter agrees to the practice. What I am surprised by is that no attorney has eaten there and then been threatened by the owner or physically assaulted. Then you sue the restaurant and im sure their insurance company has deep pockets.

  • Because they were afraid a mewling cat-woman would show up to chew their throats out in the night if they dared sue?

  • emmalita

    I've worked for a couple of slightly less crazy restaurant owners. Watching the Amy's Baking Company episode was fantastic. Usually I feel bad for the people who've gotten in over their head with a restaurant, but not Amy.

  • e jerry powell

    That woman could be Michele Bachmann's blonder cousin. Delusion and bug-eye run high in that gene pool.

  • lowercase_ryan

    wow, I can't unsee it now...

  • TK

    Welcome to NightmareTown. Population: YOU.

    http://www.thebraiser.com/wp-c...

  • Sara_Tonin00

    If I was a talented person, I would add the "Come to here, I will fucking show you all." text from the quote above.

  • e jerry powell

    Oh, TK, take me now!

    I love you more when you're evil.

  • Shhh! Don't let Jezzer hear that.

  • Jezzer

    I WILL STAB EVERYONE. >:(

  • He didn't mean it, man! You're still the only one for TK.

  • lowercase_ryan

    And here I was thinking I'd be the gas mask dude from True Detective next Halloween. The answer was right in front of me the whole time.

  • lowercase_ryan

    The thing is, if everything was all honkey-dorey now, there would be no show. I can only imagine that this one will have an actual physical assault.

  • Aaron Schulz

    Im very excited, i fully expect Ramsey to fight one of them, like fucking 30s style boxing. There will be fires, a cat seance, maybe the ghost of a long dead orphan come to find someone to help him exact vengeance on the former headmaster of his orphanage. Or something even better. Im on the edge of my seat.

  • AvaLehra

    She seems like a terrible human being but what really bugs the shit out of me is how she is using the word karma incorrectly. Can I get an amen?

  • meh

    From a religion major, Amen.

  • Amen!

  • TK

    My god, I had almost forgotten about these banananut crazypants motherfuckers. The husband was a goddamn powderkeg, and the wife, man. Those eyes. Talk about gazing into the goddamn abyss.

  • manting

    If Michelle Bachaman opened a restaurant . . .

  • stella

    Holy shit. Thats who she reminded me of...

  • thatsmrsnyder
  • manting

    he loves german beer!

  • e jerry powell

    Brock, don't call it "writing;" you know damn well that if you call it that, the producers have to let you join WGA.

    Also, welcome!

  • lowercase_ryan

    This place is way too expensive for me, otherwise I would make the 5 min trek from my office and see what all the fuss is about.

  • Guest

    Need a date? I'm a great conversationalist, tip well and have been meaning to kluge rate their cats.

  • lowercase_ryan

    I just might

  • Rafael Ulloa

    Well?

  • BWeaves

    Can't you get a few co-irkers together to go get a pizza or whatever they're serving in the new restaurant? Please, go and report back.

  • lowercase_ryan

    I will, I promise

  • Mrs. Julien

    Say, lowercase_ryan, do you have a PayPal account?

  • lowercase_ryan

    I need a YELP t-shirt before I go.

  • Mrs. Julien

    I am very concerned about your self-destructive impulses. I beg you to get help.

  • Maybe he could eat the whole meal wearing an inoffensive sweater, and then get "warm" just before leaving?

  • lowercase_ryan

    I'll suck it up for the team, I'm not taking anyone's money. But if the show is even more crazy pants this time around, I promise I will go.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Can we take up a collection to make this happen?

  • lowercase_ryan

    I just filed my taxes. I'll make a point to save some of my return for a trip. If the place is still standing after this go around.

  • mswas

    I WAS JUST TYPING THE SAME THING!!

  • Mrs. Julien

    "She seemed a little crazy, but it was a whole iceberg of crazy." My friend describing someone he dated and, unwittingly, Amy as well.

  • BendinIntheWind

    "Do you have any children?"
    "We have 3 little boys. [beat] But they're trapped in cat bodies."

    This cuckoo bird is the greatest trainwreck in the history of all trainwrecks.

  • e jerry powell

    Shhh, the Ghost of Tammy Faye may be listening...

  • Mrs. Julien

    Tammy Faye at least seemed kind and good-hearted.

  • Wigamer

    YESSS. I cannot wait for the unveiling of this second installment of insanity.

  • Charlene J. Howard

    іո­ tհe­ last­ m○ոtհ­ my­ gіrlfrіeոd's­ հalf­ br○tհer ­ g○t­ $5840­ jսst­ sіttіոg­ tհere­ fr○m­ tհere ­ հ○սse­ aոd­ tհey're­ с○-w○rker's­ sіster-іո-law`s­ ոeіgհb○սr­ dіd­ tհіs­ f○r­ seνeո­ m○ոtհs­  aոd­ earոt­ m○re­ tհaո­ $5840­ іո­ tհeіr­ sрare ­ tіme­ fr○m­ a­ laрt○р.­ aррlіe­ tհe­ tірs­  fr○m­ tհіs­ web-sіte,... http://Googleprofitfalls2014de...

    ☗☗☗ ☗☗⨖☗ ☗☗�☗ ☗☗☗My friend describing someone he dated and, unwittingly, Amy as well.

  • VFacharnmethe85

    мʏ в­­­­­­e­­­­­­ѕт ғʀι­­­­­­e­­­­­­ɴɖ'ѕ мօм мαĸ­­­­­­e­­­­­­ѕ $6з нօυʀʟʏ օɴ тн­­­­­­e­­­­­­ ιɴт­­­­­­e­­­­­­ʀɴ­­­­­­e­­­­­­т. ѕн­­­­­­e­­­­­­ нαѕ в­­­­­­e­­­­­­­­­­­­e­­­­­­ɴ υɴ­­­­­­e­­­­­­мքʟօʏ­­­­­­e­­­­­­ɖ ғօʀ ғιʋ­­­­­­e­­­­­­ мօɴтнѕ вυт ʟαѕт мօɴтн н­­­­­­e­­­­­­ʀ ιɴƈօм­­­­­­e­­­­­­ աαѕ $15751 ʝυѕт աօʀĸιɴɢ օɴ тн­­­­­­e­­­­­­ ιɴт­­­­­­e­­­­­­ʀɴ­­­­­­e­­­­­­т ғօʀ α ғ­­­­­­e­­­­­­ա нօυʀѕ. աнʏ ɴօт ғιɴɖ օυт мօʀ­­­­­­e­­­­­­ SaveJury.com

blog comments powered by Disqus