Gordon Ramsay's Bleep-O-Fucking-Meter: 20
Best Food Insult: "Holy cow -- looks like a bison's tongue!"
After the pre-show previews, I was really excited about this episode. Everyone shown seemed vacuous, "like-minded," and potentially sleeping with each other, and then there was going to be a fabulously quotable comment from Ramsay where he sneered, "I feel like I'm in the middle of a rehearsal for Friends." Sadly, however, that comment never made it to the show-cut version.
Campania is located in Fair Lawn, New Jersey. However, the only way to orient ourselves, apparently, is to be told how far it is from New York City. Fair Lawn has a NYC ETA pedigree of "about 20 minutes." Joe Something-that-sounds-like-Sniglet has been the owner for 18 months and is already in serious debt. Joe didn't go to culinary school. Joe doesn't use recipes or measuring spoons. Joe is, in his own words, "the best." At losing money. And potentially not knowing the difference between pine nuts and pecans. The kitchen staff -- cooks and servers together -- have a grand old time, whooping it up, calling each other names, and locking a worker in the walk-in on a regular basis. Hey, it IS like Friends! Except that it's not the head chef being locked in the walk-in and having her hat set on fire by her staff; it's the hapless, underpaid, non-English-speaking line cook! Josette -- a whiskey-voiced waitress -- describes the kitchen as a "big romper room." Head Chef Gene is proud that he's "still a kid" who "still has" a tongue ring and a tattoo. Too bad this kid doesn't "still have" most of his hair. Also, pierced tongue tasting my food: yummy.
Aside from the cool clique in the kitchen, Campania has other problems. Their oven is broken and being used as a linen closet, and one of the walk-ins doesn't feel like closing properly to keep all the food-saving cold-airiness inside. Josette thinks "the men" should be able to fix all that stuff, but I guess they're too busy doing keg stands to care. We get some shots of Joe being authoritative, but when he asks for "planchetta," I have this image of Suzanne Pleshette wrapped in pork fat. Joe's mother -- who thinks she's Jersey's answer to Sharon Osbourne -- is worried about her son, her daughter-in-law, and the grandkids. Joe is worried about his debt and being unable to pay his purveyors.
Ramsay arrives like a really big, really profane Mighty Mouse and finds Campania in a strip mall. He sits down and is blandly unimpressed by his first meeting with Joe, who points too much for Ramsay's taste. Eschewing the seafood this time around, Ramsay orders tortellini en brodo, ravioli, and the pistachio-and-cranberry-crusted chicken breast. In the dining room, Ramsay waits over twenty minutes for his food, but has the riotous behavior in the kitchen to keep his ears company. He is not amused. We hear and see two of the waitresses tell each other four times over, with lots of swearing and lots of shrieking surprise, that their menstrual cycles or something are so in sync, how hungry they both are. Ramsay's also hungry, and finally his food arrives. The tortellini en brodo is bland and tasteless, the ravioli has way too much garlic, and the chicken is overdone and overly sweet.