Although I like cranky British Chef Gordon Ramsay, I'm not really a huge fan of his Fox show Kitchen Nightmares. It's far too formulaic, for one -- every episode shares the same story arc, with only the set pieces changing -- and it's 99 percent about drama and only 1 percent about food. The show on which the it was based, Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares on BBC, was much better at putting the food first. You got a sense when you watched that program that Ramsay knows how to cook (because it actually showed him cooking and teaching) and that there were serious passions at work behind all his yammering. When Fox translated the program, now entering its third season, it apparently thought that the whole cooking thing was overrated and that by upping the drama factor, they'd net much bigger ratings. I'm sure they're right.
Anyhow, Kitchen Nightmares brought its circus to Boca Raton this week to film an upcoming episode on Italian eatery Anna Vincenzo's, an average red-sauce restaurant in a town full of them. Yesterday, the show taped its standard boilerplate "community support" segment in front of the restaurant and invited the public out to attend. In case you need a refresher, this is the part of the show where Ramsey invites the local townsfolk to a contest/giveaway/parade/ball-pit-of-banality to get them excited about the relaunch of the restaurant. Usually this segment focuses on one dish that will become the restaurant's signature draw (though not necessarily its best, since Ramsay often just determines "you'll be known for your burgers!" and poof, they're now a burger joint). Anna Vincenzo's focused on pizza, obviously, and so held a contest in which representatives from the Miami Dolphins, Miami Heat, and Florida Panthers put together a pizza in three minutes, with the restaurant's owners judging a winner. Meanwhile, waitrons from AV walked around with trays of pizza to hand out to the crowd who were sweltering in the 100-degree heat.
Since I signed an NDA saying I wouldn't talk about what went down inside the tent, allow me to point you toward someone who didn't mind breaking his. This post, on the Palm Beach Post's TV Talk blog, shares a firsthand account from local pizza fan Toby Srebnik with pictures by Michael Katz. The post isn't completely accurate (it says the restaurant didn't make pizzas previously, which is untrue), but the chronology of events is pretty good. Srebnik seemed to like Vincenzo's pizza -- again, I can't comment, but I will tell you there was some leavened dough and a cheese-like substance that covered crushed fruit, possibly tomatoes.
And here's a vid posted by Katz:
Last night was the official relaunch of the restaurant. I haven't seen much on what people thought of it yet, but I do know that Dan LeBatard was there (via Twitter). We'll let you know if anyone decides to say something about the place ahead of time.
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