Gordon Ramsay: as rancid as last year's calamari
24 Hours to Hell and Back review : The restaurant needed a saviour. Instead it got Ramsay in a fake moustache
WTF: Gordon Ramsay with chef Louis Cilento. Photograph: Channel 4
Gordon Ramsay, the professional foul mouth and TV cook, has leant his expertise in rabid perfectionism to struggling restaurants before, in Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, Hell’s Kitchen, the American version of Hell’s Kitchen, the American version of Kitchen Nightmares, The F Word and something called Hotel Hell.
Viewers with discerning palates, then, may detect a familiar flavour to 24 Hours to Hell and Back (Channel 4, Thursday, 10pm). The most radical innovation of Ramsay’s latest venture is to give him an utterly ridiculous disguise when visiting failing restaurants (because he is now so very famous), an articulated lorry stuffed with helpers (because he is so very important), and a deadline of a single day to turn these hapless operations around (just because...).
We begin in a wildly dysfunctional Italian restaurant in suburban New York, in which the co-owner, Vinny, grieving the death of his brother and apparently in the throes of depression, divides his time between screaming and weeping at his sister, Dori, or the surly chef, Lou, while his father pumps retirement money into the failing venture.
What they clearly need is an insightful and compassionate counsellor. What they get is Gordon Ramsay in a fake moustache.
Following a horrendous meal, the funniest part of the show comes when Lou remonstrates with his boss – “What are we, f**king animals?” – then immediately pivots towards Ramsay to apologise for his language. When even the orders come with a helping of profanity (“Family f**king salad!”) Ramsay may have met his match.
Still, he browbeats Vinny (“Grow the f**k up!”), shames the kitchen staff (“This is the worst walk-in I have ever witnessed.”) and revamps the restaurant (“This hasn’t been upgraded in 20 years!”), while graphics dice the frame into excitable squares against a countdown clock. “You can’t change the world in a day,” Dori later reflects, pragmatically. Nope, just a restaurant.
For a man who trades in passion, however, the recipe for Ramsay’s show looks exhausted, a stale and wilted formula. Let’s put it in more effective terms of well-meaning intervention that the man himself would appreciate:
Grow the f**k up, Ramsay!
That costumed buffoonery was the worst walk-in I’ve ever seen!
Your format hasn’t been upgraded in 20 years!
And your sweary sentimental shtick is as rancid as last year’s calamari!
Now f**k off!