At "Mama Rita's," try the frozen chimichangas - Kitchen Nightmares review

(S0208) I've watched nearly every episode of Kitchen Nightmares, and a few of the modestly better UK version as well (Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares), so I know the formula well. And it is a formula, there's no doubt about it. Ramsay goes in, bulldozes the restaurant owner and kitchen staff in his British Bulldog way, razes the culture of the joint (with associated and heavily edited stunts on route), installs his own new regime (often involving a cleaner kitchen, fresher ingredients, smaller menu, and a key personnel change, or some combination thereof), and presto, after a few mandatory Crises of Magnitude, there's a Real Change and Touching Moment to close.

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Here's the thing though: the formula works. Though heavily edited, we see real live restaurants behind-the-scenes, which is almost always interesting in of itself. Ramsay, while often over the top, is clearly genuine in his passion for food and running restaurants as successful businesses, and that helps to make him the reality TV star he is (yeah, even Hell's Kitchen is entertaining TV). Plus, let's face it: he's kind of fearless and ballsy and uber-confident in bossing people around, which is what we'd all like to do at the workplace and in real life now and then.

Okay, that brings us to Mama Rita's, in Thousand Oaks, California. The unique elements in this edition, set at a struggling Mexican restaurant in LA's San Fernando Valley, are the fact that we have a caterer-turned-restaurateur (Laura) which leaves months-old chimichangas laying around the freezer, and a head chef (Perla) who is out of her depth.  Ramsay does his thing, brings in a consulting chef (Nerise), shifts the joint to fresh ingredients and his Overall Regime, and presto, we have something of a new start in the works.

Video: Kitchen Nightmares, "Mama Rita's"
Here it is, in its full glory, on the Hulu:

Recap: Kitchen Nightmares, "Mama Rita's"
A restaurant owner tries to reignite her passion.

From Around the Web: Kitchen Nightmares, "Mama Rita's"

  • Mike Crouch, Hulu commenter: I love Gordon Ramsay's shows but I think Kitchen Nightmares has become too formulaic this season. Chef Ramsay hates the food and decor. Staff is stubborn and/or incompetent. Dirty kitchen or rotten food in freezer. Owner in debt. Chef makes an appetizer and yells a lot. Re-do menu and decor. Wish them well then on to the next town.
  • Dan A., commenter on Yelp restaurant review: We live in Newbury Park and really want Mama Rita's to be our family restaurant.  The food is good, but the prices are a little too expensive to go often in my opinion.  The decor is fantastic, the mood is wonderful, but the service can be slow.  I get the Chile Colorado and it is fantastic.  The kids do okay here, but my son, who is still in a high chair, has a problem eating because the tables are just a bit higher than usual.
  • By Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader"

    About the author

    Eric is the publisher and revered leader of TV Geek Army… at least in his own mind. TV Geek Army is a place for serious TV reviews and news for serious fans of great television. Contact: eric-[at] 

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