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Kitchen Nightmares.png "The team works overnight to remodel the restaurant."
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People

Alan Saffron (Owner)

Alan opened Burger Kitchen back in 2010, confident that his knowledge in meats will allow him to create top-notch burgers, claiming to be a "meat sculptor" or a "meat creator", and that a lot of celebrities has shown their approval to his cooking (although he never even named a single one of them). However, his actions throughout the show proves that he knows nothing about meat, in fact, Alan doesn't even know how to pronounce "Wagyu" correctly (constantly pronouncing it as "Way-gu"). his methods have proven to be detrimental. He makes all of his burgers out of Australian Wagyu beef, however, he later admits he only picked the Wagyu because it sounded fancy and expensive, not because of its quality.

Alan appears to the the typical delusional, in-denial owner commonly seen on Kitchen Nightmares. However, he also suffers from the issue with lacking in self-awareness. Alan have written an entire book on how his own father disrespects his choices and backstabbed him, only to proceed to treat his own son the same way, later on claiming that he doesn't know why his son resents him so much. As a result he easily became one of the owners most loathed by the audience, with many wishing for him to be thrown into prison for stealing money from Daniel.

However, Alan seems to respect Gordon's authority, and has not argued much with Gordon despite finding Gordon's criticism hurtful.

Jen Saffron (Co-owner, wife of Alan)

Jen is responsible for managing the tickets during the day time shift, as a result she doesn't get along with Chef David who finds her too controlling but also disorganized. Neither does her son Daniel get along with her, as she seems to back Alan's decision of taking his inheritance to run the restaurant.

Jen is often derided by the audience as a stereotypical "Karen", with a rather unpleasant personality. She comes off as very spiteful, dishonest and petty. She also likes to play the victim card, and cannot take responsibility over the restaurant's failure and seemed very eager to blame it on Chef David. And later on when Gordon preferred Chef David's freshly made burger over Alan's frozen patty, she threw a temper tantrum and walked out.

David seems adamant that Jen has mental issues and made many remarks on how she needs Prozac (a.k.a. Fluoxetine, sold as an antidepressant).

Daniel Saffron (Co-owner, son of Alan)

Although he doesn't really want to be in this business, Daniel regardless wanted to see the business succeed, because his sizable inheritance is now on the line. Daniel feels that his father belittles him and treats him like a child, and his parents don't respect his girlfriend Wendy. He's also frustrated over how his father doesn't treat him like a partner in the business, he makes important decisions without telling him, and not even bothering to keep him informed on the restaurants finances.

As the result, all of the pent up anger and stress has took a massive toll on Daniel, he's already showing signs of balding even though he's only in his mid-20s. He's also a bit emotionally unstable, ready to lash back at the slightest provocation. But overall, he seems to be far more attached to reality than both of his parents. He's also aware that the food is an issue within this restaurant.

Wendy, Daniel's Girlfriend

Wendy has been together with Daniel for more than 3 years and is very supportive of him. She's also against how Alan took Daniel's money without his permission, which often lead her to become at odds with Daniel's father. As such, much like Daniel, she tends to avoid working with Alan, choosing to help her boyfriend out over the dinner service whenever Jen and Alan are not around.

John David Blaine, Executive-chef

Not to be confused with the magician of the same name. David didn't start out as an Executive like how he is now, instead he was the head pastry chef at Peninsula Hotel. However, he's not the incompetent type of chef commonly seen on Kitchen Nightmares, as he later on proves he could make a burger that pleases Chef Ramsay.

However, David is a rather short tempered person, and his patience has already ran thin thanks to the family's antics, how he wasn't allowed to use his own recipes and how he wasn't being paid. He sees himself as the scapegoat of Alan and Jen. The only reason he remained working at Burger Kitchen, according to him, is that he made a deal with his colleagues to stay. He also had some issues dealing with an exceptionally busy kitchen, and will start acting like a deer in a truck's headlights, sometimes misreading tickets and becoming increasingly impatient.

Jalapeño, Sous-chef

It's not sure whether Jalapeño is his real name, he has no issues working with Chef David, and often act as his more level-headed counterpart, trying to calm David when he gets frustrated or angry. Like David and Daniel, he's quite aware of the poor food quality in this restaurant.

Marilyn, waitress

Before Gordon's Arrival

Burger Kitchen was opened back in April 2010 by Alan and Jen Saffron, it was located on 3rd Street, Los Angeles, an ideal location known for its trendy shops and restaurants. However, the restaurant is already deeply in debt 16 months after its opening.

The reason that Alan decided to open Burger Kitchen is due to his confidence in his knowledge of meat, however, that knowledge seems to be restricted to tasting meat rather than actually cooking it. And the results of his recipes were far from excellent.

Despite being a family owned business, there was severe internal conflict between Alan, Jen and their son Daniel. This is due to the fact that in order to open Burger Kitchen, Alan took $250,000 from Daniel's trust account (which he had inherited from Alan's father) without Daniel's permission, essentially forcing Daniel into investing into the failing business. Because of this, Daniel holds great resentment to his father and tends to avoid meeting with him, taking the evening shift while Alan takes the daytime shift.

However, the family was not the only dysfunctional part of the restaurant, the head chief, David Blaine, has ran out of all enthusiasm for his job and is on the verge of giving up all together. He is constantly fighting with the family in charge (especially with Jen whom he despises), frustrated over the fact that he was forbidden to use his own recipes, and that he wasn't even being paid properly.

First Impressions

Upon arrival, Gordon didn't have any issues locating Burger Kitchen, impressed by the central LA location on trendy 3rd Street and he finds the interior decent. Alan was thrilled to see Gordon, he revealed to Gordon that they have been open for only 16 months and the business is bleeding roughly $5,000-6,000 per month. When asked about how did things go wrong. Alan admitted that he has changed the restaurant's menu for about 10 times, and that the chef has been changed just as many times. Even the servers and the front of house has been replaced about 20 times.

Alan also confessed that he believes that Yelpers are actively trying to harm his business with fake negative reviews and are even deleting 5-star reviews. Gordon dismissed this claim as ludicrous: "Oh, Alan, come on. You have been watching too many fucking Bond movies!"

Gordon pointed out that opening restaurants in LA is very expensive and inquired on where they get their funds, and was left shocked upon learning that Alan took Daniel's money.

When asked about the food, Alan claimed that he'll rate it 4 out of 5 stars. Later Gordon was greeted by Marilyn the waitress, she informed Gordon that the key issues of Burger Kitchen is a lack of management and that the burgers are seldom cooked properly.

First Meal

Food Ordered

  • California Burger, medium rare
  • "Award Winning" Natural White Cheddar Burger, medium rare
  • Cowboy Burger, medium rare
  • Australian Meat Pie with Chips

Impressions of the Food

Upon the California Burger being served, the flaws of Alan's recipes began to show. Alan insisted on using frozen Australian Wagyu beef patties, which are not only lacking in freshness, dry, but also hard to cook. If the outer surface is cooked well, then the middle is often left raw; if the inside is cooked properly than the outside will become overcooked. And in the case of the California, it's more raw than medium rare as Gordon has ordered.

Another major issue is that Alan doesn't even season the burger, as a result, the meat is not only raw but also bland and tasteless. The bun are overly sweet and doughy. Earning the comment "That's nasty".

The Natural White Cheddar burger is no better, the beef is raw and tasteless, Gordon told Marilyn how it's more akin to a beef tartare than a burger.

The Cowboy burger is a comical sight, it turns out that the larger buns have ran out, the chefs used a regular sized small bun. Gordon called it "cowboy with a small hat", and criticized it for not having a decent bun despite the fact that it costs $39. The 1 pound burger is so large that Gordon is having trouble eating it. Eventually he resorted to cutting it apart. Instead of being undercooked, this time the patty is overcooked to hell, and still just as bland.

The Australian Meat Pie is disappointing as usual, unsurprising as not even the chef that cooked it had any confidence in it. The pastry is raw and doughy on the top, soggy and gooey on the bottom. Gordon commented on how the pie tasted like cat food, and can "fuck off back to Australia with pleasure".

Meeting The Team

After the less than spectacular lunch sampling, Gorden met David, Jalapeño and the rest of the team. Gordon ciritized David harshly for the horrendous burgers while Jen watched with a malicious smirk on her face. David accepted the criticism without taking it personally and informed Gordon that he was forbidden to make his own recipes. This caused Jen and David to break into an argument over the sauteed mushrooms recipe with Alan unsuccessfully attempting to defuse the situation. David then changed the topic to how he wasn't even paid for his work. Jen attempted to claim otherwise and suddenly walked away, but Alan admitted that David was working on "the spirit of being paid".

In order to prove the validity of David's claim, Gordon sent both him and Jalapeño to purchase some new ingredients and make a burger for him to taste. As the two chefs sent off to prove themselves, Gordon goes to visit Alan's son, Daniel, to get a better understanding of the restaurant's situation.

Meeting With Daniel & Wendy

Daniel has been living in his dwelling alone for 2 years before his girlfriend moved in with him, the 2 has been living together for 3 years. Daniel revealed more of his grievances with the situation, not only did his parents took $250K worth of inheritance out of his trust account without his permission, but they also disrespect Wendy, and that they have never made a decision together for a very long time, as Alan still treats Daniel like a child instead of a business partner, the only thing he has right now is a shoddy printed out copy of the proof of ownership which according to Daniel is worth as much as toilet paper. Daniel also revealed how Alan has actually changed the menu around 20 times. All of this has resulted in Daniel losing his trust in his father. Gordon is sympathetic to Daniel's plight, something the latter took great appreciation in.

Contest of the Burgers

Meanwhile, back at Burger Kitchen, both David and Alan prepared their own burgers in order to impress Chef Ramsay. Chef David has titled his burger the "Redemption Burger", using a medium rare beef patty, smoked Gruyère cheese, spring mix, grilled tomatoes, with a mustard aïoli sauce and homemade jumbo pickles. Alan, on the other hand, only took yet another one of his frozen Wagyu patties, added some spices and made a very simplistic cheese burger.

When Gordon returns, both sides are ready to present their burgers. Alan's burger earned a "that is hideous" since the only improvement is that it's seasoned for a bit. Chef David's burger, however, earned an outstanding 9/10 from Gordon, commenting on how it's night and day compared to what he had earlier. Gordon offered the burger to Jen and Alan to have a taste. Jen proceeds to gag (likely pretending to) after a bite and commented it on how the burger has "a strong taste" and Alan pointing out that the burger is not exactly medium rare and more akin to medium. However, none of that has swayed Gordon's verdict.

Gordon questioned the restaurant's decision on serving inferior burgers when their head chef could clearly do better. Chef David brought up the fact that he's forbidden from using his own recipes. Jen proceeds to deny that, claiming that she's "64 years old" and "not that powerful" despite the fact that she's the one who hands out the cheques. Then she becomes frustrated and walked out of the restaurant altogether. Gordon leaves the restaurant to try and comfort Jen while Chef David celebrates with his fellow cooks, and Alan remained inside and continued to eat his burger with what seems to be not a care in the world.

Jen claims that the reason she walked out is because Chef David is being a "bully" to her, but Gordon managed to convince her to return to the restaurant because he needs Jen's help to fix the business, and that he'll be addressing this issue with the chef. Upon returning, Alan tries to justify his wife's behaviour by pushing the blame onto Chef David, while the latter breaks into an argument with Jen. Jen once again accuses David of being a "bully" and "delusional", while David retorts by claiming that Jen wants him to fail like the 8-12 chefs that have been in his shoes the day that Chef David was employed, that Jen walked out earlier because she is trying to paint him as the villain in front of Gordon, and convince the the Scottish Chef that David is the problem and needs to be fired.

Gordon and Alan breaks up the argument, so that they can move on to the next step, a dinner service observed by Chef Ramsay to uncover any issues related to the operation of the restaurant.

First Dinner Service

Before the beginning of the dinner service, Alan offered Gordon a copy of the memoir he wrote: "Gentle Satan: Abe Saffron, My Father", so the famous chef can have a better understanding of his background. Alan revealed to Gordon that his Abe Saffron pretty much disowned him after he wanted to leave Australia and start his own life instead of inheriting Abe's business, and that he has resented his father ever since for stabbing him in the back like such. Gordon thanked Alan and promised that he'll keep the book as a bedtime reading.

At 5:32PM, dinner service begins, not only is the restaurant far more packed than usual thanks to Gordon's arrival, but also Alan, Jen and Daniel are working together for the first time in a long while. Daniel takes the role of host, server and expeditor all at once, while Alan only works as host.

The problem start as soon as the service does. The kitchen crew is finding Daniel's ticketing confusing and needs to verify the orders constantly. Daniel is also having issues about his father hosting because he feared that Alan's breath problem will ruin the customers' experience. The father and son broke into an argument almost immediately, much to the concern of Gordon.

Despite the confusion in the kitchen, the food is being sent out at a decent speed, however, they are being returned just as quickly. The tension in the kitchen grew as Chef David started arguing with Daniel as well in regards to the inefficient ticketing system. With the constant confusion, the larger than usual amount of customers and the frustration of frequent returns, Chef David is becoming like a deer in headlights, losing control of the situation, as well as his nerve.

Reflections

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Remainder of the Visit

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Restaurant & Menu Remodel

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Final Service

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After Gordon's Departure

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Production Notes

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Trivia

  • Alan's father is indeed the late Abraham "Abe" Gilbert Saffron, also nicknamed "Mr Sin". While a property developer, hotelier and night club owner on the surface, Abe Saffron is better known as one of the most notorious figures in Australian organized crime during recent times.
  • Alan passed away on April 19th, 2020 (aged 71), in Houston, Texas, from a heart attack.[1]

References

  Kitchen Nightmares US - Restaurants
Season 1 Peter'sDillon'sThe Mixing BowlSeascapeThe Olde Stone MillSebastian'sFinn McCool'sLela'sCampaniaThe Secret Garden
Season 2 HandlebarGiuseppi'sTrobiano'sBlack PearlJ Willy'sHannah & Mason'sJack's WaterfrontSabatiello'sFiesta SunriseSante La BreaCafe 36
Season 3 Hot Potato CafeFlamangosBazziniMojitoLido di ManhattanLe BistroCasa RomaMama Rita'sAnna Vincenzo'sFlemingSushi-Ko
Season 4 Spanish PavilionClassic AmericanPJ's SteakhouseGrasshopper AlsoDavideDown CityTavoliniKingston CafeLa FriteCapriZeke'sOceana
Season 5 Blackberry'sLeone'sMike & Nellie'sLuigi's D'ItaliaBurger KitchenThe Greek at the HarborMichon'sEl GrecoPark's EdgeSpin-A-Yarn SteakhouseCharlie'sCafe HonChiarella'sZocalo
Season 6 La Galleria 33Mama Maria'sMs. Jean's Southern CuisineBarefoot Bob'sOlde Hitching Post Restaurant & TavernLevanti's Italian RestaurantSam's Mediterranean Kabob RoomNino's Italian RestaurantMill Street BistroYanni'sProhibition GrilleChappy'sAmy's Baking Company
Season 7 Pantaleone'sOld NeighborhoodKati AlloMangia MangiaZayna Flaming GrillBella Luna
Misc Revisited
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