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Darryl Cortello-Owner

Ellen Cortello-Owner/Darryl's wife

Emil Marcos-Kitchen Manager

Jason Carpenter-Cook



Before Gordon's Arrival

Zeke's is a restaurant in Louisiana, just outside New Orleans. It was founded by a man named Zeke, who was charismatic and capable. Tragically, he died in Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It was taken over by a married couple, Darryl and Ellen. Darryl made big changes almost immediately, cutting staff and using inferior products, as well as portioning food more. The staff feel handcuffed by all this, and the customers are starting to feel alienated as well. Darryl and Ellen are starting to feel it financially.

First Impressions

Gordon goes out on a boat with some locals in the town of Metairie to talk about Zeke's. They tell him it used to be a great place, but both the atmosphere and food have gone way downhill since Katrina(and with it Zeke's death). Gordon then walks over to Zeke's and is greeted by Ellen. He asks Ellen what they've changed about Zeke's, and she says the menu is similar. She says Darryl designed the current menu, but when Gordon asks her about his background, she admits he has no training in that regard. Gordon questions what control the kitchen has, but she defers the question for when Gordon talks to Darryl.

First Meal

Food Ordered

Oysters Cortello, Boiled Shrimp, Chicken Fried Steak, Bread Pudding

Impressions of the Food

Oysters Cortello-Gordon calls them dreadful and says "I wouldn't put my name on that, I wouldn't even put my enemy's name on that"

Boiled Shrimp-Gordon declares them nasty, and correctly guesses they are frozen

Chicken Fried Steak-Gordon says it's bland and unseasoned with no care, "like a giraffe's tongue"

Bread Pudding-Gordon in a rarity enjoys it!

First Dinner Service

Gordon meets Darryl and the kitchen staff. As he starts relaying his concerns, Darryl quickly upsets Gordon by saying he doesn't have the time to go to the market to buy fresh shrimp. Gordon turns to the chicken fried steak, and Emil admits it's not made with a very good cut of meat. Gordon asks if he is happy to serve it, and Emil says he is not. Gordon asks if Zeke used the same cut, and Emil says he didn't, but it's up to Darryl. Darryl implies that Gordon thinks everything is shit, and says that plenty of people eat this food and enjoy it. Gordon answers that just because food isn't sent back doesn't mean it's good and asks him point blank "Are you that fucking stupid?". Gordon says he can't believe this was once a great place. Darryl sulks as Gordon leaves and says he doesn't believe what Gordon says at all. Just before service, Gordon talks to Emil and Jason. They hate the way Darryl runs the place, but they love Zeke's and don't want to leave it so easily. The service begins. Gordon sees that items in the kitchen are in bags, which Darryl uses to portion things. Emil and Jason make the dishes at a good rate, but Darryl who is expediting holds things up. Gordon then becomes more horrified when he sees week old lasagna being served. Darryl defends it as good and "the best lasagna you're gonna get". Gordon asks "How is that a special in your tiny mind?". Emil and Jason delight in Gordon talking to Darryl like this, but Darryl continues to debate Gordon. Even Ellen is unaware the lasagna was frozen, but when she finds out about this, she sees no problem. Gordon's had enough and decides to tell the customers the truth. Ellen is surprised to find out that the customers are not as accepting of the frozen lasagna as she is. Gordon tells Emil to 86 the lasagna and he happily agrees. The service ends and Gordon pulls Darryl and Ellen aside. Darryl continues to defend himself and his business practices. Gordon tells him bluntly "You don't give a fuck about food, you are not a restauranteur". Darryl still disagrees and says as the owner, he will do what he sees fit.



Remainder of the Visit

The next day, Gordon gathers the staff without Darryl and Ellen. Emil speaks first and says he's making the same money for 50 hours a week that he used to for 40. Candace says they aren't even allowed to eat a meal. Gordon challenges them to tell Darryl and Ellen to their faces, but vows to have their backs. Darryl and Ellen walk in. Emil again speaks first. He says he feels that Darryl doesn't have their backs. Ashley says they are all talked down to. Gordon asks Jason to speak next. Jason says Darryl has no clue, as he is stuck on numbers and doesn't actually understand what a restaurant is all about. Others say they've been there a long time, and never once gotten a raise. Ellen gets fed up and says that she and Darryl take out their personal money to pay their checks. Jason says they take multiple vacations every summer(to dispel the notion that they're struggling). Darryl sums it all up by saying "If you don't want to be here, don't be here". Gordon tries to make peace and says everyone needs to start anew. Emil and Jason are not convinced. Gordon wants to inspire Emil and Jason, and he gives them money and sends them to get some fresh ingredients to show what they can do. As they return, he challenges them to use what they've got and make something. Gordon will make his own chicken fried steak while they're doing this. As they finish, Gordon announces that he will tell Darryl and Ellen that he made these dishes to trick them. Jason made redfish and Emil made salmon. They try both and Gordon's chicken fried steak. Gordon reveals the ruse, that he only made the chicken fried steak. Darryl and Ellen are impressed with Emil and Jason.

Restaurant & Menu Remodel

Gordon's design team redesigns Zeke's. The change is even more dramatic than most other editions. Everyone is already impressed, and Gordon reveals that he has put in a boil house. Gordon redesigns the menu, with an emphasis on freshness, utilizing the new boil house. It seems like this has finally gotten through to Darryl and Ellen.

Final Service

The boil house is coming in handy. Darryl remains the expediter. He's pushing too hard, and ignores Emil's pleas to slow down. The food suffers from it. Gordon tells everybody to stop. Darryl refocuses and the kitchen works at a more realistic pace, and it saves the service. Gordon talks to everyone one final time, praising their performance. Gordon tells Darryl and Ellen to make Zeke's their own, and says Darryl cares after all.

After Gordon's Departure

Zeke's saw quite a bump after Gordon's visit. Darryl and Ellen sold Zeke's in 2012. Zeke's closed mere months later. Darryl and Ellen eventually returned to the business opening a new place in New Orleans which is doing well.

Production Notes





  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