Amy's Baking Company: Overcooked Reality and the Decline of Western Civility
"We will be filming at Amy's Baking Company from December 8th to the 11th," says the note from a producer of Kitchen Nightmares. "It may be of interest to the members of the community to know how they can participate while we are filming and Chef Ramsay is in town."
It takes me a moment to recall the restaurant mentioned in the subject line. Amy's Baking Company had quickly fizzled out as a topic of conversation, the Valley's restaurant scene moving on to other news. I return to the restaurant's Yelp page and read the reviews following the one from LaTondress. It's mostly a mixed bag, but many of the negative ones contain similar, but less lengthy, acerbic responses from both Amy and Samy.
"Why would they agree to being on a show where criticism, embarrassment, and humiliation are part of the act?" I think to myself as I start to type the post. "Don't they know what Kitchen Nightmares is about?"
The next month, when most Valley restaurants were busy decking their halls with twinkling lights and pots of poinsettias, Amy's Baking Company was getting outfitted with video cameras, tungsten lights, and microphones. The first night's taping of Kitchen Nightmares at Amy's Baking Company delivered more surprises than any wrapped gift could -- and with enough drama and tension to sufficiently rival any family holiday get-together.
For those in the Valley paying attention, shit-show Santa had come early, bearing a sneak preview of the chaos that was to come. The rest of America (and, eventually, other parts of the world) would have to wait until May.
"[Amy] was yelling and screaming, 'Get the fuck out' and saying, if we weren't going to pay for our drinks, she was going to call the cops," a diner at the taping told me on the phone the next day. "She called me a 'tough guy' and said, 'You better correct your acting skills if you're trying to get on TV.' The producer said he would pay for our bill and that we should leave."
Like me, that diner (who was kept anonymous for a post I wrote because of a confidentiality agreement he signed for the show's producers) could hardly believe the taping was real. After all, this was "reality" television. I was skeptical that he might be guilty of embellishment, whether he knew it or not. But the police part of his story checked out. And the rest of it -- from being yelled at by Samy and Amy and told to leave after inquiring about a pizza for which he already had waited over an hour to his partner being physically pushed by Samy -- would prove to be true when the show aired five months later.
As far as what happened that night, getting Amy and Samy's side of the story, as well as the Fox producer's, wasn't easy. One never returned my phone call. And the other, in a thick accent (it was Samy, of course), hurriedly told me he couldn't talk because "Ramsay was there." Attempts to contact the Bouzaglos for this story were unsuccessful.
A woman I once worked with used to say, "You can't fight crazy." Aside from an underlying feeling I had that she herself was of questionable mental stability, it was a phrase I liked and borrowed, employing it quite frequently when circumstances, or people, needed explanations that no rational answer could gratify.
Gordon Ramsay could not fight crazy.