Sunday, 29 May 2011

US Season 3 - Mama Rita's - CLOSED

Open or closed? CLOSED
Location: Newbury Park, CA


Episode Summary: Owner Laura running a Mexican restaurant named after her Grandma, alongside a catering business. She was successful in the catering business so thought she would do just as well running a restaurant as it is "just adding a dining room". Perla is a cook and not a chef and is "family" to Laura. Head Server Brad says she is not a good boss as there is no set rules and her mother works as a server. The restaurant was busy at first and the customers have dwindled. Laura is in $2.2million debt and at risk of losing her house.

Gordon arrives and says the restaurant is stunning. Laura recommends the tamales and Gordon sits down to order some food. Brad advices a long list of dishes for Gordon to avoid as they are dry.  Gordon orders the tamales, chimichanga and a burrito. The tamales are like soaking wet newspaper but dry, Laura tells him that they make them in big batches and steam them. The chimichanga are microwaved then fried, the chicken is dry. The steak burrito is like a diaper and like eating wet cardboard. Gordon enters the kitchen to meet the staff and they reveal the food in the restaurant is the same food as they use for catering.

Gordon arrives to witness a dinner service and the restaurant is packed. The food goes out very fast to the customers but they are not happy with the food they receive and Gordon compares it to fast food. Gordon suspects they are taking short cuts, he looks in a small freezer and pulls out a lot of frozen food from 2 months ago... He enters the walk in freezer and finds a lot more frozen food. All Laura continues to say throughout is that "This is what we did for catering". He describes them as a factory processing plant that defrosts and serves. Gordon empties the fridges and freezers and puts all the food on display in the restaurant, the amount is huge ad some of it is disgusting. Some of the food is from as far back as last year!

 Gordon invites some ex customers to talk to Laura about the restaurant and what went wrong. They says the food isn't creative and they got sick with stomach problems, probably due to defrosting frozen food. Gordon challenges Laura and Perla to each cook a new dish for the menu with fresh ingredients. Perla struggles to come up with a dish, she comes up with "garlic breast" with garlic and salt which is bland and uncreative compared to Gordon's steak and Laura's blackened shrimp tacos. For the evening service, the specials are popular but they struggle to cook the fresh fish and steak. Perla struggles to run the kitchen and the large team of cooks are struggling too. Gordon tells Laura that Perla is not a Head Chef. Gordon invites Chef Nuris to help in the kitchen as a consultant and the menu is revamped with fresh, seasonal ingredients. The staff taste the food and love it.

For relaunch night, Naris is overseeing but Perla is not working with Naris and is struggling. The cooks stand there doing nothing while the customers face a long wait for food. Food is sent back with burnt chips, missing beans and cheese, more raw steak. Even Chef Naris struggles with the chaos of the kitchen caused by Perla, there are tears from both Chefs. Gordon makes it clear to Laura that Perla is not capable of running the kitchen and Laura should consider getting rid of her. Laura and Perla have a weird, inappropriate, touchy feely heart to heart conversation but Laura refuses to sack Perla. Nuris is forced to step up and the service finishes well with her help and the customers love the food.

What Happened Next: After Gordon left Naris stayed for a few weeks to help get the restaurant off the ground, Perla was removed as Head Chef and to continue working in the catering side. From the blog post below, Laura reverted back to her old menu from Gordon's menu and portion sizes to mixed reviews. The Restaurant has closed but the catering business is still in business.

Extra Reading

39 comments:

  1. GOOD FOR HER!!!! WTF??? WAS SHE DOING COMFORTING THAT FAKE HEAD CHEF I WOULD HAVE FIRED!! HER ON THE SPOT OMG GOT ME SO ANGRY AND WHY?BECAUSE THAT CHEF PERLA DIDNT GIVE A FLYING SHIT! WHAT WAS GOING ON,JUST WANTED TO SMACK HER!! SHE DESERVES TO BE SHUT DOWN TO HAVE STAFF LIKE THAT IN ANY KICTHEN.

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    1. Hope you get that caps lock thing fixed soon.

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    2. I couldn't decide what was worse - the caps or the punctuation. They had a good point though....?

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    3. The caps lock isn't so bad. Stop being so sensitive and act like an adult with a brain.

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    4. Perla was the first to admit she could not cook on a line. Her comfort zone was the catering. Perla was a good friend and tried to be supportive, she just did not have the requisite skill set to do it. Give her a break.

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    5. Perla should stay home and not cook. That is the bottom line with most people from south of the border who say ,"yes I can do that " . Shame on Laura for being ignorant and blindly dedicated to incompetent people. I am Hispanic and speak Spanish, hearing the cooks working for Perla , tells me that they are all incompetent and ignorant. Perla and Laura deserve each other , the blind leading the blind. It is not rocket science to make good food, you just need to educate yourself and get competent people.

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  2. She went back to her old menu and kept that incompetent chef? Then the restaurant deserved to close. Can't help people who refuse to be helped.

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  3. Her loyalty to her chef over her business is not someone I want running my business. So why would I hire her to cater my company meetings and functions?

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  4. I'm sad to hear Mama Rita's has closed, this was one that I thought had a good chance of making it as the owner seemed determined to make things work and to follow Gordon Ramsay's suggestions. But if she reverted back to the old menu then maybe she wasn't as committed as I thought. I'm glad she had the catering part of her business to fall back on, though no doubt she could have so much more success (and $$ to pay off that massive debt) if the restaurant had stayed open.

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  5. This chick is retarded and so is the "Head Chef".

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  6. The "Head Chef" was just a catering chef and it showed.

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  7. The head chef was a dumb Latino and she could not see that she was rubbish at all.

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    1. You're a loser

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    2. What a douchy thing to say. I guess you don't watch the show often because there's your fair share of "rubbish" in all flavors, jerk.

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  8. Anon at 29 May, then why is the catering business still working? Some people can do one thing but not another it doesn't mean she was just rubbish. Do a little logic.

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  9. Ethnicity has nothing to do with it.

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  10. She may not have been the smartest person out there but that has nothing to do with her being Latina.
    I don't think you'd appreciate anyone calling another race dumb just because they can't function in the kitchen or what have you.

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  11. even though the catering is still functioning...remember how she said *this is how we do it for catering*...meaning they still freeze food for catering and they have a head chef who does not bother to throw out frozen products that are over one month old. In other words...her fake head chef makes the food for catering probably a week in advance and freezes it for the day of the event. That is not quality catering...that is laziness. Her *head chef* did not care and was no more than a grown up child who needed to be pampered. And I'm sure she knew that behaving like a child and crying was all she had to do to be rescued and get out of trouble which is what we saw as the owner rubbed her arm and cried along with her in order to calm the little baby. I have no idea what is happening with the catering under that kind of leadership...but it is not surprising to find that in their FB page they announce the restaurant closed SOLELY because of the location of the restaurant...and that they continue catering through Tapas Bar and Lounge on Twin Oaks...a restaurant in which they DO NOT OWN and has their own head chef...and on another page their old website they now say they are looking for a new home for their catering but are still catering. So they are either renting places to prep or violating health codes by doing the prepping in their homes. Sorry to be cruel but hey do not deserve to be in business behaving that way

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    1. Yeah. The arm rubbing was really creepy.

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  12. I feel like the owner and chef may have had some kind of sexual relationship outside of the business. They seemed a little too close

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    1. I agree. That was a strange kind of loyalty/love. At first I thought it was paternal, but the rubbing tipped my opinion.

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  13. Agreed... It appeared they had an intimate relationship and is probably the reason she did not let Perla go. You can't factor in personal feelings when making business decisions, especially important ones... business & personal are like water & oil - they do not mix.

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  14. Two women can be super close without being lesbians. You're either really young, ignorant or both. (Along with a dash of pervert)

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    1. Consoling an employee with baby talk is either really weird, inappropriate or both. (Along with a dash of pervert)

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  15. While I really hate to see any business fail, especially when they reach out for help, you can't help but just shrug your shoulders when hearing the news that the owner went back to the old ways and surprise surprise it failed.

    One thing that I did take notice of in the episode is it would appear to be staffed by many non-English speakers. I'm about 90% positive the owner is hiring ILLEGAL ALIENS. Maybe she has some sympathy towards them, and that's why she felt so bad about having to potentially fire that line cook. I'm all for LEGAL immigration, but when you come here ILLEGALLY then don't look for any sympathy from me. And businesses that hire illegal aliens (and they always know they are doing so) are a BIG part of the problem here! Stop hiring illegals and they won't come!

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    1. you are very ignorant it's a Mexican restaurant, and maybe you did not noticed but they understood English. The owner was at a fault for selling frozen products instead of fresh.

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  16. of course two women can be friends without being lesbians. You're missing the point. They were close beyond "close friend" close. The creepy arm rubbing outside and the face patting with the creepy pouty whining voice was just a little bit past friends in my opinion. I don't think its perverted it all to question the relationship between the two women, not to mention the fact that she refused to get rid of the woman even though it was perfectly clear she was the problem in the kitchen.

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  17. They deserve to go out of business selling old food .They should make amends by offering the food for free or at cost since they had so many disatisified customers.

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  18. Does anybody know Brad's last name?
    -Clara

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  19. What got me was when the owner said that she "underestimated the palate of the common person". So you thought you could pass garbage off as food because your clientele are just average people? Elitist jerk. You deserve to go bankrupt and lose your house.

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  20. The chef and owner were clearly lovers! Who puts there business last and has that much emotional feelings for staff?

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  21. They were clearly lezbos... who strokes off another person's arm like that without being in some kind of intimate relationship?

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    1. ...any Hispanic or southern European culture would find that fully acceptable and well within the boundaries of a (close) friendship, especially between females.

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  22. That's too bad, owner seemed really nice. But no one goes to a restaurant hoping for microwaved food.

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  23. Lol at people saying they were gay.. I think in general Latin people are more affectionate with people we are close to.. They definitely had a more friend relationship than a boss-employee relationship.. Maybe cos of he cooks history as part of Lauras family.

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  24. The relationship between Laura and Perla was definitely odd, but I think it was down to Perla playing up the woe-is-me angle, and Laura treating her almost like a pet. Like people who think 'ethnic' people are slow and to be pitied.

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  25. On the subject of the cooks ethnicity. There have been plenty examples of worthwhile Hispanic cooks in this series but a common theme is naive White American owners holding onto obviously inept Hispanic cooks. The owner was self-admitted "hopeless" so she avoided the kitchen and let it turn into a lazy circus. So while you can't blame her ethnicity for her struggles, you can't attribute her ethnicity as to why she held onto her job for so long. The owner was obviously a "White washed" Hispanic so she felt incompetent in the back of the restaurant. Something I did find odd is how the Owner never spoke out or challenged the "Chef". Other than admitting she lacked creativity.

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  26. Grandma Rita must be so happy that her name is no longer on that restaurant.

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  27. This is the problem with Mexican(probably illegal ) workers. They do not have the quality of work or desire to perform. They just want to show up do mediocre work and get their check. I speak Spanish and to hear the background talk between her other cooks , is typical of their incompetence.
    I am Mexican and grew up with a lot of people from Mexico and generally speaking) they just do not have the quality and desire to do the right thing.

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