Camera pan of restaurant and scenery
NARRATOR: Tonight on Kitchen Nightmares, Chef Flint takes on one of his toughest challenges yet. A restaurant no longer making ends meet, and an owner and head chef too stubborn to change his ways.
At the bottom of the screen:
Owner and Head Chef of The Walrus
SILVER: arms crossed and gaze petulantly held away from the camera
I can’t believe Muldoon called this guy here. The Walrus is doing just fine. So what if a few people don’t like our food?
change cameras to MULDOON
MULDOON: I love John like a brother, but this place is fucking shit.
change cameras to FLINT
FLINT: I’ve heard some pretty bad things about this place. Let’s see if they’re true or not.
Flint rubs his hands together and glances over at his cameraman, Billy.
“Are we live yet?” he asks, and Billy shakes his head from behind his equipment. Billy’s crew has already been inside the restaurant, set up cameras and mics on everyone before Flint even got here, but Billy is the only cameraman he likes to have with him when he actually goes in. Too many people tends to make the restaurants dysfunctional.
Billy holds up a hand, fingers splayed. Slowly he counts down without speaking, until he’s just holding up a fist, and Flint turns to look directly into the camera.
“Tonight, we’re visiting The Walrus,” he says, and waits for Billy to pan a view of the restaurant before he continues. “What kind of name is The Walrus anyways? Who came up with that? It doesn’t make me think of good food, it makes me think of something fatty and slow, two things a restaurant shouldn’t be.”
The restaurant is a squat little building made of brick, set into an old strip mall on the edge of town. It’s got wide windows with it’s name in thick letters written across them in an almost too vibrant turquoise, and a thick, wooden front door that looks antique.
Flint pushes his way inside, Billy hot on his heels, and he’s met immediately with a large, tacky statue of a pirate that looks like it belongs in a damn amusement park. He points to it, turns to Billy to ask if he’s sitting this shit too. “What the fuck is that?”
Turning, Flint sees a man approaching them, bald but with a thick beard and dressed nicely in a plain black button-down.
“Blackbeard?” Flint echos, glancing at the statue. It really is hideous.
The man shrugs. “Silver likes it, so he stays.”
“John Silver, the owner, correct?”
“That’s him. I’m Muldoon,” he offers a hand that Flint shakes politely. “I run the front of the house.”
“James Flint. Nice to meet you.” Flint throws another slightly disgusted look at the statue. “I can’t believe you let him keep that in your lobby. It looks like it’d make small children cry.”
Muldoon laughs, loud and easy. “Yeah,” he admits, “it’s been known to do that. But come on, I’ll get you seated.”
The duo follow Muldoon into the dining area, and Flint glances around at the decor. It’s just as bad as the damn statue, all cheesy, tacky pirate memorabilia. There’s even a swordfish on the wall. That has got to fucking go. On top of that, the bricks are all painted a stark white that’s honestly a little painful to look at for too long. Flint is sure that without the paintings and flowers and other random crap on the walls this room would be blinding; a new color scheme is definitely needed.
Muldoon seats him at a little wooden table by one of the front windows (practically none of the tables in here match what the fuck), and hands him a plastic bound menu. As soon as he opens it, Flint recoils. Seems the pirate theme stretches pretty much everywhere here. At least the dish names aren’t hiding any pirate puns; if they weren’t Flint might have to cut this one short.
As soon as Muldoon walks away, Flint is holding the menu open to show the camera the weird cartoon-y figures littering the pages, not to mention the pictures of food. “This is ridiculous. Honestly, your menu shouldn’t look like you copy and pasted it from a children’s coloring book. And the decor in here! There’s nothing on the tables and what little decor they do have looks like they were toys included with that coloring book.”
Another man approaches the table, presumably their waiter, with odd round glasses low on his nose, and a disdainful tilt to his lips. “Dufresne,” is all he says when Flint introduces himself, and his handshake is brief. “What can I get for you?”
Flint turns back to the menu, eyebrows arched. “Honestly, I was so busy looking at the little drawings that I didn’t even pick anything out yet.”
Dufresne snorts. “They’re terrible, aren’t they?”
Well, somebody doesn’t seem to like working here. “What’s wrong with this place?” Flint asks, leaning forward onto the table. Always ask the waiters, the people lowest on the totem pole. They’re the ones who see everything and know what’s really going on behind closed doors.
“The question is what isn’t wrong here,” Dufresne responds blandly. Waiting for more doesn’t get Flint anywhere, so he turns to his menu and decides on several dishes quickly.
“I”d like to try the seafood alfredo, the crabcake special, and the maple salmon.”
When the waiter has left, Flint turns back to the silent Billy and his camera. “He was pleasent. I hope he’s not their only waitstaff, because he’s rude enough to scare all the customers away. But on another note, I still haven’t met the owner yet and that’s a little disconcerting. Is he even here? The owners almost always meet me at the door.”
Billy shrugs, the only response he can give when he’s filming, before climbing to his feet so he can take close up shots around the restaurant. It’s dead inside, no customers, no sign of the waitstaff; Flint and Billy are alone in the bright room with only wooden tables and the stupid swordfish for company.
Billy wanders around for a while, getting different shots around the room, including a series of Flint sitting at his table, scowling at the menu and staring out the window. He’s back and in the seat across from Flint by the time the food arrives, but it’s not like it’s anything to write home about.
The alfredo is somehow simultaneously gummy and slimy, the crab cakes taste like they were frozen for a week and then stuck in a microwave for too long, and the maple salmon is drier than bone.
It’s after this last dish, of which Flint only took two bites, that he decides it’s time to go back and meet this illusive chef and owner. Muldoon and Dufresne lead him out of the dining area, to a small kitchen that’s looking more grungy than Flint is comfortable with. There’s a few kitchen assistants lurking around, but they step out of Flint’s path when he approaches. The only one who doesn’t is a man with his head bent as he leans over a range grill, a skillet bubbling happily under his hands. His dark, curly hair is pulled up into a ponytail low on his head, and when he looks up at Flint his blue eyes are bright and happy.
“Oh!” he says, stepping away from the range. “You must be Chef Flint. I’m John Silver, it’s a pleasure.” Despite the words, there’s something tight around the corners of his eyes, something that says he doesn’t particularly want Flint here. Still, Flint shakes the proffered hand and gives a small smile of his own.
“I was beginning to wonder if you were here at all,” Flint comments, and Silver’s grin turns wyry.
“Sorry about that. I run everything back here, don’t have a lot of free time.”
“Uh-huh.” Sure. Like there’s so many people to serve out there. “And I hear you’re the one who’s responsible for all the decor? Including uh, Blackbeard?”
Silver brightens up. “Yeah! I love our theme, isn’t it great?”
“Try tacky and horrible instead.”
Beautiful blue eyes blink at him with surprise. “Excuse me?”
“It’s awful,” Flint deadpans. “It looks like you’re trying to run some kind of kiddie park, not a restaurant.”
The other man is shell shocked for a long moment, but when he snaps out of it he just kinda shrugs the insult off. The purse of his lips says he’s at least a little offended.
From behind Flint, he hears who he thinks is Dufresne snort and mutter rather loudly, “ Finally someone says it.”
SILVER facing the camera, his busy kitchen behind him.
SILVER: I like the pirate theme! And so do our customers, I get compliments all the time.
change camera to MULDOON
MULDOON: No he doesn’t, everyone hates it.
Flint and Billy leave for a while, getting set up in their hotel room and finding some actual food to eat. But they’re back in The Walrus for the evening rush, Flint in his white smock so that he can keep an eye on the kitchen and what they’re running back there.
The two assistants, DeGroot and Logan, seem nervous under Flint’s intense gaze as they start to set up for the night, prepping the kitchen. Silver orders them around with a casual ease, respectful but also with the weight of a leader, which Flint can appreciate after meeting a few too many head chefs and owners who just did not know what the fuck they were doing. But being a good manager doesn’t make one a good cook, and judging by that food? He really can’t be that great.
At the front of the restaurant, Muldoon, Dufresne, and two other waiters set up tables and booths, doing some last minute cleaning before the front doors open.
In the few hours since he’s been here, news has spread that James Flint is in town, which means The Walrus is going to be decently busy. It’s why his team never bothers to hide Flint’s presence whenever and wherever they’re filming a new episode. He can’t really judge a restaurant when they’ve got no business.
“Who’s expediting?” he asks, watching the kitchen start to bustle to life when the first few customers trickle in.
DeGroot raises a hand from where he’s digging through a cupboard, pulling out several ingredients to pass on to Logan. When he’s done he moves around the stainless steel counter where the printer is putting out it’s first receipt. Logan and Silver meanwhile bustle into action when he calls the dishes off, and Flint crosses his arms over his chest as he watches.
They’ve got good communication and cohesion as a team, which is surprising but good news. While the dinner rush gets under way, Flint wanders his way around the kitchen, Billy on his heels, and peeks into all the nooks and crannies to see if the place is upholding the kind of standards it should be.
In the end, it’s not the worst he’s ever seen, but it’s also not a kitchen he himself would run either. It all looks like someone is really putting an effort in, but just doesn't know what the fuck they’re doing; sloppy organization, bad labels (although at least they have labels), shoddy cleaning, and way too much food that’s frozen but could be fresh. There are also a few bins of stuff that’s gone rotten, mold included, that he pulls out and shows to Billy with disgusted little comments. Those will definitely be dragged out again later to shove under the staffs’ noses.
He’s drawn out of his snooping when Dufresne brings back a whole table’s worth of dishes and Silver throws his hands in the air in aggravation.
Flint crosses from where he’d been in the fridge, quickly stopping Dufresne before he throws all the food out. “What’s wrong, why were they sent back?”
“They said it was all terrible.”
“All of it?”
Billy knows Flint’s methods so well by this point, that Flint isn’t surprised when one of the other waitstaff appears beside him with a fork at the cameraman’s request.
Setting the plates down on a counter, Dufresne shrugs his shoulders. “They didn’t like any of the food,” he says, which earns an angry little huff from Silver. With that Dufresne leaves again, back on the floor and essentially leaving Flint to clean up after him.
While it does piss Flint off a little, he can’t do anything but make a note of it for now. He can bring it up later when he sits the whole restaurant down to discuss their flaws. In the meantime, he samples each dish that was brought back and each bite is worse than the last. The final one is a truly terrible mouthful of tilapia that he immediately spits into the trash, complete with small gagging noises.
“Oh shit,” he coughs, and waves Billy off when the cameraman tries to get a better shot of him bent over at the waist. Fucking cameramen.
When he tamps down the urge to vomit and finally straightens up, the kitchen is all staring at him with wide, concerned eyes. He has to take a second to find a napkin to wipe his mouth clean with, but as soon as that’s done he’s on the fucking war path.
“Where is the tilapia?” he demands, kicking back into gear and striding around the counter into the kitchen proper. When nobody responds to him he rolls his eyes, “Where the fuck is the tilapia that you’re serving tonight!?”
Silver glances at the two assistants, and then waves at them. “You guys keep putting out orders,” he says, and then motions for Flint to follow him to one of the refrigerators built into the countertop. Pulling out a small metal bin, he hands it to Flint who immediately brings it to his nose to sniff.
“Ugh,” he grimaces and recoils, then immediately sticks his fingers into the wet, goopy mess to pull out slippery fillets of fish, mainly to see the expression of disgust on Billy’s face; he’s gotten onto Flint so much about wearing gloves before touching unknown substances. But it’s also to show Silver that the fillets are squishy and disgusting. “These,” he says, slapping the mess back into the bin, “are fucking spoiled!”
“Are they?” Silver asks curiously, and then recoils with a little cough and gag when Flint shoves the bin under his nose. “Right,” he says, taking a step back and covering his nose and mouth with a hand, “those are pretty gross.”
“ Gross?! They’ve gone bad, you idiot! You could poison people serving this shit! Is all of it like this?”
Silver looks warily at the bin where Flint has slapped it down onto the counter. “All the tilapia is from the same shipment, so yeah, probably.”
Without responding to the owner, Flint turns around to address the rest of the kitchen. “Eighty-six all tilapia orders, do you hear me? Do not cook or serve any more of that fish tonight, someone tell the front of the house to take it off the menu entirely.”
One of the female waitresses who had been picking up several plates nods her head with a mumbled “Yes, Chef,” and hurries off to do as he’d asked. Good, Flint’ll be damned if someone leaves tonight with food poisoning while he’s here.
He whirls back around on Silver, who is wide-eyed and looking slightly incredulous. “I’m going to go through the rest of what you’re serving tonight, and if I find anymore bad meat, I’m shutting the restaurant down for the night.”
Silver makes a confused, sort of outraged noise. “You can’t do that!”
“I can and fucking will,” is the only response Flint gives. With that he turns his back on the other man and hands off the bin of bad fish to Logan to throw out, before going through the rest of the refrigerator.
In the end none of the other ingredients have gone bad, but some are getting close and none of them are of any decent quality. With Silver glaring randomly at him while he goes through the food, Flint decides to head out to the dining room once he’s done.
Since Billy is on his heels, a lot of the customers stutter and glance at the camera a little too much when Flint tries to talk to them, but there are a few who he gets decent responses from that they’ll be able to use on the show. They all tell him the same thing though; the service is decent, the wait time isn’t bad, but the food tastes absolutely terrible. Practically nobody is happy with what they receive. At the end of the night, after sending out ninety dishes in total, sixty-five come back to the kitchen with complaints.
Flint sits the whole staff down after closing, despite a lot of obvious reluctance. For a long moment he simply breathes, hands clasped in front of his face as he tries to keep himself calm. Finally he decides being easy on them really isn’t going to win him any favors.
“Okay,” he starts, and the whole room’s attention is fixed on him. “Your kitchen is dirty, but not irreparably so, as a team you have good cohesion and communication, and except for Dufresne’s resting bitch face, your waiters are friendly and efficient.”
Besides Dufresne, who looks bewildered but like he thinks he should be angry, everyone seems kind of proud if not a little confused. As they should be.
“So where the fuck is the problem?” Flint presses.
Nothing, not a peep, and Flint sighs, rubbing tiredly at his face.
“I’m asking you guys. If your service and teamwork are good, then where do you think this restaurant is going wrong?”
The young female waitress from before tentatively offers, “The food?”
“Fucking exactly!” Flint practically explodes, arms flung outwards, and Silver’s brow draws low, mouth about to open. “No, hold on! Who in this room actually likes the food?”
Everyone kind of glances around at each other, gauging if it’ll be safe to leave their hands down. All except for Silver, who damn near jumps from his seat with his hand up. “I like the food!”
“And I’m still trying to figure out how,” Flint says dryly. He gestures to the rest of the staff pointedly, eyebrows raised. “Your customers don’t like your food, I don’t like your food, your own damn staff don’t like your food. Are you seeing the fucking pattern yet?”
The tension in the room has skyrocketed as the two square off, Silver with his chin high and a fire in his blue gaze. Flint trying desperately not to roll his damn eyes. And then Silver just backs down, muttering under his breath as he storms into the kitchen without another word.
Later, Flint will watch the video from the cameras set up in the kitchen, and see the way John slams things around, visibly frustrated, before finally leaving out the back.
In the meantime, Flint dismisses the staff and heads back to his hotel.
change cameras to SILVER
SILVER: visibly enraged
Who the fuck does he think he is!?
mumbling, to himself A world renowned chef that’s fucking who, goddamnit.
louder, to the camera He might have a point about the food, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to admit that to him.
change cameras to DUFRESNE
DUFRESNE: What the fuck is a resting bitch face?
Without the owner’s permission, there’s only so much Flint can do. Unless Silver gives him the green light, he can’t bring his guys in to redesign the place, can’t draft a new menu for them, can barely do much more than walk through the front door and point out where they’ve gone wrong.
The next day he comes in and does just that, directs everyone in a thorough scrubbing from the front door to the back. While the assistants and waitstaff are all busy with their own tasks, he corners Silver in the man’s office, a tiny room in the back of the building that looks like it barely ever sees any action.
The man looks up at him, wariness on his features. “Chef.” He’s been polite all morning, but definitely distant.
Flint had already told Billy not to follow him this time, to let the hidden cameras catch their conversation, so though Flint knows they’re being watched in a sense, it feels like they’re alone in the little room. It’s oddly intimate.
“You know I’m here to help, right?”
The way Silver is standing is wary, shoulders slightly hunched and feet wide apart. He reluctantly admits, “Yeah, I know that.”
“Good. Then I want you to show a little trust and go somewhere with me,” Flint tells him, and he watches as Silver cocks his head in a dog-like show of confusion, still wary.
Without answering, Flint just smirks and motions for the other man to follow him. Outside the office, by the back door, Muldoon is already waiting for them looking impatient but curious.
“Wait, who’s going to watch the restuarant?” Silver asks, and DeGroot pops his head out of the kitchen to wave.
“I’ve got it, you go ahead, John!”
Looking reluctant and rather suspicious, Silver allows himself to be herded outside towards the waiting rental car with Muldoon, and Billy trails the small trio with his camera perched on his shoulder.
They end up a few miles outside of town where Flint has put together a meeting with a local farmer. He’s got small displays of his wares set up behind him when they arrive, and Flint shakes his hand enthusiastically, followed with less enthusiasm and more confusion by Muldoon and Silver.
“This,” he says to Silver, “is Jack Rackham, and he’s going to be one of your suppliers. Jack, care to show us what you’ve got here?”
Jack goes through a brief show of what he brought with him, and then talks about what he grows during their off seasons. Flint ends it with a pointed declaration that The Walrus is going to be serving fresh food from now on if he himself has to set up every damn connection. It makes Jack laugh and he promises to help Silver set up his own connections without “that old, angry ginger’s help”.
Flint pointedly ignores that comment. He’s definitely been called worse.
It’s on the drive back to the restaurant that Silver finally agrees to let Flint remodel pretty much everything.
change cameras to RACKHAM
RACKHAM: John and Muldoon seem like good guys, they really know how to run a buisness and I can appreciate that. Chef Flint’s just a prick, but I can appreciate that too.
the camera cuts away before he winks and laughs
change cameras to SILVER
SILVER: looking angry but resigned
Fuck me, I gave in.
On tv, the remodeling of the restaurant only takes a single night. In reality, it has a tendency to last an entire day or two, depending on exactly how much work the place needs, and if the kitchen needs new equipment as well.
Luckily, while The Walrus’ decor is fucking atrocious, it’s kitchen is decently stocked and equipped, so Flint’s crew only has to make over the front of the house while Flint himself redesigns the menu (sans ridiculous cartoon characters this time).
So he holes up in his hotel with Billy while The Walrus receives her makeover, and they get to work. It’s quiet and productive, a nice change from the busyness of the past few days, even if Billy is kind a dick and questions Flint on every other decision he makes.
The morning after the remodel is complete, Flint has the staff meet him outside their restaurant bright and early. There are drop cloths over the windows, preventing them from seeing inside, but Flint’s already been in and he knows it looks amazing.
“Ready to see the new and improved Walrus?”
The reactions range from Dufresne’s tight lipped expression of indifference, to Silver and Muldoon looking nervous but excited, and the little waitress clapping her hands and jumping in place.
“Get on with it!” Silver demands when Flint stalls too long, and he huffs with annoyance in response.
“Alright, impatient,” he mutters, but he does turn around to unlock the front door and lead them inside.
The first big difference is that Blackbeard is gone. Muldoon sends up a quiet but heartfelt prayer of thanks, complete with the motion of the cross.
On the other hand, Flint is pretty sure he hears Silver murmur mournfully under his breath, “My pirate!”
But nobody is able to complain when they turn the corner into the dining room proper. The blindingly white walls have been stripped of paint, leaving behind the lovely home and earth feel of brickwork, the pirate paraphernalia is nowhere to be found, and the mismatched tables have been traded out for solid oak pieces and comfortable looking chairs and booths. The new decor has an obvious ocean theme to it though, sticking to The Walrus’ original concept with artwork of ships and water on the walls, and lantern like centerpieces on the tables.
Muldoon is the first to speak with a mumbled, “Holy shit.”
Dufresne looks impressed, but also like it pains him to be so. Logan and DeGroot stare around wide eyed, the other two wait staff are practically bouncing in excitement, and Silver?
Well, Silver spins in a slow circle, mouth open as he stares at his new restaurant. Eventually those bright blue eyes find Flint again and the man just gapes at him, jaw opening and closing like he wants to speak but he's not quite sure what to say. He finally seems to settle on, “Its beautiful,” the soft quality of his voice making something lurch deep in Flint’s chest.
Flint makes a small hand motion to Billy, signalling that he wants that particular section of film cut before it can be sent to the editors.
“To top it off,” Flint says, voice calm like he wasn't just affected by a blushing, awe-struck Silver, “I've put together your new menu, and made all the dishes so you could try them.”
They're laid out on several tables shoved together, fifteen entrees, five appetizers, two desserts. He hadn't actually changed the menu that much, which he tells the crew as they gather around the food. He’d only changed the recipes.
“Oh, and your hideous menus,” he tacks on, pulling out a glossy new one that he’d had printed overnight. “Your new one is classy, to the point, and best of all, there are no cartoon characters.”
His reading glasses are usually kept tucked away in Billy’s work bag in their protective case, and Billy passes them over without a word when he realizes Flint wants to read the menu out. After spending yesterday working in front of a computer, his eyes are tired.
The frames themselves are a little thick, kind of blocky, but they’re not unattractive. Just unfortunately hipster-y. Flint slides them on and then goes down the menu, pointing each dish out on the table as he reads about it so that everyone can try a few bites.
Silver seems to be the only one upset by this. He tries everything, but his enthusiasm earlier about the decor has died a little bit, which considering he’d liked his own recipes Flint can understand to a degree, even if said recipes were utter shit.
So when he’s done with the menu and most of the staff is contentedly finishing off the plates, Flint pulls Silver aside for a moment. Billy doesn’t follow them, but Flint can see the camera pointed in their direction nonetheless.
“Look, I know these aren’t your recipes, but this restaurant is still yours and you’re the head chef. So when you open tonight, I want one of your dishes to be the special, okay?” Even if Flint is highly dubious about Silver’s ability to make decent food.
The man heaves a sigh before glancing around the room one more time, at the new paintings and the new floor and even the new curtains, thin gauzy things that are rustic blue, before he settles on Flint again. He worries his bottom lip between his teeth for a moment, distracting Flint utterly and thoroughly, but Flint manages to pull himself together just in time to hear what Silver has to say.
“I have to cook everything your way?”
Flint pulls his glasses off and rubs at the bridge of his nose with thumb and forefinger. He doesn’t catch the way Silver glances at the glasses like they’ve personally offended him.
“It’s not about have to and not have to. I’m going to teach you my recipes, chef to chef, and you can do whatever you want with them from there,” Flint says, which seems to appease Silver a little.
“Alright,” he agrees after a moment, bobbing his head once in a nod. “If we’re opening for dinner tonight though, you better start teaching.”