Certainly, the network wants to launch Chef Gordon Ramsay's new show "Kitchen Nightmares" with a bang and so it's little surprise that on the season premiere last night, Peter's Italian Restaurant in Babylon, N.Y. was so horrific. Even the town name seemed biblically appropriate. How else can Ramsay work his magic revitalizing the business ?
But after the tour of the restaurant's disgusting walk-in cooler, I'm frankly a little nervous about eating out ever again! Add to that a couple hours spent a few weeks ago browsing the health department inspection reports on the City of Milwaukee's Web site and I'm hitting the grocery store on the way home tonight.
Scratch that, I'm hitting the organic farmstand in Hales Corners or something. I've seen the floors and the produce at some area grocery stores, too!
What's perhaps most frightening about last night's episode (and of course I watch knowing that editing can create all sorts of twists on "reality") is that when Ramsay walked into the cooler and found buckets of moldy pasta, absolutely rotten bell peppers and a leaky ceiling, everyone from the owner to the manager to the chef and sous chef appeared shocked and surprised. (Cue that little "Not Me" imp from the "Family Circus" comic!)
For me it conjures visions of a North Side Chicago noodle joint after an Everything But the Girl gig at the Park West. On the floor outside the bathroom? Buckets of raw meat!
As I said earlier, I know that Fox will select a real hard-hitter for its first episode, but this one was really astonishing. Especially considering that this restaurant appeared to cast itself as at least a mid-scale eatery -- maybe even a fine dining one, it was hard to tell -- where the prices should allow for a functional kitchen and a regular cleaning and clearing out of the cooler, even if self-respect, responsibility and humanity weren't enough to spark to such habits.
Let's hope every restaurateur is watching this show, which should serve as a reminder that our health and our lives -- not just our money -- are in their hands.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.