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'Kitchen Nightmares' recap: Exquisite 'Dinning' adventure

Season 6 | Episodes 7 & 8 | “Zayna Flaming Grill” | Aired May 2, 2014

There’s a storm brewing in Redondo Beach, California, and while it isn’t officially a sharknado, it has all the characteristics of one. There’s terror, drama, disgust and denial, and it’s all happening at Zayna Flaming Grill, a run-down-looking Mediterranean restaurant just steps away from the beach.

Chef Gordon Ramsay and his Kitchen Nightmares cameras arrive to help slay the sharks (in this case, restaurant co-owners and aunt-and-niece team Fayza and Brenda) and restore order to this little piece of the pier. Let’s break down the reasons Zayna Flaming Grill is a category F-5:

Reason #1: Fayza (or “Faye” or sometimes “Foo Foo” — yes, really) is a micromanaging control freak who doesn’t let anyone help, criticizes them when they do, and denies that she does either.
Reasons #2 to #100: See Reason #1.

Chef Ramsay breaks tradition and begins this nightmare with a separate sit-down discussion with each co-owner. It quickly becomes a story of “she said/she said.” Aunt Faye tells Chef that she does everything. Niece Brenda tells Chef that Faye doesn’t allow her to help. Faye complains that Brenda is lazy. Brenda says that when Faye isn’t there, the customers are happier. Faye admits that if Brenda weren’t her niece, she’d fire her. Brenda feels like she’s an employee and not an equal. Chef Ramsay jumps into the ocean and begs the sharks to take him away. No, he doesn’t, but I’m sure he was considering it.

Chef arrives at Zayna, which has the décor of a well-lit brothel (I’m guessing), and is seated on a couch, which immediately reminds him of his grandma’s. (And now I feel bad for thinking “brothel.”) The server, Amel, tells him that despite the 50/50 financial split of the restaurant, Faye does 75 percent of the work because she’s “hell on wheels.”

Chef takes the menu, which proudly declares on its cover that Zayna is “An Exquisite Dinning Adventure” (but an obvious failure at second-grade spelling). He calls Faye’s son (and Zayna employee) Mark over and gives him an on-the-spot spelling bee:

photo 1.jpg
Chef: Spell bistro.
Mark: B-i-s-t-r-o.
Chef: Very good. Spell dining.
Mark: D-i-n-n-i-n-g.

Aaand now we know who was in charge of menu design.

Chef orders a hummus sampler, which arrives with pools of oil on top (“miniature bathtubs of oil … gross”). While he’s eating, Mark is stalking Chef, hiding behind orchids and giving him the evil eye. It freaks Chef out and he tells Amel, “Can you please ask Mark to stop staring at me? It’s creeping me out.” You and me both, Chef.

photo 2.jpgThe oily and runny hummus isn’t the only issue Chef has with the food: The fava beans arrive looking “like someone puked up on my plate,” and after a stir causes Chef to add, “It looks like the inside of a diaper.” After having experienced more than my share of vomit and dirty diapers through the years, I wholeheartedly agree.

photo 4.jpgFaye is shocked. People love her food! Mark doesn’t want to serve him: He thinks Chef is rude. Really, Mark? Have you never watched this show? The food they claim to be fresh is frozen (a typical Kitchen Nightmares violation), the meat is tasteless and overcooked, and the staff is stubborn and argumentative. It’s official: Zayna Flaming Grill is a nightmare.

Chef meets with the crew and gives his overview of the problems. Faye and Brenda immediately start accusing others and denying everything. Chef tells them the food was simply below standards. Mark laughs, to which Chef snaps, “What’s so funny?” and suddenly Gordon Ramsay turns into Joe Pesci right before my eyes.

Faye breaks down. She can’t believe she’s the only one in the entire restaurant who is putting in any effort, although the fact that she’s never shown Brenda any of the recipes or let Amel help in the kitchen is immediately brought to Chef’s attention — by Brenda and Amel, of course. Faye denies everything and calls them all liars. The arguing escalates to the point where I get up and walk out. Actually, Mark does, but at this point I’d happily join him, stalker-y behavior and all.

At dinner, Chef discovers who the real liar is. I’ll give you a hint: It’s Faye. The control freak immediately takes over the kitchen, barking orders to everybody and proving to Chef that the others’ accusations of her overbearing behavior are to be believed. And let’s not forget the other big problem: the food. The customers are complaining about the runny, oily hummus, so Chef leaves and returns with some store-bought varieties and secretly serves them to the customers. They love it. To quote Chef Ramsay, “Zayna’s Flaming Grill. Flaming *bleep* mess.” A man of few, but powerful, words.

When Chef finds about three to four weeks’ worth of food prep getting significant freezer burn in Hannibal Lecter’s Zayna’s cooler, he’s disgusted. He confronts Faye. She’s shocked (of course she is). She doesn’t understand why frozen chunks of decaying meat and rotting produce are a bad thing. She also is surprised by the fact that customers are returning food, because she’s never had that happen before. Chef tells her to be honest with herself and that her food isn’t good enough. He switches into his “tough love” mode and asks her if she wants to continue, because if she does, she has to change her attitude. I swear I’ve given the exact same speech to my kids about 86 times over the past 16 years, and much like Faye, they didn’t listen either.

The next day, at the “come to Jesus” meeting, Chef outlines the problems, i.e., Faye’s controlling behavior (and the crappy food, but really, it’s all about Faye’s controlling behavior and everyone knows it). The meeting turns ugly as everyone once again starts finger-pointing and yelling and denying. Faye asserts that nobody can run Zayna like she can. The tension is so thick, I need a straw. Chef pulls a trick out of his hat and sends Faye “home” (or to a van in the parking lot tricked out with monitors showing her what’s happening in the restaurant). Then he tells everyone, “F*ck it. We’re opening for lunch.” (Standing slow clap for Chef Ramsay.)

With Faye watching the action from the van (and doing her best to still control what’s happening by yelling at the screens), Brenda takes control of the kitchen and the crew, and the lunch service runs — surprisingly — smoothly. Chef brings Faye back inside. The seas part, hell freezes over and pigs fly across the screen as she compliments them all and tells them she’s proud of the way they ran the kitchen. And then suddenly, in that moment, all the problems are solved! Everyone loves everyone else! They’re all committed to working together! GO TEAM ZAYNA!

With a quick lesson in how to prepare fresh, digestible food and a promotion on the pier letting the community know the restaurant exists, Zayna Flaming Grill is ready for relaunch. But not before the Kitchen Nightmares team gives the brothel a makeover. The interior is given a fresh, “beachy” look (what I consider more ’50s diner, but I live in Minnesota, so what do I know) with funky tables and turquoise-and-red pop art on the walls. Chef shows them the new menu, which is composed entirely of things they do not know how to cook. But the team works together and things run smoothly and successfully for about an hour, until Faye clams up. Shuts down. Stops communicating entirely and jeopardizes the entire overhaul and recommitment. Never fear, though, because new Brenda is there to encourage! To support! To lead the way! She pulls Faye out of her muteness and saves the day, thereby preventing Zayna Flaming Grill from going down in flames, and joining Chef Ramsay in saving Redondo Beach from disaster.

Were you surprised to find out that Amel ended up quitting as a result of Faye’s unfortunate (but not surprising) return to micromanaging? And what’s up with Mark — creepy stalker or misunderstood mama’s boy? Let me know in the comments below!

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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