Unhelpful chef, bad breath and a dish like camel meatballs at the Lake District restaurant

In the very first series of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares in 2003, the world-renowned chef was faced with the impossible task of saving a failing Lake District restaurant.

It’s been almost 20 years since Gordon Ramsay traveled to Ambleside to try and put right the failing Glass House restaurant on his TV show Kitchen Nightmares for Channel 4. Considered one of the most iconic episodes, restaurant owner Neil Farrell was struggling with a chef who was out of his depth when his business was in such bad shape that he turned off his phone to avoid his mounting creditors.

Head chef Richard Collins, who was trained at Claridges, couldn’t convince any of his kitchen staff to respect him and spent much of the episode trying, but failing miserably, to follow the advice of Gordon. Shortly into the episode, the camera shows a table of disgruntled customers as Gordon tells us that restaurant owner Neil is “about to snap”.

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Things look hopeless as the camera cuts to Neil who says, “I’d rather not be here, I’d burn this fucking place down. You better not put that on camera.”

At the start of the episode, Gordon sits down to sample Chef Richard’s signature dishes. A plate of duck cakes with chilli jam arrives and the TV chef soon makes it clear that he’s not a fan, calling them “pretentious shit” and like “the b******s of camel”.

A clearly upset Gordon heads for the kitchen after finding a duck bone that almost got stuck in his throat. Clearly unimpressed with the head chef, Gordon puts on his whites to watch service in the kitchen on one of the busiest nights of the year.

The pressure soon reaches boiling point as Gordon watches food being sent back, staff running around ‘like headless chickens’ and the stressed restaurant owner about to ‘p**s his pants’. After night shift, the camera cuts to owner Neil in a philosophical mood, saying, “Maybe I shouldn’t give like a**t. Maybe I should just say fuck you, give- us your money, thank you very much.

“So I wouldn’t mind and I could go and it wouldn’t matter if I had a like**t restaurant because there are plenty of them there and the owners drive in whores from Porsche. I drive a sh**ty Astra van and I’m f*****g on the verge of tears.”

Glass House restaurant in Ambleside which featured in the television show Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, first broadcast in 2004

The next day, when Neil is ready to throw in the towel, Gordon investigates in the kitchen with the staff. The disappointment causes chef Richard to leave the camera in tears.

Second day at the Glass House and Gordon enters with buckets and mops to combat the kitchen’s lack of hygiene. Footage filmed in secret the previous week showed kitchen staff tenderizing meat with the back of a frying pan and preparing pesto in a bucket on the dirty kitchen floor.

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After a good cleanup, Gordon turns his attention to owner Neil, saying he needs to “grow some b******s and act like a fucking boss.” He then proceeds to ask the owner to put up new signage because most of the locals didn’t even know where to find the restaurant.

Soon, the TV chef begins to change things. A redesign of the menu and the encouragement of staff to communicate better in the kitchen are beginning to boost morale and service.

The exact moment Gordon describes duck cakes as 'camel b******s'
The exact moment Gordon describes duck cakes as ‘camel b******s’

Halfway through the week and things are looking up, but Gordon is still concerned about head chef Richard. To see how well the kitchen is running without him, he sends Richard and owner Neil home, asking them to come back later and have dinner together while the rest of the kitchen staff and Gordon run the service.

The plan works and soon the kitchen is buzzing. The service is working well for the first time with the other staff in charge and it is obvious that Richard is a bit of a third wheel.

After their excellent meal from the revamped menu, Richard and Neil enter the kitchen to congratulate the staff. However, despite calling the food “sex on a plate”, the chef is reluctant to give up his role, adding: “Remember, you are my boys, my girls. At the end of time, mine. “

The next day, Gordon tells Neil that he must fire Richard in order for his restaurant to survive. He also resumes the previous night’s service by telling a waiter to remedy his bad breath.

Neil is hesitant to give his chef his marching orders, and Richard is still at the helm during the restaurant’s relaunch party. With a full house and only ready meals to reheat and salads to dress, there should be little room for error but, again, things are starting to fall apart.

Gordon having a set with one of the Glass House kitchen staff
Gordon having a set with one of the Glass House kitchen staff

Confusion and lack of communication in the kitchen means orders soon start piling up. This leaves Gordon again blaming the head chef and calling the service a “f*****g embarrassment”.

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As the pressure mounts in the kitchen, Neil criticizes Gordon’s revamped Caesar salad saying it’s too big and the dressing too rich. Defending the dish, Gordon leaves but not before telling the restaurant owner: “What you’re telling me is absolute shit and I’m ready for a f*****g argument, in this moment you’re talking out of your a**e.”

Three months later, Gordon returns to the Glass House to see if things have improved. Despite the loss of a few staff members, Richard remains in charge of the kitchen.

New dishes are also on the menu. A pomegranate risotto that Gordon tells Richard “sounds f*****g disgusting”.

However, not all of the new dishes are bad and the restaurant owner, visibly less stressed, Neil feels much more optimistic about the future. Despite Gordon’s return to the Glass House in the fifth series of Kitchen Nightmares, the restaurant has not stood the test of time.

Although you can no longer visit the Glass House on your own, you can still watch the episode on the Channel 4 website, here. The restaurant closed in March 2014 before later operating as Fulling Mill. This has since closed and the building is now a pub called The Flying Fleece.

All smiles at the Enterprise in 1984.