A review of Restaurant: Impossible.

For some reason, I watch a lot of Food Network. For a while, it’s been my go-to channel when nothing’s on. Food Network has a pretty diverse schedule: Cooking shows hosted by goofy couples and fat chicks who name their show after a 1950s film, 5-6 clones of Iron Chef America, bundled with episodes of Iron Chef America and Unwrapped. It’s not the best network, but it’s better than me tuning into TruTV to see people riff on YouTube videos with “humorous” overdubbing, which is what 90% of that network’s schedule has been for the past year anyway.

I had recently heard of a new show on Food Network titled Restaurant: Impossible. A spinoff of Dinner: Impossible, hosted by well-renowned chef talentless hack Robert Irvine.

If you’re not in the know of TV chefs, Irvine was outed for being a compulsive liar: Saying he made the cake for Lady Diana, made meals at the White House, you get the idea. But it was later revealed he did no such thing. After that, his contract with Food Network was severed, his cookware line pulled, etc. But mysteriously they decided to re-hire the guy about a year later, and now he’s one of the major faces of the network, next to Guy “Don’t call me Ferry” Fieri and Alton Brown. Well, that and when Irvine was fired, Iron Chef Michael Symon took over Dinner: Impossible and supposedly made it suck more — although, I wouldn’t know, I don’t watch Dinner: Impossible that much.

So Restaurant: Impossible’s premise is that Irvine goes to failing restaurants and has two days to make it look like a competent restaurant. Sound familiar? Yeah, this show is a poor man’s Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. Not content with hiring a hack to be the face of the network, Food Network decide to rip off an existing, better show. I love Kitchen Nightmares, both its original UK version and its overblown US counterpart, and Restaurant: Impossible already has one major problem: The host. Mr. Irvine, I know Gordon Ramsay, Gordon Ramsay is a friend of mine, you sir, are no Gordon Ramsay. (I don’t know Ramsay. I wish I did, though.) Ramsay is the major reason Kitchen Nightmares is compelling, because he is literally in-your-face and brutally honest about everything. Even if he is a bit brash. So already we’re off to a rough start because of the difference in personalities between Ramsay and Irvine.

What makes this different than Kitchen Nightmares? Well, first, instead of Gordon trying the food alone, Irvine brings a posse of 3 food critics to help him taste the mediocrity. In addition, The restaurant and kitchen inspections are considerably longer than Kitchen Nightmares. Of course, this might just be the case of the episode I saw, as there was a big pile of junk in the building, and loads of bugs and rats at the place. If Gordon found this place instead, he’d scold the owners for about 10 minutes screen time, not waste half the episode looking at the condition of the place.

Other than that, it followed a lot of the boilerplate rules of Kitchen Nightmares: Chef inspects the place, puts down a plan to improve the place, redesigns the restaurant, and successfully relaunches the place. But since Irvine has two days to fix the place instead of Ramsay’s seven, you don’t get the feeling and atmosphere of the people who work at the restaurant. Hell, they seemed to be in the background while Irvine just worked with a design team to redesign the restaurant. There’s a reason this is glossed over in both Kitchen Nightmares series: this isn’t Home & Garden TV and it’s pretty boring to watch people talk about improving a restaurant’s looks. (Coincidentally, Scripps Networks, the owners of HGTV, also own Food Network.)

At the end of the episode, Irvine and the owners oversee the two day “relaunch,” and that’s it. No drama, no tension, just falls flat like a walking narcoleptic. There was no bickering between Irvine and the owner, there was no bad customers or anything like that, which is the major point of why I love Kitchen Nightmares. Even the most mediocre of Kitchen Nightmares episodes had something happening, even if it was just an annoyed customer who may or may not be an actor planted for the show.

Yeah, it’s true. I came into this show with preconceived negative opinions before I even saw it. While this is certainly better than airing hours of Food Network Challenge, Chopped and Cupcake Wars, all three of which follow rip off the Iron Chef format of making items in a short amount of time, it still smacks of unoriginality. It seems Kitchen Nightmares is still the king of “bad restaurant” shows. I hope that Restaurant: Impossible doesn’t get past a season, because I doubt they’ll have anything that rivals episodes like Dillon’s or Sebastian’s on Kitchen Nightmares.


About B.J. Brown

Just someone in their thirties continuing their ventured tales on the internet by writing random but quirky things on my mind.

Posted on February 3, 2011, in Opinions, Reviews and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. What a load of bollocks. Food Network blows! And so what if Robert Irvine lied about cooking for Buckingham Palace…those inbred blue-bloods wouldn’t know any better anyway. Just shut up.

  2. I am so happy to see your blog. Chef Ramay is one of a kind and those imitating him just won’t cut it expecially Robert Irvine. This imposter has been ‘outed’ not that long ago, he is a phony and a liar. I used to love most of Food Network, but my favorite lately was MASTER CHEF, yes another Gordon Ramsey hit. I hate being taken for a fool and that is exactly what Food Network, Robert Irvine and Restaurant Impossible. Give us more of the master, Chef Gordon Ramsey.

  3. So, let me get this right…you write about this show and “review” it after watching just one episode. You, sir, are not very smart.

  4. Tried to watch “Restaurant Impossible”, and just couldn’t stomach Irvine. I really enjoy the “makeover” genre, and I love cooking/food shows, so I was ready to love this one. But, in a word:


    Irvine milks the time limit for all it’s worth, screaming, bullying, belittling. Since the three day deadline and $10000 limit are imposed production values -as opposed to there being an impending fix-it-or-close it from local authorities or a bank- the tantrums just do not come off as honest frustration for the sake of the restaurant. There’s prep done beforehand, the limits are known, so all the drama comes off as ratings fodder. And, behold! Somehow all the work is always done, and the restaurants always reopen.

    Irvine seems best at spotlighting Irvine, but it seems the brighter the spotlight the most creepy crawleys come scuttering out. Seems Irvine’s bloated record and braggadocio are not supported by facts. It explains why the food/menu makeovers never rang true for me.

    Say what you want about Ramsey, he has the food and business skills to back up his opinions. Seems that Irvine has none of the above.

  5. just shut up and enjoy the show, having you learn any thing from this Restaurant: Impossible ?,it is how human being support to do “help and and support each orther ” azzho.

  6. Richard irvine couldn’t be a chef for a military mess hall. He’s gross!

  7. I like this show because it is not the same as Kitchen Nightmares… The yelling of Chef Ramsey get old after a while… Everyone has the right to say what they want to, but B.J. Brown is wrong about this show….. 😦 😦 Me happy with this show 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  8. I LOVE this show. I’ve watched Gorden Ramsey many times and can’t stomach his obnoxious behavior and filthy mouth. Irvine is tough without being crude and tasteless. I enjoy watching how his designers achieve beautiful redesigns for so little money and I love their creative ideas, I even use some of their ideas when decorating. As a former restauranteur, I laugh out loud how stupid some of these people are who don’t clean and can’t cook, and I think Chef Irvine is astute as to who to keep and who to fire. And, i think he’s helping people; as is Ramsey. While not thrilled he embellishished his credentials, from what I ‘ve read, he didn’t lie, but grossly exaggerated. Americans are known for giving second chances for more egregious conduct, I’m willing to do the same for Chef Irvine and I hope his show succeeds.

  9. I don’t really know of Robert Irvine’s past, so I can’t say if he lies or not. If you want to watch a show on How to be Condescending? Restaurant Impossible fits the bill. I rarely watch Food Network, most of the foods prepared on that channel are unhealthy. Fat and sugar rule! There are a few celebs who can cook, and they are the slimmer ones. Mr. Irvive is in great shape, but the show should emphasize restaurants being revitalized; more, than his appearance and his bullying. Furthermore, if the present cooks could not cook, why were they hired?

  10. Well written blog about Mr. Liar Irvine. I just completed volunteer work on Restaurant Impossible and let me tell you what I saw. First the crew was about as interesting as a wet noodle being sucked up by an old man. No personality, no sense of humor and I felt like I was on the set of The Walking Dead. Irvine does not do the restaurant makeover. It is done by an recent graduate from some crap design school. The place is crawling with volunteers, crew and illegal aliens picked up outside of the Home Depot. Everyone is ripping and hacking until the place is gutted. Then, the crap they use to redesign the place with looks like it came out of the Finger Hut catalog. The crap won’t last six months mark my words. Irvine is a phoney and I have no idea why the Food Network has him on. It’s no wonder Anthony Bourdain hates that network!

  11. That review is total fiction and is an inaccurate depiction of the show.

    • Well good sir, reviews are meant to be opinions, not facts. It can’t be fiction because it cannot be proven false.

      Even after watching a bunch of episodes, I still think it’s a poor man’s Kitchen Nightmares. Judging how Food Network has been junk for the past few years, I’m not surprised they’re resorted to ripping off programming.

  12. I watch both shows. I would love to see the percentage of restaurants closed and sold after each one visits. I hear Ramsay has especially low numbers that turn out successful in the long term. I am not sure about Restaurant Impossible though.

  13. I feel so sorry for you oung man. Restaurant Impossible may, as you call it, a poor man’s Kitchen Nightmare. But to those that Chef Irvine helps it is their last chance to save an institution that has been around for years. Gordon Ramsay might have the professional years over Robert Irvine, but one thing that he lacks is manners. Having graduated from the “old school” I learned early on in life that manners will take you where money won’t. Unfortunately, today’s money greedy world has changed that.

    I was talking to a very well established local chef in my city, Charleston, SC. He said that Ramsay’s attitude causes him to forget that those are real people that he is talking to. He is teaching others that the only way to get good word out of decent people to treat them like he does. I own a restaurant, young man and I pray everyday that I treat my employees with the respect that they deserve. I learned a long time ago from the owner of Costco that a happy employee makes a happy customer. Treat your employees right and they will treat your customers right. I hope, young man, that YOU don’t own a restaurant or ever become someone’s employer.Your attitude belongs right down there in the gutter with Gordon Ramsay’s. BUT who am I to say. Mr. Ramsay made over $30,000,000 last year. WOW!

  14. I like watching the show Restaurant Impossible. I don’t like that Mr. Irvine yells at people and has no problem embarrassing them. There is a civil way to critique someone. (He gives me the impression that just because he is helping someone he has a right to treat them in an undignified manner.) I’m not sure if he yells to increase his ratings, but if he continues to do so, he will have one less viewer. What really angers me the most is his condescending treatment of his builder Tom Burns and designers. If I were them, I’d demand that he treat me with respect or leave the show. I don’t need money that badly to be treated that poorly. (Maybe they are under contract and can’t do that.) I will let no one treat me in an undignified manner.
    He’s very demanding as well. He requires more of his staff than of himself.When he walks around yelling and having temper tantrums, he looks like a played out action figure or his own caricature.
    He’s very disrespectful to women as well. I’m wonder how he treats his wife.

  15. I really liked this show up until now.. my husband is a retired French chef to boot, but I dont like the fact that the episode with The Valley inn in Palos Verdes in Illinois shown on Food Network on Fri Sept 27th made the waitresses out to be the culprits in the restaurant failing. I have worked in the r. business for years, and this was definetely a question of the sons/family not taking charge of the kitchen/dining room and kicking everyone into gear FIRST!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It wasnt fair to let the waitresses take the fall for perhaps better ratings. Robert and Food Network usually do a pretty good job of keeping it pretty real but I was upset by this episode.. Sue Guerguy Fremont, CA

  16. I don’t know what you clowns are watching, but Kitchen Nightmare is the stupidest thing. The problem is that 99% of people are morons who love shitty reality shows. If it weren’t for the 1%’ers, we would still be living in a dark age. Idiots never cease to amaze me. Irvine reminds people that their denial isn’t going to save their restaurant whereas Ramsay just pisses on other people’s dream. See the difference? God damn, some people are so stupid it’s not even funny. Einstein said it best; “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”

  17. I think your review is dead on. People get into the restaurant business for all the wrong reasons–they like to cook, one too many family members told them to, it’s “their dream”–and then when the business goes south the last person they blame is themselves. As for Irvine, yeah, he’s a blowhard, and RI isn’t a show you can watch more than 5-6 times without getting nervous and physically ill.

  18. I like both shows although they are quite different in how issues are handled. Except for one. Both Gordon and Robert seem to have no problem with female owners all dolled up. Long painted nails(most likely fake) gobs of jewelry etc.. I believe both are asking for possible physical contamination in food.

  1. Pingback: A review of Bar Rescue. « The continued adventures of a Shackling Brawn

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