A tragedy of nightmares in the NJ kitchen
Over the course of seven seasons, Chef Gordon Ramsay and FOX’s Kitchen Nightmares visited 92 bankrupt restaurants in hopes of reviving businesses and saving owners from bankruptcy. A New Jersey restaurant seemed to be on the right track after the chef’s visit, but what happened after the cameras shut off is frightening.
In 2007, Ramsay visited Campania at Fair Lawn.
At the time of filming, Joseph Cerniglia had only owned the successful restaurant for 18 months. When Gordon and his crew arrived, the place was about to close.
The chef was not impressed with Cerniglia from the start.
Time was running out because the restaurant was in debt of more than $ 250,000.
Gordon gave feedback to the staff in the kitchen and let them know that their food did not meet the mark of good Italian dishes.
In a rare Kitchen Nightmares moment, Ramsay inspects the kitchen and finds that it is clean and fully stocked. However, without customers, the owner was wasting money on unused food.
Gordon has observed a dinner service and sees that the staff are acting as if the restaurant is a high school.
The next day, Gordon meets Joe’s wife, Melissa, and she tells him that if the restaurant fails, they will lose their home.
She and Joe’s mom worry about the stress this is putting on Joe.
Melissa, his wife, tells Gordon that they have a lot at stake if the restaurant fails and Joe is passionate about what he does but just needs a step back.
Gordon is showcasing a new signature meatball dish, and they’re heading to town promoting “New Jersey’s Best Meatballs” with samples and flyers.
Gordon presents a new menu with signature meatballs in starters and main courses.
Gordon pulls Joe aside to keep him focused on his role as a chef and advises him to spend limited time in the dining room.
The recovery night ends well with the team working well and communicating.
After the show ended, things got better for Campania and Joe Cerniglia. Customers flocked to the new and improved restaurant. Joe even won the Chief Central’s Bergen County Supreme Leader Competition in 2008 and was a finalist in 2009.
Unfortunately, this story does not have a happy ending. What Kitchen Nightmares didn’t share in a follow-up is that in September 2010, Joe sold the restaurant to “Campania Holding Corp”.
Eight days later, Joe Cerniglia committed suicide by jumping from the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson River.
It was later found out that Joe was in a relationship with a pastry chef at the restaurant while he was still with his wife.
Campania closed in January 2011.