Chasing Amy: Overcooked Reality and the Decline of Western Civility

Shortly thereafter, someone gave Amy her own Twitter account and hash tag. And just like that, Crazy Amy was born.


On November 30, 2012, I am sitting at my computer going through my e-mails. It is a morning like any other, until I see this:

Gordon Ramsay leaves Amy's Baking Company.
Gordon Ramsay leaves Amy's Baking Company.

Location Info

Map

Amy's Baking Company

7366 E. Shea Blvd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85260-6471

Category: Restaurant > Bakery

Region: North Scottsdale

"We will be filming at Amy's Baking Company from December 8th to the 11th," says the note from a producer of Kitchen Nightmares. "It may be of interest to the members of the community to know how they can participate while we are filming and Chef Ramsay is in town."

It takes me a moment to recall the restaurant mentioned in the subject line. Amy's Baking Company had quickly fizzled out as a topic of conversation, the Valley's restaurant scene moving on to other news. I return to the restaurant's Yelp page and read the reviews following the one from LaTondress. It's mostly a mixed bag, but many of the negative ones contain similar, but less lengthy, acerbic responses from both Amy and Samy.

"Why would they agree to being on a show where criticism, embarrassment, and humiliation are part of the act?" I think to myself as I start to type the post. "Don't they know what Kitchen Nightmares is about?"

The next month, when most Valley restaurants were busy decking their halls with twinkling lights and pots of poinsettias, Amy's Baking Company was getting outfitted with video cameras, tungsten lights, and microphones. The first night's taping of Kitchen Nightmares at Amy's Baking Company delivered more surprises than any wrapped gift could — and with enough drama and tension to sufficiently rival any family holiday get-together.

For those in the Valley paying attention, shit-show Santa had come early, bearing a sneak preview of the chaos that was to come. The rest of America (and, eventually, other parts of the world) would have to wait until May.

"[Amy] was yelling and screaming, 'Get the fuck out' and [telling us that] if we weren't going to pay for our drinks, she was going to call the cops," a diner at the taping told me on the phone the next day. "She called me a 'tough guy' and said, 'You better correct your acting skills if you're trying to get on TV.' The producer said he would pay for our bill and that we should leave."

Like me, that diner (who was kept anonymous for a post I wrote because of a confidentiality agreement he'd signed for the show's producers) could hardly believe that the taping was real. After all, this was "reality" television. I was skeptical that he might be guilty of embellishment, whether he knew it or not. But the police part of his story checked out. And the rest of it — from being yelled at by Samy and Amy and told to leave after inquiring about a pizza for which he already had waited over an hour to his partner being physically pushed by Samy — would prove to be true when the show aired five months later.

As far as what happened that night, getting Amy and Samy's side of the story, as well as the Fox producer's, wasn't easy. One never returned my phone call. And the other, in a thick accent (it was Samy, of course), hurriedly told me he couldn't talk because "Ramsay was there." Attempts to contact the Bouzaglos for this story were unsuccessful.

A woman I once worked with used to say, "You can't fight crazy." Aside from an underlying feeling I had that she herself was of questionable mental stability, it was a phrase I liked and borrowed, employing it quite frequently when circumstances, or people, needed explanations that no rational answer could gratify.

Gordon Ramsay could not fight crazy.

When the Amy's Baking Company episode of Kitchen Nightmares, which Fox felt warranted (and rightly so) the season finale, finally aired on Friday, May 10, incredulous viewers watched the host of the show do something he hadn't done in the series' more than 80 episodes: He walked away.

Ramsay, known to be a bit of a shouter himself, had met his match in Samy and Amy, whose motivation for being on the show, as they told Ramsay, was exposing the public to his opinion — not those of the "online bullies" — when it came to the quality of their food.

Maddeningly controlling, unwilling to accept criticism (constructive or otherwise), and living in what seemed an impenetrable fortress of denial, the Bouzaglos were Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares nightmare, his disastrous failure.

And it was on this episode that the force a few in the Valley knew as "Crazy Amy" in 2010 was unleashed in full, not only for Gordon Ramsay to witness, but for all of America, as well. In front of a national TV audience, she berated customers and staff, argued with Ramsay, vehemently rejected criticism, and fired a young female food runner on the spot for asking a question.

"There's no point in talking to you," Amy told Ramsay at one point during show. And in a rare moment, he was speechless.

But the antics of Crazy Amy weren't the show's only highlights. Equally, if not more cringe-worthy was the revelation that Samy took tips earned by the servers, a disclosure that ultimately incited viewers more than the store-bought ravioli that Samy told Chef Ramsay was made fresh. Real One Percenter shit, for sure.

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11 comments
cbreton1
cbreton1

Wow.  You are quite the writer.  This is the best story on the topic that I have read and one of the best written stories that I have read on any topic in some time.  Thank you.  And I would mention that these folks are hardly remarkable.  Every city has one just like them. Here in Tampa, a fellow Yelper received death threats from one and her fellow bloggers stood up for her.  The company is now in bankruptcy.  Yelpers and other bloggers are not trained and some have no idea what they are talking about, but they are a powerful voice and represent a cross section of your customers so it is a bad idea to attack them.  You can clearly see the effects here.

David
David

Refreshingly well-written!

bobby5527
bobby5527

the show spoke for itself. and what employer would keep the tips intended for staff.?

someguy111
someguy111

Fix your story he is Scottish not British.  JEEZ!

peteykins
peteykins

This is quite the best thing I've read on this whole kerfuffle. Well done.

Anonymous
Anonymous

@someguy111 Scottish people are British citizens, as Scotland is a part of Great Britain.

arizonaeagletarian
arizonaeagletarian

@peteykins Agree... it's pretty much the whole story since we first heard about Crazy Amy and Samy.

 
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