Mouthy macho chefs and chain-smoking matriarchs have become stock characters on Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, which typically focuses on failing restaurants in New York and New Jersey, but the FOX reality show may have to find new stereotypes to exploit when it makes its first trip to Seattle this fall.
"We do a lot of East Coast," says senior casting director Kristin Curtin. "I think we're going to find things we haven't found before." (Hmm, like a rotting Dungeness crab carcass in the pantry? Or poisonous mushrooms in the wild foods supplier's delivery basket?)
The restaurant makeover show is now accepting nominations for awful restaurants in need of Ramsay's help. Disgruntled customers serve as the unofficial nominating committee, so you have two weeks to tell casting directors about your least favorite local eatery.
Curtin admits that restaurant owners aren't always flattered when staffers call with the news that they're being considered for the show.
"Obviously, we get a mixed response," she says. "It's a show that's offering to help struggling restaurants, so no one likes to admit right off the bat that they're struggling."
But struggling doesn't have to involve eviction notices and angry health inspectors, Curtin points out. A restaurant could be struggling to earn its third Michelin star (a definition that rules out every restaurant in King County), or struggling to overcome recession-related challenges.
For a restaurant to qualify for consideration, it must be a locally-owned, full-service restaurant with at least 35 seats. The restaurant must serve dinner, and must have been open for at least a year.
As for the less tangible criteria that casting directors use when making their selections, Curtin advises nominators to remember "it's television." So if you know, say, a gorgeous oyster shucker with an attitude and very few customers, Kitchen Nightmares is awaiting your e-mail at KitchenNightmares@TheConlinCompany.com. You can also call in your suggestion to (310)313-9100.