HONtroversy chapter 985767: Kitchen Nightmares edition

Actual Kitchen Nightmares intro graphic for Cafe Hon

In case you hadn’t heard yet, the Baltimore Sun made a lil’ announcement that chef Gordon Ramsay’s show about restaurants that suck trying to get some tough love in an effort to save them from the brink of disaster – lovingly known as Kitchen Nightmares – will be or already has filmed an episode in Baltimore, featuring everyone’s favorite restauranteur Denise Whiting and Cafe Hon.

I won’t even bother hyperlinking to other articles about the road leading to this situation, we all know why this is happening*. As The Sun suggests it’s probably not mediocre-to-disgusting food or a kitchen full of purestrain gross endangering Cafe Hon, it’s the ownership’s seemingly unflinching ability to screw up her public image and by extension the restaurant’s business. But how on Earth is Kitchen Nightmares going to adequately explain this, or even deal with the problem? How can a show about gross restaurants make anyone outside of Baltimore understand (or care, rather) that placing a copyright on a colloquial term that has existed for generations prior is bad for business – and has this *ever* happened anywhere else? Doesn’t necessarily strike me as great TV and it’s certainly not going to cause anyone living in Hampden or surrounding areas to turn sympathetic; appearing on a hit TV show and asking Gordon Ramsay how to mend relations with a community that loathes the establishment, rather than like, approaching the community yourself and trying to mend relations.

I don’t want to suggest that the nail is in the coffin for Cafe Hon, but I would suggest that Cafe Hon as a “thing” should probably GTFO Hampden – the bridges have been burned to a crisp. Whiting is a competent – if not relentless – marketer, and as a “thing” Cafe Hon could be an interesting and/or successful addition to say, Harborplace, where tourists can buy all the kitschy crap that Cafe Hon and Hontown or whatever that gift shop is called sells, and residents can continue to complain about how touristy Harborplace has gotten over the past decade plus or so. If not Harborplace, then hell, why not BWI? Cafe Hon could sell *oodles* of fake-Baltimore culture to folks coming through via international destinations, make a jillion dollars in the process, and never have to worry about irritated citizens shitting all over her business.

Failing all of this, just don’t try to enforce that copyright. Ever again. Just don’t. If I were Gordon Ramsay I’d be saying it in that bellowing British fashion that he loves so very much, spittling all over the place and flailing my arms. If Cafe Hon is to stay in Hampden, just keep your head low, shut up, and keep selling pies or meatloaf or whatever it is you sell.

But that’s just me. What say you?

*Honfest, copyright of the term Hon, endorsing Wal-Mart’s development in Remington, being a general snot

21 thoughts on “HONtroversy chapter 985767: Kitchen Nightmares edition

  1. They are pretty well known for terrible service and meh food, so i would imagine he’d be focusing on that. I wonder if she’ll pulll another boner and have protesters out there while this is filming.

    Also, i bet you are right about relocation. food in BWI is goddamn terrible as it is, so it’s not like her menu would need to improve.

        1. Literally. They should put bear traps on the floors and then locals can watch tourists gnaw off their legs (which might be tastier than the food). That way it’s not just a kitchen nightmare, but it’s also a dining room nightmare. Hot damn, I should have my own TV show.

  2. Frankly, I’d be embarrassed if Cafe Hon opened up shop at BWI.  If I’m entertaining out of town guests, do I REALLY want them to see that shit?  No.

    As for moving to Harborplace, I think that’s a fine idea.  Those people who are clueless enough to ever go there deserve it.  (Just like, what locals would EVER go to Dick’s?)  Whenever my out of towner friends come here, if they ever ask about going to the Inner Harbour, I just say, “No, no one who lives here ever goes there.”  

  3. I hear a lot about this Hon copyright, but what can she enforce it on, exactly?  Just other restaurants?  Or, on hats and t-shirts and other kitchy junk?  Has she ever actually tried to enforce it?  These facts are never mentioned.  The food and service is pretty bad there, regardless…

    1. Last December, the Sun ran an article about it.


      “This fall, when the Maryland Transit Administration wanted to incorporate a few beehived and bespectacled Hons into the campaign for its new fare card, the Charm Card, along with the phrase, ‘Get yours, Hon,’ the agency had to go through Whiting. She didn’t charge them money, but she did insist on approving each individual ad, poster and television commercial.”

      Then she takes credit for single-handedly improving Hampden (and Baltimore in general) over the past two decades:

      “‘When I started doing Cafe Hon in 1992, 18 and a half years ago, where was the city then? Where was Hampden? So you could say I took a little word, celebrated it and created change. Big change.'”

      What a humble, non-delusional lady!

      1. Lest we forget when she heard that some guy was selling kitschy crap with the word “Hon” on it and famously drove to his location and confiscated all of his wares – that guy was robbing her blind of her hard earned colloquialism!

      2. I remember when Cafe Hon 1st opened. It was on the other side of 36th St. & My Now Dead Ex,RIP John Bacigalupa,& I Would eat there every Sunday,It was Gr8 & the Best Part was No Hampden Ppl Ate there,No Offense. It Was a thing back than,& I’m From Hampden. Since it Moved across the Street,IT WENT 2 HELL IN A HANDBASKET. She Had a Good thing, Ruined it. Greedy Bitch. Ms.Rasroll.

  4. The food does suck, and most likely the kitchen is disgusting.  Wonder who contacted who?  Can’t imagine who the group of “test” customers will be.

    Gordon Ramsey has done more than a few shows where a formerly revered restaurant had hit the skids, and his tough love “miraculously” helped it to find its way back to its former glory (at least for one night).  But, I’ve never seen a show where the restaurant owner is despised by the community!

    Maybe her son contacted the show.  Usually they are contacted by the one person involved in the restaurant who isn’t completely dysfunctional and narcissistic.

  5. What interests me is that I’ve never seen an episode of Kitchen Nightmares where the kitchen wasn’t a disaster zone of health violations and disorder and really really bad food. Surely this episode like all the others will center on that with a little bit about community relations and trying to find a way for her to fix it.

  6. I wanna c this Gordon Ramsey Show!! When does it come on? What Channel? As Far As Cafe Hon,The 1 & Only Time I Ate there since they Moved,There were Millions of Nats,2 the point that We couldn’t Eat. Made Me Sick. It was Disgusting. We knew the Waitress, April Hansen @ the time & She didn’t Charge Us. Good Thing. Evil,Greedy Ppl like Ms.Rasroll Nastygrass always get whats coming 2 them. Carma is Alive & Well. God Bless.`

  7. A little bit of inside info- the filming has not yet taken place. A Fox production team will be in the area in the next 2 weeks to film the episode.

  8. BWI has like, three, maybe four, international destinations, and all but one of those are in the Caribbean (there is one flight in and out of London every day).

  9. I’ve spoken with the managers at CH and they admitted to me that they loathe her but also feel indebted to her. While I was in the restaurant talking to an employee, she came over and introduced herself and I had a chance to speak with her. I am NOT making excuses for her, I truly believe the food they serve is horrendous. What I gained from my experience talking with Denise is that she truly is socially retarded. She didnt come across as devious, vindictive or as a bully….she came across as totally and utterly oblivious that people hate her….why they hate her, etc. Have you ever met someone that was totally clueless? Well thats what I got from my interaction. Hopefully Gordon will convince her to give back Hon to its rightful owners (which is a gesture she should have made to begin with) and that would be the best PR she could ask for….oh, and fire all the cooks, waitstaff and get a new menu.

  10. I guess they are addressing the issues head on and not pretending it’s mostly about the food.  Should be a good episode, if anyone know when and where it will air, please share.  

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