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February 10, 2012 > Kitchen Nightmare or Dream Kitchen?

Kitchen Nightmare or Dream Kitchen?

Spin A Yarn on TV Friday, February 10 at 8 p.m.

By Denny Stein

In October of 2011, a venerable Fremont restaurant, Saki's Spin-A-Yarn, was overrun by media: Type A producers, meticulous directors, scurrying camera people, catering trucks, mysterious tents, and one giant television culinary celebrity. Saki's was to be transformed by Chef Gordon Ramsay of Fox TV's Kitchen Nightmares.

Fremont on national television? Our own "super" bowl? How did it happen and how do I get in on it? These were the questions that leapt from household to office to neighborhood listserv as the news spread. Fortunately, as Dining Editor of the Tri-City Voice, I had an entree into the production.

I brought along three friends, Margo Hood of Legacy Real Estate, Judy Heyman of Niles, and Jas Atwal of Facebook, a "close" friend who had been standing in line with me the first night of filming. We signed confidentiality agreements, swearing not to reveal details of the experience, so I can only relate information approved by Fox spokespersons.

Q: How is a restaurant chosen for Kitchen Nightmares?
A: Nominations for restaurants are received from Yelp, local customers, and the owners themselves. If you've seen KN, you know that many of the featured establishments are in need of help. They turn to Chef Ramsay, and the KN staff, to transform their business.

Q: How was Spin-A-Yarn chosen?
A: The owners submitted a request to be on the show. After the usual scouting and vetting, the producers decided that Spin-A-Yarn was a perfect candidate; a long-standing restaurant in Fremont that needed Chef Ramsay's help.

Q: How are the diners chosen?
A: All diners are people from the community and follow strict rules: No Cell Phones! No Cameras! No Recorders! Don't wear stripes, patterns, loud clothing or all white! And No Autographs while Chef Ramsay is working! All diners pay for their meals... there are no freebies.

Q: Are the food fiascos and nightmarish kitchen conditions for real?
A: Yes

Q: How long does it take to produce one show?
A: A great deal of time goes into research of the restaurant - the show's main focus is supporting the restaurant. Documenting it for the TV show is secondary. The crew spends about a week on-site.

Q: How successful are the changes made by Kitchen Nightmares?
A: Chef Ramsay leaves each restaurant with the tools they need to create a successful business (e.g. new dishes and a simplified menu, chef and server training, updated decor, modern financial computer systems, and a heavy dose of family therapy); it's up to them to commit to his suggestions.

So, Tri-City readers, there you have it, as much as can be revealed before the show airs tonight. Tune in or set your DVR to Fox TV at 8 p.m. on Friday, February 10 to see how the new Spin-A-Yarn Steakhouse fared. You can also see Kitchen Nightmares on facebook and

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