Kitchen Nightmares: Death and implications for Gordon Ramsay

Kitchen Nightmares’ most tragic death is that of Joseph Cerniglia, who died by suicide, caused implications for Gordon Ramsay in the coverage, but the family came to his defence.

Kitchen Nightmares is the Fox original reality-format show by culinary expert and chef, Gordon Ramsay. Known for his sharp tongue, Ramsay’s show faced a scandal following the tragic news that one of the restaurateurs tragically took their own life after appearing on the show.

Joseph Cerniglia, who appeared in an episode in 2007, was reported dead in 2010.

Following the news that he died by suicide, which was announced by Ramsay during their episode, there was attempts by the media to implicate Ramsay, but Cerniglia’s family was adamant that he enjoyed his experience on the show.

Was Kitchen Nightmares cancelled?

Kitchen Nightmares premiered on Fox in 2007 with the premise of the show being, “Gordon Ramsay visits struggling restaurants across America and spends one week trying to help them become successful.”

While it was well intentioned, the show’s premise was the reason it received the most backlash, as most of the featured restaurants closed after or even before their episodes aired.

The lack of success in turning the businesses around and the continuous backlash is considered the reason that Gordon Ramsay decided to pull the plug on the show.

Therefore, the show was not cancelled by the network, but because of Ramsay’s knee-jerk reaction to the rising backlash.

Kitchen Nightmares: Death and implications for Gordon Ramsay

Season one of Kitchen Nightmares aired with a total of 10 episodes. The ninth episode was a feature of the restaurant, Campania, which was an Italian restaurant in New Jersey owned by chef and restaurateur Joseph Cerniglia.

Ramsay was in his usual form in the episode as he lambasted Cerniglia over the state of his failing restaurant.

One of the comments that would come back to haunt him in the future was when he said to Cerniglia, “Your business is about to f*cking swim down the Hudson.”

This is as in 2010, two years after the episode aired, the news about Cerniglia sadly taking his own life made headline news.

It was reported that a 911 call was logged reporting that a man had jumped off the George Washington Bridge, this was after he had allegedly snorted cocaine. It was soon confirmed that the man in question was Cerniglia and his death was ruled as suicide.

Following the news of Cerniglia’s death and the manner in which he died, Top Chef’s Eric Ripert used the opportunity to call out what he believed was Ramsay’s inappropriate mentoring style, suggesting that Ramsay was partly to blame for Cerniglia taking his own life. Ripert wrote in a suggestive tweet:

“Nothing personal against Gordon Ramsay but he is a poor inspiration for professional chefs in his shows. I have my bad days too but always try to improve. TV or not – it’s no excuse! Ultimately I believe in the goodness of Gordon but he is very wrong.”

Eric Ripert’s suggestive tweet addressed by Cerniglia family

Cerniglia’s family publicly rejected this narrative, going on to suggest that not only was Ramsay’s intervention good for the business, but Cerniglia believed that Ramsay was a good man.

Cerniglia’s sister was quoted as saying, “It really helped tremendously. There are no hard feelings at all from our family to Gordon Ramsay, who is a wonderful man. His behaviour on the show was played up for the cameras.”

Gordon Ramsay on Joseph Cerniglia

Despite the interaction between Joseph Cerniglia and Gordon Ramsay during their first episode on Kitchen Nightmares, by the end of the episode, Cerniglia was grateful for Ramsay’s intervention and how it helped turn around his business.

During the 2008 follow-up on the business, Ramsay also praised Cerniglia for turning around the business and sticking to the changes he had implemented.

Therefore, it was no surprise that when Gordon Ramsay was contacted for a statement on Cerniglia’s death, he was quoted as saying, “Joe was a brilliant chef, and our thoughts go out to his family, friends and staff.”

Is Campania still open?

Campania closed in January 2011 after it was sold and the restaurant reopened under the name Sage Restaurant.

However, by the time the restaurant closed, Joseph Cerniglia was not the owner of the Italian restaurant anymore, as he had sold the restaurant to Campania Corp eight days before he died by suicide.

It was never concluded whether the two events had any correlation, or if it was just mere coincidence.