Unpalatable food was served with a side of denial when Colin Fassnidge found himself stuck in a time warp at Cafe Martini in tonight’s Kitchen Nightmares Australia on Channel 7 and 7plus.
Colin arrived in the historic town of Wangaratta in regional Victoria to visit husband-wife team Mark and Belinda, who two decades ago ran the hottest place in the town, but not anymore.
“This place is our life. We’ve invested everything in it. We’ve basically got no superannuation left at all. It’s very frightening at our age, we can’t just walk away, this is our last chance,” Belinda said as she welcomed Colin.
While waiting for his food, Colin had a good look at the place and thought it reminded him of Vinnies: “This is time capsule from hell and I’m trapped inside surrounded by ghosts of decades past.”
Worse, the café was a revolving door of chefs. With the kitchen being manned by a bunch of trainees, Belinda had taken all control in the kitchen.
Colin and Belinda fell out when he showed disappointment after being served frozen oysters, overcooked chicken risotto and an undercooked pizza. “Sometimes truth hurts. You gotta be cruel to be kind,” Colin said.
In denial, Belinda freaked out to husband Mark: “I don’t think it’s as bad as he’s saying it is. Tell him to go f*** off.”
As the dinner rush began, Colin was gobsmacked to see the staff carving top-quality steaks like they were a two-for-one deal. Moreover, Belinda and Mark’s lack of trust in their inexperienced trainee cooks had them spend more time in the kitchen than on the floor.
Colin truly got a pulse for the dire situation when he saw Café Martini’s online reviews, something Belinda didn’t care to read, finding them “too upsetting”. He knew if the restaurant were to have any hope, he needed to fix the owners’ delusion that their food was good.
He asked the dine-in customers to fill out their “honest feedback” as it was time for Mark and Belinda to listen to their customers for the first time in 22 years. Unable to face the brutal truth, Belinda stormed out in tears.
The next morning, after a heartfelt chat with Belinda, Colin got to work. He taught the staff to cook spatchcock chicken in their wood fire oven.
With much reluctance, Belinda agreed to see if the dish flied or died by putting it on their specials list. Not only was the chicken a raging success, the kitchen team also proved themselves by cooking it better than Colin.
Ahead of the relaunch, Colin surprised the owners with a brand-new menu featuring country-style favourites, a facelift and a new name: The Bull’s Head Hotel.
During the evening, Belinda and Mark’s unclear dockets lead to mass confusion in the kitchen. Soon Belinda was under the pump and started messing up the orders in confusion. Colin jumped in to save the day.
After the successful relaunch, an elated Mark said: “What a transformation and it’s been so positive and wonderful. We are back in the game again.”
Belinda said: “I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”