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Gordon Ramsay: 'Kitchen Nightmares' lawsuit claims a "f**king joke"

By Christopher Rocchio, 08/28/2007 

Two months ago, Martin Hyde filed a lawsuit against Gordon Ramsay claiming the foul-mouthed culinary king exaggerated the hellish conditions at his former place of employment for an episode of Fox's upcoming Kitchen Nightmares reality series.  Not surprisingly, Ramsay isn't taking too kindly to the allegations.

"I would never-ever-ever dream of setting anything up," said Ramsay during a Friday telephone interview with Television Week.  "The idea of bringing moldy food in and planting actors is a f**king joke.  There's a man (Hyde) who got very scared and very embarrassed about his lack of professionalism. For a man to waste lawyers' time and taxpayers' money to get upset about something you're the cause of..."

Hyde, the former general manager of Dillon's Indian restaurant in Manhattan's theater district, filed a $1 million lawsuit in June in U.S. District Court requesting a judge block the broadcast of the episode he appears in due to the negative image Kitchen Nightmares depicts both he and the eatery in.  Hyde was fired from his general manager position at Ramsay's request during filming for the episode in April.

In the lawsuit, Hyde is claiming that "exaggerations" about Dillons' conditions will "destroy" the restaurant's reputation as well as the "good name" of the people employed there.  In addition, Hyde reportedly alleges that Ramsay fibbed about finding rotten meat; hired actors to eat at Dillons so it would appear the restaurant had grown more popular since the Kitchen Nightmares' intervention; and "unfairly targeted" him to capture a confrontation with the Ramsay on tape. 

"We found extraordinary droppings from rats and the most unhygienic kitchen I've ever seen in my career," Ramsay told Television Week.  "There should be a government health warning before the program saying 'all dinner should be consumed before watching this program.'"

A Kitchen Nightmares' crew member supported Ramsay's account, telling Television Week the eating establishments featured on the show were "so disgusting, we didn't need to do anything."  While the crew member added production does provide local patrons for some scenes, they certainly weren't hired guns.

"They weren't told to lie about their experience, only to be entertaining for the camera: 'If you like the food, then really like it. If you don't, then really don't,'" the source told Television Week.

However Hyde's attorney, Carl Person, told Television Week that his client unfairly caught the brunt of Ramsay's ire, adding "to some extent, [Ramsay] may not know what's going on" behind the scenes and a good portion of the production is "showmanship."

"[Mr. Hyde] wasn't the one in charge of the kitchen," Person told Television Week.  "The person responsible left the restaurant a week earlier. They're going to make him appear he was the one in charge and he wasn't. They're setting him up."

A judge reportedly sent the lawsuit to arbitration earlier this month, however that has apparently done little to appease Ramsay.

"We were issued a writ because, God bless America, if the toilet paper is not thick enough and you come out with a rash on your ass [you'll get sued]." he told Television Week.   "Trying to say I set up a wobbly chair... This is supposed to be the most powerful nation in the world, not the most pathetic."

Kitchen Nightmares is scheduled to premiere Wednesday, September 19 at 9PM ET/PT on Fox.

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