Tuesday, 17 May 2011

US Season 1 - Sebastians - CLOSED


Open or closed? CLOSED
Location: Toluca Lake, CA

Episode Summary: Gordon visits Sebastian's located in a prime location near the Universal and Warner Bros studios in Burbank, California. Owned by Sebastian De Modica, a "part time actor" who believes he is a talented chef who can cook anything. He has terrible mood swings and has fired 50 people in the last year. The servers may be mostly actors but even they struggle with remembering the gigantic menu that they offer. The restaurant is losing money fast and it needs Gordon's help. Gordon arrives and doesn't like the exterior of the restaurant, branding it tacky.


Gordon sits down to sample the food and is shocked to hear that Sebastian greets every customer who walks through the door, he wonders how in a packed restaurant he would have the time. Gordon is not impressed with the pictures on the menu which he says is usually a sign to "get the f**k out of there." Sebastian introduces his menu "concept" to Gordon, where you can choose different combinations of meats, sauces, sides and more on the menu, offering an infinite choice of how you would like your meal. Gordon is shocked and merely puts his face in his hands. Gordon orders the calamari as Sebastian tells him it is fresh, a New York strip steak and any pizza they choose. After placing his order he chats to waitress Sonia and finds out she is actress. She tells Gordon that the calamari is in fact frozen and after one bite Gordon sends it back after asking Sonia for a sick bag. Next comes the "Popeye Pizza" which Gordon finds watery and he doesn't think the base is fresh, this frustrates Gordon as they have a wood burning over and pizza is supposedly their speciality. Gordon's steak arrives and is already cut into pieces, Gordon says that it looks like dog food and is an embarrassment. Gordon tells Sebastian that he hopes he can act because he can't cook, Sebastian's defence is that he doesn't have money to buy fresh calamari or make fresh pizza dough, he has to buy it frozen. Gordon thought that pizza was their speciality but Sebastian tells him that it is the menu concept that is their speciality. Sebastian tells Gordon that he hopes one to sell his pizzas in supermarkets all over the world. This leads to a big argument and Gordon realises that Sebastian is slightly delusional....

Gordon arrives to witness a dinner service and sees the waitresses struggling to explain the menu concept to the customers, on some tables it takes up to 15 minutes and the customers aren't impressed either. Gordon is impressed with how Chef Lou keeps control over the busy service but not impressed to see that everything single dish is made from frozen ingredients. Gordon looks in the freezer and it is packed with frozen foods. Sebastian wants to impress Gordon so sends Lou off to work another station and attempts to regain control. It is a disaster with a salad with his hair in and over $300 of food given away due to his cockups. Gordon notices that the wood burning ovens aren't used and the microwaves are constantly in use. Sebastian disappears onto the patio to drink with his friends which annoys Gordon who goes and gets him and brings him back into the kitchen. Gordon brings Sebastian back in to taste his bought in mashed potatoes, Sebastian sees nothing wrong with them whereas Gordon says they are disgusting and spits them back out. Gordon tells him that 95% of the food is frozen and Sebastian says he doesn't care about the food as long as he can go and meet customers and keep them happy. Gordon sits down the staff and tells them that they first big change is a new menu and Sebastian does not appear to be pleased. Gordon attempts to persuade Sebastian that they restaurants speciality should be wood burning oven cooked pizza. He also brings in professional pizza tossers to show the staff how to toss pizza, Lou and the staff have  a lot of fun learning. Overnight, the restaurant is given a makeover and a new fresh dough mixer is unveiled, leaving Lou in tears. Gordon unveils a new, photoless menu focussing on the woodburning ovens which Sebastian is not happy about, not seeing any "uniqueness".

For relaunch night, Gordon rolls out a red carpet in honour of the relaunch falling on the same night as the Academy Awards. Whilst the kitchen is preparing Sebastian is hoovering, ranting and shouting at his staff. As the customers arrive Sebastian is hidden out the back and Gordon tells him to step up and take control of the kitchen. The new simple menu is a hit and flies out of the kitchen to happy customers. Everyone is pleased with relaunch except Sebastian who wants to go back to the old menu and begins to pull food out the freezer and revert back to the microwave. The kitchen becomes confused as the two menus conflict. Gordon is not pleased at all when he discovers that he has tried to revert to the old menu jeopardising the relaunch. Gordon tries to talk sense into him but tells him that he has never met someone he believes in as little as Sebastian and he will just go back to his old ways. Sebastian is furious and chases after Gordon shouting and screaming at him and getting right in his face. Gordon returns and Sebastian finally realises that Gordon is right and he needs to change. He returns to the kitchen and gets to work turning around the service. The relaunch is deemed a success with Lou being recognised as the key player in that success.

What Happened Next: After Gordon left, the old menu returned with the combination concept back on the menu. The restaurant closed in January 2008 for "family reasons" as they returned to Boston.  Chef Q is seen in Season 4 of Kitchen Nightmares in a revisited episode as the Head Chef at Casa Roma and says that one day Sebastian just disappeared. It looks like Sebastian is now running a Tree Removal/Landscaping company and a financial/business consulting firm with wife Nichole. Sebastian had a role in 2013 movie Angels Around Me as a detective.



Sebastians became Robano's, an italian/pizza restaurant and judging from photos on their facebook they kept a lot of Gordons decor.They serve pizza using the pizza ovens and the feature is pizza by the slice, the reviews are mostly 1-3 stars on Yelp.


Extra Reading


Sebastians Yelp Reviews


Robano's Menu


Love Hotel Hell? Visit my Hotel Hell blog here.

27 comments:

  1. I did some research and Sebastian and his wife Nichole now run some financial consulting firm in the New England area. Most likely the bread winner wife made him sell it... The guy Sebastian was also in the movie with the Olson Twins. Lol.

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    1. I had read somewhere that Sebastian's wife was VP of Marketing for the Olson Twins' company.

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  2. What an episode! Sebastian lived in such a fantasy world, an expensive fantasy world.

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  3. Im still waiting to see Sebastian's pizza hitting the super market all acorss the world :(

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    1. LoL, me too.

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    2. ... made from the highest quality already-frozen ingredients. ; )

      I'm also waiting for someone to pinch his mind-blowing menu concept for their own restaurant. LOL

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  4. If Sebastian have money problem at the pizza place, how can he run the financial consulting? Don't he know how to do the financial book? I would not go to him on financial consulting.

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    1. Hahahaha! It doesn't look like he's learned from his failure.

      Of course, he does have practice in filing bankruptcy paperwork. That's more than he had in the kitchen.

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  5. Not sure why morons that don't know anything about how to run a restaurant or cook for that matter would argue with Gordon Ramsay (3 Michelin star chef) with successful michelin star quality restaurants all over the world!

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    1. He's actually got 14 Michelin stars... Or maybe it's 15 now?

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    2. some of gordon's restaurant also have been closed

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    3. Only one!

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    4. I think the point that most of these hacks don't have a fraction of standing that would justify questioning Ramsay's suggestions is well made.

      While it is a TV show and all, he's got a lot of experience and tremendous success. He's not giving advice on TV that'll make an ass out of himself. And he's giving that advice to people owning horrendously mismanaged and horribly run businesses.

      When a McDonald's manager claims he's running a fine dining establishment and argues with a real chef and successful business owner, the McDonald's manager is wrong. End of story.

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  6. I love the fact that ramsay exposes these filthy restaurants. A question; Why does every restaurant that asks for chef ramsay help think their food is the best, especially if you have no customers?

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    1. I really think Sebastian just lived in his own little fantasy world. It's hard to diagnose someone just from a well-edited TV show, but he really struck me as narcissistic--he lied constantly to Gordon and just could NOT deal with the idea that reality did not mesh at all with his self-image. He had immature outbursts constantly, threw incoherent-shrieking drama-queen fits in the earshot of customers, snuck around behind Gordon's back to try to push his "unique concept" on customers again long after it'd been shown to be a total failure, was extraordinarily defensive when challenged, and couldn't concentrate on anything, but instead had this overblown, utterly unwarranted sense of skill and importance. If people didn't like his "unique concept," it was all their fault, not his, and if he just kept pushing it and pushing it, people would eventually learn to like it. It was clear to me that this "unique concept" of "flavor combinations" was the angle he'd decided was his ticket to stardom and riches.

      It was the lying that made me immediately suspect that this guy was not only incompetent but stupid though. He really thought he was so smart he could slide a lie in front of one of the most talented chefs in the business. All I can imagine is that the guy doesn't actually know what good food tastes like, and assumes (like a narcissist would) that if he doesn't, a true professional like Gordon wouldn't either. His poor wife! I hope Lou found a great restaurant though. She deserved it. What a sweet, brave soul she is. The whole staff looked awesome. I'm sorry they had a terrible, dishonest chef abusing them.

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    2. This comment was awesome. He definitely had delusions of grandeur.

      Kudos to Ramsay for sticking through it; I would have left Sebastian to his own devices by day 2. The guy was a lunatic, and I feel sorry his wife for pissing $300k away on someone so incapable of adapting.

      For chrissake, I accidentally put a $50 gift card in the outgoing mail and felt like an ass for a week. $300k and nothing to show for it? She must really love him to still be with him.

      The staff all seemed wonderful and I hope they've all gone on to better things.

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    3. I just recently got into the American version of Kitchen Nightmares. I also do NOT understand the arrogance of these people who call upon Chef Ramsay for help because their businesses are failing, yet argue with him every step of the way about the changes he suggests! The French chef from The Secret Garden who kept insisting that his food and kitchen were better than Chef Ramsay's was utterly ridiculous! Sebastian was living in a total dream-world! His menu confused not only the customers, but also the staff!! Did anyone happen to notice his actor "head shot" hanging on the bulletin board of his office? It was Sebastian, but it must have been taken ten years and 100 lbs. ago!! His restaurant deserved to fail! I only feel sorry for his wife and child to have to deal with his immaturity and self-centered nature ALL THE BLOODY TIME!! Many of these people deserved to fail, however, since they had so many good people counting on them, I was rooting for them to succeed. Too bad so many did not.

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  7. I think Sebastian should get together with Dave from Black Pearl and Peter from Peter's and start a business specializing in roids, fake tans, lobsters, and chinstraps.

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  8. I think that "Tree removal company" means that he started working in the forest cutting trees.

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  9. What scares me the most is that these people are TOTALLY OBLIVIOUS to their stupidity... and they talk like they're EATING stuff like that! How do they even survive on something scraped off the floor?

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  10. This chef deserved to close. He asked for help then kept talking about how wonderful his food was. What an idiot!

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  11. when ime tired and just want to eat... the last thing i want is a giant menu with options,options, options to give me a head ache i just want to eat

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  12. The Sebastian dude was not living in the real world. He wants the entire world to revolve around him. What a stupid man he was. STUPID STUPID STUPID

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  13. I wonder what happened to Lou-Bertha and the rest of the staff. Lou was definitely my favorite of them. I hope she did well in another restaurant!

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  14. I just watched Gordon Ramsey's kitchen nightmares and was appalled by the inadaptable Chef Sebastian. I only hope now, that the new owners of Robano's adopted most of the original staff featured in that episode. I liked the staff - I only disliked that terrible chef!

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  15. I've been trying to track down what happened to Lou, but I can't find her. I hope she ended up somewhere good.

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  16. This episode really made me think maybe Ramsay should employ a psychologist to help him with some owners. Maybe a whole team of them.

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