The Kitchen Job, a Ripoff of Kitchen Nightmares from New Zealand [video]

Out of New Zealand comes a new restaurant reality series, The Kitchen Job, a blatant ripoff of Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares. Launched in November, the show stays true to the format: savior steps into a failing restaurant, retools the menu, redesigns the space, and fixes everything.

It's a gentler revision of the original, even omitting the often gruesome health hazard tour of the walk-in cooler that's become a hallmark of Nightmares. But the major difference between Kitchen Nightmares and The Kitchen Job is that there's no Gordon Ramsay — no yelling, no swearing. Instead, the show has recruited John Palino (interviewed here), an ex-New Yorker and restaurateur who moved to New Zealand in the 1990s.

Palino is a nice guy — his style is more gentle and straightforward, that of a kind coach and mentor rather than a wicked tormentor out to psychologically break people and build them back up again. Palino does have a certain flair when criticizing the restaurant's best seller, the towering "Ranch and Reef": "To think that five prawns and a cow had to die to make this dish — what a waste."

But overall, The Kitchen Job is a pretty tame affair. Where's the conflict? The struggle? Are New Zealand and its citizens really that boring? It makes me miss the old Gordo.

The first episode visits the River View restaurant in Helensville, whose poor owner moved from Australia to New Zealand for his wife and bought the restaurant, and was then promptly dumped by his wife, still back in Australia.

Since TV3 New Zealand doesn't allow embedding of their videos (even trailers!), we're gonna go ahead and post the first seven minutes or so of the premiere.

Video: The Kitchen Job

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