Amy Bouzaglo, Amy’s Baking Company, Samy Bouzaglo, Kitchen Nightmares, Gordon Ramsay
“We’re in the restaurant business,” Amy Bouzaglo says at the beginning of her now-infamous episode of Kitchen Nightmares. “It’s not all daisies and ponies and unicorns.” Mostly unicorns, obviously. But not all unicorns.
Amy, along with husband Samy Bouzaglo, run Amy's Baking Company Bakery Boutique and Bistro,* an Italian fusion restaurant and bakery in suburban Scottsdale, Arizona. They appear to have agreed to appear on Chef Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant makeover reality show in an attempt to combat negative online reviews left by people Amy describes as “****ing haters.”
“If anyone tells me that my wife’s food is not good,” Samy says at one point, “I just tell them to leave the restaurant.” And, in at least one case that the cameras picked up, he loudly demands that they pay for the food they have been waiting over an hour for before kicking them out. Amy responds by threatening to call the police. Roughly 57,543 pre-packaged red pepper raviolis are thrown away, untouched.
Following their episode -- the only episode of the series that’s seen Chef Ramsay walk out on a restaurant he’s been sent in to make over -- the couple and their restaurant received a whole lot more online attention, much of it via their business’ Facebook page. The couple responded with several updates, saying things like “WE ARE NOT FREAKING OUT... I AM GODS [sic] CHILD” and “WE WILL START A GENERATION OF TRUTHFULLNESS [sic] AND WE WILL FIGHT TO BRING PLACES LIKE, [sic] YELP AND REDDIT, AND HORRIBLE PEOPLE LIKE GORDON TO THE LIGHT.”
This isn’t the first time the couple has attempted to address their critics (or, again, in the parlance of the high-strung and self-absorbed, “haters”) head-on. In 2010, Amy responded to a negative yelp review by verbally attacking the reviewer, suggesting that he was a plant sent in by a competitor, that his palate was not sophisticated enough to enjoy the restaurant’s tomatoes or dough, and that only “tramps and losers” ever want to eat outdoors during Arizona summers. She concluded by calling both the customer’s opinions and face “ugly.”
But that is all in the past! After insisting that their Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and Reddit accounts were all hacked, Amy and Samy are now seeking to start fresh with a re-launch event. Now, they write, customers “will be able to decide who is correct: a famous celebrity chef or the marketplace that has supported the small, locally-owned business for six years.”
One thing that truly stood out about the couple, and especially Amy, is how incapable they are of handling criticism. The term “haters” is tossed around liberally on the web, and Amy seems to have borrowed from internet jargon in vocalizing her distaste for her online critics.
Let’s get this straight: Amy and Samy would be difficult, abrasive, defensive people regardless of their awareness of or interaction with the internet, but their appropriation of online language does draw attention to how the way we interact on the internet impacts the way we think about people and their motivations out in “meat space.”
I realized that the often quick, curt, casual way I interact with people online through, for example, Twitter and gchat, tends to make my speech more hyperbolic. I either “love” or “hate” everything. People have “epic” “breakdowns.” Everything is either the “best” or “Worst. Ever.” The other day I caught myself writing that I “hated” a certain comedian, which is entirely not true. I don’t know this person. He’s done nothing that has ever had any meaningful impact on my life or on anything I hold dear. I just don’t like his work. It took me a moment to realize what I was doing, stop myself, and rephrase what I was trying to say.
The deal is that, more often than not, we know and understand when people in our lives are exaggerating for effect, or using hyperbole to convey humor or a greater point. We often become what we say. (As if you needed more reason to ever avoid saying the term “YOLO” out loud.)
The reality is that most people do not know or care enough about you to hate you. The internet will always be populated with trolls, but those people are entirely distinct from people who disagree with or criticize you. People are able to not enjoy your service, product, or performance while having no opinion of you as a person. People are capable of not enjoying a pizza dish while also not actively plotting to bring on your demise and that of your restaurant. And those are the people worth listening to. They can potentially make you and what you do better.
*and Salad Bar Law Firm Gelateria