Sparks flew when a Tyrone restaurant, which is set to appear on the popular TV programme, ‘Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares’ next month, clashed with the Michelin-starred chef’s attempts to make improvements to the restaurant.
McGee’s Bar and Restaurant in Aughnacloy was nominated by the owner Sheila McGee in an effort to improve custom after several years of declining trade. However, long-serving chef 52-year old Mickey Nugent did not take kindly to Ramsay’s presence in what he saw as an unwelcome intrusion and an implied criticism of his ability to conjure up gastronomic excellence.
“Now I’m all for trying out new things, and yer Ramsay fella there wanted me to have a go at all this foreign stuff”, said Nugent, “But shitake mushrooms? Shitake? That man’s not wise. Disgusting. I’m not serving that muck in my establishment. He can jog on. I’d be burnt out of it”.
A series of misunderstandings did nothing to improve relations between the two, after Ramsay asked Nugent to prepare a soufflé and to bake the pastry ‘blind’, which came to an abrupt halt when Nugent accidentally put his hand into the mincer whilst walking about the kitchen with a dish towel wrapped round his head.
“Well, he’s supposed to be the expert, so don’t say I didn’t try stuff”, defended Nugent, “But how dare he accuse me of compromising the integrity of some of the dishes. That cigarette ash was hardly going to scrape itself out of the lasagne, was it? ”.
Further friction was caused by Ramsay’s attempts to phase out some of the Nugent’s favourite dishes, including, ‘Potatoes Three Ways’, ‘Potato Surprise’, and one of Nugent’s particular favourites from the sweet menu, ‘Death by Champ’. Matters came to a head when Ramsay suggested changing the soup of the day.
“It was the last straw”, admitted Nugent. “Has this boy not been to Tyrone before? There’s only one flavour of soup round these parts. Always has been, always will be. Vegetable. If he wants to bring in his fancy carrot and colander soup or whatever it’s called, he’ll get a rolling pin in the bake for his trouble”.
A spokesperson for Gordon Ramsay refused to comment but admitted that their star has been shaken by the experience.
By Staff Reporter Shengas McGlumphie
A 28-year old Benburb joiner finally admitted to his family yesterday lunchtime that he doesn’t like champ, and never has. Aiden Rafferty’s dramatic ‘coming out’ occurred during a chicken roast dinner at his ma’s house in the Tullydowey Road before Eastenders on RTE, when he finally plucked up the courage to tell his father Tom, mother Mary, and two sisters Roisin and Rachel.
“Growing up I knew I was different to the other kids,” said Rafferty. “They were all just horsing the champ into them like mad and I just wasn’t like that. I was always confused about my feelings towards the potato. Some of the kids used to call me hurtful names, ‘potater hater’ and all that. I tried to ignore the cruel jibes but it was never easy, especially the Dungannon ones at the Academy.”
It has emerged that his family are still adjusting to the news. Late last night a fight was reportedly broken up outside the Benburb Arms involving Tom Rafferty who reacted violently to a bit of gentle slagging about his ‘champion son’ and other potato-related puns.
“When I told my da he just stood up and walked out the room. He only came back when mum brought out the Blue Ribands. He hasn’t talked to me since. I think it’s hard for him to accept me as I am, him being originally from Eglish and all. My mum has been more supportive, and my sister Roisin said that she always suspected I didn’t like champ. I’ve been keeping this inside me for so long, I can now be true to myself and get tore into the basmati rice whenever I like”.
Some locals have reacted badly to the news, calling for Rafferty to be chased out of the townland to somewhere like Donaghmore or Castlecaulfield where other fussy food people live in relevant harmony. Others have welcomed the news, intimating that it will help Benburb stumble into the 21st century.
Rafferty is currently receiving support and counselling from the Champ & Colcannon Aversion Trust in Craigavon, which helps those with potato disinclination. Anyone affected by this article can contact them on 02980 665887.