Gordon Ramsay Transformed a Soul Food Restaurant Into an Unseasoned Hipster Mess

Sandra Dee’s Bar-B-Que & Seafood (Sandra Dee via Facebook)
Sandra Dee’s Bar-B-Que & Seafood (Sandra Dee via Facebook)

A Sacramento, Calif., restaurant owner is wondering what the hell happened after the chef known for his screaming whiteness invaded her restaurant with his reality show and splashed Caucasianery all over everything.


If you’ve never seen Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell & Back, it is the same premise of Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen and the rest of his nearly identical restaurant-makeover shows: He finds a restaurant owner or chef, yells at them for 49 minutes, and somehow the place is remarkably transformed. That’s literally the synopsis of every episode—meet, holler, repeat.

According to the Sacramento Bee, Ramsay’s producers had repeatedly asked the owner of Sandra Dee’s Bar-B-Que & Seafood to let them make over her restaurant. Owner Sandra Dee admits that her restaurant has struggled lately, so she acquiesced, breaking soul food restaurant rule No. 1: Keep the Caucasians out of the kitchen.

Dee’s place has become an institution in Sacramento during its 19-year history. Some call it the “best soul food in Sacramento,” but the customer base has shrunk with the influx of new high-end eateries to serve the rapidly gentrifying city.

Ramsay thought he could reverse this downturn by making the place more modern, but the celebrity chef is also British, a people known worldwide for the blandness of their mushlike food that tastes like a mixture of algebra and radio static. Yet when Ramsay showed up, wearing a disguise, Dee let him begin the 24-hour makeover marathon.

It did not go well.

The first thing Ramsay suggested was the removal of the “soul” from the soul food menu. (Before you read the next sentence, please recall that the name of the restaurant is “Sandra Dee’s Bar-B-Que & Seafood.”) He suggested that the restaurant remove most of the seafood from the menu. And the ribs. And the hot links.


Ramsey told Dee that her restaurant would be better off with a menu of only eight items. Yes, the genius dining connoisseur from across the pond actually recommended less seafood and barbecue at a seafood and barbecue restaurant. I’m betting that he screamed it at her, too.

Then again, maybe he didn’t. If he yelled at a black woman named “Sandra,” I’d probably be writing a totally different article about how Ramsay Gordon was force-fed his own genitals after they were marinated in Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and his own blood. (Now, that would be a great episode!)


The Christopher Columbus of restaurants redecorated the inside, removing photos of famous diners at the eatery, replacing them with pig art. No, seriously, he did that. I didn’t even know that was a thing: Pig. Art.

“They made it a little too hipster,” Paul Imagine, one of the restaurant’s regulars, said. “They tried to make it something that it’s not. Not a huge fan of the makeover.”


You’re waiting for me to get to the seasoning part, right?

Apparently, Ramsay’s English sensibilities couldn’t handle all those spices, and it sent his taste buds into overload. He suggested that Dee cook only with salt. Upon hearing that, Dee wasn’t having it:

“As to changing to his menu, I will not be doing it,” Dee said. “I’m Creole and I don’t know how to cook without spice.”


Dee says that she will keep all of the decor and absolutely none of Ramsay’s food suggestions. She admits that business picked up after the makeover, although it can’t be determined if it is due to the publicity surrounding Ramsay’s show or the food.

Maybe it’s the pig art.

Read more at the Sacramento Bee.

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Nina Lemone

🎶Look at me I’m Sandra Dee’s. Lousy with Caucasianery.🎶