Living the ‘Nightmare’

Rising star chef Assaf Granit takes the helm of his own TV show with "Kitchen Nightmares."

ASSAF GRANIT channels his inner Gordon Ramsay in this new show (photo credit: Courtesy)
ASSAF GRANIT channels his inner Gordon Ramsay in this new show
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Assaf Granit is having a moment.
The Jerusalem-born chef, restaurateur and TV star has racked up one accomplishment after another over the past year. His London restaurant, Palomar, was named the best in Britain by the Observer Food Monthly earlier this month – and by GQ magazine and Tatler restaurant guide in May. The second season of Games of Chefs, in which Granit stars as a judge and mentor, is set to air this winter, and last week Granit’s latest venture, a TV show called Kitchen Nightmares (Mahapecha Bamitbach), hit the airwaves.
The show, starring Granit as an adviser and consultant to struggling restaurants around Israel, is based on Gordon Ramsay’s show of the same name. And Granit is clearly taking on some of the famed British chef’s personality quirks.
Armed with a new bushy beard and a similarly prickly personality, Granit – like a true sabra – hides his heart of gold many layers deep.
Each episode features a struggling restaurant that has called in Granit – one of the chefs behind the famed Machneyuda eatery in Jerusalem – to help them turn things around. So far viewers have watched him work his magic in a family-owned eatery in Beersheba, a beachside restaurant in Ashdod and a kosher Argentinean steakhouse in the Golan Heights.
Granit waltzes into each restaurant ready to tackle every aspect, from the menu to the ingredient sourcing, wait staff, tableware and – often most pressing – communication among the staff.
He also helps them build better websites, increase their search engine traffic and even working with Waze to guarantee diners are able to find them.
Granit even works his magic as a therapist in each episode – treating a quarreling couple to a much-needed gourmet dinner for two, and taking a high-strung chef out for a quiet picnic to discuss his anger problems and the loss of his father at a young age.
Each episode is compelling watching, but those tuning in for a cooking-centric show will find instead a highly dramatized soap opera/business documentary, with food playing a peripheral role. Indeed, many of the show’s scenes take place outside the restaurant, with one notable gratuitous shot of the aforementioned quarreling husband going to sleep on the couch. Every episode has some form of tears – usually employees, but occasionally a glimpse of moistness in Granit’s eye – generally to the sound of cheesy music.
Whatever the drama – Granit storming out, heated shouting, accusations of lying – each episode (so far) has a happy ending – and an update on the restaurant since filming ended. The program hinges strongly on Granit’s dominant personality, and luckily for Reshet, which produces the show, he was the perfect pick. Not afraid to argue, strongly opinionated and ready to take charge, Granit nevertheless slowly reveals a softer inside, bonding quickly with the staff at each eatery. To his credit, by the end of each episode, you’ve come to care about them as well.
Kitchen Nightmares airs Wednesdays and Saturdays at 9 p.m. on Channel 2; full episodes are available online at