‘24 Hours To Hell And Back’ Made Me Want To Hug Stone’s Throw Owners

Courtesy 2019 FOX Broadcasting/Jeff Neira/FOX Despite shots of moldy strawberries and slimy chicken, a Seymour restaurant came off reasonably well during Wednesday night’s airing of “Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back.”

I mean, who didn’t want to hug Stone’s Throw owners Tara and Peter Hamme by the end of the episode?

First, a little bit about the series:

For those not familiar, the awkwardly-titled “24 Hours” FOX Television show stars Ramsay, the foul-mouthed British chef who first made a name for himself on the BBC in “Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.” He would travel to struggling restaurants in the United Kingdom and yell at the (usually understated and reserved) owners.

The show was a hit and was reborn in the U.S. in 2007 as “Kitchen Nightmares.” The American version made the British version look . . . well, British. Everything in the U.S. version got more obnoxious — the f bombs, the screaming, the roaches, the rancid walk-in fridges — and the restaurant owners were both hapless and delusional. Ramsay seemed to be playing up his anger and outrage, modeled perhaps after TV reality judge Simon Cowell and whoever that British woman was from that prime-time game show craze in the early 2000’s.


“Kitchen Nightmares” reached its guilty-pleasure zenith on May 10, 2013 with the airing of the “Amy’s Baking Company” episode, a cringe-filled affair that has developed a cult following on YouTube.

Since then Ramsay’s brash brand of public humiliation has inspired rip offs — ever see “Bar Rescue?” — and FOX recycles the concept every other year. Look, there’s Ramsay yelling at hotel owners! Hey, here’s Ramsay in the idiot’s version of “Top Chef!” Can we stick some kids in front of him?

The “Nightmare” formula is simple: Ramsay samples the food, sometimes gags, berates the owner, finds disgusting conditions in the kitchen, creates a new menu, yells and curses some more, and somehow everything ends up fine four minutes before the episode ends.

The Latest Incarnation

“24 Hours,” the latest version, is very much like “Kitchen Nightmares:” but with extra cheese and a double-dose of cringe.

Ramsay inexplicably goes “undercover” and dons a disguise to start each episode. See the video below:

  • One episode started off with a puke warning.
  • He somehow plants surveillance cameras but has never been charged with voyeurism.
  • To add spice to the (tired?) formula, the show sets an arbitrary time limit on each restaurant turn around.
  • Oh, and each show has an 18-wheeler with a kitchen on board that really serves no purpose, plus an in-house advertisement for industry products. I immediately purchased a Touch Bistro point of sale thingy after last night’s airing.

Now, the best episodes of “24 Hours,” which is in its second season on FOX and averages more than 3.5 million viewers each week, features one key ingredient: idiotic, combative owners.

I’m talking about the owners who deny there are roaches in their pantry. The owners who won’t fire the drunk employee stealing from the register. You know what I mean. It’s car-wreck television. A blood sport where the viewers get satisfaction from seeing Ramsay humiliate business owners. Guilty-pleasure viewing that probably signals we, as a nation, are in dire need of counseling.

Last Night’s Show Was Tame

All that being said, and holy cow I’m blabbing here, the Hamme family came off quite well in last night’s episode — precisely because they were submissive to Ramsay. That gave the episode something reality shows don’t have — an air of reality.

(Speaking of ‘reality:’ did you catch Ramsay call Seymour the ‘heart of New England?’ No offense, First Selectman Miller, but somewhere in Vermont a maple syrup farmer threw his tapper at his television)

Courtesy 2019 FOX Broadcasting/Jeff Neira/FOX

With no adversaries or crazy folk to scream at, last night’s “24 Hours” was more like Ramsay’s old British show. It delved into what appeared (and all reality-show editing needs to be taken with a grain of salt) to be the root cause of Stone’s Throw problem — the owners were burnt from the daily grind of restaurant life.

Who can’t relate to that?

The other “highlight” of the show, if you will, was the authenticity of the Hamme family, specifically the bond between wife and husband Tara and Peter. That sort of love, forged in fire it seemed through Tara’s bouts in 2010 with cancer, can’t be faked, and it was refreshing to see that in what’s usually a brainless television show.

“He showed us stuff we had been missing,” Tara said in a brief interview that aired on FOX 61 news immediately after the show. OK, maybe not immediately — 47 minutes into the news program and a few “coming up next” bumpers.

The best thing we can do now that Stone’s Throw’s business struggles were aired on national television is to circle the wagon and spend some money there.

Random Observations

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Seymour Pink, the nonprofit group that helps people with cancer, actually played an important role in the Stone’s Throw story. Its president Mary Deming and other volunteers were at the restaurant’s relaunch, filmed in October, and contributed tiled photos for a new display inside the restaurant.

“The food at the relaunch was exquisite,” Seymour Pink’s Trudy Ginsburg said in a message to The Valley Indy.

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I counted 28 cuss-word “bleeps” in the episode. There were four bleeps by the first commercial break, three of which were uttered by employees! The bleeps reached climax, as always, during the inspection of the walk-in fridge, where Ramsay claimed people connected to him had become ill after eating the food and that the place should have been shut down by health inspectors.

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According to the Naugatuck Valley Health District (they inspect restaurants), Stone’s Throw scored an “excellent” rating on Oct. 25, 2018, which is roughly around the time the show was filmed. It scored a “poor” rating back in July 2016.

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Click here for the restaurant’s website.

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If you missed last night’s episode, figure out how to use your On Demand service.