Chef Joseph Cerniglia of Campania restaurant in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, was found floating in the Hudson River. In 2007, he’d appeared in Season 1 Episode 9 of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. Looking at the show, one of the things that strikes you is how little affection Ramsay has for garlicky southern Italian food, or for the Jersey habit of serving large portions, allowing customers to bring doggy bags home. In a one-on-one with Cernglia, Ramsay says of the revamped dining room, “The one thing you’re not going to smell when you come in here is garlic.”
In a prediction using an eerie metaphor, Ramsay says, “Your business, is about to [bleep] swim down the Hudson.” It is conjectured that the chef may have jumped off the George Washington Bridge. Cerniglia, 39, was found Friday afternoon in the water near Manhattan’s 145th Street pier. He is survived by a wife and three sons.
The episode reveals that the restaurant was deep in debt. Yelp and Chowhound reviews indicate that the place may have not improved much after Ramsay’s cataclysmic visit (though there were lots of enthusiastic reviews, too).
A Chowhound review from September, 2008:
Ramsey Needs to Return To Campania in Fairlawn, NJ
Had gone to Campania in the past, the food was very good, but stopped going because of the bad service. Decided to go again after seeing that Chef Ramsey had straightened the place out. The service was so bad that we will never go again! Customers all around us were upset and complaining and I doubt they will ever go back either. The waiter was distracted and kept stopping and looking around while trying to tell us the specials. We had to ask twice for bread and it took over 45 minutes for our first course to come out. Then the salad my ordered had a bright red smudge on the side of the plate; it looked like blood. The waiter agreed and brought out a new salad. My mother had ordered the muscles which were very good; however half of the shells were empty and they never gave me a separate dish for the shells. It took another 45 minutes for the main course. We had asked for some more oil for the bread a few times while we waited but never got it. When we ask about the main course the waiter told us that it was being plated. After another 20 minutes asking again about our main course, we were told that the Penne what was taking so long. We didn’t order Penne, nor did we get it. I ordered the Chicken dish with Sausage and mushrooms, but, received a different Chicken dish that I did not like. There was no option to return it because of the time it would have taken. The restaurant was packed with people waiting to get in; when a table became empty it took 20 to 25 minutes to turn over the tables. Our reservation was honored on time but the table next to us said they had a reservation for 7 pm but did not get seated until 7:55 pm The food was not as good as it had been in the past; and hard to believe the service was worse. Would go back even if the food was free! Chef Ramsey What Happened????