Denise Whiting speaks: What you didn't know about 'Kitchen Nightmares'
At the "Kitchen Nightmares," press conference with Gordon Ramsay, at right, Cafe Hon owner Denise Whiting, third from left, (in eyeglasses) announced that she is relinquishing the "Hon" trademark. Standing next to Whiting are Cafe Hon manager Deborah Harris, second from left, and Lisa Davis, Honfest planner, behind Ramsay. (Baltimore Sun photo/Amy Davis)
When you're watching the episode, pay special attention to the focus group scene. In my first-take on the episode, I mentioned how impressed I was with this group, who were shown to be thoughtful and reasonable even when expressing their anger and frustration. I thought so especially compared with how belligerently and obnoxiously Denise Whiting's detractors had presented their arguments and complaints over the preceding 11 months.
The focus-group sequence shows Whiting listening in on the group from a car parked nearby. What wasn't clear, at least to me, was that Whiting could see as well as hear the proceedings, which, of course, went on much longer than the few minutes seen in the show.
Whiting told me that it was the comments from the focus group, and not anything Gordon Ramsay said, that ultimately persuaded her to give up the trademark. "I felt safe," Whiting said. "I knew it would all be okay."
Whiting said that among the group's members was a Hopkins civility professor, presumably Dr. P.M. Forni, the co-founder of the Johns Hopkins Civility Project. Dr. Forni was not shown speaking in the 'Kitchen Nightmares' episode, and I don't know what Dr. Forni contributed to the proceedings; possibly it was his insight into how a human being reacts to bullying.
Whiting has made her apologies. She has even sat down for coffee with her detractors, including Bruce Goldfarb, the focus group member who is seen brandishing what he says is a cease-and-desist order from Whiting. "He's a nice man," Whiting said.
Whiting said she's happy to sit down for coffee with anyone.
You can hear Whiting in her own words in this radio interview she did with Jo Jo and Reagan from Mix 106.5 from Feb. 27.