Rachel Brown of 'Hell's Kitchen': Another Gordon Ramsay Victim?

Cynthia Dermody

rachel brown hell's kitchenThe insinuations and accusations are about to get out of hand with word that restaurant owner Joseph Cerniglia was not the first but the second Gordon Ramsay reality show contestant to commit suicide. Rachel Brown, a 41-year-old restaurant owner from Dallas, shot herself in 2007, not long after being eliminated from the second season of Hell's Kitchen.

So there it is. That pit bull Ramsay is to blame, isn't that what everyone wants to think and say? If he's not entirely to blame, then partly. If not partly to blame, he at least warrants a thumbs down.

Here's a word that needs to come up in this discussion: coincidence.

Ramsay wasn't even that mean to Rachel. At least he didn't use the words "baby vomit" or "tastes like s**t" to her as he did with some of the other 11 contestants in the second season of Hell's Kitchen. One of the comments could almost be interpreted as praise in Ramsay-speak:

"Very weird. The shame is with the prawn. It's actually cooked nice, but totally obliterated with the silly chocolate sauce. Far too much chocolate."

What people need to consider here is what in the hell is going on with these poor people in the restaurant business! Obviously many are severely depressed and highly stressed. You don't just take your own life because someone humiliates you -- even if it was on national TV. If that happens, there has to be something much deeper going on.

Cerniglia owned his own restaurant and Brown worked as a personal chef, caterer, and instructor. You know how that goes: 7 days a week, late hours, constant complaints from customers, always struggling to pay the bills -- it sounds like the business from hell! No wonder these people couldn't take it anymore. It's just a shame that they chose to throw public humiliation into their big bag of problems. That, legitimately, could surely push someone who's already on the edge straight off.

If anything, Ramsay helped Cerniglia. Patrons to the Fair Lawn, New Jersey, eatery he owned and ran, Campania, improved and drew a lot more customers after Ramsay's intervention on the show Kitchen Nightmares in 2007. In the end, Cerniglia said Ramsay turned out to be a nice guy. There is very little evidence to suggest any direct link between the celebrity chef and Cerniglia jumping off the George Washington Bridge on Friday. No one forced him or Brown to sign the papers consenting to appear on the show.

Brown, 41, was found dead in her family home the summer after she appeared on the show, where she created a reality show first for becoming involved with another female contestant. She was quoted in a local paper after the show saying she did not regret the experience.

To me this is a story about people who are so desperately searching for a handle on their lives, they throw all their hopes into a television show to fix it. If this isn't part of what's so wrong about today's culture, I don't know what is.

Gordon Ramsay was reportedly on a plane this morning and had no comment on the deaths, but why would he? They are simply a sad coincidence that points to troubles way beyond the scope of any harsh words he could launch at them, and nothing more.


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