HOLD on to your sombreros – here comes El’s Kitchen.
Two stubborn Spanish restaurateurs will clash “like bulls” over the running of a long-standing city eatery on television next week.
The Restaurant Inspector sees Fernando Peire, director of The Ivy restaurant in London, shadow Ignacio “Iggy” Campos, owner of Iggs in the Old Town, in an attempt to transform the ailing business.
Inspired by the Gordon Ramsay reality shows, the Channel 5 programme will see troubleshooter Mr Peire given two weeks to turn around the Jeffrey Street restaurant and attract new customers.
Iggs has been popular since opening in the late 1980s but Mr Campos said it had suffered in the economic downturn.
It has been able to remain open as its sister tapas bar Barioja continues to trade well, but the 59-year-old owner said fresh ideas were needed to avoid closure.
During the filming, Mr Peire insisted the “depressing art” on the walls was removed, tore up the carpets and banned tablecloths. He also clashed with Mr Campos over his management style.
Mr Campos told the Evening News that the experience wasn’t far removed from Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.
He said: “Fernando came in and was here for two weeks. It was a bit of a nightmare – he followed me everywhere.
“I was criticised for everything. They took all the wallpaper, all the carpet, he got rid of all the tablecloths. He even threw out all my paintings. I’ve got them all in my house now.”
Mr Peire installed a trendy interior and ambient lighting, along with rustic tables.
He also revamped the menu and disposed of the “Scottish twist” which he derided.
However, the changes put him at odds with Mr Campos.
Mr Peire said: “We were like two Spanish bulls. He is a Spaniard and I am half Spanish. We are famous for our stubbornness.
“Ignacio had the most depressing art on the walls that I have ever seen in a restaurant. He was not pleased when I said it had to go.”
Despite the upheaval and difficult filming, the pair believe the end result will give the restaurant a new lease of life.
Business has picked up significantly in the past month and they are hopeful the publicity will also attract new customers.
Mr Peire said: “Iggy is a great host. Personality and passion go a long way in a market increasingly inhabited by chains.”
Mr Campos added: “Things have gone better the last month. It was pretty exhausting but we’re glad we took part.”
The episode will be screened on Thursday, May 10.
Fernando Peire joined The Ivy in 1990 as a maitre d’ and rose through the ranks, before leaving in 1999 to relaunch Soho’s Quo Vadis and then later work with Villa Nova in Barbados.
Mr Peire returned to The Ivy as director in 2007 and begin work on The Restaurant Inspector last year.