Manasquan restaurant makes television debut

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The dining area of Blend on Main, 152 Main St., was renovated when Gordon Ramsay filmed his show “24 Hours to Hell and Back” at the restaurant in October of 2019. COURTESY OF LOU SMITH

MANASQUAN — The Manasquan restaurant, Blend on Main, made its television debut on Tuesday, Jan. 14, when the second episode of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s “24 Hours to Hell and Back” aired at 9 p.m. on FOX.

The episode, which was filmed mid-October, caused a flurry of excitement within Manasquan as word got out that Gordon Ramsay and his production staff were in town.

Several Manasquan High School students even had the chance to meet Mr. Ramsay after he wrapped up filming at the restaurant.

Chef Lou Smith is the owner of Blend on Main, 152 Main St., and opened the restaurant in 2014. He said the restaurant is a “culmination of nostalgic Sunday dinners, strong family traditions and a deep culinary affection.”

Mr. Smith said his filming experience began in August when he was asked by a representative for the show if he would like his restaurant to receive a renovation.

It was enticing to get a little freshen-up,” he said, however, he did not know at the time that he would be working alongside Mr. Ramsay.

Without giving away all the details of the upcoming episode, he said he was able to take away a few valuable lessons from Mr. Ramsay’s visit, including ways to manage the menu, save money and work more efficiently.

“He’s one of the best chefs in the world and to open yourself up to vulnerabilities like that … it’s tough stuff,” Mr. Smith said.

One of the biggest takeaways from the experience, Mr. Smith said, is that he needs to rely on his staff more because trying to do too much work by himself compromises quality and puts more pressure on him.

“He actually had me step back a little bit and allow the staff to do the muscle [work] and allow me to watch it and manage it, as opposed to trying to do it all,” Mr. Smith said.

The restaurant also received a renovation to the dining area, which Mr. Smith said has had nothing but positive feedback.

“It was a really nice surprise walking into the final space,” he said. “They put a lot of money into the dining room where it was needed and they gave me some nice tools to work with in the kitchen.”

A Gordon Ramsay show would not be complete without the television personality yelling in someone’s face.

“He was six inches from my face screaming at me, it was pretty surreal. I thought it was great actually while it was happening.”

At the end, Mr. Smith said the opportunity was a unique life experience and brought the staff together, adding that Mr. Ramsay loved his kitchen staff and all the talent they have to offer.

“I think we fared pretty well. He was comfortable with the changes when he left,” Mr. Smith said. “At the end he shakes my hand and says I’m a great chef … that’s really all the validation I ever needed.”

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