Last Friday, a body was found floating in the Hudson River by the 145th Street Pier in Manhattan. The body has been identified as that of Joseph Cerniglia, a chef and restaurant owner featured on Gordon Ramsey's famed television show "Kitchen Nightmares," where he goes to failing and suffering restaurants and tries to help turn them around.
The episode aired in 2007 at the Fair Lawn, NJ restaurant, Campania, which was known for extremely long waits for food, the immature staff, and huge, wasteful portions. Cerniglia, the owner/head chef, was portrayed as a New Jersey Italian with a strong personality, who cares about his business, and, to his detriment, treats employees much like friends and family. He is also remembered from the show for his massive amounts of debt, which is one of the major clues as to what happened to lead to his tragic death, along with a "possibly related 911 call received early Friday about a man jumping from the George Washington Bridge," as reported by the Gothamist.
During his episode, Cerniglia's wife revealed that if business turns around, they would lose everything, including their house. He tells Ramsey that in 18 months, he had lost $125,000. While Ramsey's show certainly extended the life of the restaurant, reviews on sites like Chowhound.com say that there wasn't any significant improvement in the service, which is something that has caused problems before the show filmed in the NJ restaurant.
No criminality is suspected in the death, and though there is little more substantial information at the moment, the clues make it seem as if Ramsey's help wasn't enough to relieve the financial pressure weighing down on the chef's shoulders.
Eerily enough, in the episode, Ramsey tells Carniglia that his business is "about to f***ing swim down the Hudson."
Joseph Cerniglia had a wife and three sons, who are asking for donations from friends and family to help support them instead of flowers.
By: Jessica Verderame
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