Zocalo's Mary Russell on her 'Kitchen Nightmare'

Posted: March 26, 2012

Who: Manager and co-owner with her husband, Greg Russell, of West Philly's Zocalo restaurant, featured on "Kitchen Nightmares," 8-10 p.m. Friday on Fox.

From: Morelia, central Mexico

Now: Williamstown, N.J.

Age: 49

Kitchen connection: Mary and her chef-husband met as employees at Zocalo in the '90s. She made the tortillas and chips. He worked the line. In 2008, they bought the place.

Having a 'Nightmare': The Russells aren't sure how chef Gordon Ramsay's producers found them, but the couple are glad they did. "It's necessary sometimes for someone to come and teach you how to run a business," said Mary.

Language of laughs: Ramsay, who is British, took a shine to Russell, for whom English is a second language. They communicated not by words but by smiles. "His perspective is, my language is funny. So, for me, that was fun."

Dream or dread: An episode of "Kitchen Nightmares" often reveals a restaurant at its worst. But Russell said she's "not worried about it. I'm really excited. … is a very nice person."

Favorite thing: Ramsay's newly tweaked menu includes a Morelia specialty. "I love the carnitas," said Russell.

A weekly look at Philly's reality-TV stars. Contact Lauren McCutcheon at 215-854-5991 or mccutch@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @LaMcCutch.

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