I love to cook. I love to cook for others even more. Food excites me. Food represents life literally and figuratively. Additionally there are many life lessons we can learn from the food we eat.
Gordon Ramsay is one of the best chefs in the world. He is a Michelin Star chef with multiple successful restaurants all over the planet and multiple successful shows on TV both in the states and the UK. One of my favorite shows is Kitchen Nightmares. I recommend everyone watch at least three (3) episodes (not any revisits). The reason you should watch at minimum three is because you will see a pattern, a pattern that you may be in yourself without knowing because “It is easy to see in others what you cannot see in yourself.”
So here are 22 reasons why watching Kitchen Nightmares can help you get your shit together:
You may be in denial.
One of first patterns you’ll see is the restaurants owners are in denial about the state of their business; the quality of their food and the reason why their establishment is failing and who is responsible for it’s demise.
What are your standards (if any), where did you get them from and what are the benchmarks you measure against?
I will always tell you to only measure yourself against the best. Anything else is selling yourself short. Many people have “standards” that people can’t find the origin of. If you say you’re good at [insert skill here], the logical question that should follow is “compared to what?”
What you think doesn’t mean anything / If you think you know, you have no idea.
What you know (or think you do) has gotten you where you are. Just like above, we need a benchmark. If you think that you’re doing good at [insert task here], what makes you think that? What are you basing that off? In today’s world, there is a time for thinking and a time for knowing. The former should happen when the latter can’t be obtained. When you can know but choose to think, you are just lazy and don’t complain about the results of your otioseness.
Get a grip on your ego!
When you look at the situation that is Kitchen Nightmares, one has to wonder how the restaurant owners can have the audacity to have an attitude with Ramsay when they called him for his help. They have had to seen his show to and the issues of other restaurateurs before they called him, right? Oh, wait, it must be that denial thing again. What an ugly combination. When you ask for help, the person helping is going to help in the way they know how, not in the way you want to be helped. Because if you knew how to fix the issue, you wouldn’t need help now would you?
You got to learn how to take and utilize criticism
The issue are piling up! They’re in denial, so they don’t want to acknowledge the problem; they have an attitude [ego] and don’t want to listen to the criticism to correct the problem that they asked for help with. If we can’t listen to the problems, how can we fix them? “A problem must be expressed to be resolved” -Legal Maxim
If you think Ramsay is mean and curt, then you don’t get it.
It’s painfully clear that Ramsay is passionate about cooking and food. He get’s upset only because he cares so much. If he didn’t, he would be indifferent. Ramsay has paid his dues and maintains extremely high standards. You have to have those qualities to be a Michelin Star chef. Do you have passion on that level for what you do? And does your standards match your level of passion?
It shows the importance of standards
A part of why Ramsay is the man is due to his level of standards. The restauranteurs clearly lack standards and unfortunately those lack of standards can cause major pain to you and possibly kill you if you find yourself in one of these restaurants. Standards matter and it is what separates success from failure; good from great; ordinary from extraordinary. What are your standards for what you do?
Where is your commitment?
People think they’re committed to what they are doing. However, we must ask, compared to what? Do you know what true commitment is? For those who can look past the yelling, tension and drama to hear Ramsay, he will give you an example of commitment. Many times we don’t know what 100% means. It means doing what is needed and growing to achieve the goal. If you can’t listen to others and are unwilling to learn, then you don’t know what commitment means.
Like a boss?
It’s amazing how many episodes, people are too caught up in talking about how the place is like “family.” It’s a business not a family, unless it is your actual family. Even then it’s business. If you family is involved, then it’s family business. If you are the boss then you have to be the boss, period! If you don’t care, then your people won’t care. If the people you must control have a mental/emotion conflict because of the relationship outside of your business, then you probably need to get someone else to work with.
You are responsible!
The ridiculousness of some of these owners only shows how extreme their denial has gone. You want be the boss, then that means all, that’s right ALL responsibility falls back on you. You made the decision to [insert action here] and whatever is the consequence of that decision is also yours. It’s not easy being boss.
Where there is no liability, there is no responsibility
Many situations, you’ll see that the owner is the son or daughter of the one investing all the money into the restaurant. The parents have all the liability while their child(ren) destroy(s) the restaurant. They have no real liability so they aren’t 100%…committed! Or responsible! Why, because underneath it all, they understand that while the situation is grim, they don’t have any major financial liability (maybe just moral) and can just walk away leaving the investor with the clean up.
Where is your team?
In the kitchen, there is usually some type of brigade. It takes a team to produce great things many times. Whether you have a team or are outsourcing, there needs to be a team on some level and not just a group of people.
Team /tēm/ v – Come together as a team to achieve a common goal
Group /gro͞op/ n. – A number of people or things that are located close together or are considered or classed together.
Does your team have shared goals?
With a brigade everyone must be on the same page. Guess who creates those goals? The boss. If you didn’t give it to them, then they have their own. Unless you’re a mind reader or have jedi powers, then their goals (if any) are probably not the exact same as yours.
Are your goals clearly defined?
Many times the owners or executive chefs have all the goals in their heads or they are vague and assumed that everyone should know what they are. It is your job to makes sure everyone knows exactly what the goals are.
How are your communication skills?
The only way to get everyone on the same page and make sure things are clear is to communicate. Many episodes you will see the kitchen has a lack of communication, thus orders are not going out in a timely fashion or wrong. The lack of communication is costing the restaurant dearly on many levels. Communication is the backbone of the kitchen.
How have you put in the time to prepared for success?
When you go restaurant, the food, while “made to order” has been prepared partially before you got their. Everyday, prep cooks show up hours before each service to get ready. Without this “made to order” would mean you’ll be waiting hours for a meal, not 10+ minutes. Everything takes a lot more time than expected.
Where is your system?
The brigade, prep time, communication, wait staff, etc, all are a part of system, albeit not very functional with these restaurants, but a system nonetheless. When you have an actual system in place, you can fix it, but without one, you’re just doing things that hopefully work together.
Do you have the needed skills?
I don’t know why people think they can just start a restaurant without any restaurant experience! Everything takes skills, no matter how minute they may seem. Leadership, communication, administration, control, etc. Each is a skill that is essential to running a good restaurant.
Your desire and “good” idea aren’t enough.
TV and movies got many people believing they can just start something because they want it. Look at the stats people. 80% of businesses fail in the first year and 80% of those business that survive fail after five (5) years. Restaurants are not an easy business to run. You got to have the skills, commitment, team, everything listed above and below.
Do you have the discipline to succeed?
Discipline is the key to everything. Many of Kitchen Nightmare’s participants lack discipline. They lack the discipline to maintain standards, always communicate, continually improve themselves and their staff, stay organized, etc. Without discipline I don’t think anything success is possible.
Do you have a plan?
The goals, the system, the discipline, and everything else, needs a plan to succeed. There needs to be a plan from the menu to the marketing. If you don’t have a plan then will need…
We all need help. We must continually work to maintain a healthy sized ego so we know when we need help. We must have the ability to hear and see the signs. The people on Kitchen Nightmares know enough to know they need help. However, this is only a handful of restaurants when there are over 500,000 in the United States alone and the number is dropping. I wonder why?
Just like having a successful life, running a successful restaurant takes hard work and discipline. If you’re not having a good time, what’s it all for? When you see Gordon cooking, he’s happy, relaxed and makes it look effortless (mastery). You got to relax and have a good time or find something else to do with your life that will bring you joy.
I would say I’m like Gordon Ramsay. Anyone who has worked with me and knows how Ramsay is, will likely agree. While I won’t yell at you and call you names, I will tell you the truth as I see it and get upset when you don’t try hard enough because I want you to succeed (sometimes more than you do). If you need help, ask for it! If not from us, then from someone.
Go watch the show and try to see in the failing restaurateurs what you can’t see in yourself.