Everyone Deserves to do Quality Work – From Kitchen Nightmare to Career


A new season of Gordon Ramsay's “Kitchen Nightmares” show has started on Fox. This show is still my favorite “business” show on TV, as there are often many important lessons about management, quality, and leadership. The episode about the “Hot Potato Cafe” in Philadelphia is no exception.

People who started a restaurant who thought it would be “fun” and they had no idea what they were doing. As you see on this show, just because you CAN open a restaurant doesn't mean that you SHOULD. Restaurants seem so easy to people, but it's a really tough business and it's easy to fail — the owners had gotten into debt to the tune of $250,000 — they had basically lost their life savings.

21-year old niece was forced into taking the role of chef, with no training and no support. Since it was clear the women who ran the place had no passion (which led to Chef Ramsay walking out on them at one point, since they didn't care), the chef put on this defensive attitude of “I don't really care about cooking.”

It turns out that seemed like a defense mechanism. When you're not allowed to do quality work, it's easy to fall back on “I don't care” as a way of coping.

When Chef Ramsay hired a chef to be a mentor and instructor, the young woman cried, she was so happy to finally get some training.

She said, very emotionally:<

“I finally got somebody that cares, somebody that's going to help me out. I can finally do something, I can learn, I can learn how to do this, and do it right. It's a great feeling.”

Video of that portion is below for U.S. readers:

Wow. Just wow. What an incredibly powerful moment. Everybody deserves the chance to do quality work. It seems like this young chef may finally have the inspiration to make a career out of cooking. And the end, she says, “This is a career that I want. I love this place, there's no place else I want to be.” I hope she does well.

Here is a nice blog post on Gordon Ramsay being a lean change agent.

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. I don’t think you’d hold the same opinion of Ramsey if you watched him in “Hell’s Kitchen”. He’s got a decidedly less positive leadership style in his own kitchens, at least “as seen on TV”. It’s hard to tell how much of it is just in front of the cameras.


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