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I was watching "Kitchen Nightmares w/ Gordon Ramsey" a few months ago and there was a chef who created these fantastic looking dishes. He used such fresh ingredients that even Ramsey himself was envious because it was fresher than the ones Ramsey used. Only...the chef had no customers. The problem with his restaurant was that it was set in a location where people were not fluent to French cooking, the dishes on the menu were labeled with heavy-hard-to-understand french wording, and while his dishes looked good, Ramsey criticized it for having "too much flavor." Ramsey even brought in a Michelin star reviewer to critique the chef's dish and the reviewer said while the food was VERY fresh, the dish had a potential of being very good only if there wasn't so much flavors everywhere. Ramsey suggested the chef to go simpler and make only 1-3 things stand out on his plate.

It was very hard for the chef to change. Honestly, it really seemed like he didn't want to change his dishes at all. But when the restaurant followed Ramsey's guidance and had a grand opening, customers started to rave about the dishes.

A month later, Ramsey came back to visit the Restaurant and learned that to his disappointment the chef stuck to his guns. He went back to his old self and his old dishes. But some things did change..while Ramsey was gone, the owner of the restaurant decided to open a second restaurant that followed what Ramsey taught and it turns out that that restaurant had way more business than the restaurant that the chef was in....

I had a chance to meet up with a chef who told me a little bit about his life journey and he said that he never cared about having his name in the newspapers and didn't pay much attention to the reviews. He only cared about the food.

Which led me to thinking...if you really loved what you do, wouldn't you want to keep improving at what you do? And from a culinary standpoint, if your food sucks wouldn't you KNOW? Wouldn't you want the dish to turn out great? It's not like it's the kind of art with a bunch of colored scribbles splattered on a canvas but the art that you ACTUALLY taste.

And yes..the Fountainhead does come to mind as I finish up writing this question. I haven't fully read the book though.

asked Feb 27 '13 at 11:33

deannamurray's gravatar image

deannamurray
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edited Feb 27 '13 at 12:34

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦
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A friend told me that his palate with food increased after he began experimenting with wine tasting. Perhaps the chef can relocate himself to a restaurant located in an area where people have a higher level of palate. This will be a win-win situation where the owner can replace this chef with one that's a better fit for the area and the chef can cook in a restaurant with more customers, thus allowing him to practice his art more.

(Mar 03 '13 at 14:01) Humbug Humbug's gravatar image

Evidently there is an "owner" who owns two restaurants. The chef described in the question works in the first restaurant and is described as having no customers, but some very unique food recipes made with highly fresh ingredients. The second restaurant follows Ramsey's suggestions and is very popular and profitable, apparently by adapting some or all of the chef's original recipies (but probably with a different chef). I guess you could think of the original chef as the "Research Branch" of the owner's overall enterprise. In any case, the chef seems to have a very good deal going for himself: he's free to create his own artistic dishes exactly as he sees fit, by his own standards, without having to be distracted by anyone else's wishes, hopes, fears, standards, etc. He makes a living because he's supported by the owner. Evidently, then, the owner thinks highly enough of the chef's work to continue to fund him, and apparently many of the chef's ideas do, indeed, make into the other restaurant, admittedly in altered form, where there are plenty of customers to pay for everything. And who knows? Maybe there will be at least an occasional customer for the first restaurant, curious about sampling the chef's original creations firsthand. Surely it should be considered "okay" for a determined, dedicated, creative chef to live his life that way if that's what he wants and can afford. And my compliments to the owner for his insightful understanding and appreciation of the artist-chef's work. It's a fascinating synergy, perhaps even worthy of being made into a movie someday (titled, perhaps, "The Artist and the Entrepreneur," or something similar).

Update: "Reading between the lines" and "connecting the dots"

A comment inquires as to where the story says that the second restaurant gets any ideas from the chef in the first restaurant. The telling of the story is, indeed, a little ambiguous about how much artistic dependence there may actually be between the two restaurants. But the story does say that the first restaurant changed briefly at the hands of the original chef, and the changes were replicated in the second restaurant -- changes based on, and adapted from, the chef's original creations. Moreover, the income from the second restaurant seems very likely to be helping greatly to subsidize the first one. Why would an owner allow such a subsidy to continue, if there is no value to the enterprise in the first chef's efforts? The evidence certainly isn't conclusive or explicit, but it's inferred from what the story does say.

Perhaps, as time goes on, the owner will, indeed, make further adjustments, perhaps along the lines of what another comment suggests, if the owner decides that it would be better for his overall enterprise. I certainly hope the owner will not over-extend himself financially and will continue to treat the original chef as fairly as possible in recognition of whatever value the chef has brought to the enterprise. From the story as told so far, I still see an apparent symbiotic, synergistic relationship at work between the artist and the entrepreneur in this story -- a relationship which they both seem to sense and appreciate, if my inferences are accurate. If the reality is actually very different, perhaps the questioner can clarify it.

The original question also expresses sensing some vague similarity between the story of the chef and the story in The Fountainhead, and the question discusses the chef's work in relation to artistic creation. Those observations tend to confirm further the artist-and-entrepreneur interpretation that I have attempted to highlight and clarify.

answered Mar 02 '13 at 03:06

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦
467718

edited Mar 05 '13 at 00:24

"apparently many of the chef's ideas do, indeed, make into the other restaurant" -- I see no evidence for this in the telling of the story...

(Mar 03 '13 at 14:03) Humbug Humbug's gravatar image

I connect different dots. :)

The fact that the owner brought in Chef Ramsey means he is not happy with the performance of the first restaurant.

As for why he does not fire the non-performing chef. Lots of people are afraid to make difficult decisions and they sometime delay decisions irrationally. Maybe the non-performing chef is a great, hardworking guy in other aspects. As a business manager, I can understand the emotional attachments that may exist.

Unfortunately, there's insufficient evidence in the story to back either one of our conjectures.

(Mar 12 '13 at 21:02) Humbug Humbug's gravatar image

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Asked: Feb 27 '13 at 11:33

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Last updated: Oct 03 '13 at 19:41