Gordon Ramsay’s Own Kitchen Nightmares

@lawton_assoc,  & @felixsalmon point to the Bloomberg article on how Gordon Ramsay nearly went bankrupt.

For Ramsay, this was especially embarrassing because Kitchen Nightmares showcases him as a savior of other people’s restaurants.

“It’s not great if you’re making a show called Kitchen Nightmares and advising people on how to fix their businesses for you to go bankrupt,” says Pat Llewellyn,

I’ve watched Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares on BBC America (I can’t speak for any of his Fox shows in the US) and I find it an entertaining show particularly for the way Ramsay (known for his screaming and liberal use of the f-bomb) deals with the softer aspects of running a restaurant. In episode after episode he’s called in to punch up disillusioned staff and help return them to past glory. It’s usually morale and interpersonal relations that add to bad cash flow management in killing good restaurants. To see how Ramsay turns the attitudes of put-upon staff and restores their confidence is what really makes this show for me. Who wouldn’t mind having Jack Welsh or Vince Lombardi as your personal coach for a month?

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Tyler Cowen, NY Mag: Restaurant Menu Analysis

Thanks to Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution for pointing this article from New York Magazine. Most restaurant patrons probably don’t consider all the work that goes into designing a truly effective menu. Apologies for sounding like a rube, but this analysis is brilliant.

4. In The Vicinity
The restaurant’s high-profit dishes tend to cluster near the anchor. Here, it’s more seafood at prices that seem comparatively modest.

I didn’t realize the degree by which my decision making at dinner has been manipulated by business considerations. I do now.

Should Business Leaders Act More like Artists?

At first blush, I”m not sure I agree with all of these– they seem to be wishful thinking. The fact that many artists actually cannot do any of these things is what makes them good artists and bad business leaders.

Artists constantly collaborate. The example given was the common occurrence of an exhibition with multiple artists showing together, or the so-called “group show.” Even in the context of a solo show, the artist works with the gallery owner, the curator, the framers, the installers, the lighting person, the publicist to bring their vision to life. Every exhibition is a collaboration to the nth degree.

Ok, I think this is stretching it a bit as a model for management. There are diva artistes as much as diva CEOs. “Collaboration”  is necessary for any successful activity, solo or otherwise.

Artists are talented communicators. The whole point of a work of art is to communicate something — a thought, an idea, a feeling, a vision. More explicitly, the artist frequently gives a talk to explain the thought process behind the artwork. Engaging the audience in a meaningful, expansive dialogue is often critical to the exhibition’s success.

I’ll buy this one.

Artists learn how to learn together. Perhaps the reason why artists collaborate and socialize so well is that they learn in the studio model — ten or more students in the same room for hours on end. Bonded together in a personal space of intimate self-expression, they come into their own through the familial ties of the studio setting. When interviewed recently about the differences in her education at Brown and at RISD, one student who is getting a dual degree from both institutions said, “At RISD there’s a lot of learning from your peers. Brown (in the classes I’ve taken so far anyway) is about listening and note-taking in class.”

But do they socialize well with others outside of their studio model?  And have you ever heard “Familiarity breeds contempt”?