The other evening I rushed home from the office to make sure that I caught the finale of Hell´s Kitchen. I couldn´t let the season end without viewing the winner of the million dollar-plus restaurant at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas.
Heather captured Chef Gordon Ramsay´s culinary kudos to unlock the door to her future. After a tumultuous dinner service, with a brigade of unqualified culinarians, Heather managed to pull off a scream less evening in the Kitchen from Hell.
It was also the first night that Ramsay´s TV tirade did not land on our living room couches. He was on his best behavior. He assumed his job was comleted. The British bombardier who slings slang and vulgarity in the kitchen as though it were salt and pepper on a steak sets a bad example for chef´s at every level.
Coincidentally, I was dining near a kitchen door last week and for a moment thought they had import Ramsay into the kitchen. The head chef, I hope, for if he weren´t the insubordination clause in the employee manual would certainly suffice for termination, had gone ballistic because a steak was over cooked. You could hear the rant throughout the dining room.
And, as soon as the kitchen quieted down, you could pan the eatery and see that the mood of the people had changed dramatically. Eyes focused on the kitchen door each time a server stepped through to see if the tears of fear had fallen from the individual who happened to bring the steak to the kitchen staff´s attention. The ambiance suffered due to the roar. After the commotion had cleared, I asked the waitress what had gone on in the kitchen.
"That was the cook´s Gordon Ramsay impersonation," he said.
Although Ramsay rants with the enthusiasm of a lunatic while airing on the Fox channel, he couldn´t project the same demeanor with his staff for any given time unless he had mastered the art of the constant cook turnaround. And, nobody with any skills wants to succumb to that.
As owners we all have a certain obligation to set the standards by which we all work. Although Ramsay may be the hot hellion of Monday night TV we should explain that he is not the culinarian to use as an example of style.
Granted, the leader in a kitchen must have control, and assertiveness. They must earn the respect of the back of the house staff and those they deal with in the front of the house. Plus, they must have enough talent to not only create great food but to keep the atmosphere enjoyable. Standing in front of a 5000 BTU stove on a temperate summer night can be fun if you have the right people around you.
And you don´t have to yell to get them. Often a whisper works just as well.