What Hell’s Kitchen Has Taught Me

I must be a glutton for punishment because I keep going back for more – each season. Now ten in all.

I’ve watched Hell’s Kitchen since it first premiered on FOX since 2005. I got my mother hooked during the second season, then my dad, and around season 7 I got my longtime boyfriend hooked.

And why? It’s so great – and intense. How many times have you watched thinking to yourself ‘I’m so thankful I’m not there – or – one of those people.’

I’ve learned first and foremost – to present yourself in a (somewhat) professional level at all times. I may not win the job he’s offering, but there are others who are watching the contestants deciding if they want to hire them. And some of these people – I could easily pass on. I understand they think they’re doing battle for supremacy, but they still exude a certain personality to the rest of the audience – and world. I wouldn’t hire someone who yells all the time. Not only would my product and brand suffer, but so would the overall performance of my team.

Also, learn your craft. Boiled down (!) cooking can’t be that hard to do. Pay attention to the ingredients, temperatures and how long it takes. Outside pressure from Ramsay and fellow obnoxious team members don’t help, but if you really want to stand out – be on your best-est behavior in and outside of the kitchen.

If I ever auditioned for the show – I’d know how to cook beef Wellington, crab cakes, mushroom risotto and scallops for sure. I don’t even like risotto, but if I wanted to be a chef, by God I’d learn what it should taste like!

On that note, taste everything! I’ve lost count of how many times he’s said that in the last ten seasons! Taste it! So many mistakes could have been prevented if the contestants checked the food beforehand. And it still dumbfounds me when they don’t taste. I don’t get it – unless the stress is that bad….

Keep your eye on the prize – obviously for this it’s winning the show and getting the job. But for real life, it’s making sure you have a good enough product to attract returning customers.  Think of your journey as steps – and taking one at a time to get to the big prize.

MasterChef also provides great life examples. Don’t listen to gossip – stay the course and believe in yourself. Not even in cooking – if you think you are good at something, keep working at it, and learn about it. But don’t be obnoxious about your skills. And if you choose to be egotistic – make sure you can back it up. If not, people really will enjoy watching you fall. Don’t believe me? Watch the show. Even Ramsay told one contestant to calm down his ego – it’s about cooking, not you. It’s a great turnoff to others. You’re not there to make friends, but you’re also not there to make enemies. What happens if you need salt and there’s 20 seconds left? Looks like you’re on your own.

Lastly, business is also important. It helps to know budgets, outgoing/ingoing costs, menu and restaurant interior design, seasonal food costs, and ‘anger managment’ when employees start to resent each other. Cooking is not all about food anymore.

What do you think? Did I leave anything out?

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