When FOX brought back the Gordon Ramsay lead restaurant makeover show, people expected some moments of shock and awe. For the Kitchen Nightmares Executive Producer David De Angelis, stepping into that restaurant world had many lessons to be learned.
Throughout the Kitchen Nightmares season, the episodes had highs and lows. From restaurant owners who struggled with change to younger men who needed to accept their responsibilities, the stories of growth apply beyond the four walls of a restaurant. Yes, a failing business was able to right the course and find a path to success. More importantly, the people involved found a new sense of self that will help them beyond their business.
During a conversation with De Angelis, he recalled the Juicy Box episode. While the family run restaurant was meant to be a legacy, the kids were not living up to their responsibilities. As he recalled, the young man was in a cycle of party, work, party, which lead to his health suffering. Ramsay was able to get him on a personal, healthier, better track, which in turn helped the restaurant.
De Angelis’ takeaway from that episode was “show up for yourself. How can you show up for others if you’re not doing it for yourself.” It might be a classic concept, but it is one that is often forgotten and needs to be told again.
While that lesson has real impact beyond the show, De Angelis did admit that there is no going back after being part of this show. He mentioned, “once you know how the sausage is made, it can change your perspective on eating sausage.” Although the analogy is one that people can appreciate, it has changed one habit when he visits a new restaurant.
Specifically, De Angelis offered this tidbit. “I would say the first thing to do is excuse yourself and go to the bathroom to see what shape their bathroom is in. Then, you can start to judge the restaurant. I have found that when restaurants have clean bathrooms, they are usually clean in other places.”
That idea might not necessarily be a hard and fast rule, but it can be a gauge. Appearances matter. Effort is required. Restaurants cannot pick and choose one aspect over another. A successful business requires all aspects to be the best that they can be. It does not mean that one night the chef will undercook chicken or burn a pizza to charcoal black. But, if 9 out of 10 days are on point, it might be a good sign that the meal has a strong chance of being enjoyable.
Be sure to watch the season finale of Kitchen Nightmares on December 4 starting at 8 p.m. ET. There are two back-to-back episodes. All episodes can be streamed on Hulu.