Cooking For Customers

This Foodie Friday I want to write about something I picked up during Gordon Ramsay‘s AMA session on Reddit this week.  You can read the entire transcript here and for those of you who only think of Chef Ramsay as the screaming maniac  on Hell’s Kitchen it’s worth the read.  One of the questions concerned his views of the Michelin Guide, the oldest international hotel and restaurant reference guide, which awards Michelin stars for excellence to a select few establishments.  Chef Ramsay’s restaurants have won many Michelin stars and his restaurant, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, gained its third Michelin star in 2001, making Ramsay the first Scot to achieve that feat.

Ramsay at BBC Gardeners' World Live 2008

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These stars can make or break a business, and unlike reviews on Yelp or elsewhere they are given by a carefully trained team of reviewers after multiple visits.  Given his track record on winning them, one might think that Ramsay had figured out how the system works and cooks to win the stars that propel his business.  Not so much:

So the stars are awarded to the restaurant. And sometimes the chefs think the stars belong to the chefs, but they belong to the restaurant. The service is just as important. Michelin’s had a hard time in America, because it was late coming to the table. But if there’s one thing I respect, it’s consistency. They manage to identify consistently, and it’s all there for the customer. So when people ask me “What do you think of Michelin?” I don’t cook for the guide, I cook for customers.

That is good guidance whether your business involves a kitchen or not. First, there is a recognition that his business – and yours! – are taken as a whole and reflect the strengths and weaknesses of the team.  The front of house service is just as important as the food.  Your customer service is just as important as the quality of your product or professional service.  Second, his focus is not on catering to the reviewers.  It is squarely where it belongs – on his customers.

Each of us can ask if were cooking for reviewers – our bosses, our board, our stockholders – rather than our customers.  We need to think of the business as a team effort and not as some reflection of our own worth.  The statement, above, is a great reminder of that to me.  You?

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