Kitchen Nightmares and Entrepreneurship

I am a big fan of Hulu. Ever since I found Hulu, I don’t watch much of TV. This is clearly new way of watching TV shows.It’s very convenient, and I get to watch whatever I want (as long as episodes are available) and whenever I want. Since I don’t have much time to watch during the weekday nights, I tend to “binge” watch on weekend nights.

I have recently discovered a very interesting show called “Kitchen Nightmares“, and while it’s entertaining and a little formulaic, I drew a lot of parallels with entrepreneurship.


It was amazing to see how many co-owners didn’t have passion for their restaurants! It was very clear some owners were using it for their ego trip, even though it was failing. You need that fire in the belly, which enables you to take charge of chaotic situation and plow through.

Passion was something a lot of investors and entrepreneurs talk about (also in the book called “Monk and the Riddle“). An entrepreneur without passion is an oxymoron. If investors see the lack of passion, it’s the fastest way to getting turned down.


Oh, man, did it matter! I have never seen inside of a kitchen during dinner rush, but it was definitely chaotic. If there is no clear leadership, everything falls apart. Bad restaurants were plagued with inconsistent food, confusion in the kitchen and among wait staff, and angry customers who had to wait for a long time for their food to arrive or whose food wasn’t exactly top quality. It also turned out that whoever took charge happened to be one with hottest passion, most fire in the belly. And it shows.

Also in entrepreneurship, especially in hard times, leadership matters the most. Someone with hottest passion may not be the best leader, but that person will at least carry the company through especially in hard times.


In chaotic kitchen, communications was the key to get food prepared and delivered to customers. Without clear communications, there were confusions, people yelling at each other, wrong foods delivered to customers, and extra long wait time.  From the front to the kitchen, everyone needed to clearly communicate what’s required, what’s going on, otherwise everything went down south really fast.

There is no excuse in startups for not communicating clearly with everyone involved, especially because its size tends to be small and working together is critical when stake is high.

Find your niche

Another thing Gordon does before the re-launch is positioning (my favorite thing in marketing strategy). When competition is fierce, the only way any restaurant can survive is by finding its niche, positioning itself correctly, and creating menu items that support the niche/positioning.

It’s so true with any startups.


In most cases, when the chef Gordon Ramsay did the re-launch of these failing restaurants, he decreased the number of items on the menu to streamline operations.

The same couldn’t be any more true in startups. Simplify, simplify, and simplify. Release early and reiterate. Always adhere to KISS principle.

Interior Design

Bad restaurants have many reasons why they fail, but one of most clear one is its interior design or atmosphere. Redesign of interior was always done before re-launches, and it clearly showed the differences.

I might be stretching it a little bit, but I think it is synonymous to UI/UX of many web/mobile applications. If it’s not intuitive or too ugly for customers to use, it would be hard to get meaningful traction.

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