Gail Simmons

Gail Simmons on why restaurant wars took 2 episodes to perfect.

on Aug 22, 2007

As the outcome of the Restaurant Wars demonstrates, we as judges must put ourselves in the place of a restaurant diner, who is not there to read the chef's bio or be sympathetic to problems behind the scenes. To illustrate, consider a time when you have gone to a restaurant and had a bad meal. Did you care if the chef who cooked it was having a bad day? Did you take into consideration that he or she may be an incredible talent but was not demonstrating the leadership necessary to ensure the kitchen carried out his or her vision? When was the last time you told your server it was totally fine that your food was overcooked or poorly seasoned and were sorry to hear that the chef was not working up to their potential?

I am quite sure that most of us dine out, we are not overly concerned with the dynamics behind the kitchen door or issues with the chain of command of those who work there. I do not mean to sound callous, but the truth is that when we dine out, we expect to be well served and well fed. Chances are, we will not return or give the restaurant a good review if the experience proves otherwise. For better or worse, the responsibility for success or failure falls on the chef. That is simply the role of the leader in a kitchen.

Sara won this challenge because her entire team worked together to give the diners a superior experience. As the chef in that kitchen, she gets the credit for their improvements since the soft opening. Unless directly at fault for a specific failure, the front of the house, the sous-chefs, and line cooks can't be held responsible for mistakes resulting from poor direction or decision-making. It is the price you pay for being the boss, and holds true for any industry. In the case of Restaurant April, the menu had a few serious flaws and the team made a few fatal mistakes. Ultimately, Tre knew the time had come for him to stand up for his team and take the hit. I believe he did so with grace and will return to his own kitchen a better leader.