Wednesday, June 04, 2008

KITCHEN NIGHTMARES: NICK GONE LOCO OVER ROCOCO

Nick Anderson,chef and proprietor of Nick's Bistro at Rococo, was an award winning chef who, precisely because he was supposed to be good,couldn't get his ego out of the way and did things his way. Unfortunately, his way was leding him to bankruptcy.

When Gordon Ramsay came to the rescue and asked Nick's wife how much they would be in debt if they closed down now, she said: "About a hundred grand!"

Problem was they didn't have that money to pay up. And they couldn't close down because Nick had two little kids who,in Gordon's colorful language, would be all f****d up!

Before he could help however,Gordon had to make Nick eat some humble pie so he would listen and be open to suggestions.

After Gordon tasted some of Nick's menu (which included own of Gordon's), he didn't have kind words to say. He observed Nick and his sous chef serve customers one evening and his comment was that everything nick was doing was pretentious.

Why? Because Nick was using expensive raw materials for his menu and spending a lot of time plating his dishes so he would come across to customers as a classy chef, and they would have to pay top dollar (pounds) for the food.

Unfortunately, as Gordon found out by interviewing former customers, Nick had priced himself out of the market. Worse is that they didn't believe they were getting value for their money.

Throughout the episode Gordon kept badgering Nick to rethink his strategy of keeping his resto as a pricey and pretentious operation. He also pointed out that Nick had to radically change his ways because years of doing the same thing over and over again had left him uncreative.

Nick's pride was obviously hurt because when Gordon returned for a visit he found himself locked out. When Nick finally opened the door he had been crying his eyes out because he didn't feel Gordon appreciated anything he had done.

That was the break Gordon needed,because at least this time Nick was open to listening.

As a first major step to rehab, Gordon recommended that Nick change the restaurant's name. Out of the top of his head he came up with the name "Maggie's" because it was located near the Church of St. Margaret's. Nick didn't like the name but finally gave in.

Gordon also trimmed down the menu and showed Nick he could cut down his prices by getting produce and raw materials fresh and cheap from the local suppliers. He recommended they keep the preparation simple so they could serve customers faster too!

In keeping with the unpretentious and simple Maggie's theme, the resto's look was kept to a bare tables and chairs motif. Anything to do with Rococo was removed.

When Nick re-opened to customers whom they invited through leafletting,he was encouraged by what he saw. The food was going out of the kitchen fast,and customers praised the delicious cooking which came at a lower price. What's more, Nick seemed to be enjoying what he was doing again.

Gordon returned to Maggie's after a month,and the first thing he noticed was that the resto was full. He wanted to try the food but he couldn't get a table until they found him one. And when he tasted the food, he was pleased because Nick had kept it honest, simple and unpretentious.

Sales of Maggie's was averaging four thousand on weekdays and eight thousand on a good day. This was more than double of what he was making under the Rococo name. What was great was that Nick confessed that he was now doing all these things from his heart.

I learned a lot of lessons myself from this episode: humility,the need for continuous improvement and innovation, changing strategy when things change and doing something that one loves.

1 comment:

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