|I have also seen and enjoyed a number of episodes of Ramsay's shows, both his "Kitchen Nightmares" and also "Hell's Kitchen" (where wannabe chefs compete to win their own restaurants). These programs are highly entertaining mini-lessons in running any kind of business. But they also offer unexpected lessons in human psychology and moral character.|
Objectivism is a specific philosophy, and because there are no references to it or its principles in the shows, I wouldn't call Chef Gordon Ramsay's TV programs "Objectivism in action." However, I understand what is meant here.
Chef Ramsay is focused on reality. Every week he has to deal with people who aren't, and he has to pound home the facts of reality to them. In the unlikely venue of restaurant kitchens, we see all the variants on subjectivism/intrinsicism in psychology: people who simply can't or won't face up to reality because they are narcissists who wish to indulge some emotion or some Grand Idea -- at the expense of customer service. We see laziness, manipulativeness, and second-hander psychologies. And we see the result of these foibles and vices: failure.
In fact, what I like about these shows is that they spotlight how success depends primarily on character. Some people clearly lack the intelligence, skill, or knowledge to be in the restaurant business. However, many people who do have the talent nonetheless fail because of their hangups. Some don't have the guts to fire incompetent employees. Others want to indulge their own "creations" in the kitchen -- creations that are either inedible or for which there is no obvious market demand.
A constant theme is their failure to put themselves in the seats of their diners, and to perceive the restaurant experience through their eyes. Most of the problems would disappear if they were to consider, for even five minutes, the reasonable expectations of their customers when entering the restaurant. That's not "social metaphysics"; its the psychology of a trader, who realizes he must give the objective value of a great dining experience if he is to receive in return the objective value of repeat business from his customers.
And these are lessons that are transportable to any business.
If I have any criticism of the show, it's that Chef Ramsay is clearly something of a narcissist himself, ever playing to the cameras (albeit subtly). His curmudgeonly schtick -- foul-mouthed, adolescent, constantly bleeped-out rants -- gets old very quickly.
Still, the man knows his way around a kitchen, and he realizes that the rational aims of a restaurant should be to meet the highest customer expectations with excellent food, served in a timely, efficient, courteous way, and in a pleasant atmosphere. Those are objective values, and because Gordon Ramsay encourages them -- and the kind of character that produces and delivers them -- his TV shows are ones that Objectivists can enjoy.