Heilkunst on TV : Kitchen Nightmares

Anyone who has watched Kitchen Nightmares will usually not have a neutral opinion about the key protagonist of this reality program. Gordon Ramsay is famous not only for his skills as a chef and running highly successful restaurants, but also for the continuous stream of colourful language and apparent abuse of the chefs and restaurant owners he is instructing.

He, and this TV show, may often be dismissed by viewers as containing too much gratuitous profanity and shouting. Seeing all this with different eyes, though reveals a different picture — just like the “calm and assertive” energy which Cesar Millan, the dog whisperer uses with dogs and their owners, the energy of Ramsay is appropriate to its context and goal inside of these failing restaurants he’s been called in to rehabilitate. This connects back to my recent blog on Hahnemann’s advice on how the physician should treat the patient.

Thinking of this in Heilkunst terms, there are generally phases of treatment where a degree of “violence” is called for when confronting the deeper entrenched belief systems of the patient, and to penetrate through the thick protective armoring which the patient has put up around their beliefs.

Ramsay is also a very creative clinician, in that he almost always takes the owner and/or chef out of their usual restaurant context, into one which provides an analogical experience for his “patient” to come to see the truth about their own rigid belief structure, and how it is driving their restaurant to failure. These exercises may be something as simple as getting the whole kitchen crew to come out and engage in a soccer match together, to (re-)discover the basics of how to work as a team.

It is amazing to see, time and again, how just about every failing restaurant that he is dealing with is being fundamentally driven by the owners or chef’s personal unconscious beliefs, which drive them to make choices which on the surface are extremely illogical, yet cannot be fixed by presenting the logical alternative (“simplify your menu”; “Make the decor of the restaurant congruent with your client’s expectations”, etc.), but first a very powerful “attack” on the belief and armoring structure is needed.

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