You’re Often Wrong. Deal with It.

He knows more than you do. Let him help!
May 20, 2013

The Internet has had a good bit of fun with the husband and wife who own Amy’s Baking Company, a restaurant in Arizona. To recap: After a disastrous appearance on Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, the proprietors took to social media to defend themselves and their business.

It did not go well.

I don’t really feel the need to pile on in that regard; the link above will give you a good sense on just how poorly they handled the situation. I do think it’s worth taking a moment to move beyond the snickering and consider what prompted the meltdown in the first place in order to see what we, the humble viewer, can learn.

First, some background on the show. Kitchen Nightmares is a reality show in which celebrity chef Ramsay visits a failing restaurant in order to figure out what’s wrong and how to fix things. Frequently, many things are messed up all at once: the kitchen is dirty and the menu is too large and the décor is bad and the kitchen staff are lazy and … you get the idea. Almost as frequently, the owners are somewhat clueless, having never owned a restaurant before or having owned a restaurant for so long they are stuck in their old, outdated ways.

But the people who call Ramsay up always understand that something is wrong. They might not know what, specifically, is causing their business to fail. But they know that it’s failing. And they know that Ramsay—one of the most famous, most successful restaurateurs in the world—can help them solve the problem. Sometimes the owners will butt heads with Ramsay for a bit, but they always accede to his wisdom. He is, after all, there to help.

But the owners of Amy’s Baking Company convinced themselves that nothing is wrong. If you watch the episode (and you really should; it’s highly entertaining in that "Dear God, look at the crazy people sort of way"), it’s clear that the duo think their restaurant is amazing, that some random people on the Internet have unfairly singled out their diner for scorn, and that Ramsay will affirm their awesomeness and tell "the haters" to back off.

As a result, when Ramsay pointed out the numerous problems in the restaurant—high employee turnover, pizza that was undercooked, burgers that were overstuffed, frozen ravioli passed off as freshly made, etc.—the owners couldn't handle it. They shut down entirely, saying they would just ignore Ramsay’s criticisms. He was, apparently, one of "the haters."

There are few tics more destructive than an inability to accept criticism from people who are trying to help us. I can understand the defensiveness. As Eli Lake knows, some critiques are easily dismissed because the critic does not have your best interest at heart. But when you’re dealing with someone who actually does want to help you—who wants to make you better at what you do, who has more experience than you do, and who is committed to seeing you succeed—a deep-seated urge to reject assistance is self-destructive.