You can learn a lot about co-workers from Top Chef

Seattle is the tenth season of the American reality television series Top Chef and was filmed in Seattle, Washington

I know your saying reality TV can’t teach me ANYTHING but your wrong!  I’m a huge fan of Top Chef where it’s a show based not just on personality but ability, skill, thinking on your feet and how to deal with a crisis in the ‘kitchen’.

What I’ve learned from Top Chef

  1. Being a team player is great until it’s not – Their can be only one!  Well only one Top Chef winner per season so yes it’s important that your team succeeds but you still have to do your very best every challenge.
  2. Be prideful – If you don’t stand up for yourself no one else will and people will try to take credit for your success and blame you for their failures.
  3. Not everyone is a ‘nice’ – Just because someone is smiling to your face or saying how we’re all on the same team (as women, minorities, alumnus, sexual orientation) that doesn’t mean they don’t view you as a threat and will try to undermine you at the first opportunity.
  4. You have to fight for success – If you are always taking ‘responsibility’ for failures no matter how tenuous eventually you won’t be seen as the ‘upfront’ responsible team member but instead as the albatross who’s always making mistakes.
  5. Stand back and read the room – Before jumping into a work group feel the lay of the land to see who’s hardworking, a slacker, kiss ass, bosses favorite or just difficult to work with so that you know how to work with everyone.
  6. Work with co-workers weakness – Everyone has strengths and weaknesses and it’s your job (at times) to know how to with them.  You have to figure out their parameters so that when your in charge it shows you know how to manage people no matter how difficult.
  7. Expect the unexpected – Always have a contingency plan in your back pocket.  When I’m in charge or working on a project I always have a ‘what if’ plan ready.  You never know when you get whisked away to Singapore to cook with unfamiliar proteins, seasonings and stoves.  Well that’s incredibly unlikely but you do have to be prepared with forgotten presentations, computer bugs, missing chargers or not being able to figure out how to work the projection equipment.  I do a dry run, keep extra plugs and keep detailed notes on how to work unfamiliar equipment.
  8. Be flexible – Every season a chef will go to Whole Foods with a recipe in mind and than they can’t get the protein they want they usually become so disconcerted that they lose instead of having the mental flexibility of rethinking a basic recipe with items available.  I always call it doing a ‘MacGyver‘ from the old 80’s show where he could defuse a bomb with a toothpick, safety pin, gum and a nail.  You work with the items you have and rework it to fit!
  9. Be ambitious – Nothing is wrong with wanting to be a success, to prove that your good and to win!  It’s one of the pleasures of the competition is watching all of these talented chefs create culinary masterpieces just from pluck and passion!  It’s something that we all need to embrace to be confident in your ability and skills.  To want everyone to know that your great in your chosen field and it’s not wrong to brag when it’s the truth!



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