I absolutely love this scene from Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.
Ramsay is visiting a failing restaurant with a super talented French chef. It’s failing even though the chef is clearly capable of winning a Michelin Star. The reason? The talented young chef is over complicating his food.
[Watch the scene which starts at 20.04]
“You don’t fuck with things that are good!”
In this scene Ramsay asks the bartender to give him some Whiskey with a touch of ice and some soda. The bartender refuses because it will destroy the Whiskey.
The first lesson is obvious; You don’t fuck with things that are good!
But there is a second, less obvious lesson here as well. When a customer demands something that you know is wrong what do you do?
I think this gets to what it means to be a “Professional”. There will always be this tension between what a Professional knows is the right thing to do and what the client wants.
The Professional obviously wants the best for the person they are looking after, but at the same time it’s a matter of Professional pride to do the right thing. Often doing what the client wants may be considered “nice” but it is certainly wrong.
What would a Professional bar tender do if a customer asked for soda in their whiskey?
What would a a Sushi Master do if a customer asked for soy sauce to dip their food in?
What would a competent Doctor do if a patient asked for antibiotics for a snotty nose?
In these cases the nice thing to do would be to just give the client what they want. But the right thing to do is to not cave in to the client. Because usually by simply doing the “nice” thing it not only makes things worse for the client you are dealing with at the moment, but as soon as you cave in the standard drops for every other client you deal with and destroys the culture of your organisation.
If you are in a situation where you are continually being forced to do something that no self respecting Professional would do then it’s definitely time to consider a change.