Reality Is Not Real

I’ve been watching too much reality TV lately (hint: there’s nothing really “real” about it…)

If you own a failing restaurant, and you actively seek out television shows like Restaurant Impossible or Kitchen Nightmares for help, understand a few things:

– The production scout singled your place out 2 months ago. Measurements were taken. Menus sampled. Nothing edible was found. Nothing. And, that’s a good thing, at least for you. Your customers, not so much. There’s a reason they found you in this strip mall.

– The TV Host is English, so there’s a language problem to begin with. But, he has a point. Please, don’t advertise your shrimp as fresh if it is frozen. Your salsa is homemade because it comes from a jar. And if you have a can opener in the house of re-fried beans?…

BAM! Go to hell. Straight to hell.

(Also, there’s a TV crew watching everything. So, act accordingly. “Act” accordingly.)

– The Host will hate your food and demand that you update your menu to meet his standards. If you are too stubborn to change the menu, then why on God’s Green Earth did you call these people? You asked them to come. You read the memo. You signed the contract. Don’t look at me.

– Acknowledge this: Your kitchen is filthy, reprehensible, and disgusting. You should be expected to be insulted, infuriated, and/or in denial. You didn’t clean out the fridge before the camera crew arrived? You understand the premise of these shows, yes? They are looking for filth.

When studying your menu…

– Your host will ask you for stuff that no one in their right mind will ask for. Like the “house specialty.” Goat cheese and chicken liver ravioli in a jalapeño pesto sauce?


The Host will spit it out. (Rightly so.)

Everything else on the menu sucks.

– The Host also hates your decor. It’s something from your grandma’s kitchen with a ’50s stained carpet. It deserves to be hated. Everything is covered in plastic. Also, stained.

The Host has a maximum of 48 hours to get this place clean. And completely redesigned. There’s also a laughably small budget. (Because, TV.)

– Also, The Host, despite not having any training in psychology or family counseling, will diagnose and cure you of years of pent up frustrations, resentments, and hostilities with your family and staff. And get you into the 21st century with the computers and the internet and such. In 48 hours. He’s a miracle worker.

But, your regulars are seeking comfort food. Canned tomato sauce. Frozen clams. Reheated burgers. That’s their expectation. And, now you’ve added arugula and parsnips. Who eats that crap?

But, it’ll help if you play along.

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