1. Hell’s Kitchen
For this article I have chosen to observe an episode from the series Hell’s Kitchen, featuring chef cook Gordon Ramsey. We watched season 7 episode 9, with eight cooks-to-be left. In this episode, they were divided in two teams: the red team and the blue team. We decided to focus on the red team for this essay. The final aim of each contestant participating in the show is to win a job as chef cook in one of Gordon Ramsey’s restaurants. They always work in teams, and the team aim is obviously to beat the other team by serving a better menu. For this episode, they had to come up with four starters, four main courses and four deserts. The team that would get the highest appreciation from the people eating at the restaurant would win, the losing team has to eliminate one of the contestants from their team. This way, individuals within a team should be motivated to make their team win, reducing the chance of elimination. The red team we focused on this episode consists of Benjamin, Holli, Nilka and Fran.
1. Individual Observation Comparison
The impression each of our group members had of the red team mainly came down to descriptions as ‘bad communication’ and ‘forced to work together’. By all three of us, the red team is described as an incoherent, bad communicating team without spirit. Also, the description each team member provides of the team members in the show is strongly alike. Benjamin is seen as arrogant and overestimating himself, Holli is seen as friendly and willing to help, Fran as strongly motivated but unwilling to take responsibility for her own mistakes and the impression of Nilka was, by two of us, that she could not handle her personal emotions in combination with stress very well. For the rest of the observations concerning individual motivation, team motivation and similarities and differences within the team the descriptions of all group members are strongly alike. Individual motivation is seen as high, while team motivation in the red team is described as very low. Similarities mentioned are clothing and the differences are numerous.
All of us base the initial impression of the group on the way they communicate with each other. We agree that the group has bad communication and conflicts always. The evidence is that the team members did not communicate in the kitchen. They asked each other questions but no one was answering. Seeing them arguing a lot, we have the impression that the team members have conflicting characters. What’s more, we have similar impression in terms of their ignorant attitude. The team members had disapproval of each other and were ignoring others’ opinions from time to time. We can tell that since they seem to fight rather than to cooperate. Insisting on their own ideas was what they did. Last but not least, the team gave us the feeling that they didn’t want to cooperate. It can be explained by the fact that the brainstorm session was lead by one arrogant team member and the rest did not handle that well. Responsibilities were generally not taken and the ‘team’ was blamed for mistakes.
Apart from the group as a whole, we form some impressions of each team member. There were four team members in the group and they totally do not match. Everyone is working against each other while they should be cooperating. For the male team member, Benjamin, he gave us an impression of being arrogant. He always wanted to be the leader but ignoring others’ ideas. He also didn’t communicate and underestimated his team. Fran is a woman who didn’t take responsibility of herself. Whenever facing failure, she would attribute her failure to the bad communication with other team members. She made us feel that she just blamed her incapability on the lack of communication in the team. For Holli, we have a modest impression on her though she cooks better than the others. She was trying to cooperate and be a good team member and didn’t blame others much. Finally, we would say Nikka has a bit low self-esteem and bad at handling personal emotion. She always feel like under pressure and appears to be functioning bad at that time.
4) Prejudice, discrimination and the use of stereotypes
Between group members, there are certain prejudices. For instance, when Mr Ramsey assigned Nilka the task of assisting Benjamin, the latter explained Nilka what to do and after one minute he decided she’s not doing the job good enough and took over himself again. Benjamin didn’t really trust his team member and didn’t really let her make efforts.
Besides, Chef Ramsay was actually having prejudice on all the team members. He always enlarged the weakness of the group even when the mistakes were not that important. But then, the purpose was solely pushing all the team members to squeeze their excellence out.
5. Strengths and weaknesses of the team
The biggest strength of the team is the passion they all have for cooking. Their motivation and drive to win is the key to their willingness to cooperate in the team. However, cooperating in the team doesn´t seem to include teamwork. This brings us to their biggest weakness. The team lacks team spirit. They are all in the team because they have to be, in order to have a shot at being a chef. They all feel as though they are the best. Any triumph in the team is caused by them, any failure is caused by ´the others´. In this episode this was very obvious when Fran wasn´t able to cook a chicken, according to her this was due to ´bad communication´.
6. Biggest weakness
As stated above the biggest problem the red team has is the lack of team spirit. They all think that they stand above the team. Their arrogance has become a hurdle. Their cooking skills should be of a certain standard, with which they should be able to cook a decent meal. However, their personal feelings appear to be more important to them than the team. If you can´t commit to the team when needed, the team will struggle with reaching its goal. While watching Hell´s kitchen you would almost forget that you are watching two teams competing against each other, it looked more like every individual was competing against the other ones.