Kitchen Nightmares Observations – Burger Kitchen Part 1

There were some really good bits on Friday’s episode of Kitchen Nightmares.  It was an interesting example of dysfunctional psychopath dynamics.  Fox may have made a good decision, to split it into two episodes.  There was a lot of material.

Every person in that episode had the psychopathic or parasitic personality type.  That was very interesting.

When you have a very strong psychopath leading things, the intelligent people are all weeded out.  That’s probably why all the employees were parasites or psychopaths.  Any intelligent person would have rapidly quit or gotten fired.

The head psychopath was the father and head owner.  That was pretty obvious.  Look at the overall facial pattern and wrinkle pattern, on the father’s face.  That’s a good indication.

The father and his son both received an inheritance from their grandfather, presumably $250k.  The father was trustee for his son’s inheritance.  (That bit of the episode was unexplained.  Why was the father trustee for his son’s inheritance?  Wasn’t the son an adult?)

The father decided to open a restaurant.  He stole his son’s $250k inheritance, and invested it in the restaurant.  Even after his son found out about the theft, the father refused to give his son any shareholder rights, such as letting him inspect the restaurant’s books.

I was disappointed that Ramsay wasn’t more hostile on that point.  “WTF?  Your father stole $250k from you!”  The spin was that the son was a reluctant shareholder, rather than someone who was the victim of robbery and fraud and fiduciary neglect.

The father’s wife also had parasitic tendencies.  She was subordinate to her husband’s evil, but still a parasite.

It is possible that two parasites and/or psychopaths will get married, continually manipulating each other.  It is very rare for two “abused productive” people to get together, because someone has to play the emotionally dominant role

The head chef was also a parasite.  He did defer to the father and head psychopath.  You can see subservient body language in some places, such as stooping forward when talking to the father.

The son also had parasitic tendencies.  However, he was the low person on the totem pole, causing him to develop some intelligence.

Notice how they are always deflecting blame to others, rather than trying to do the right thing.  That’s the key point about psychopath interpersonal relationships.  It’s about deflecting blame and showing up the other person.  It’s not about whether you do a good job or not, but whether or not you get blamed for failure.

I wonder if that’s the reasoning behind these stupid programming frameworks and methodologies.  If you use a stupid method, that enables the boss to blame his subordinates.  For example, at the job where I was forced to use Rails, the boss was probably thinking “Why did that stubborn FSK refuse to work with Rails?  He’s the reason I failed.” rather than “Using Rails was a stupid idea.  I was lucky to have FSK working for me, who could have helped me succeed if only I listened to him.”  Actually, I did try Rails, and found it 100% unusable.  I did spend a lot of time reading through the documentation, and couldn’t understand any of it.  That isn’t because I’m stupid.  It’s because Rails is a mess.

I also was sympathetic to the head chef’s complaint “Why am I forced to use this crappy menu and lousy food?”  That sounded like my complaint “Why are you forcing me to use Ruby on Rails?  Why are you forcing me to use node.js?  Why are you forcing me to waste time on ‘test-driven-development’?  I should be writing code first and then the tests.”

It also was interesting to see the psychopath father’s reasoning.  “This frozen meat is the #1 brand.  Therefore, it’s awesome.” and “This beer is rated in the top 10.”  In psychopath logic, the opinions of others are what counts.  That’s more important than actually tasting the meat or beer and judging for yourself.  That’s like “Rails and node.js are the hot trendy thing.  Therefore, I should use them.”  I evaluate the framework and language myself, and avoid the ones that suck.  I tried a little PHP, liked it, and I’m doing a lot of personal PHP now for this website.

The son’s girlfriend also had parasitic tendencies.  However, she did have a useful role, attempting to protect the son from his abusive parents.  For example, when they fired the chef, the parents needed $1k to cover the last paycheck.  They convinced their son to give them another $1k, so they could make payroll.  The girlfriend objected, saying “WTF?  Are you crazy?  Don’t give them another $1k after they stole $250k from you?”  However, the parents overruled.  I also was disappointed that Ramsay didn’t object here.

Unfortunately, Ramsay will probably promote a pro-State propaganda ending.  He will have a “happy ending”, where everyone reconciles and learns to work together.

That is impossible.  The father is an incorrigible psychopath.  In this case, I’d give the Stefan Molyneux advice and DEFOO.  The son should completely cut off his parents.

Ramsay is going to try to show how everyone learned to work together, and he taught them to behave.  I doubt that actually happened.

A psychopath doesn’t learn to be not a psychopath, even after 3 days with Gordon Ramsay.

Ramsay isn’t going to give the son the correct advice.  Ramsay should have said “Your father stole $250k from you.  That money is lost and gone.  Don’t make the sunk costs fallacy.  Don’t put more time and money and effort into the restaurant.  Your psychopath father won’t let it succeed.  Accept that you lost $250k.  It doesn’t pay to sue your father.  Quit and go get a job working somewhere else.  Accept the loss and move on.”

Instead, Ramsay is going to present an ending where the son learns to reconcile with his father.  That is false.  Some people are just plain evil.  The father is an incorrigible psychopath and won’t learn.

This episode had very interesting interpersonal dynamics.  All the people where psychopaths or parasites.


According to this page, the owners of Burger Kitchen sold shortly after being on the show.  The show taped in April 2011 and the owners sold in August 2011.

I wonder if the son got any of his money back? Being on Kitchen Nightmares could boost the sale value of the restaurant.

17 Responses to Kitchen Nightmares Observations – Burger Kitchen Part 1

  1. Another good post.

    I worked with one man once and came to the conclusion that he destroys anything he is in contact with. I acted accordingly.

    Needless to say this man used to work for a rather infamous, old bank.

  2. My father is such person. For years, he has manipulated us (me, my mother and my sister) and I never realised how selfish and manipulative he was. It used to make me angry how he is destroying our lives, also it was confusing why he is doing this. Recently, I have come to realise that he will not change. I have to accept my life as it is and try to do better for future. Unfortunetly, I think some of his psychopathic nature is transferred in me and my sister, maybe because of genes, or because of enviroment we were raised.

    • dont think that. it has nothing to do with genes. you can be far removed and far different from him as if he never existed. remember that.

  3. I agree on the analysis here. I did my own research and found a lot about this family actually. Alan’s father was Australian “crime boss” Abe Saffron and you can see Alan on some youtube videos talking about his father. But get this, the book he gave chef Ramsay that he wrote about his dad…yeah that book is something that Alan is trying to have a movie made out of. A movie and then I thought wow this guy is trying to get publicity and wants to use a TV show to get it? I got this from various articles online. I was amazed to find so much on the Saffrons. Also, each of Alan’s 5 kids got 1 million from their grandfather, don’t know why here it’s 250k from Danny that the father went to since according to the articles about Abe Saffron/inheritance say that the kids got 1 mill and Alan 500k. It was interesting. Can’t wait for the next episode but I kind of feel that maybe the Saffrons (or at least the dad Alan) wanted more publicity than help from Gordon.

    • That is interesting. Do you have any good links? (BTW, I configured WordPress to auto-moderate any comment that has any links at all. That should help combat spam.)

      Another amusing bit is that the psychopath father was putting phony positive reviews of his own restaurant on Yelp, and complained when they were removed. I guess he wasn’t smart enough to use a sockpuppet or hire a spammer. That is a problem that many websites have, that you can flood fake positive or fake negative feedback.

      —-

      I did my own research. This link is interesting.

      For some of these flaky startups I interview at, I sometimes wonder who’s really financing them.

      There’s another interesting bit, for restaurants and organized crime. Because a restaurant deals with cash, it’s an excellent vehicle for money laundering.

  4. Yeah the blog has all the links. I don’t know, I see the dad Alan dressed up nicely on the article and then looking like a poor humble dad on the show.
    The bit about the chef not being paid at all and yet when he demands his pay it’s only $1,000? Just a thousand? How long did he work there to only be owed that amount. Or how about when the son rips up the paper claiming him as partner of the restaurant yet rips it up as “worthless”. It’s so worthless that he kept it for 16 months and just now that Gordon is there with the cameras he rips it up, right?
    The part that got me, though, was seeing that the Dad plugs his book. It’s what made me research and see that he wants to make his book into a movie and that’s what made me wonder why they really went on Kitchen Nightmares. He says so on his profile “to turn his best selling book into a movie”

    http://www.linkedin.com/pub/alan-saffron/18/3a5/71b
    Alan is also a Hollywood talent agent, as seen from his linked in profile and also mentioned in the articles from the blog you linked. His client is the villain from Saw. Did you see this link:
    http://www.celebmagnet.com/2010/11/saw-3d-tobin-bell-jigsaw-box-office.html
    The entire Saffrons appear here.

    Not really mindblowing revelations. But it’s just interesting. And yeah Alan says he owned a restaurant in Australia and was in the family business of “concert promoting”. After all his father Abe was the owner of nightclubs, restaurants, strip clubs etc and got Frank Sinatra to tour Australia. He is actually very famous in Australia, like Capone is to America. Yes he was suspected of money laundering.
    I enjoyed watching the video on Alan’s father Abe Saffron, the Mr Sin “crime boss”. Sounds like an interesting figure and maybe Alan is trying to get out of his father’s shadow…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9qp5WuzNrM&feature=related

    here is pictures of the Saffrons in Australia from the 40s-70s (including Alan as a boy) kind of a long boring video but it gives you an insight into the experience of the Kitchen Burger owner http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYzhf-WBtIw&feature=related

    Lastly, I am suspicious as to why the Saffrons get two whole episodes of Kitchen Nightmares when everyone else just gets one. Usually Gordon seems more involved in the shows (like telling people to shut up) but with this family, he just lets them yell at each other while he stands in the background.

  5. I enjoy your writing, and apologize for this late post (Just found your blog in a Google search while researching node.js – because the donkey-dick tech recruiters in Los Angeles have started using it as a buzzword – slapping my forehead again).

    Anyway, more to the point — I’d really enjoy seeing you write a piece about these personality attributes you mention in your posts. I’ve witnessed firsthand the destructive power of psychopathic managers and programmers. I’d also like to find a better way to deal with them than the “3-S Method” I am currently using (Shoot-Shovel-Shut up).

    • I have comment moderation enabled. The time of comment does not matter to me at all.

      I talk about criminally insane evil people from time to time. There are good bits here and on my old blog.

      Those are the two main issues.

      First, all taxation is theft, the USA has a corrupt monetary system. There are certain false logical beliefs that everyone has.

      Second, there are criminally insane evil people that can emotionally manipulate others. They have organized society to maximize their ability to steal. People do not learn to defend themselves from criminally insane evil people.

      I had two posts on node.js, which you probably already found.

      I had an interview where they were using node.js. I concluded that it was a POS like Rails, hype over substance.

      There was a good bit on Rails on my old blog.

      My solution for dealing with evil managers is to call them out on their nonsense. While interviewing, evil managers can tell that I’m someone who can see through them. I managed to find a job at a small profitable business; they seem to appreciate me. My strategy is to avoid working for evil people, rather than finding an effective way to confront them.

      Working for evil is a huge energy drain. My current job is decent. I’m working directly for the owners. They had a disaster where someone evil cost them a ton of money. They appreciate that my stuff works.

      Unfortunately, evil people control the government/State, and it trickles down from there, affecting almost every business. One classic recent example is MF Global.

      We live in a society where the most evil people are the leaders. That’s why things are falling apart. That’s also why managers and middle managers have evil tendencies. With evil leaders, evil is the role model. You get ahead by being skillfully evil, rather than by being a good worker.

      • FSK you say ‘all taxation is theft’? Taxes pay for the building of roads and railways, they pay for our police service and armed forces. I think it would be a selfish and individualistic society if no one paid taxes. It also helps the poor and jobless.

  6. I also saw the show ,am wondering if the father has some other issues at one point in the telecast he ,seem a little confused, am just trying to help, and hopefully every thing is o.k.

  7. Using psychopaths and parasites makes for good television ratings. It’s embarrassing even watching Australia’s ‘Master Chef’ where the contestants are turned into sycophants and the chefs are hailed as gods. The judges get paid a fortune to make up the rules, eat, grow bigger jowls, judge and generally feel superior to others. But Gordon Ramsay is a true psychopath. I have studied psychology and criminal profiling. He ticks every box. Even down to his opinion of animals and their purpose for being. He also displays no respect at all for any other living being. It’s not in what he tells us, it’s in his actions.

  8. Scientists are working to find the psychopath gene. They have discovered a gene they call the ‘warrior’ gene (for want of a less heroic sounding name), which is present in abusers. But they are still searching for the actual gene that causes a person to be born without a conscience; incapable of empathy or remorse. The Ted Bundys and the Ivan Milats of this world. A person can’t outgrow this, or be rehabilitated, because this is how they’re wired from birth.
    My hope is that one day they will be able to isolate the psychopath gene so they can test early in pregnancy and nip it in the bud, so to speak.
    It is interesting that there is a higher percentage of psychopaths among CEO’s than in the general population. Four times as high. I’d be interested to find out how it compares between right and left wing politicians. Also the comparison of prison inmates to wardens.

    • It isn’t genetic. A lot of personality type is learned from your parents. If the father is parasitic/psychopathic, then male children will emulate him.

      In our society, the criminally insane evil person is held as the role model. One example is Bernard Madoff.

      It isn’t “4x higher”. Nearly all the leaders are criminally insane, or are emotionally weak people that are easy to abuse.

      All the leaders are criminally insane. That’s the role model held out as the idea, so many people copy it. It’s a serious problem.

      The “psychopath problem” is the #1 reason the economy is falling apart. All the stupid laws and taxes and regulations benefit the evil insiders, at the expense of someone intelligent trying to grow a business.

        • There’s only two reasons that evil people sometimes make “good” leaders. When all the current leaders are evil, an honest person won’t fit in. They promote the myth “Evil people make the best leaders!” to suit their own agenda, and because evil people will ruin any honest person competing with them.

          If the honest people are emotionally weak, then an evil person is needed to organize them. Evil people make sure that everyone else is easy to manipulate.

          “Evil people make good leaders!” is not natural. It’s a symptom of everyone being partially insane.

          If I wrote a research paper saying “Evil people make great leaders!”, then evil people will give me a bug research grant.

          Evil leaders cooperating leads to the same outcome as a massively coordinated evil conspiracy.

          Also, all taxation is theft. When you learn to think clearly, you’ll see that roads and police can be handled without a government violence monopoly forcing people to pay. In the present, most spending on roads and police is waste and pork. Roads and police are a tiny fraction of the government’s budget. Most State spending is waste and corruption.

          A tiny fraction of the government’s budget is spent on useful things. That doesn’t justify the massive taxation extortion racket.

      • We need to be careful not to wander too far into the land on conspiracy theories here. The numbers of people carrying the psychopath gene probably vary a lot, and they’re not all serial killers but they are quite capable. The only thing that would stop them would be because they want to avoid prison. They’re not stupid. Although, like the rest of society, some are more intelligent than others.
        I believe it is genetic, but the behaviour of the individual depends on his upbringing. That is probably the thing that could push him (or her) to perpetrate real harm to other sentient beings.

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