8 Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Iron Chef

Feb 17 2014, 12:30pm CST | by

When I am home, I am surrounded by chefs. My husband is a passionate cook and my two daughters are self-proclaimed foodies. Our Vitamix blender is probably the most-used tool in our house and the Food Network has a monopoly on our television set. Shows like Chopped, Iron Chef and Restaurant Impossible are among the favorites in the Bagley household.

I usually get some work done while my kids and my husband are glued to the television. Every once in a while my attention drifts to the TV and I find myself surprised by how much you can learn from these shows – not only about cooking, but about entrepreneurship and innovation.

Let’s take a look at Iron Chef, for example. The Iron Chef Kitchen Stadium, as the set is called, is full of entrepreneurial ingredients that would make for a healthy business. In each episode, a challenger faces off against one of the resident “Iron Chefs” in an hour-long cooking competition. The competitors and their sous chefs have 60 minutes to deliver five dishes based on a secret ingredient that’s revealed just prior to the cook-off. The chefs are judged on taste, plating and originality.

The show’s most successful chef is Michael Symon. He has the highest winning percentage of the active Iron Chef’s and just recently became the first ever Grand Champion, defeating his fellow Iron Chefs in tournament. On top of it, Chef Symon is a successful entrepreneur who owns acclaimed restaurants in Cleveland and Detroit, co-hosts several TV shows, has authored numerous cookbooks and has his own kitchen product line.

We’re lucky to have Chef Symon in Cleveland. Many credit him for helping to save downtown’s restaurant scene. So I reached out to him to get his insights on entrepreneurship and innovation.

“Every time you open a business – whether that’s a restaurant or a tech startup – you are taking a risk. While that can be nerve racking, it is motivating, too,” Chef Symon says. “Competing on Iron Chef is no different. The show is all about taking risks and challenging yourself.”

“Successful Iron Chef competitors must be the best at what they do, be creative and perform well under pressure,” he says. “I think that’s also true for any entrepreneur, especially in this increasingly competitive economy.”

“Besides having a great idea,” he adds, “I think the key ingredient to any successful business is passion. It’s what keeps you going, even when nobody else believes in you.”

I totally agree with Chef Symon and have found there are eight other lessons entrepreneurs, chefs or not, can learn from watching Iron Chef:

1. Keep your cool: Iron Chef competitors are under intense pressure. They have 20 minutes to deliver the first course and another 40 for the next four. The heat is on so to speak. Entrepreneurs, startup CEOs particularly, feel it too. Investors, partners and customers often don’t have patience and expect results quickly. Successful Iron Chefs and entrepreneurs keep their cool and focus on the task ahead.

2. Assemble the right team: Even the most accomplished Iron Chefs couldn’t pull off five dishes in 60 minutes by themselves. They rely on their sous chefs to do their part, and to do it well. Successful businesses, large or small, are rarely a one-man show. They are products of teamwork. The key is to hire people you can trust, are committed to excellence and want to win.

3. Be in charge: Iron Chefs are the some of the best in the businesses and have earned that distinction either through their off-camerawork or as contestants on The Next Iron Chef. They know they are in charge for a reason and exhibit leadership in competition. Entrepreneurs who have built their own businesses have earned that responsibility too. Successful teams need strong leaders.

4. Find the right words: Strong leaders communicate effectively with team members, particularly in stressful and challenging circumstances. They know when to motivate, criticize or encourage. At times decisions have to be made and communicated quickly. Whether you’re facing a dish that’s undercooked or a business decision that seems overwhelming, finding the right words boosts productivity and morale.

5. Find your secret ingredient: Iron Chef competitors are in part judged on creativity. In relatively little time, they have to figure out how to incorporate the secret ingredient into their dishes and prepare something unique. Successful entrepreneurs also figure out their secret ingredient, what separates them from competitors. They are committed to innovate by doing things differently or doing new things.

6. Hit the curveballs: Iron Chef contestants are thrown a “culinary curveball,” a new ingredient, equipment or plating device they must integrate into their remaining dishes. How well they respond to this challenge affects their overall score. Entrepreneurs are thrown these curveballs all the time, too, whether these may be changing consumer habits, new competitors or something else. They either strike out or hit them out of the park. The most successful entrepreneurs are not afraid to swing.

7. Don’t get distracted by the chaos: The Kitchen Stadium can be quite the chaotic place. Vegetables are sliced here, soup is boiling there, chefs are running around, and camera teams follow their every move. All the while the chefs are under scrutiny from the judges, the host and floor reporters. Navigating this chaos can be difficult. Startup entrepreneurs often feel they are in a constant state of chaos, too. The key is to not get distracted and remember the long-term goal.

8. It’s all about the presentation: Before the Iron Chef judges get to taste each dish, the contestants get to explain their creations. They point out their unique approaches, stress the beautiful design and, of course, mention the ingredients. Sometimes they even give instructions on how to enjoy the meal and respond to questions. In all, it’s a neatly packaged “pitch.” Entrepreneurs, who sometimes struggle to articulate the value of their products, could learn a thing or two from the chefs.

Source: Forbes Business

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

UN chief condemns American journalist's killing
United Nations, Aug 21 (IANS) UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon Wednesday strongly condemned the killing of American journalist James Foley by extremist Islamist militants, calling it "an abominable crime".
 
 
Russia suspends four McDonald restaurants
Moscow, Aug 21 (IANS) Russia's consumer rights watchdog said Wednesday it has temporarily shut down four McDonald's restaurants here, including the first ever outlet in the country, citing sanitary violations.
 
 
Egypt mufti's adviser slams killing of US journalist
Cairo, Aug 20 (IANS) Ibrahim Negm, advisor to the mufti of Egypt, Wednesday denounced the beheading of US journalist James Foley by the Islamic State (IS) Sunni extremist group in Iraq, state-run MENA news agency reported.
 
 
White House says beheading video authentic
Washington, Aug 20 (IANS/EFE) The Barack Obama administration Wednesday confirmed the authenticity of a video showing the decapitation of a US journalist who was abducted in November 2012 while covering the civil war in Syria.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

UN chief condemns American journalist's killing
United Nations, Aug 21 (IANS) UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon Wednesday strongly condemned the killing of American journalist James Foley by extremist Islamist militants, calling it "an abominable crime". "The...
Read more on Ad Balla
 
Humanitarian convoy to Ukraine ready to advance: Russia
Moscow, Aug 21 (IANS) A day after Ukraine agreed to ensure safe passage for the humanitarian aid convoy in areas controlled by government forces, a senior diplomat Wednesday said the Russian convoy for Ukraine's...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Russia suspends four McDonald restaurants
Moscow, Aug 21 (IANS) Russia's consumer rights watchdog said Wednesday it has temporarily shut down four McDonald's restaurants here, including the first ever outlet in the country, citing sanitary violations. "During...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Rihanna, Drake back together?
New York, Aug 21 (IANS) Singer Rihanna and her on-again, off-again boyfriend Drake were recently spotted flirting at a party here. The duo, who were rumoured to have split in May, spent almost two hours in deep...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Nicki Minaj gives lap dance to Drake in video
New York, Aug 21 (IANS) Rapper Nicki Minaj has spiced up the video of her song "Anaconda" with a lap dance for Canadian rapper Drake. The new clip features Minaj and some more ladies. In the climax, Drake gets a lap...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Zac Efron and Michelle Rodriguez split
Zac Efron and Michelle Rodriguez have split up. The 26-year-old actor and the 36-year-old actress, who were first spotted kissing on holiday in Sardinia, Italy in early July, have reportedly ended their romance after...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Emma Stone to star in 'Cabaret'
Emma Stone will officially make her Broadway debut in 'Cabaret.' The 'Amazing Spider-Man' actress has signed on to take over the lead role of Sally Bowles from Michelle Williams in the New York production and will take...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Dave Grohl and wife welcome third daughter
Dave Grohl's wife has given birth to their third child. The Foo Fighters star and Jordyn Blum, whom he married in 2003, quietly welcomed daughter Ophelia into the world earlier this month. The happy news comes at a...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
London warns of threat from British fighters in Syria, Iraq
London, Aug 20 (IANS/EFE) British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond warned Wednesday of the "threats" posed by a "significant number" of Britons working with jihadis in Syria and Iraq, as he condemned the video of the...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Hungary honours Nobel laureate, Rubik's cube inventor
Budapest, Aug 20 (IANS) Hungarian President Janos Ader presented Nobel laureate author Imre Kertesz and inventor Erno Rubik with the Order of Saint Stephen, Hungary's highest award, Wednesday. The award marks the...
Read more on Celebrity Balla