The art of handling criticism poorly.

Amy-1Amy is absolutely horrible at taking criticism.

Amy  Bouzaglo was the co-owner (with her fire-tempered, enabling husband Samy) and head chef of (the now closed) Amy’s Baking Company in Scottsdale, AZ. She became internet famous in 2013 for her outrageous behavior on her now infamous episode of Chef Gordon Ramsey’s show Hell’s Kitchen.

Click to watch episode – so worth it:

When Ramsey gives her what he calls constructive criticism (and what I call aggressively-dramatic-made-for-tv condemnation) she does…not…take…it…well.

Amy-7

In fact, Amy takes her poor handling of criticism to a shockingly professional level.

Ramsey: “The pizza was $%@&-ing undercooked.”

Amy: “I don’t think your pizza was undercooked. I checked it like I check all of them when it came out of the oven and it was crispy on the bottom and when I cut it it was crunchy.”

Amy-3Ramsey: “That’s your version. However, the bun for the beef burger was soggy as anything.”

Amy: “I have never had a problem with that hamburger. EVER!”

Ramsey: “The salmon burger was like a salmon fish cake between a dry bun.”Amy-6

Amy: “It’s good like that, we have people tell us all the time…”

Ramsey: “There you go again. The raviolis, these are store-bought, crap frozen raviolis.”

Amy-5Amy: “They’re not crap and they’re delicious. Did you taste them?”

Ramsey: “They were disgusting.”

Amy: “People usually love them. I’ve never had a problem with them.”

And, as the man already said, there she goes again, refusing to listen to what an award winning chef has to say about her food. You know, the guy she asked to come to her always-empty restaurant to help fix her failing business.

What a piece of work.

For me, half the fun of Ramsey’s show is watching how clueless these chefs are about how poorly they’ve been cooking and then seeing how defensive they are when he calls them out on it. I’m not going to lie – Amy’s laughably deflective reactions got me feeling quite superior because I was convinced I’d of handled all that negativity way better than she did.

Aaand…then my wife Gretchen gave me her criticism on the article I just wrote.

snow and ginger - 1It was the one called Snowman or Gingerbread man about my daughter and me playing Would You Rather and how it led us to talk about death and rebirth. At first, when she got done reading it, I could tell she enjoyed it because she was crying, and as mean as it sounds that made me feel terrific.

But then she asked, “Did Gwendolyn really say those things?”

“Well, not exactly,” I admitted. “I mean, I might have enhanced the conversation we had just a bit, honey, maybe even a lot, but that’s what writers do.”

The woman I married got a look on her face like I’d just slapped her kitten.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“I feel tricked,” she said and then before I could respond she went to bed.

I sat there stunned.

Wha…?

Does that woman not realize that writers exaggerate the truth? Can’t she see that it was a great article even if it’s not really what happened? It’s called poetic license, lady, ever heard of it?

Then, in a brief moment of clarity, I realized I sounded exactly like Amy.

I might as well of yelled:  People usually love my articles, Gretchen! I’ve never had a problem with them. They’re not crap, they’re delicious!”

What a piece of work.

When I put down my ego and tried to hear her critique, I realized she was right. What I’d written wasn’t an article, it was a story, a fictional story about death inspired by a conversation, a moment, my daughter and I had together. It took me five minutes to re-write the piece, to transform the article whose dishonesty had tricked my wife into a story about death that she, after re-reading my re-posting of it, said rang true.

“Thanks for listening,” she said.

“Thanks for the critique,” I said back. “It’s made me a better writer.”

Amy-2

Unfortunately for Amy and her Baking Company, her inability to listen to Chef Ramsey’s critiques caused him to do something he’s never done in the history of that show – walk away.

Amy-10Afterwards, Ramsey says, “Amy continues to blame everyone else, yet her biggest problem is herself.”

Critiques (even the poorly or cruelly delivered ones) help to illuminate and eliminate shortcomings, but only if we listen to them.

Otherwise, prepare to be a total piece of work.

  • Mike Lukas

2 thoughts on “The art of handling criticism poorly.

Add yours

  1. Hell’s Bell’s! If Gordon Ramsay, or anyone remotely like him, critiqued my cooking, even with an f-bomb, I’d ask for specifics-not blow the man off. Then again, food does not pay my bills. Even so, I’ve had one harsh critic of any of my blogs. Granted, he was making excuses for a mass killer (Isla Vista, CA, 2014), but his critique of my language led to my own self-examination and two years of soul-searching later, a lot of baggage was discarded. Bless the watchman.

    Liked by 1 person

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