Life Lesson From Reality TV - Whoulda Thunk It?

I watched the season finale of The Taste last night and came away inspired with a really great life lesson:  take advice from those that know more than you do.

Seems like it should be a given but we see it all the time. Someone is 100% sure they have the perfect idea, plan, process, product, etc. and ignores a more experienced voice who is offering up constructive feedback.

For those who aren't familiar with the show, four famous and very skilled chefs (Tony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre and Marcus Samuelsson) assemble teams of four contestant chefs each and mentor them throughout the contest. Two contestants are eliminated every week and each week features a guest chef who mentors the team who wins the first challenge of the day.

The ultimate winners gets $100,000 and a big trophy. The mentor for the winner also gets a big trophy.

The finale came down to three contestants, Lee, Marina and Louise. They were all very different cooks and personalities.

Lee was the favorite from the start. At only 27, he'd already had a restaurant then burned out and was currently working as a waiter. He was cocky and sure of his eventual victory most of the time.

Marina was a home cook who had lived in Asia and South America and thought of the strangest things to make. She was a constant puzzle to the judges and rarely listened to her mentor Ludo's advice. She was pegged as the dark horse to win early on.

Louise was a food stylist who wanted to prove she could do more than make food look pretty. She flew under the radar the entire season and no one gave her much of a chance to win.

The celebrity chef for the finale was Jacques Pepin. JACQUES FRAKKING PEPIN! If you don't know who he is, you are a food Philistine and I'm not sure I want to be your friend. The influence Pepin has had on chefs and the food we enjoy today cannot be overestimated. He's a genius who made food accessible. I literally squeed when they announced his arrival.

The Master demonstrates.
The contestants were challenged to make three tastes for the finale:  Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. Pepin made them his idea of the three courses which looked amazing then the chefs worked on their menus. Pepin consulted with each of them on what they were making and offered very gentle advice on their choices.

As they started cooking, Pepin rotated among them to offer advice. Here's where the lesson started to sink in for me. Marina did as she had all season, pretty much ignored the advice. Lee did the same. They listened but then they did what they wanted.

But, Louise did not ignore Pepin's guidance. As she had with Ludo, she asked questions and actively sought advice. And, then she implemented that advice. I saw contestants all season hear something from their mentor or guest chef then decide they knew better and ignored the suggestion. Louise was one of the few that really took it to heart and recognized the great opportunity to learn she was given.

Seriously, Pepin has cooked longer than these people have been alive and they thought they knew better. I just kept shaking my head.

It was no surprise that since Louise was open to advice and then actually followed it that Pepin spent more time with her than the other contestants. And, in the last few minutes when her steak sauce broke, Pepin gave her the approach to fix it. It was contrary to what she had thought to do but she listened.

And, she won!

It was a surprise to everyone but she did it the right way. She developed her own plan then looked to wise advice to improve it.

Maybe that's really the lesson - make your plan but recognize that others can make the implementation more successful.

PS I recognize that "reality" shows are edited and my impressions were influenced by that editing. The lesson remains the same.

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