Josh Ozersky has written on his carnivorous exploits for Time, Esquire and now Food & Wine; he has authored several books, including The Hamburger: A History; and he is the founder of the Meatopia food festival. Follow him on Twitter @OzerskyTV.
Chefs are not, for the most part, happy people. Let's get that out of the way. They work long hours, they have hardly any home lives to speak of and they spend their whole day being mad at people who hate them right back.
It's a rough job. But it doesn't make it any easier when diners (in their minds, anyway) go out of their way to make them miserable. And while there are many ways diners can make chefs hate them, these five are surely near the top of the list.
One of the circumstances that has conspired to make chefs unhappy is the lack of a consensus regarding what terms like “medium rare” mean. So some guy orders a medium-rare steak, thinking that medium-rare means pink; when he gets a steak that actually is medium-rare, which is to say, with a warm red center, he sends it back to get it cooked more.
Argh! The chef's bowels churn with frustration, and it is all he can do not to burn the thing to a cinder in retribution. Even worse is the lady who orders a steak well-done and then complains that it's dry and chewy.
Remember the scene in Five Easy Pieces when Jack Nicholson wants to get a chicken salad sandwich on whole-wheat toast, with tomatoes instead of potatoes? Though it's now considered a countercultural archetype for standing up to The Man, cooks have always been on the side of the waitress. They put together complicated dishes, which takes a lot of work; it takes even more work to make sure all the stuff is ready and the procedure for assembling it under heavy fire is down.
Now some oaf wants to swap out the pomme puree for carrots, or wants the sauce in a little container on the side, or some other ludicrous request. It might be OK on a slow night, but on a busy one it just makes for pandemonium.
The Bubble Boy
A few years ago, even the most skeptical of chefs were ready to believe guests when they said a doctor had forbidden them to eat anything with lactic acid. Or gluten. Or wheat. Or whatever. That was believable enough at first; after all, there is always some portion of the populace troubled with rare and painful complaints. But once every other person started to demand special treatment, not a few chefs blew their tops.
Kenny Shopsin, the famously irascible New York cook, claims that the tipping point came for him some years back when a lady who claimed to be lactose intolerant ordered a burrito and a side of pancakes, despite the fact that the latter is mostly milk. “[H]er need to make her burrito special was not about...being able to drink milk. It was her need for control.” Shopsin kicked out the lady and her whole table; but most chefs don't have that luxury. They can only seethe.
The Inspector General
The Portlandia skit in which two annoying hipsters cross-examine a waitress about their chicken's provenance was a broad burlesque, but not made up from whole cloth. There really are customers who ask a million questions about the ingredients. Are they organic? Are they local? Where does the meat come from?
Encouraged by some health-forum screed, or the idle chatter of their equally annoying peers, this bunch pretends that they aren't going to order whatever the answer is, and - like Kenny Shopsin's burrito lady - are seen by the kitchen as control freaks. To make matters worse, this bunch often overlaps with the food-intolerance crowd.
Of all the things that torment chefs, and send them into impotent rages, surely the most vexing are bad Yelp reviews, written with multiple capitals and plenty of exclamation marks, by some nameless and hateful mook who ate there once and had to wait five extra minutes for his chocolate milk.
Of course, this is just the short list. The long list is still being written, and will only end when the last restaurant goes out of business, or the last chef dies of aggravation.
More from Food & Wine:
Best Biscuits in the U.S.
Chef Dream Trips: Spain
Insane Over-the-Top Burgers
World’s Greatest Restaurant Views
Hybrid Coffee Shops
The 6 valid reasons to ask for a menu substitution
6 wardrobe no-nos for waiters
Eat This List: 5 ways to complain effectively in a restaurant
Eat This List: 5 reasons you shouldn't blame the waiter
Eat This List: 5 ways YOU delay your meal
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I completely understand why the chefs are always mad at these types of customers. I am a waitress and we even get frustrated when a customer asks for their steak medium and say it is too dry for them. Remaking an entire steak to be a cooked a little less can be very fuming. Since I work in a retirement home's dining room, some of the residents order one thing, and then come back saying they didn't ask for it or they wanted something else. Our nights are always busy so getting the chefs to stop what their doing in getting up to 9 dinners at a time just to get some carrots can be very very annoying. So my heart goes out to the chefs out there. I have a lot of respect for the patients they have at some points.
I'm guessing from your post that English isn't your first language. You did a very good job in your wording. A couple of things to remember for your next post:
"Remaking an entire steak to be a cooked a little less can be very fuming."
-You can be left fuming, you can fume over something, but something cannot be very fuming. It can be very annoying, it can be very frustrating and it can even be very pleasant.
"I have a lot of respect for the patients they have at some points."
-You are a sweet, kind and nicely empathetic person. There are a couple of different forms of the word "patients"
patients – One who receives medical attention, care, or treatment. (Probably the word you see the most where you work)
patience – the capacity for calmly enduring pain, trying situations, etc (this is the version you may want to use in future posts in this context.)
Pedantic, dreadful wanker.
I have found so many of the comments on this subject so ridiculous. As a server of over 30 years I have seen everything, The customer may not always be right, but you have to pretend that they are. You should try to please them even if you don't like them. The kitchen always seems to take customer requests out on the server and will hold up your order or overcook it, or whatever. What does that prove!? Makes for a stressed out waiter and a mad diner.
I have also worked in many kitchens as a line and prep cook and have found most head chefs to be egotistical, unsanitary assholes who can never take any constructive criticism. They scream and yell at the servers and cooks and complain about customers constantly. No more restaurant work for me ever again!!! I know that I am generalizing, but after 30 plus years working at many different restaurants I think I can form a somewhat honest opinion. Just treat people with a little respect and understanding and maybe the restaurant experience would improve all the way around.
I end by saying that maybe some chefs would be a little nicer if they didn't drink so much!!!
If I say well done. You had better well make it WELL DONE!! Period. It's the way I like it, your job is to SERVE me you idiot cooks. If you don't like your job, stay home in your mother basement kitchen.
Trolololol. If it's my establishment and I don't want some cheapo with massive entitlement issues like you thundering away with demands and calling my cooks idiots, then I won't give it to you well done. Then you're free to butthurt about it on yelp with all the other hipsters that think they know something because they saw it on TV and read a book once.
Besides, given your misapprehension of what the payment is for, I can tell you're the sort that never has and never will dine at a good place. Stick to Cracker Barrel, you'll be happier, I'll be happier and...well, I apologize to the server, but someone's gotta 'keep the change' - what you call a tip.
Seriously - just keep the money. The joy of sending people like you to the door is worth forfeiting the pay.
If you're going to be such a whiny, entitled baby who thinks every service industry worker is your slave, why don't you just stay home and make your perfect food the way you like it by yourself?
Do they forget that they're in the customer service industry? They are paid to serve customers. Customers shouldn't have to bend to them. We are paying, we should get what we're paying for. If your restaurant's menu isn't up to par, people should have the option to special order. People ARE sometimes allergic to things, or don't like certain irritating extras spoiling an otherwise appetizing dish. Get over it. You chose this career path. Customers are choosing to fork over good money to get what they want.
That being said, if you have a special order, be sweet about it. Always be kind to your servers and tip well for good service. Don't be a tyrant. Look over the menu ahead of time before you go to the restaurant and determine how feasible your request is. For example, if you want someone to leave off the cheese or mushrooms, that's ok. But if you want dairy-free pancakes at a restaurant that doesn't serve such fare, make it at home or choose a different restaurant or menu item. And I repeat- BE KIND AND TIP GENEROUSLY!
Restaurants really should consider opening up their menus to different appetites. So many restaurants completely ignore the fact that there are a lot of vegetarians and vegans in the world. To those that do offer such options, we're some of the best and most grateful customers! It's amazing that any given menu can have about six different styles of steak, five different styles of chicken, ten different shrimp dishes, and ribs and wings galore, but you can't find a simple vegetable or pasta dish that isn't smothered in cheese or meat. Chefs should make an effort to expand their repertoire a bit. Not everyone in America is blind to the fact that cholesterol causes heart attacks! :P
You are exactly the type of customer this list was written for. Customers like you need to stay home and order a pizza. The food service industry has evolved to the point where the customer is no longer always right. Stay out of my restaurant as I guarantee you won't like it.
I prefer "hear the customer out." Cause that "always right" stuff is piously quoted by blowhards that are usually the ones that make that particular rule unworkable. I can only envy and imagine the sort of people who have their own places and can toss a few of the really entitled and sanctimonious idiot customers out. It's the stuff of dreams.
This is why I'm glad my parents taught me to cook from the time I could stand. I don't have to put up with chefs with overinflated egos. I can outcook any of you, and all with no attitude to deal with.
I always get a kick out of people that are so confident that they can do someone else's job without any experience. The hubris is delightfully palpable.
I'd call 40+ years of cooking for myself and others 'experience'. I've never had a complaint, nor anything sent back. Can you say the same Chef Boyardee?
I bet your threatening personality dissuaded many family, friends and customers (if you really had any) from telling you your food tastes like what you say, toilet. It must some experience cooking for a motorcycle gang.
What I can say is that I smell a fake. You can call names and invent biographies all you want, it's the internet. What you can't do is make me believe you've worn the white coat.
And I don't.
I hope these chefs realize they are making poop... Hey bro I gave you my money for food, I am giving you money to have what I want... not what you want... that's the most retarded, backwards logic I have ever seen. It makes no sense... A well versed chef would be able to make somebodies dish no matter what they required. It makes you look like an idiot when you become elitist over something that over the course of a few hours will become a turd.
Some places let you demand whatever you want. Other places will show you the door. That's the marketplace - if you want to spend your money at the places that let you yell "ITS MAH DOLLAH MUTHAF*CKA" by all means.
It honestly sounds like you've only been to that type of place. And yes, I'm sneering.
You sir are a complete idiot. I'll shove my uncooked steak down your fat stupid throat with that attitude of your. If I'm paying you to make a steak well done, YOU MAKE IT FREAKING WELL DONE!! I'll throw it on the floor and WILL not pay for it.
No one should have to bend their menu to your special requests. If the menu isn't up to snuff according to you, go eat somewhere else.
I worked in the food industry for 12 yrs both as a prep cook and a server. Here is my opinion:
1. If you have an allergy beware that cross contamination can happen. 2. You may experienced long food times because of substuting. 3. This attitude of shut and make my food is rude. We are not you damn servants. Work at a restaurant on a weekend and then talk to me. 4. I understand having a food allergy , I have one, pick some else to eat. 5.
Complain with respect. Tell the server your food was horrible and I not paying for it is rude. Give details in a calm voice. When your server does the check back, tell them then. Don't wait at the end of the meal.
Btw people who don't tip need to stay home. If I give you great service leave me a tip. Where I live server get paid $2.65 .
I ask questions about what's in dishes I'm not familiar with because I do have food allergies, and need to know if the things I can't eat are in the dish. If what I'm allergic too is included in the dish then I order something else.
I stopped ordering steak as "well done" when eating out a long time ago. Got tired of seeing shoe soles fed to me on a plate. Now I say "medium-well" and they come out just right.
This is such a load of garbage.
1. People want to change the order to suit their tastes (like not have ketchup on something or replace ketchup with mustard), oh dear... deal with it. Your job is to make the food, not whine about the changes.
2. Lactose intolerance... I AM lactose intolerant. You know what I do? I bring Lactaid with me. If the Lactaid doesn't work, it's my own fault and I know it. Its none of your business whether someone that is lactose intolerant orders something with alot of milk or not. Blow it off.
3. People ask for stuff on the side because that allows them to put as much as they want on the meal so it suits to their own taste. Your the chef, deal with it. No one is making you miserable with that but you.
4. The customers are not asking the chef questions about the ingredients, they're asking the wait staff. So what's the problem? Oh wait... I get it. The wait staff is complaining to you and you're sick of hearing it.
5. Yelp is power in the restaurant industry. I rarely if ever read reviews of a restaurant on "he took an extra five minutes to warm the milk". I left a yelp review last month... why? Because I'm sick to death of the McDonalds near our house getting the order wrong a good 95% of the time, that's why. It doesn't matter what we order from there, they forget to put something we ordered in the bag, or they forget to the remove the ketchup (my husband has an allergy to tomatoes and gets a nasty stomach ache every time he eats anything tomato based), or they forget napkins, or they totally and utterly screw up and give us the wrong order. I've never seen a McDonalds get more orders wrong. It's gotten to the point that we will sit at the counter or in the drive through and check every single thing in the bag before we leave because we can't trust them to get it right any time. The problem is that it's the only McDonalds on our way to work, and McDonalds breakfast is awesome even if this particular McDonalds sucks really bad. And yes, I'm a full advocate that they either need new management or they need to close.
And you know what? I work in hotels. I loath Trip Advisor with a blind passion that you cannot imagine. But I also go there before I decide to rent a hotel for exactly the reasons I hate them. The problem with Trip Advisor is that they are naturally biased reviews because people rarely go on those sites if they had a good stay. So you could give 100 guests and good stay and they will say nothing anywhere, but if 1 guest had something even remotely annoying happen (like housekeeping forgot to put towels in the room), or maybe because they don't happen to like the fact that we serve a comprehensive continental breakfast rather than a hot breakfast (we have 26 rooms, we don't have the staff for that) even though it's advertised EVERYWHERE, then suddenly they're bashing the living hell out of us for it.
The McDonald's on Kirtland AFB was like that when I was stationed there. Something was wrong with my order every. single. time.
Hell, they even forgot to put the hamburger patties on my hamburgers one time. And of course I was usually in a hurry and made these discoveries down the road with no time to turn around.
Switch to JITB.
Sorry-reply was to Mellisa.
JITB makes as many mistakes as McDonalds, but fewer than Taco Hell. JM2C
You're not a special snowflake. If you don't like what's on the menu eat somewhere else, don't sit there and make the people that have dedicated their lives to perfecting their craft defile the product of their love just because you think you know better.
If you go into the service industry, you are PAID to SERVE. Waiters and waitresses are not paid enough, but chefs most certainly are. If you don't like your job, change your career path. Or quit your job and cook for yourself at home since that's the only person you care about pleasing.
There's a big difference between the tyrants who are rude to everyone around them, and the respectful customers who treat people with kindness and just make a simple request. Personally, I've never had a problem with any of my special requests because I keep them within reason and I frequent the same establishments often and tip well. But people like you with a chip on their shoulder make it a bad experience for everyone.
And the crock of the day award goes to...
Right. We are not overpaid or even paid particularly well - the bartenders and the servers routinely bring in more money than us in a good place. What's more, I do not derive a sense of satisfaction in cutting the crust off a sandwich for your kid. I do not feel a rush of joy when you presume to supervise on flavor combinations and rewrite the menu to suit your needs. I do this job for reasons you apparently don't comprehend (because you didn't list them) and they certainly don't include pay - since if I wanted better pay, there are a lot of easier jobs for it.
You guys need to stop pretending you get us just because you watch Ramsay swear on TV.
We are paid to create an experience for you. Not to serve you. Perhaps you've noticed that there is a customary gratuity (extra fee) paid to the person serving you? If you don't want that experience, go somewhere that will provide the experience you want. You don't go to a movie starring Brad Pitt and politely request that Matt Damon play his part, you know, 'just for you'
Horrible, self-entitled customers that act like they know your job better than you do is the exact reason that I'm getting out of the service industry. You have to put up with too many abusive monsters.
Stop demanding custom-specified selections at fast-food prices and then complaining about it.
You have no idea how often you've eaten "secret ingredients" caused by your frustrating underpaid food "chefs".
you are a douche if you really believe that yelp is power. This article sort of plays to people like you to get a reaction. Its fluff writing like this that creates this I'm the customer I'm always right/I'm the Chef I'm always right. Any chef can say no to anyone at any time for any reason. period. If they don't its on them. Anyone asking for a change to a menu item based on personal preference should probably go find a restaurant more suited to his or her personal preference. If you don't like ketchup on your burger, don't go to the place that puts ketchup on your burger. Its like going to an opera and shouting,
" Play some Skynnard!!" I am a chef/ owner of a very busy restaurant. I have and will again ask people like you to leave if you act up. I don't lose in the end. My foods good. that is why people come eat it every night, some multiple nights a week. You don't like it, fine, I don't hate you at all. I also don';t have t sell you a goddam thing. There are two things to take away from this:
1. You can't come into my place and start making demands about what I do and expect me to cotton to it. You can, however, freeze a pack of hot dogs and use them to go fuck yourself.
2. I don't come down to where you work and slap the dicks out of your mouth.
HAHAHAHAHHHAHAHHHAHAHA, YOUR REPLY IS HILARIOUS! I myself am a pastry chef, and when people come in asking for gluten free and I tell them I don't have anything that is gluten free except for macarons they get pissed off and say "HOW CAN YOU NOT HAVE GLUTEN FREE ITEMS ON YOUR LIST?! EVERYWHERE HAS GLUTEN FREE ITEMS!" Well ma'am, I said I have macarons that are gluten free. Now either you stuff your fat disgusting face with my 1 gluten free item, or GTFO. It's even better when I have people who are lactose intolerant who come in asking for desserts, or people who are diabetic / watching their figure. I'm like, really?... REALLY?...
I don't buy into the whole gluten free thing. But would it KILL you to make the effort? LOL
If you're saying that asking for "no ketchup on a burger" upsets you very much, then maybe you are too sensitive a flower to be working in a kitchen. Like everything else in the world, there are shades of gray. No ketchup on a burger–no problem. Change around the ingredients or sauces in some other meaningful way, then its reasonable for there to be an issue. If someone asks you to prepare something that's not on your menu, then you're allowed to be upset. Not giving a dish a squirt of some pre-made sauce, or putting it on the side, is a ridiculous reason for you to get wrapped around the axle.
You lose credibility by citing stupid examples.
John, I need to hire you to reply to assholes for me. :p
Way # 6 to make a chef hate you, write a response to an article about chefs and complain about McDonalds.
Yeah, you gotta take the reviews with a grain of salt. I try to leave good reviews every time I have a good experience, just to balance it out. :P
The Refire: Okay, I grumble a bit to myself when they overcook my steak, but since it would take too long to cook up a new one, I eat it as served - and make a note never to order that again. Now, if they came out with undercooked chicken, yep, I'd say something. Salmonella ain't pretty.
The Deconstructionist: I'll have my salad dressing on the side, which has gotten to be pretty standard in most restaurants. If I know the eatery is in the habit of removing food parts I don't want, I'll ask in those cases. Otherwise I don't - I am not fond of chicken breast (tasteless), but I'm quite willing to pack it out and take it home for the cats, if it is the savoring of the rest of that dish I am after.
The Bubble Boy: I have troubles with tree nuts and pine nuts. I either don't order said items, or since my condition isn't life threatening (it can just feel like it), I kick them out of salads they may crop up in, without involving the chef.
The Inspector General: That's rude. I just assume the items are not organic or not grass-fed/pastured unless it says so on the menu or the website. I order accordingly in some cases, and I don't involve the wait staff in my decision process. They got other things to do.
Yelp: I can't be bothered posting reviews of restaurants that are mediocre. The place was a 3-star, but I can't get involved enough to waste my time writing about it. I only post 4 or 5 star reviews. A really horrid meal (1 star) I decide might have been that one night - and I can't ethically post something about that one night unless I return to verify. Somehow, I never seem to make it back to those 1 star restaurants to verify...
If you say 'leave off the pine nuts" and "dressing on the side" and "no chicken" trust me, it's no skin off my can. That stuff is all in separate 6pans on the line. But I'm used to working high volume and not sweating the little stuff.
If, however, and this doesn't sound like you, your order comes through as a special little snowflake with instructions on how you want ingredients prepped and cut (yes, I've gotten tickets like that) I will bump that thing to the back of the line - anyone that wants me to do something that above and beyond, to actually have to prep ingredients, will have to wait. Of course,the time I am thinking of, where the guy specified, "sliced cucumbers" (these are diced on my line, bub) "weged tomatoes" (Sliced on my line, dude), "halved olives" (gotta stop and cut), 'mix red wine vinaigrette, no salt' (Yeah, right, lemme whisk that up for you on the fly) and so forth...yeah, that guy waited until things were calm and then I fired his freakin' "I watch TV about chefs, so I think I am one" order from someone that is obviously getting off on the power trip or is still living with mom and making her cook food for him the way he wants it, as if he's still a spoiled child.
That's an example of the stuff I've gotten, but I've also gotten demands for different breads, sliced meats that I was expected to slice up for them special on a slicer and all that (yeah, I was working at a place that was a bit over the top on bending over to demands) and breakfast omelets at 2pm (that requires you getting the breakfast prep out of the fridge upstairs to make two people with no jobs their food) and all sorts of other concoctions.
Basically, I'm saying that 'leave the nuts off" and 'dressing on the side' is nothing that anyone pulls their hair out over. That's standard fare in my world. Reasonable requests tend to involve keeping dressing on the side or substitutions in salads with ingredients that show up on other salads. Usually, similar substitutions can be done on hot side items, but it's more touch and go.
As a former server and fine dining room captain, my job was to both advocate for the guest and defend and promote the chefs. Every time I had a guest who asserted they were allergic to dairy, I did not give them butter or sour cream or cream for their coffee despite them requesting it. I told them I would not be responsible if they went into anaphylactic shock and stopped breathing. Another guest brought her list of allergies/sensitivities and placed it on the table. I sadly informed her that even though we could accommodate most of her issues, she would be greatly disappointed by the bastardized final product that would be undoubtedly very unappetizing. I recommended the buffet restaurant instead.
I'm sure your heart was in the right place, but you don't understand the nature of the issue.
First off, while there are in fact a few unlucky souls who are allergic to casein, most people who are "allergic" to milk are really "sensitive" to lactose, which is the sugar found in milk solids. They have no problem with butter. They can even have a splash of cream as long as they don't overdo it. If they *do* overdo it, they get a stomach ache and horrible gas, because while *they* can't digest lactose, their intestinal flora has no such problem.
For someone who really does have an anaphylaxis-level food allergy, a buffet restaurant would be suicide. But I'm sure you knew that, and were just being snarky.
If you have significant allergies or aversions it is your responsibility to inform the restaurant ahead of time. This means a phone call at least a few hours before you show up, this way items can be prepared and set aside for you ahead of time to insure your visit is as safe and enjoyable as possible. Do not show up with some list scrawled on the back of a napkin and expect the entire kitchen to come to a screeching halt just to accommodate you. There's other people in the restaurant and keeping all of them happy is more important than coddling some inconsiderate weakling that couldn't be bothered to pick up a phone.
If there is one thing that the movie Waiting should have taught everyone who watched it, and is a lesson for everyone, it is:
Don't piss off the people handling your food.
If you have a legitimate complaint, bring it up with your server or the manager. If you're just trying to be a little sh!t, then you deserve to have your food spat in.
You are clearly in the wrong business. NOBODY "deserves" to have their food spat in. I once saw a waiter actually take a sip of MY soda when I sent it back, and then attempt to give me the same glass. He got a verbal chewing-out, and NO tip.
Funny thing is I could only image why he spit in your drink and one of the major reasons why he did is because YOU WEREN'T GOING TO LEAVE A TIP ANYWAYS!
One time I was at the Paris Hotel in Vegas with some colleagues, and these 3 girls I was with ordered their food cooked with no fat and two of them wanted to share a filet... one wanted hers cooked medium and the other well done. I was face palm, but astonishingly, the waiter exclaimed that was a brilliant idea. My jaw dropped. WOW, good service... but now I know the chef probably pulled something in the back to exalting themselves.
This is my opinion and I am entitled to it. If I go to a restaurant and order something where I want my sauce on the side, just shut the hell up and put it there. You are a SERVICE employee. Your job is to serve my food. I paid good money for it, and if I want it a certain way, it is your job as chef, to make that happen ( within reason). You filled out the job application. Not me. If you don't like your job, quit. I am sure in this economy someone will be right along to take your place, and they might even do substitutions. When any chef goes to a restaurant, it will be his/her turn to be fed, and I am sure they would expect the exact same level of service and courtesy from the chef cooking for them. The point of going out to eat is often not even the food. It's the idea of being waited on, cared for, and not having to cook for yourself. It's relaxation at it's best. Some people only get that luxury once and a while. I am so damn tired of articles like this. It takes all of the joy out of going out to eat. It turns asking for a substitution into something your supposed to feel guilty about. It's not right! If the substitution isn't possible, say so! If it costs more money, let me know and charge me! If not, just make the damn food and shut the hell up. Stop asking me to feel guilty during the one meal of the week I don't have to cook on my own.
Why don't you just leave it at 'I'm entitled?"
If you don't want to hear what the industry thinks, either don't read it or suck it up.
Wow, did you get that scene from Five Easy Pieces wrong.
When I host a dinner party, I am never uncomfortable telling my guests ahead of time what I am cooking. If they do not like how I prepared something, they are free to not attend. I try to offer options for vegetarians and carnivores alike. But I will not alter my food for special requests. If you do not want my food as is, do not attend.
Likewise, the same standard I apply to my guests I apply to myself when I am in someone else's home, kitchen or restaurant. I always look ahead at restaurant menu's online. If they do not offer food to my culinary standards, I do not go.
I will not quibble over slightly pink vs warm red. Now, if I order it medium and its well done or rare, yes I send it back. But am I going to ask the chef to pick out the onions from my salad? No. I am not above eating around the onions. If you are above that, then don't order a salad.
A restaurant does not allow kids for evening course, go to another if you have a problem with it. A restaurant does not prepare their food to your standards, go to one that will. You like brown gravy but they offer cream gravy, go to a place that serves brown gravy. Most of the comments from people I have read extolling the virtue of customer service catering to their whims, sure control is a factor. But its also arrogance.
I do tell guests what I am likely to serve ahead of time. I find it fascinating to cook to food restrictions, whether vegetarian, or due to allergies/sensitivities/glutin issues, or religious (no pork or no beef). I just ask to be warned in ADVANCE. Dining out, I am quite capable of picking out pistachios and pine nuts that end up in my meals (which are digestively problematic), and avoiding carrots (which I simply don't like but I'm NOT about to tell someone not to cook with them - okay, when I was a child I told my parents, but that didn't get very far.... LoL...)
It sounds like your talking about hack chefs who still think the back of the house is king in a food service operation. That is not the case, service, and pleasing guest is what gets you stars and accolades. This artical would have been accurate 10 years ago. Not anymore in REAL kitchen. Maybe at the diner.
Ian, that applies today as much as ever. But i'm sure you wouldn't know from your extensive knowledge of watching food network.
Burn. Thank you, Food Network, for encouraging these guys to think they have a clue. This included my father until he happened to visit and saw it for himself on a wall-to-wall ticket day. I got a lot less complaining about how I handle problems (head on, bro, head the eff on) and why I can raise my voice to parade ground level without straining my vocal cords.
@Ian: Until you get on the line, buddy, I suggest you don't know what makes a food service operation tick. Maybe on TV, I wouldn't know because I don't watch it, it looks like the cooks are having a fine time, but I guarantee that until you've spent some time getting hardened up on the line, which would mean you'd be one of us now, rather than a fundamentally ignorant spectator, you don't know what goes on there. You think the front of house is important because your experience is sitting at the table and ordering. That's how it's supposed to be But don't think for a minute that you know about the industry because you've ordered from a restaurant before. That's like believing you understand teaching in a school because you procreated once or you're Special Forces because you watched First Blood on TBS.
There are a couple points about the chefs....1. some folks don't know steak all that well. 2. Chefs are just gonna have to get used to an unusual series of menu changes and concerns because it can happen to them in time. The attitude sucks, so are you sure you're a chef or just a fry cook? I used to wait tables...and believe me, the waitress gets all the guff and crisp long before tender tootsie gets the order. Get over it dudes.
I normally order steaks medium, although I usually accept medium rare to medium well, but if it's mooing, yeah, I'm gonna send it back. And yes, I order salad dressings on the side, because I've picked thru too many salads that were swimming in dressing. I don't order special requests any more than that and have been known to pick off the foods I can't eat rather than special order something. (I cannot digest peppers, but I would rather eat around them than make a special request)
What most people are missing on this page is that if its not done the way it says it's supposed to be, or the steak is not cooked the way I ordered it, or its cold, or so salty its inedible, I'm sending it back. Don't get mad at me because you're too incompetent to do it right the first time. And in that case, there's no way you're a "chef"....you're a POOR line cook & you don't need to be working there, much less complaining about the customers that send food back. This article gives the impression that sending food back is a rare event....watch food network & see how many times food gets sent back because it's inferior.
Wow! That was an amazing speech, but always remember that you could have gotten to your restaurant of choice only to find out chef called in sick? No! That's because this doesn't happen in real life. Have you ever gone to your fave restaurant, only to find out the chef took a personal day, Um, NO! That's because it doesn't happen. We are all human, and we have our faults, please give us some slack, thank you.
Actually I am a red seal chef, and 99% of people who go to restaurants know fuck all about food. Most people dont even know what colour a rare med rare or even medium nor the actual temps. Maybe if people actually did research, studied the culinary arts and actually worked in a real kitchen, mastered everything, than and only than they can talk. As for you. You are just a foody who knows nothing.
That's about the dumbest thing I've ever read. That's like saying if you want to have an opinion about health care you need to either go through medical school, internship, and become a resident before you can talk; otherwise, shut up. If you want to have an opinion about what size our military needs to be you need to go to one of the military academies, spend 20-30 years rising through the ranks, become a GO, and only then can you talk; otherwise shut up.
Now get back in the kitchen and keep your ignorant opinions to yourself.
The fact that you mentioned food network proves you are a foodie who thinks they know everything because they watch tv and eat out a lot. When you get some knowledge and know what you are talking about then you can.
My God we have some serious first world problems when we are saying somebody else doesn't know what good food is because they only watch it prepared on tv. I think pretty much everybody that has commented on this page needs to bend over and pull the corn cob OUT. Get over yourselves! It's just nourishment! Be thankful you have these "problems" with chefs, restaurants, and customers.
Aaaahhh... but it's not nourishment anymore... It's entertainment.
Sorry to burst your fantasy bubble but food quality is separate from service. Service comes from the front of the house not the back. In my 25 years experience of serving and managing fine dining restaurants, the vast majority of food sent back is by seniors who want their meat cremated or had no idea what they ordered and want to get something else. My job was to promote and defend the classically trained chefs (not line cooks) who created phenomenal food and deserved respect. Your server should be your advocate and not just "take your order" but customize your dining experience.
I had written a post about how I handle my inability to eat onions without becoming a human volcano. Instead, I'll just say, if you have an issue with a customer requesting information about their food or telling you about things they cannot or will not eat, be up front with them about it. Tell them you do not care and that they should eat elsewhere. Yes, it will make them mad. But maybe they'll find a restaurant that values their patronage enough to want to make sure they don't get sick and that they have a great evening. I don't want to eat at a restaurant run by rage machines who couldn't care if my ride home is miserable and embarrassing. Screw that. Life is too short to ruin your night at a bad restaurant.
True story. I just cant stand bad food. That is who i am and am not going to pay an arm and a leg to push bad food through my throat. Life is short, we must enjoy every moment of it especially when we pay for the services. No body is doing any one a favour here and business owners ought to be reminded of that often. Its give and take. Those who cant cook should just do themselves a favour and get out of the way
As a cook, it isn't rage at you because you can't eat certain things. It is rage at you for not trying to find other options. Why must you order something but change it? There is the rest of the menu to choose from. Not only are menu items made, costed, and prepped a certain way, but we set the line up to get the dish out fast. Truthfully I have no problem trying to accommodate customers requests within reason.
As an example the restaurant i am at now has sides of asparagus, a little oil, a little salt and pepper. If 4 sides of asparagus walk in but one wants no salt or something stupid that just makes life annoying when trying to put 10 tickets into the window. It also makes it annoying for expediting. Then that side gets sent to the wrong place and the FOH comes back with "WE NEED A NO SALT ASAPARAGUS ON THE FLY". Then we come in with fuck off I made that and put it up fucker.
Anyway, rant over. RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGE
The customer won't even necessarily be annoyed, or at least shouldn't be, if the waiter is honest enough to inform him/her that the specific needs cannot be accommodated.
If I inquire about allergy-related things, and the server tells me that the things will be a problem, then I've avoided a trip to the ER and the restaurant has quite possibly avoided the bad PR of a customer killed by their food.
There's nothing wrong with admitting, "I'm sorry, but I cannot serve you. The possibility of cross-contamination in our kitchen is just too high."
I would be completely satisfied with that answer.
Sorry, but well-done NEVER means dry & chewy... By the way, chefs are there to Serve... If you don't want to Serve those who PAY you, Get... Another... Job...
"if you dont like dealing with shitty customers, GET A NEW JOB"
white privilege at its finest. this is shitty logic.
"If theres still crime, why do we even need cops?"
What does white privilege have to do with any of this?
"white privilege at its finest. this is shitty logic." Yes, your logic – and I use that term very loosely – certainly is.
Whoa. No one is there just "to serve" you. Us in the life-long business of restaurants take pleasure and enjoy creating a dining experience for our guests. We aren't your servant and we don't choose the job in order to "serve" you. We enjoy good food and want other people to enjoy it too. Yes there are many who take the job for quick cash and/or it is all they could get. But for those of us who choose this as a profession we are serious about what is being served. We are serious about the product: where it was raised and how it was fed.
And well if you eat at chain restaurants only, then yes, there job is to "serve you" and you pretty much have no idea what really good food is. You and the chef are petty much SOL.
And yes. . . well done always means chewy because well done meat is overcooked.
Thank you A!!! My son is a pastry chef, he has worked in some not so good positions, but now doing very well. you are right, he so enjoys using his creativity in the kitchen. I never had so much respect for chefs than I do now, it is a very hard, but rewarding career, if it is truly your passion. Most do not realize you can pretty much forget spending holidays with loved ones when in the restaurant business. They are not serving, they are making people's lives easier when they do not want to cook or want to go out and relax. The quote serve better watch attitude, might end up with something special in the food if in contact with the right person. I have the upmost respect for the majority of chefs! Most people would not last a day in some of these kitchens.
Spoken like a typical self centered chef. You seem to forget that we are in BUSINESS. We have customers, they pay for goods and services, otherwise we don't have a job. It's called the HOSPITALITY industry for a reason. Because yes, we ARE there to SERVE them. Yes, there will be unreasonable customers at times. That's called life. But that doesn't give you the right to act like a spoiled child who thinks that the world is supposed to revolve around them. You're supposed to be a professional. The business doesn't exist so that people will worship at your feet because of your food. It exists to make money though providing goods and services to a client base.
Actually I am not a chef nor a cook or even in the back of the house . . if you have any idea what that means. . .
I am a server (ironic i know) and have always worked in restaurants that bend over backwards to make sure EVERY customer is happy. gluten free, night shades, garlic, vegans whatever, you name it! I have even gotten fired once and only once because I tried to accommodate the customers too much. The chef was a serious prima donna. I have two college degrees but have chosen to be server because I enjoy providing a good experience for the guest. I was only pointing out that I don't do this job to be your servant, I do it because I want you, yes even you gekaap, to have an enjoyable experience at the place that I have pride to work at. The place that has a chef that spends 70 plus hours a week working to provide good food for you. Yes my job is all about hospitality and providing a fantastic experience but I do not appreciate those who have no respect for me. I am working my a** off to make sure you have a good time. . . please don't break it down to "you are my servant, SERVE me"
Whatdoes well done mean? You're full of it, Paul....
You forgot thre pre-taste seasoners. They just "know" that it needs more salt...
I do have gluten/dairy allergies and do have to ask for modifications. But I look for items that are easily modified–i.e. hamburgers without the buns. I do make sure I tip well!
Ma'am, you aren't the problem. Trust me when I say that you're doing more than your part, and it's very appreciated, when you try to meet us more than halfway like that.
People without the allergies tend to be faking it and trying to work someone to feel relevant in a world that doesn't care. We don't mind actually helping people that need the help for real, and handling allergies as professionals. But people have been tweaked to the fact that we give attention to certain kinds of guests more than others and so they start playing games in an effort to get the same effort. It's reprehensible, it's annoying.
I say that because I have a condition - Ulcerative Colitis - and while some day I might have to make special dietary requests, I know that you and I, given our druthers, would rather be regular people that could eat whatever we want. It's also why I have a special loathing for people that try to pimp conditions they don't have in an attempt to get more attention. I'm one of those people with the actual condition, I work in the industry and these people are putting me through my paces like Lucy taking the football away from Charlie Brown.
But don't think that you're the problem or you're what is referred to in this article.
EVERYONE should work in a restaurant, either back of the house for crap pay, or front of the house for $2.63/hour which gets eaten up in taxes anyway, and find out out how fun it is to work for cash and most likely putting oneself through school so you don't have to do it anymore. Don't get me wrong, I had a lot of fun bartending and waiting tables, but people get so fucking entitled it's disgusting. Also, "allergy" most of the time, means "I don't want it" and they think the server is stupid.
Carry on, all who have put down restaurant workers, continue with your not-hard-at-all lives.
My boyfriend has a wheat allergy and gets really sick when he eats wheat, rye, oats, barley or anything related. He also has allergies to some nuts. I cook for him most nights, but I need a break sometimes. We can't just order pizza or get fast food because of his allergies and most restaurants still don't have gluten-free menus. When we go to restaurants he goes straight to the chicken section (if there is no gluten-free menu) and orders whatever is chicken and vegetables and asks for no sauce because most sauces are thickened with flour. He loves fish and will ask if it is breaded (he gets told quite often that it isn't and then is brought one that is), but he tries to be as non-difficult as possible. If the waitress brings him a breaded item after telling him it wasn't breaded or brings him an item with sauce after he's asked for no sauce, of course he'll send it back. We try not to be difficult, but people with food allergies shouldn't be criticized for wanting to eat out like the 'normal' people. We both work, I go to school and sometimes we need a nice night out. Chefs shouldn't get angry at people with food allergies. They suffer a lot more than the chef does by having to modify a meal a little bit.
Erin, thank you and your boyfriend for understanding and not wanting to be difficult customers. Generally speaking, I believe restauranters genuinely do understand about allergies and are sympathetic, but I think what the article goes off about are the people who really don't have an allergy, but just want it certain anyway because they are control freaks and want to be special. Your boyfriend should always tell your server to inform the cook that he is highly allergic to gluten/nuts, and this should help with miscommunication, as chefs are usually more informed about the food ingredients than servers (sadly).
This happened to me, a person said she was allergic to gluten and ordered an item, I told the chef about the gluten allergy and he then told me some obscure item in the food has a little gluten in it, and to tell the customer that. The customer was very happy that the mistake was caught, and proceeded to order something else.
We usually tell our server, but we've never specifically asked them to tell the chef. Sometimes they'll go ask the chef or another server if something has wheat or flour in it, but I don't think it's ever been in specific reference to our table. We'll have to do that next time. Thank you for the suggestion.
You guys sound like you're doing it right – I'm gluten intolerant myself (though fortunately not to your boyfriend's degree) and the times I've had to bring it up in a restaurant I've gotten nothing but good responses as the waiter and chefs find something I'll love. My guess is that my attitude has something to do with it – I've been in customer service for a decade now and try to treat them the way I like to be treated and make things as easy on them as possible. After all, it's not their fault I have an entire food category that likes to hurt me. Still, really didn't think I was doing anything special ... until I went out to lunch with a friend and holy crap did she make life annoying for everyone in the supply chain. Could she substitute A for B and could this be on the side but, oh, did that have too much whatever in it and she doesn't like that other thing so could she ... I had no idea one could make such a production out of shrimp and grits. Meanwhile I'm scouring the menu for something GF and passing up things that would be if only the sauce were held because I figure the chef didn't design the dish for no sauce. He or she probably knows what they're doing so I'm not going to mess with it.
My food was far better than hers, for the record.
Erin, keep in mind that your boyfriend is the real exception to the rule. you would be surprised how many people come in with a gluten allergy. Then when you describe an item they want and tell them there is a little gluten they say ok because it is just a diet!
Perhaps they should work at McD's
The same 5 reasons why we hate chefs. LOL. If you don't want to deal with the public, become a hermit. Here's a true story. My mother was sick & had never had a "real" vacation so my sister & I took her to Martha's Vineyard for a week right after the bloody bridge collapse in CT. We got detoured lost, the kids were starving & we found one – just one – restaurant still serving dinner. Very fancy. We dragged ourselves in & dinner was delivered & delightful. My 3-yr-old niece wanted ketchup (good grief). The place was about empty, thank God, & she wasn't crying but a little fussy 'cuz she was tired. We tried to hush her & our waiter, who had been watching disappeared into the kitchen. I thought we'd be kicked out, no kidding.
He came back w/a little bowl of homemade ketchup from the chef & spooned it on her dinner. She was happy & we were astounded. We left the largest tip we've ever given & I've never forgotten that gentleman. Gordon Ramsay & perhaps some other chefs could take a real lesson.
Of course it was our fault, but that one, simple, kind gesture helped give my mother the only great vacation she ever had.
I get migraines when I eat sage. So I don't order anything that has it, including stuffing (thought I do make my own stuffing at home without sage in it. When something says "Herbed" I will ask if sage was used. I'm not going to order something that comes with sage butter and request it be left off. I'll just order something else. My sister in law is the same way with Sage so it's nice at Thanksgiving to not be the only one wanting to season the turkey another way. BTW, rosemary and thyme are what we use.
Then don't order anything with sage in it. Deal with it. Keep it to yourself.
Did you stop reading after the first sentence, because in the second sentence that is exactly what she says she does. And then tells us how she 'deals' with it in general at home. Jeez.
did you read the comment? they said they would ask if it had that ingredient if it does they wouldn't order it!!!!!
Mary, you either need a pair or glasses or someone to interpret the written word, because clearly you failed at understanding Ohioan's VERY simple and logical explanation of how she deals with food in a restaurant containing an ingredient she gets a reaction from. She PLAINLY explained, in easy to understand English, that if the offending ingredient cannot be left out of the dish, she simply orders something else. What about that don't you understand or caused you to take umbrage at her remarks?
I'd have to say that if anyone needs to "deal with it" and subsequently "keep it to yourself" that would be you. I'm still SMH over what exactly it was in Ohian's comment you found to be worthy of your criticism.
Yea, um, pretty sure he said he doesn't order anything with sage. Way to just pop off.
Since Tuesday morning, 487 posts? Don't you people have work to do?
and yet you found the time, hmmmmmm
Irony at it's best. ^_^
While I understand a chef having a specific recipe, I would think that goal #1 would be to make food that people can enjoy. My wife loves to go out to eat and always makes special requests. The chefs that honor her requests tend to do well as my wife is fairly influential and can refer a substantial number of people to their establishment who will surely go. I do not have an easy time eating out due to the fact that I'm allergic to alcohol and many, many dishes are made with booze. I always feel uncomfortable asking a chef to alter a dish that sometimes took them years to perfect.
OOH! Your wife is influential!
A person is a person is a person. No one cares who your wife is.
But I'm glad you are at least conscientious.
And I can all but guarantee servers and chefs cringe when they see you and your wife coming.
Bill, you raise an important point, which is the fact that a true chef is a master of food. If someone is a master of only five or ten specific entrees precisely as they appear on the menu, then he's not a chef he's a glorified line cook. A chef should be able to accommodate reasonable requests relatively easily. It's true that sometimes certain requests might not be a good idea, because it might significantly change the dynamic of the dish. But that's where the kitchen needs to work with the server to help come up with better recommendations they can offer the guest.
I spend my time mostly behind the bar these days, where the same concept applies. All I need is for you to tell me what kind of mood you're in and a basic flavor preference (sweet, fruity, spicy, sour, creamy, etc.) and I'll be able to give you a cocktail that you enjoy.
Aw, comon now. A master of food? As defined by who? According to Webster a chef is "a skilled cook who manages the kitchen (as of a restaurant)". The translation of "chef", (it is a French word), is chief and there are many different kinds of chefs. A pastry chef knows very little of being a saucier or a garde manger. Then, you must remember that all chefs are cooks but all cooks are not chefs. There are different levels of being a chef as well: Chef de Cuisine, Executive Chef and Master Chef. The last of which doesn't know it all and will reference material when needed. You as a bartender must realize this. Doesn't a customer ever ask you for something you don't know how to make? What do you tell them? I'm sorry I don't know how to make that so take your business elsewhere. Or do you look in Boston's or some other publication.
I was an Executive chef, (chief cook), now retired and realized early on that if I was to suceed I needed to accomodate my customers wants. I have never worked in a kitchen which didn't have a ready supply of reference materials and maybe I didn't use them frequently, I did use them. Especially when planning new menus. I have accumulated over 300 cookbooks and still reference them for something unfamiliar.
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