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Oct 27, 2007 07:01 AM

Does the cook get offended when food comes back uneaten?

I have often wondered about this but the other night, we ate early at a restaurant and were about the only ones in the place. I only add that because if the restaurant had been terribly busy, I don't think anybody would have noticed. However, I was curious about the fried spinach appetizer on the menu and ordered it. What came out was a huge plate that was enough for about four people. It was just the two of us and my husband is not really crazy about fried foods. I tried a few pieces, it was good but there was no way I could do justice to that entire plate. Taking it home was out of the question since it was fried and would not hold up. I felt guilty about sending almost the entire plate back to the kitchen because I was afraid the chef would think something was wrong with his/her food. Not ever having worked in a kitchen, does the chef take notice of these things (when it is quiet enough) and do they appreciate an explanation that there was nothing wrong with the food but that you just could not finish it? I was actually very taken with it but it is extremely filling. It would have been much better as a very small side item.

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  1. I can remember in a restaurant long ago in another galaxy, having the server come out, if I had not eaten much of my food and being unable to take it home in a free takeout container, asking me: the chef wonders if there was something wrong with the food?

    I always found that charming.

    1. Hi I run a kitchen a golf club, when I see a whole plate of food come back I always ask the server to check w the customer if everything is alright, sometime I will come out to speak w you just to make sure. most of the time its just to much food, and no I dont get upset, in todays world people are eating smaller portions anyway, if you did not like the dish you should tell your server what it was that you did not like (please do it nicely) as a chef you have to be open for your customers opinion whether good or bad or you will never make it.

      3 Replies
      1. re: chefsklls

        I think it would also depend on the shape of the kitchen - in a linear kitchen the chef doesn't see food being scraped into the trash and the plates stacked for the dishwasher.

        1. re: chefsklls

          What an excellent attitude, chefsklls. I commend you.

          1. re: dolores

            in my experience, they notice. and they're not all as easy going about it as chefsklls, sadly!

        2. Every plate, no matter how busy we are, is shown to the chef on its way back into the kitchen as on the way out. The servers know they should have a ready (honest) answer to give if there is food left.

          1. I went ot a restaurant on a date. Neither of us had ever been before and he portions were much bigger than we thought. We each left about half of our entrees over and we had tickets for after so couldnt take leftovers. The waiter asked if everything was okay and we told him it was, we were just full. The chef came out and apologized for us not liking our meals and insisted we eat dessert on the house. We were so full but sortof afraid to not eat it.

            1. I'm not a professional chef, but do host sit down dinners quite frequently. If food comes back uneaten, it isn't offending, however you do want feedback, so it isn't so the next time - seasoning, sauce, sequence or just plain size?


              11 Replies
              1. re: sidkhullar

                I appreciate all the thoughtful feedback and conversation on this and I do understand the comment about hosting sit down dinners and being concerned when the food comes back. I don't host sit down dinners but I do prepare baked goods quite often for work functions and Friday, I was sitting with a co-worker who was eating a piece of my cake. She took a couple of bites, complimented me and headed for the nearest trash can with it. Maybe that is partially what prompted my post. My feelings were not exactly hurt but it did leave me wondering. Was her piece too big, too sweet, too icky...??? I did not want to put her on the spot by asking but it did get me thinking about the chef who got my plate of fried spinach back.

                1. re: Hooda_Guest

                  Ack, if I had had a piece of cake at a work function in the last few days I'd be wondering if this were me!! Granted, I normally try to do it discreetly, but if I don't "take couple of bites" then "head for the nearest trash can" that entire piece of cake will go in my mouth and onto my waist. I realize it is my own issue with self control, and that I can't expect others to change how they cook/serve because of me. So throwing the extra food away is the best (only?) way I have found to ensure I don't eat something I will regret later. HG, I am 99% certain your coworker is dealing with an issue similar to mine. It would have been more sensitive for her to wait until you didn't see her throw it away, but she was probably so fixated on making a good choice for her that she didn't think of you. Please don't take it as a commentary on the quality of your cake -- heck, it's a compliment that it was so good she knew she wouldn't be able to stop herself from eating it if she kept it around!!

                  1. re: charmedgirl

                    As one who has dealt with serious weight issues all my adult life, I do certainly understand just wanting to take a bite to try something and discard the rest of it. If I came across as upset with her, I am not at all. Self control is a very good thing-I need more of it!! I was much more curious than upset. I'm the type of baker who seeks out feedback good or bad and I would love to have known if she didn't like it and why. But, I really appreciate your perspective on this as I had not considered that she might be making a health choice. It was not exactly a low calorie dessert!

                    1. re: Hooda_Guest

                      I also bring baked goods to work and because of my own efforts to lose weight I've started to bring bite-sized goodies: mini cheesecakes, brownies, bars/squares... you can have a whole one and only add 100-150 calories to your day. Seems to go over well with the other calorie conscious people too... the only way to "get in trouble" is to have more than one :)

                      I agree with dolores though, the coworker who took a few bites and then dumped your hard work in the trash was a bit thoughtless; she could have at least waited until she was out of sight.

                    2. re: charmedgirl

                      I ask a good friend at work what he thinks of whatever I've brought because I know he'll give me an honest answer. Everyone else gives the polite "wow this is really good, thanks for bringing it in" reply and I don't pay attention to who eats it/how much they eat/etc because I know their responses won't be as valid!

                      1. re: charmedgirl

                        Ideally I'd have taken a clean knife and cut a sliver off a piece if I only wanted a nibble to taste... but maybe the person didn't have a knife handy. I'm sure there wasn't anything wrong with the treat - she's probably on a diet!

                        1. re: charmedgirl

                          Charmed girl...what about taking a knife and (neatly! neatly! neatly!) cutting off a small sliver? Intentionally wasting food, especially costly things like baked goods, sounds like a pretty thoughtless way to keep a trim figure. In my family, we always take tiny portions of things we only want to taste, and that way, people get to enjoy them, not the garbage disposal!

                          1. re: Morticia

                            Oh certainly, Morticia. When I am serving myself, I cut a piece the size that I want to eat. But on many, many occasions I am not the one doing the serving, and it would be infinitely rude/presumptuous of me to ask for the serving utensils and cut my own. Not to mention, it would look really weird. Asking for a "small piece" also rarely works, since people by default cut too large a piece, I think because they are trying to be generous. Trust me, I prefer it when I can serve myself, so then the occasion never even arises where I am staring at a plate and fork full of delicious cake and have to force myself to toss it. But often all too often that is just not an option.

                            1. re: charmedgirl

                              I completely understand about other people serving too large portions - at my family gatherings, you always ask for a "small piece" and then give that one to the person who wanted a large one, then say, "Half the size of that one, please!" - even so, myself and Mr. Morticia (who are trying to cut down!) always ask to share 1 piece between us. I know that in a work situation, this might not be so easy, but don't you have a fellow dieter in the office, with whom you can split the piece (using a clean fork?)

                              1. re: Morticia

                                I don't think of myself as a dieter, trying to cut back temporarily to lose a few pounds. I am a habitual healthy eater. :-) And no, honestly, I'd rather not discuss my eating habits with my coworkers, or make such an issue out of it that I have to ask around for someone who wants to share. Besides, that puts the other person who wants an entire piece of their own (and rightly so!) in the awkward position of telling me no. I guess I just am not as bothered by waste as you seem to be. I have absolutely NO qualms throwing away extra food, that I didn't ask for, and that is high in sugar and fat. Better it goes in the trash than on my waistline.

                                1. re: charmedgirl

                                  Yeah, I know - the wastefulness of American society grates on my nerves. I'm sure you work in a much more formal environment, whereas I couldn't imagine anyone taking offense if you offered to share rather than throw away most of a perfectly good piece of cake...