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Do you like seeing the chef in the dining room?

sixelagogo Mar 12, 2008 03:15 PM

My dude and i were having a discussion about this. For some reason, it kinda bothers the both of us...while i know chef's like to get a feel for how the evening is going, what's being enjoyed/not, i can't help but feel intruded ..often times, whillst strolling they'll ask the table "are you enjoying everything?" of course i'm going to say, "everything is great! thanks!" not, "I think the blahblahblah was overcooked"...Do they expect honesty from us or just and ego boost? Am i alone in my discomfort?

  1. ttoommyy Feb 27, 2013 11:29 AM

    "Do they expect honesty from us or just and ego boost? Am i alone in my discomfort?"

    A professional will expect and want honesty. And remember, the discomfort is coming from within yourself and how you perceive the situation. unless the chef does something deliberately discomforting, you should not allow it to bother you.

    And to answer your topic question, I love seeing the chef when I visit a high end restaurant. I frequently ask a question or two if time permits. I have gotten to "know" a few chefs this way. I put know in quotation marks because I do not think these chefs would recognize me outside of the restaurant, but they definitely remember me from one time to another at their restaurants. I love food, the preparation of food and find the restaurant business fascinating; why wouldn't I want to see and have a chance to speak with the chef?

    1 Reply
    1. re: ttoommyy
      Bill Hunt Feb 27, 2013 07:30 PM

      Now, there ARE a few, who would recognize us, but not that many. Still, I think that the visit is about the evening, and our experiences. At Restaurant August, Chef Besh dropped by the table. He recognized my wife, and she introduced him to our guests. They had several questions, and he took the time to address each of those. One example, yes, but a nice touch. They greatly appreciated that little visit, and so did I.

      I have never felt any inconvenience, or tension, when meeting the chef. I enjoy it, when appropriate.

      Hunt

    2. ellenost Feb 27, 2013 11:23 AM

      I like seeing the chef in the dining room, especially when he/she stops by my table.

      1. nomnomnoms Feb 22, 2013 07:21 PM

        I personally dislike it because it usually means that someone is not checking the products back at the expo line (unless he has a sous doing this for him, but still...), which then means that the dish may not be as good as it should be.
        And I hate it when strangers talk to me in general!

        1. p
          Puffin3 Feb 22, 2013 09:58 AM

          I don't like when any chef shakes hands with guests, I'm willing to bet that some chefs then go into the back but don't was their hands. The question is which ones?

          1 Reply
          1. re: Puffin3
            Bill Hunt Feb 22, 2013 07:17 PM

            Well, if they shook MY hand, there would be nothing to worry about. Other patrons... ? Well I am not so sure.

            Hunt

          2. Will Owen Feb 19, 2013 11:29 AM

            In '91 we were in Burgundy with the in-laws, and we went to Vonnas because Papa had been taken there to La Mère Blanc in the '30s, and Georges Blanc, the now-celebrity owner/chef, was an old friend of the French cousins. The main restaurant was out of our price range, but we had a very pleasant lunch in the attached Auberge Blanc, still white-tablecloth but with a simpler and midpriced menu. As we were attacking dessert, Georges himself came through, stopping at every table for a few words or more. Papa introduced himself, and he and Georges exchanged some reminiscences or whatever - I was the only non-Francophone at the table, and Georges doesn't do English. I told Papa that I was going to buy a cookbook at the front desk, and would he ask Chef Blanc if he could sign it for me. Georges cheerfully agreed, and did. That was the first time a real working chef did the rounds in my presence; only the second, I think, is Claud Beltran at Noir in Pasadena, who does a turn when he can. On our first visit there he stopped by and asked how things were going, and I mentioned we'd been trying to signal for a bit more bread. Chef Beltran smiled and said, "Oh, I think I know how to cut bread!" and went off with the basket. That was just one thing that made us want to come back.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Will Owen
              Bill Hunt Feb 22, 2013 07:16 PM

              Personally, I think that it was a very nice gesture, and you have a wonderful memory.

              Though the cookbook did not change, my wife has three, signed versions, from three of the Exec. Chefs at Commander's Palace, in New Orleans. Each means a lot to her, as we celebrated about 10 of her birthdays there, even after we moved 1200 miles away. In each instance, Chef Paul Prudhomme, Chef Emeril Lagasse and Chef Jamie Shannon came to her table, and signed her copy. The last was only about one year, before Chef Shannon died. Special memories for us, and especially for my wife.

              Hunt

            2. m
              MonMauler Feb 8, 2013 10:21 PM

              Nah. Unless I know the chef personally I have no need to see him, especially not for pleasantries or so that I can stroke his ego. Stay in the back and do your job, as far as I'm concerned.

              When I am familiar with the chef I find it nice when he stops out to say hi. We almost never discuss the food; rather, we talk about our personal lives and opportunities to get together. If he doesn't stop out because he is preoccupied, not there, unaware I'm there or does not wish to speak to me, it's all good.

              I guess my view, when dining, is that unless you are at my table to provide some type of service or otherwise know me well enough to call me an acquaintance, you should not be interrupting my dining experience.

              2 Replies
              1. re: MonMauler
                ttoommyy Feb 27, 2013 11:33 AM

                "Nah. Unless I know the chef personally I have no need to see him, especially not for pleasantries or so that I can stroke his ego. Stay in the back and do your job, as far as I'm concerned."

                I disagree. If the chef is a professional, he has a duty to check on the front of the house as well; especially if he has a stake in the restaurant, as many chefs do. And what is wrong with ego stroking? I had my own food business once and I know it made me feel good to get positive feedback directly from my customers.

                1. re: ttoommyy
                  Bill Hunt Feb 27, 2013 07:25 PM

                  I agree with you, and on the points that you mention.

                  I have enjoyed the pleasure of having the chef visit our table, from general fine-dining to Michelin 3-star locations.

                  In one Paris restaurant (no star yet, but I would anticipate one will soon come), the chef visited every table, and then stood at the door, to speak with every diner, as they departed. They had two seatings, and though we were in the first, with our many wines, and a great cheese course, were leaving after most of the second seating were finished.

                  Was there a sous-chef in the kitchen? I do not know, but the chef/owner was active, after the mains for the second-seating had been served. To us, a nice touch.

                  Over the decades, we have been afforded the pleasure of Chef Frank Brigtsen, Chef Joël Robuchon, Chef Gordon Ramsay, Chef Paul Prudhomme, Chef Emeril Lagasse, Chef Jamie Shannon, Chef Kevin Binkley, Chef Srijith Gopinathan , Chef Kevin Taylor, Chef Gary Danko, Chef Michael Mina, Chef Thomas Keller, Chef Alan Wong, Chef George Mavrothalassitis, Chef Ives Granier, Chef Daniel Boulud, Chef Michael Rostang, Chef John Besh and many more. I have appreciated those visits.

                  Hunt

              2. chowser Feb 8, 2013 12:33 PM

                I don't mind. At Volt, at the end of the meal, Bryan Voltaggio came around (not out since it's an open kitchen). One woman grabbed him, raved about the food and then asked about an "oyster" dish that she thought fell flat. He explained how it should have tasted and why (oyster leaf, sodium alginate salsify in oyster shell) and then brought leaves out for her to taste. He did seem concerned that it wasn't explained well by the staff. So, I think chefs who care, take notice and aren't just looking for an ego boost, at the risk of stating the obvious.

                1. KarenDW Feb 8, 2013 12:16 AM

                  I generally enjoy a chat with the chef, and so appreciate when s/he comes out to say hello. We are (generally) honest in our response to questions about our meals. Especially if the venue is in the control of someone we know.

                  1. p
                    pine time Feb 7, 2013 02:54 PM

                    We've had great experiences with the chef popping by--once we praised the amuse bouche, and he said something to the effect of "you ain't seen nothing yet" and sent over another sample of something not yet on the menu, and we swooned. So, yup, we've enjoyed it.

                    1. melpy Feb 7, 2013 08:14 AM

                      It all depends. I thoroughly enjoy when the GM comes to our table at one of our favorite places. Same with the chef at another. Usually at the end of meal is preferable to during. End of service even better because I hate that hurried off brush off. If you are greeting tables don't make it feel like you are doing is the favor.

                      1. s
                        sal_acid Feb 7, 2013 07:19 AM

                        Your dude? Gnarly.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: sal_acid
                          hyacinthgirl Feb 7, 2013 07:48 AM

                          Have to admit, I prefer that to "DH" :)

                          1. re: sal_acid
                            sixelagogo Feb 10, 2013 04:52 AM

                            He's my dude-- at 55 bit too old to be a "boyfriend".

                          2. b
                            beevod Feb 7, 2013 07:17 AM

                            Yes if they're dressed properly.

                            1. bagelman01 Feb 7, 2013 06:53 AM

                              sometimes,
                              If I'm on a date night with my wife or a business meal I DON'T want to be interrupted by a chef making the rounds. I make a point of telling the host when seating us and the waiter/waitress that we are NOT to be interrupted by the chef or other restaurant personnel, that we want a quiet, private meal.
                              Otherwise, I think it's fine for the chef to stop by and get my honest feedback.

                              1. Kholvaitar Feb 7, 2013 06:47 AM

                                Yes, I want to see what the man or woman preparing my meal looks like. Is he or she coming out for praise or blame???

                                Unless I send something back and out comes...

                                 
                                1. egit Mar 14, 2008 04:01 PM

                                  Ha! This is very funny because I was considering starting a thread on this. Wednesday night I was at a very nice restaurant in manhattan (Eleven Madison Park). The food was pretty spectacular, and I at least know who the chef is. I didn't know what he looked like... but when a certain chef-ish looking person came to the table and asked how everthing was, I was a little taken aback. Not in a bad way, of course. But it was obvious he's the chef.

                                  It would be like sitting in a movie theater, and suddenly the actor in the movie sitting down next to you and asking what you thought of his performance. It was more funny than good/bad/awkward.

                                  It was towards the end of service for the evening, and I suspect he had already finished up most of the entrees.

                                  "Everything's really great! Thanks!" What else could I say?

                                  1. danhole Mar 13, 2008 02:46 PM

                                    I don't normally go to expensive restaurants, where the chef might come out, but last year I was treated to an extraordinary meal at a local European restaurant. This is a five star place and there is only one location. We went on a weeknight, since it is packed on the weekends, and we went early. After we enjoyed our fabulous meal we went out to the patio with a dessert drink. He came out to us and asked if we enjoyed our meals. He was not sweaty, or dirty, and was very professional. We gushed over our meals and we chatted with him for a bit. Come to find out, and I repeat myself as I have stated this in other threads, my transylvanian saxon ancestors are related to his family! It was such a special night for me.

                                    1. s
                                      SonyBob Mar 13, 2008 01:40 PM

                                      A visit to your table by Susan Spicer (Bayona, NO) or Mary Brady (Diamond Jim Brady's, Novi MI) would change your mind.
                                      Bob

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: SonyBob
                                        sixelagogo Mar 14, 2008 03:13 AM

                                        i'm curious about Mary Brady...can you elaborate?

                                        1. re: sixelagogo
                                          s
                                          SonyBob Mar 14, 2008 02:09 PM

                                          Sure. Mary Brady is co-owner of Diamond Jim Brady's Bistro in Novi, MI. Diamond Jim's opened in 1954 and has been in it's current location for 17 years. Mary is a certified executive chef, awarded by the American Culinary Federation over 20 years ago. What makes her special is that she's one of the most genuine persons I know. When she visits your table, you really know that she values your comments and will take any suggestions seriously. She has class and she's an excellent listener. She's respectful of your privacy and doesn't linger. Along with her husband, Tom, I think she's the consumate host. I'm sure I'm partial but I don't think you'll find anyone who will disagree with me.
                                          Bob

                                        2. re: SonyBob
                                          Bill Hunt Feb 18, 2013 07:16 PM

                                          We have had Chef Spicer visit our table several times, and have always appreciated the opportunity to share with her, how the meal had gone.

                                          Hunt

                                        3. m
                                          mmuch Mar 13, 2008 12:20 PM

                                          I hate when they come out dripping in sweat and very dirty. Generally, no, I don't think I do. And I do wish we could be honest with them when they do ask. You'd think that was the point. Not just to boost their ego's any more than they already are.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: mmuch
                                            a
                                            aelph Mar 13, 2008 01:08 PM

                                            Argh. One of the slowest dining experiences ever including very mediocre middlebrow Italian cuisine. Everyone at our table and, eventually, new patrons, wondering what's going on with the kitchen. Two hours into what should have been a 90 min meal including drinks, coffee, dessert(we we're just getting our entrees)...here comes the chef, sweaty, grimy, wild-eyed(hmm) asking after our dinners...

                                            ...everyone politely demurred but we were all thinking...what in the world are you doing greeting the diners? Get back in the kitchen!

                                          2. h
                                            Harters Mar 13, 2008 10:26 AM

                                            Love the chef coming round - so long as its towards the end of service.

                                            Last time it happened, I asked him how the move to his new location was going (they'd moved 150 miles or so). He said fine. And this two days after he'd lost his second Michelin star. HAH!

                                            1. Miss Needle Mar 12, 2008 03:50 PM

                                              It depends. You can definitely tell who's doing it because they're genuinely interested versus those who do it because it's good PR. I find that you get a couple of different types of people who do it for PR reasons -- the ones who love the accolade and the ones who hate being in public but realize that it's for the good of the restaurant.

                                              1. livetocook Mar 12, 2008 03:41 PM

                                                I'm with ipsedixit. If they ask I'll be honest. I like it if they come out. To me it means they care.

                                                (I thought you were going to ask about "open concept" dining. Which I'm not a fan of. Loud clanging is annoying! )

                                                The chef "mulling around" is appreciated by me

                                                1. ipsedixit Mar 12, 2008 03:32 PM

                                                  I give it to the chef straight up.

                                                  If you're going to ask, you better be prepared for the honest truth.

                                                  I once told a chef that his salmon made the croutons I had with my soup moist by comparison.

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                                    chowser Feb 8, 2013 12:28 PM

                                                    Response?

                                                    1. re: ipsedixit
                                                      Bill Hunt Feb 18, 2013 07:12 PM

                                                      I agree, and have done a critique of every dish, should they care to hear.

                                                      Hunt

                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                        grampart Feb 22, 2013 10:17 AM

                                                        One day at lunch chef asked me how I liked my Reuben. I told him it didn't do justice to his wonderful house-made sauerkraut. My suggestion of changing from the open-faced version which dried out the meat to a more conventional closed and grilled sandwich was accepted very graciously and, a week later, the change had been made. Unfortuneately, the place had other more serious and closed 6 months later.

                                                        1. re: grampart
                                                          Bill Hunt Feb 22, 2013 07:12 PM

                                                          I hope that the chef took the criticism to heart, and maybe reevaluated the recipe.

                                                          However, their other issues took front-stage, but maybe he moved on?

                                                          I never hesitate to offer my criticism, in hopes that they at least register - they do not have to be addressed initially, but I would like the chef to think about them.

                                                          Hunt

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