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Sep 9, 2008 03:29 PM

Should a diner be entitled to tour the kitchen?

A table next to ours had a diner that asked for a tour of the kitchen, but was politiely told that it was against restaurant policy.

Putting aside why a diner would want such a tour (personally, I can think of alot of good reason, none of which are necessarily health dept related), I am curious what fellow chowhounds stand on this issue.

Should a diner be entitled to visit the back-of-the-house?

Is there any reason (non-OSHA related) why the kitchen should be off-limits?

Sure, some restaurants do offer tours of the kitchen, but this is by far the minority practice. And, of course, there "open kitchens" but this is more of a peek-a-boo than anything else. Sushi bars, of course, are "open" but then they really aren't "kitchens" in the truest sense.

Maybe it's a practical consideration. With all the hustle and bustle going on, having an extra person or two walking around would be too disruptive, maybe?

I must admit, there are times when I'm at a steakhouse where I'd be really intrigued to see the salamander at work.

Your thoughts?

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  1. i took my mother/father-in-law to south korea years back. when waiters/chefs found out he was in the restaurant supply business, they all asked him to see their kitchen. i tagged along.

    at the end of the day, if you express an interest, you may be pleasantly surprised with a kitchen tour (think per se). being related in some way to the business enhances your chances.

    hey, you never know.

    1. kitchens are busy, with lots of sharp and hot things moving around. it si barely controlled chaos, adn a visitor can break the flow, low the kitchen, cause problems , and get hurt. besides.. better you don't know

      2 Replies
      1. re: thew

        this was my exact first thought. Kitchens are hectic and often cramped

        1. re: thew

          This was also my first thought: there are perfectly legitimate safety reasons why a given resto would not want diners touring the kitchen. I think if they can allow diners to tour safely, sure, why not? But many restaurant kitchens simply don't have that luxury. I certainly wouldn't jump to conclude that a restaurant had anything to hide if they turned down such a request--not that the OP suggested that at all, but some might interpret a turn-down that way.

        2. No, the diner shouldn't be entitled to visit the back of the house.

          Yes, many reasons: safety, the kitchen may be small and there simply isn't space, they may get numerous requests for some reason and can't accommodate them all and so don't bring anyone in...and so on. You hit it on the head later in your post: "practical considerations."

          No harm in asking, though. That is, I don't think its at all an unreasonable request on the part of the diner, they should simply be prepared to accept a polite "no" as an answer.

          1. I think it should be a privilege, not a right. A housekeeper on vacation (?) doesn't get to view a hotel's laundry. A plane owner doesn't get to visit the pilots or pilots lounge on a commercial flight. And to the absurd- a patient doesn't get to visit an operating room or a morgue!

            Those of us who HAVE been behind the swinging doors know that sometimes it is a mad house in there and the tempers could be flaring in such an environment. I'd leave it to the owner to decide. After all, some places actually have settings in the kitchen. Frankly, I find the whole thing pretentious on the part of the diner - and some of the restaurants that offer beind the scenes dining

            3 Replies
            1. re: FriedClamFanatic

              just wondering what it is that you find pretentious about a chef's table?

              1. re: nummanumma

                I guess I'm old school. I run a restaurant. All my diners are important to me. My kitchen is important to me. I try and keep the 2 separate to make sure both sides are happy

                1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                  Sorry, I think you got my dander up a bit. However, when I take my car into be serviced, I don't expect to be hovering over the mechanic's shoulder. If my repair shop owner wants to set up learning days for customers, and they're willing to pay for it, that's one thing. But when you are trying to do good work and do it as fast as possible to keep costs down, a table in the kitchen or a table in the car-bay is going to cause problems IMHO

            2. I have found that we are much more likely to be invited back into the kitchen after or near the end of a service. Things are just too busy and crazy, not to mention hot, during the frenzy at the height of the rush.