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Feb 8, 2009 03:35 PM

A Restaurant Etiquette Question

Maybe this is a different question than usual or maybe I've just not been keeping up on board discussions.

There's a place that serves a merguez sausage that just kills me. It is different from merguez I get elsewhere and is far above and beyond anything I've tried to make or bought at local butchers. I just love the stuff and I want to know the source. (Although it is not impossible, I think it unlikely that they make it in house). But I am self-conscious of the fact that to ask the restaurant where they get their merguez is tantamount to telling them that if I can source it for myself I will spend less money with them. So I have been unable to ask. For 15 years.

How do people feel about asking about sources? I don't want to put these guys on the spot. It is fair enough if they would prefer to not reveal their supplier for this very reason.

Any thoughts?

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  1. 15 years?! 15 YEARS???!!!! Just ask them already. When I owned my resto, I'd always answer questions like that truthfully. Chances are it might be a purveyor that only sells wholesale to restos, but maybe not. After 15 years of loyal patronage, you've earned the right to know. Unfortunately, most restos here in the Bay Area are so full of name-dropping "sources", it reads like a Playbill- Micro greens from Star Route Farms, pork from Full Belly Hogs, Satsumas from Capay Farms. TMI..... Adam

    1. ask. all they can do is say no, and then youre just where you are now.

      1. I was a head chef and now going back into the business. Unless some secret recipe passed down for years or a top 4 or 5 star restaurant ... I think it is perfectly acceptable to ask. And as a chef ... I would be willing to come out and answer the question for the people. Now some may not, but I am open and love people to learn more about cooking. That is why I have a restaurant to share. I have asked and always found a good response and I would always respond the same way. If it is not some big secret ... no reason not to share.

        1. There's no harm in asking. When it comes to suppliers, it's hard to keep that a secret if there is a delivery truck out front or back of the restaurant. Competitive businesses have been spying on deliveries forever. The restaurant may say they have it made special for them with a proprietary recipe, but if you know the most probable you will be able to find and purchase the item somewhere else.....Hot Dog companies are famous for this. Hot dog joints say they have the dogs made special for them....but in reality it's not really very special and just a type of tube steak available to wholesale customers. There's a famous deli in NYC who claims this, but their hot dogs are made by the same people who make the popular push cart hot dogs.....I know this for fact, because when I purchased some to take home, the identifying band was still attached to the links.

          Most well run restaurants are proud of their suppliers, e.g. meat purveyors and bread most cases you will not be able to purchase from a wholesaler....but they may have retail outlets...or direct you where you can purchase....unless the supplier is a butcher type store. then you can go directly to the source.....again, there is always the spying method to find out.

          1. Why not ask them if you can order it through them - they can mark up the price a little and make some money off you - then you can find out where it's from and eventually start ordering yourself - everyone is happy!