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Would you mention this to the chef/instructor?

Hubby & I were at the weekly buffet lunch that a local tech college hosts as part of their culinary arts program.....students doing prep,cooking,serving,etc.....

Everything was very good,esp. the roast leg of lamb,the veggies,the loin lamb chops(slightly overdone but still tasty),battered cod,also very good.

However,when we tasted the clam chowder we had been looking forward to,we realized after 2 spoons that the milk(cream?)had been scorched....
that typical 'scorched' taste.Couldn't eat it.

So,going back to buffet table for some other things to try,saw the chef/instructor bringing out a new pan of chicken marsala,also on the menu.

I wanted to quietly mention to him about the scorched chowder,but I didn't.
Not sure why I didn't? I just didn't.....maybe did not want to get student 'in trouble' who made it?

So thinking about this again,what would any of the CH community have done?
Say something? Keep quiet? I'm curious?
Thanks in advance for any response/insight......
Grangie Angie

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  1. In that particular case, where it is a school/college, I would have mentioned it.

    It is not a question of getting someone in "trouble" but helping them learn from their mistake.

    1. I'd be surprised if no one said something even if you didn't. Did the chef/instructor taste the chowder?

      2 Replies
      1. re: HillJ

        I wish I knew? but since I didn't mention it,have no way of knowing? I would certainly hope that he tastes before service.
        I will ask next time we go back....and yes....99% was very good,even the freshly made lemon bars and mini-choc. cheesecakes.
        A very nice lunch at an exceptional price!

        1. re: grangie angie

          I've enjoyed a handful of meals prepared by students both in pop up restaurants and culinary schools and found them to be a lot of fun and a food adventure. Not everything was perfect but I had a ball. You can't beat the price.

          One time in NY we attended a student event and they ran out of the salmon appy course (some mishap during prep) so the students broke out in song to make up for the lack of appy. BRAVO, we all screamed!

      2. Right now i feel like the moment in time as passed to bring it up.
        However, since it is a student cooking yes i would have mentioned it. Either the student didn't taste it before serving, or the instructor didn't or it was fine when they did and was scorched while kept hot for serving. Regardless, if they are unaware then you can look forward to scorched chowder soon at a restaurant near you!

        1. I'd have said something -- it's there to be a learning experience, so while being nasty/bitchy/snarky is uncalled for, it needs to be brought to their attention.

          I'd have said something in a "regular" restaurant, too, as it might mean that they'd learn that the thermostat on the burner isn't working right!

          1. Yes, say something. No one will get in trouble...quite the opposite.

            The more important thing is that this was a chowder. Unlike a single dish where yours was scorched and the other hundred diner's was perfect, a soup is prepared for everyone at one time. When scorched, the entire pot of that chowder will have that taste. Everyone eating will be disappointed...not just a single diner.

            For sure mention it next time.

            1. Retired teaching chef here, by all means, please do say something. We (chef/instructors) all miss something from time to time and your comments are valuable. The student should not be 'in trouble' but a valuable learning experience was missed by your silence. It is important to the learning experence for students to hear feedback about their performance. They must understand that it is not possible to "unscorch" food and patrons can taste the mistake. Culinary school is a much more forgiving environment than the real world.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Sherri

                Definitely this.
                I can't count the amount of chefs I have worked with who get defensive and aggressive at the merest hint of dissatisfaction from a customer, whether warranted or not.
                It makes me wonder whether they were ever taught the importance of listening to feedback with an open mind.

                Likewise, many apprentices and young kitchen staff simply overlook the tasting process ALL THE TIME! To me, it's so important for tasting to become an essential part of any chefs routine, and although I am a FOH manager, I spend a lot of my time coaching and helping young kitchen crew. I feel tasting all products and being open to criticism is an area many kitchens fail in these days.

              2. Well based on your description I assume the purpose of this buffet lunch is a learning experience for the students, correct?

                If so in my opinion you are actually doing them a dis-service by not reporting it to someone. What good are you doing by potentially letting a student think that their method of preparation or final product was what's expected.

                It's one thing if you are a guest in someones home and you don't want to offend them, but this by it's nature is a learning experience, they can't learn if they don't know something is wrong.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jrvedivici

                  Thanks to all for your kind replies.In the future,I def. will mention it if something like this happens again.

                2. A friend and I have lunch frequently at a an Arts Institute in town that has a culinary program. Same deal -- the students do rotations where they cook, serve, bus, host & etc. The chef who runs the program has come to know us. If something is not right, we let him know, although that's not very often. On the other hand, when something is good, or we get a great server, we let him know as well.

                  1. Of course, by all means. That's why they are there.