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21 Things chefs wish they could tell you.....

Funny and accurate list of things most Chefs and restaurant people would love to tell you.


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    1. # 20 was my biggest pet peeve
      # 21 is spot on.... :)

      4 Replies
      1. re: petek

        What is the smallest window of time you should arrive before closing?

        1. re: melpy

          In all honesty if you are just coming in and want a "quick" meal, 30 mins prior to closing because that is about how long it would take to prep/cook a meal.

          If you are looking to "dine" have app's, soup, salad entree' etc. 1 hour prior to closing. You could probably squeeze in 30 mins before but honestly it's a pretty shitty move to pull.

          1. re: jrvedivici

            "In all honesty if you are just coming in and want a "quick" meal, 30 mins prior to closing because that is about how long it would take to prep/cook a meal."

            This 100%!!!

            1. re: jrvedivici

              There are some times when you arrive in a city or area late and there are few choices for a meal. To soften the blow of a late arrival I've seen two things done. See if you can get the food take-out or ask management if it would be OK to buy a round of drinks for the staff upon completion of their work. Or do both.

              I've had line cooks come out of the kitchen and thank us.

        2. I have no objections to any of this. It is all true.

          1 Reply
          1. Funny. A list for chefs of a very few select restaurants. In Most places none of this applies.

            1. Perfect! I loved hearing #21 being iterated by yet another food professional. If I'm ever fortunate enough to host any chef, they're getting dinner at my house, not haute cuisine. Why would I try to compete? All I can do, is what I do.

              And #1 was there for a reason. It *is* the #1 thing to consider before you make that reservation: can you afford the full freight or not? If not, go elsewhere.

              15 Replies
              1. re: mcsheridan

                I think restaurants should just add 20% service charge by default. It doesn't bother me if I know about it (though it DOES bother me if I don't notice it and I add 20% on top of 20% already added).

                Edit: this should have been a response about #1 not #21 (and not #20 as a previous edit of mine suggested).

                1. re: drongo

                  Edit: this should have been a response to petek who commented about #20 (not #21). Sorry.

                  #20 is about fools who come in to a restaurant and order a 5 course meal 15 mins before closing......

                  1. re: petek

                    Yes, you are right.... I was referring to #1 about tipping. I'm really losing it today... Sorry (a list of 21 items is apparently too much for me to keep straight).

                  2. re: drongo

                    Although our servers are paid less than minimum hourly wage, they take home far more money than any other employee in our restaurant! Tipping should NOT be mandatory in any establishment. It is a gratuity for excellent service and a necessary incentive for many not-so-professional servers.

                    1. re: elegraph

                      train your servers to be professional, don't put it on me and my tipping habits.

                      1. re: Bellachefa

                        Not sure why you think I'm putting this on you. Incentives are part of training and for servers that includes the desire to provide better service and, hopefully, better tips. How is that not professional? How do you think your service would be if tips were mandatory regardless?

                      2. re: elegraph

                        The are many ways to look at this subject with good arguments on both sides.

                        One interesting twist is that recent changes in IRS laws require built in tips for large parties to be paid via payroll which subjects those monies to all Federal, State & City wage taxes. As we all know, usually a % of these monies deducted are refunded after filing a tax return bases on one's adjusted income bracket. HOWEVER, many of the payroll taxes are not refundable.

                        From this standpoint, I would think governments at all levels would support a move to make all tips a fixed percentage paid through payroll.

                        How do Servers feel?

                        1. re: Tom34

                          All tips are taxable regardless of the size of the party.
                          The server is required to report their tips to their employer, which are added to their base hourly wage and subject to federal withholding, social security, medicare, state and local withholding. Under-reporting of tips is a HUGE problem in the restaurant industry and employers are generally required to pay the taxes and penalties on this unreported income.

                          1. re: elegraph

                            I know all tips are supposed to be reported Elegraph but I suspect that a significant % are not.

                            My question is would servers be better off at the end of the day with the current pay scale & voluntary tips which as you say are often under reported (OR) better off with the current pay scale and a fixed % tip all of which is reported and all withholding taxes taken out.

                            I know which camp the IRS falls into but I am not sure about the servers.

                    2. re: mcsheridan

                      Re #1 - If the true price of the of the meal is 18-20% more, then just add it to the menu. The list later says that every dish has been carefully priced out - so why not add that careful math to include paying the servers?

                      The point of tipping is that it enables the customers to evaluate the performance of the server - whether or not the server is specifically at fault for the service (i.e. kitchen issues). If owners/managers want to be the prime people responsible for their servers performance review then pay them fairly, charge appropriately, and be done with it. Don't whine on a list.

                      1. re: cresyd

                        Since that's unlikely to happen anytime soon in the US, I think it's perfectly in order to give tipping guidelines.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          First - as a standpoint of "I'm not going to tip because I think tipping is wrong" - then I do agree. This is the system we live in and thus chose to behave accordingly.

                          However - as a complaint made by chefs - who are potentially in a position to change the system implemented by their restaurant should they be a chef owner (as can be seen in numerous examples), I'm entirely unsympathetic.

                          1. re: cresyd

                            I agree. I don't think chefs are really all that worried about tipping. I know I'm not. In the current $15/hr minimum wage debates going on in Seattle, local restaurateurs have stated that their servers take home $25-$35 an hour, including the existing state minimum of $9+. I think chefs here may have to try a service charge or other change to the system, it is a huge concern. It will be interesting to see how it works out. I don't mind a service charge, especially if it helps raise kitchen wages as well - many prep cooks, dishwashers, even line cooks don't necessarily make $15 an hour now.

                        2. re: cresyd

                          Since we can't change the way things are done yet, we have to work with what is now; that means tipping.

                      2. I agree with most of it. But #3 (“You probably do not have a gluten allergy. Unless you have celiac disease.”) annoys me as a biomedical scientist because celiac disease is not an allergy – it’s an autoimmune disease. Also there are people who are gluten intolerant who don’t have celiac disease – though I’m sure the great majority of the many gluten avoiders today (including Mrs. Drongo) don’t have any type of gluten intolerance (except psychological or cultural). For a wonderful cartoon about the anti-gluten fad, see http://www.condenaststore.com/-sp/I-v...

                        69 Replies
                          1. re: drongo

                            Drongo, I love the cartoon, and so true!

                            1. re: drongo

                              Exactly. Since when are chefs medical experts? Since never.

                              I DO have celiac disease, and when I go to a restaurant, I make it clear I need a gluten-free meal. I do not, however, use the words "celiac disease" in general. I do not feel like I need to give personal medical details out to a waiter. When I say I need to eat gluten-free, I expect that to be accepted at face value. No additional explanation needed. It is not the place of ANY waiter, chef, or restaurant employee to second guess that.

                              1. re: MelMM

                                If you know you are going somewhere in advance do you call ahead and let them know that you need a gluten-free meal?

                                1. re: jpc8015

                                  If I am making a reservation, I will inform the restaurant that there will be a gluten-free diner at my table (I don't necessarily say it is me), and I ask if they can accomodate the special diet.

                                  But celiacs have lives just like anyone else's. There are situations where I cannot predict where I will be dining.

                                  Imagine this situation (which I have been in, more than once): You are on a job interview, of the all-day variety. Your prospective employer takes you to lunch. Now, lunch is really still part of the interview process. You don't really want to reveal to your prospective employer that you have a medical condition. It is not something they would be allowed to ask, it's private information, and it could result in discrimination. Handling something like the job interview lunch is very delicate, and I am not going to go on and on with the waiter about my condition. I want to be discreet. And usually in this case, I will have no say whatsoever in where we go to lunch, or know in advance. I expect to be able to say to a waiter, "I cannot have gluten, what can I eat?" and that should be it. I don't expect them to know off the top of their heads - they can go ask the kitchen. But I expect it to be handled professionally and with discretion.

                                  1. re: MelMM

                                    Excellent example.
                                    Private is private, and it's your right.

                                    1. re: monavano

                                      But it's such an extreme example - wouldn't the sensible strategy be to order conservatively?

                                      And in a normal day to day situation, given the risks that skepticism around they gluten intolerance, isn't more information is going to be far safer than less...?

                                      I don't disagree that it would be nice not to explain, but in the real world isn't it better to be pragmatic and healthy rather than principled and ill?

                                      1. re: PhilD

                                        I still err on the side of affording the diner their privacy.
                                        Sorry, we're not going to agree on this.

                                        1. re: PhilD

                                          It's not an extreme example at all. It's a situation I have dealt with numerous times. And then, there is the business dinner or lunch - not uncommon at all in my job, which was in consulting. I might be expected to take a client to dinner, or they might want to take me to dinner. If I'm doing the taking, not a problem, but when they are, I may have no say at all in the restaurant, reservations made by a secretary who has no idea of my restrictions. I might not even know I'm being taken to dinner until the end of the day, and reservations have already been made. My problem is to eat wherever I'm taken without drawing unnecessary attention to my medical condition. This is NOT an unusual situation. It could occur on a weekly basis. I need waiters to take me seriously when I say "I need to eat gluten-free". It is not their business to second-guess me.

                                          1. re: MelMM

                                            It's also not (normally) in the restaurant employee's realm of expertise, so I don't expect them to take a Celiac's disclosure more seriously because they probably don't really know what the heck it means on an anatomic and physiological level.
                                            In other words, no one should have to, or feel compelled to, disclose their medical history to a lay person in a non-healthcare situation.
                                            That's absurd.

                                            There's a reason HIPPA laws were enacted!

                                            MeIMM, you have a lot of obstacles to negotiate, and it sounds like you do it tactfully and discretely.

                                            1. re: monavano

                                              I would imagine that one would be far more likely to not be taken seriously when dining in someone else's home.

                                              Restaurant kitchens really hate throwing food away.

                                              1. re: jpc8015

                                                I don't understand your first point. The second, I can totally see.
                                                Especially from reading here, CH'ers really, really care about meeting the dietary needs (read: not whims!) of their guests.
                                                I'd feel horrible if I were unaware, or careless, about serving a truly gluten intolerant guest food containing gluten, and then wound up having a horrible episode.

                                                1. re: monavano

                                                  I don't think people on CH are the typical hosts.

                                                  I think it would be very likely that a host would dredge a pork cutlet in some flour or use a little flour to thicken some stew thinking they were doing no harm. It is only a little flour after all and my cousins wife who eats gluten free happily devoured one of those muffins from Costco the other day. That was way more flour than this.

                                                  1. re: jpc8015

                                                    Actually, you have a point. It is very difficult to eat food prepared in someone else's home kitchen. There are little things that the cook may not be aware of. For example, I've had a well-intentioned relative make a pot of sauce for pasta (to be eaten by everyone), and separate pots of gluten-free pasta and regular pasta. So far so good, but then they use the same spoon to stir both pastas and the sauce. They are trying, but just don't get it, and it makes for a pretty awkward situation. Or maybe there will be crumbs everywhere in the kitchen from slicing bread. Or there will be bread crumbs in the butter, or mustard or mayo, where people have spread it on bread and then dipped the knife back into the condiment.

                                                    I would get sick every single year when I went to visit my mother. She really tried, but didn't get it. Oh, and then there are the other relatives that don't need to eat gluten-free, but decide the gluten-free version of the gumbo is actually better, and are helping themselves to it, even though there was only enough made to serve the two of us who do need to eat that way.

                                                    1. re: MelMM

                                                      My wife babysits a couple of kids whose dad is celiac. We keep a good amount of gluten free snacks around the house so that if we send them home with some snacks their dad does not inadvertently eat something that he shouldn't. We have discovered that the gluten free pretzels and crackers are actually pretty damn good.

                                                      1. re: jpc8015

                                                        Not nuts about the pretzels, but there are some very good crackers out there. In my family, the non-celiacs have all become addicted to Mary's Gone Crackers, and now prefer them to the gluten-filled crackers. Many of my co-workers also decided they like these better and now eat them, even though they don't need to. I make almost all my food from scratch, so I don't really buy that many of the products out there. Crackers and pasta are about the only specialty products I buy. Also there was a wonderful person at work who would make all the baked goods for office parties, and she made them all gluten-free, for my sake. She relied heavily on the mixes that are out there, and became a bit of an expert on which ones were the best. There are some good ones these days. I guess I can thank the hipsters for that. Plus many local pizza places offering a gluten-free pizza - she would order one specially for me at office pizza parties (I would request pineapple, jalapeño and anchovy, to keep the non-celiacs away). I don't go out for pizza on my own, but in the work environment, it was very nice to be able to get a pizza and fit in with the group.

                                                        1. re: MelMM

                                                          You should look into Cup 4 Cup flours. Made by Thomas Keller, supposed to be extremely good.

                                                          1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                            I have tried the Cup4Cup flours, but was not impressed. I've been cooking gluten-free for over 13 years now, so at this point, I can do it a lot better than the so-called experts, most have whom have a lot less experience.

                                                            1. re: MelMM

                                                              You should write a cookbook- if even for patients-maybe working with a dietician or nutritional specialist.

                                                              1. re: MelMM

                                                                Right on. You should try to monetize that like monavano is saying. Sounds like you are an actual expert.
                                                                Interesting about Cup 4 Cup, I'd heard it was pretty good.

                                                                1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                  The problem with that idea is that the way I cook is pretty far removed from the way most Americans cook. I'm very old-school in my cooking, so a cake recipe will involve whipping egg whites separately, may be made with no chemical leavener, etc. I don't do quick and easy. I am always getting asked for recipes, but when the asker actually sees them, they are a lot less interested in making the dish, because it is too much work. Plus, most people looking for gluten-free cookbooks are looking for gluten-free versions of what they used to eat, especially baked goods, and especially sweet baked goods. Things I don't really care to make that often. I never even liked muffins!

                                                                  1. re: MelMM

                                                                    Ahh, makes sense. I too make nearly everything by hand, it's not quick and easy, but it produces the results I want. I do use modernist type ingredients fairly regularly though, but mostly for things I can't achieve any other way rather than for convenience.
                                                                    Agree on most people looking to be gluten free but still eat everything they are used to, same with vegans.

                                                                    1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                      Vegan chicken nuggets. Vegan bacon. Vegan cheese.

                                                      2. re: jpc8015

                                                        People who choose to eat gluten free are different from gluten intolerant people, n'est-ce pas?

                                                        1. re: monavano

                                                          Right, but if my mother had seen someone who proclaimed to be gluten intolerant eating a Costco blueberry muffin she would probably think that a little flour in the stew for the celiac wasn't a big deal.

                                                          The gluten intolerance trend has diluted the seriousness of the actual celiacs.

                                                          1. re: jpc8015

                                                            So true.
                                                            Poseurs can afford to be ignorant because they have no idea what price true gluten intolerant people pay, and just how dangerous it is.

                                                          2. re: monavano

                                                            Bravo, Monavano! You hit the nail on the head. Can we please start referring to people as gluten-free OR gluten intolerant to separate those with real health concerns from the trendy bandwagon types? There is certainly enough chatter about it on these boards that we can use this distinction.

                                                            1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                              The problem is that the trendy bandwagon types think they have a gluten intolerance.

                                                              1. re: jpc8015

                                                                Some of them, sure. But if I said something like "my aunt is gluten free and so annoying about it" that could mean she's a trendy bandwagoner, and I wouldn't be subjected to a lecture on celiac and intolerance. Similarly if someone said they were gluten intolerant, no one would chime in about trends and Miley Cyrus, and just accept that it's a medical condition.

                                                                1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                  Problem is gluten intolerance is probably all in the mind. Coeliac disease is not intolerance it's an auto-immune reaction.

                                                    2. re: MelMM

                                                      When a guest tells me that they don't eat something the first words out of my mouth are "Do you have an allergy? " We take allergies seriously and have a separate kitchen dedicated to allergy prep. This alleviates cross contamination which I understand is especially important when dealing with celiac. Once the food is prepared a manager has to deliver it . After washing their hands and grabbing a brand new serviette.

                                            2. re: MelMM

                                              It's not their place and it's none of their business.
                                              I get that there are jerks out there that feign allergies and illness to get what they want on their plate, but that's just tough cookies for the chef.

                                              1. re: monavano

                                                Isn't it the diners responsibility to look after their health not the restaurants? If you don't let the kitchen know you have a serious issue then how can they help you - if you choose to eat in a restaurant then that comes with the responsibility of disclosing any necessary information - especially if you want something changed or checked. If you have a nasty illness isn't sharing more information better than less if it helps avoids problems?

                                                1. re: PhilD

                                                  My answer is still no.
                                                  I can not tolerate gluten means you can not tolerate gluten.
                                                  The kitchen doesn't need to know why, medically and the patient has the right to privacy.

                                                  Say a customer wants to know if the dish contains alcohol, or would like alcohol omitted (if possible).
                                                  Do they need to tell the server they are an alcoholic.

                                                  Your first sentence says it all. It's the diner's responsibility and they are being responsible by asking for gluten free, instead of risking spending the night on the crapper.

                                                  The burden of proof is not upon them, and at any rate, anyone can say they have celiac disease.
                                                  No one would know.

                                                  1. re: monavano

                                                    You miss the subtle but fundamental difference. Gluten intolerance is a fad based on very very debatable evidence. Alcohol avoidance for medical or religious reasons isn't and the reasons are well understood.

                                                    As a result servers and chefs take the former less seriously than the latter as they know it isn't really an issue for most of the people? The old "cry wolf" proverb comes to mind here.

                                                    I would say declaring you are Coeliac has upside, what's the downside? Unlike alcoholism I don't believe their is any social stigma about it.

                                                    1. re: PhilD

                                                      I didn't miss anything and disagree with you.

                                                      1. re: monavano

                                                        I agree with monavano in that it's no one's business WHY I can not eat something. What I believe the chef/author is suggesting is that if you are someone who is asking for special food handling under the guise of having an illness, allergy, religious reason, etc. but have none, then you are being a douche. No chef I know will mess with any food based on their gut feeling that the request based on medical reasons are bogus - the last thing they want to do is kill a customer (not good for business) - but it is fair for the chef to be resentful of those who use "special needs" to get what they want while having no special need.
                                                        People who have legitimate health concerns should not direct their anger towards a skeptical kitchen but towards those who lie about their needs, which I guess probably accounts for the majority of the special requests.
                                                        Bottom line, yeah, it's no one's business and the kitchen will take any request based on medical reasons very seriously BUT if you're someone who just doesn't care for an ingredient and makes up an allergy to it, yeah, you're a douche - much more towards those with real health concerns than to the chef.
                                                        The newest trend? Bringing in your lap dog and claiming it's a "service dog" because it can smell something that will kill you. The vast majority of these people are full of crap and the real victim of this particular douchebaggery is not the restaurant but the individual who really needs the service dog.

                                                        1. re: bobbert

                                                          Well put!
                                                          But please, don't bring faux service dogs into the mix!
                                                          It just never ends well ;-)

                                                          1. re: bobbert


                                                            The people who actually need to eat gluten free should be waging this war against the fake ass hipster douchebags. Though that would potentially hamper their ability to buy gluten free products once the hipsters stop eating it.

                                                            I guess when hipsters find a new diet, people with celiac could potentially be completely fucked.

                                                        2. re: PhilD

                                                          There IS a social stigma... this very conversation and the chef's list in the OP are evidence of such.

                                                          1. re: MelMM

                                                            The stigma is against the hipsters who claim to have a "gluten allergy" then happily scarf down a plate of biscuits and gravy because "they just can't help themselves".

                                                            Unfortunately those people have become the vast majority of people eating gluten free.

                                                            1. re: jpc8015

                                                              I shouldn't have to be subjected to the question "do you REALLY have celiac disease, or are you just 'gluten intolerant'?" I have still had people who know I have celiac disease inform me that I CHOOSE to eat this way. I should not be subjected to questions like, "what happens if you eat gluten?". Not something I care to discuss in polite company. This is why I like to keep it low key. And employers WILL discriminate against someone with a chronic illness, or someone perceived as being "high maintenance".

                                                              I've been diagnosed for, oh, 13 years now. The things I'm describing were actually worse before the hipsters came along. But the outrage in among chef's and foodies has gotten worse.

                                                              1. re: MelMM

                                                                I basically agree with everything you are saying in this post, and your other examples. However, you are clearly the exception and not the rule.
                                                                People who inform you that you choose to eat that way are just as ignorant as any hipster douche I've ever met, probably more so.

                                                                Things were definitely worse for you before the hipsters. If I had celiac disease I'd view the hipsters differently I imagine, as they really increased the demand (and varieties of) for the goods I'd actually NEED. Outrage has been growing because of all the bullshit about people (Americans) faking their dietary restrictions. It sucks for you because you're not guilty of anything, I'd be frustrated too if I had celiac disease and had a legitimate concern.

                                                                1. re: MelMM

                                                                  You're right. You shouldn't HAVE to. But we don't live in an ideal world and unfortunately your diet of necessity is the current hipster fad.

                                                                  I would bet the upside is a wider range of products available to you though. Thirteen years ago I probably didn't know what celiac was. Now, there is bottled water in my grocery store with a little "gluten free" tag next to it.

                                                                  1. re: jpc8015

                                                                    And it's had the nutritional information of being sugar and fat-free forever. Which is almost as ridiculous as the GF tag.

                                                                    Fat-free water. Who knew.

                                                                    1. re: linguafood

                                                                      As wonderful as water is...the EU does not believe that it can prevent dehydration.


                                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                                        it was the "cholesterol free" olive oil marketing in the late 1980's early 1990's that got me into avoiding all brainless trends.
                                                                        I know of ONE person that has been diagnosed with celiac, mostly cause he was looking for a diagnosis to his stomach discomfort. Pizza, pizza, pizza, pasta was his daily diet. I guess the amount of bicycle riding he did kept the diabetes at bay. (another WAY over-diagnosed thing that is curable)
                                                                        I know of too many that 'claim' 'gluten intolerance' and are just trying, sadly, to be 'trendy'.

                                                                        Human guinea pigs...............

                                                                        1. re: Gastronomos

                                                                          "I guess the amount of bicycle riding he did kept the diabetes at bay. (another WAY over-diagnosed thing that is curable)"

                                                                          FWIW, i suspect that a great number of people who believe they are gluten-intolerant are self-diagnosed. What's more, if you go to a doctor and tell him you feel worse after eating gluten and better when you don't eat it (maybe it's in your head, maybe it's not), that doctor might test you for celiac disease. And if the doc doesn't find evidence of celiac, he will likely tell you to keep on avoiding gluten anyway if it makes you feel better... there's no major medical reason a person has to eat gluten if they feel better without it.

                                                                          Diabetes OTOH is seldom self-diagnosed. It's not overdiagnosed, but just increasingly common.

                                                                  2. re: jpc8015

                                                                    Note to hipsters with Celiac: Do NOT dress like a hipster.

                                                                    1. re: monavano

                                                                      Fashion tips on how to look non-hipster would be welcome! Not that I do, I just wouldn't want to accidentally look like one.

                                                                      1. re: MelMM

                                                                        If you dress like a hipster, but don't realize you're dressing like a hipster, will people actually think you are trying to be hipster or are a hipster?

                                                                        1. re: Bellachefa

                                                                          Don't dress out of nostalgia for your grandparents, mainly. Which is unfair, because young adults have emulated their grandparents since the 70s.

                                                        3. re: MelMM

                                                          Mel - the problem you have is your genuine illness has been hijacked by the worried well who are suffering from the gluten intolerance epidemic.

                                                          Many chefs/waiters are fairly cynical about the existence of gluten intolerance (and many scientists question if there is even an allergy), so if you just say no gluten you take the risk that the restaurant will think your illness isn't real.

                                                          But if you sat you are a coeliac then they will take you seriously - they recognize it's real and not trivial.

                                                          1. re: PhilD

                                                            But, why should a customer have to reveal something so personal?
                                                            They shouldn't.
                                                            I can't tolerate gluten means I can't tolerate gluten.

                                                            Do I have to show you my colonoscopy?

                                                            (sorry, gross!)

                                                            The fakers should not burden the truly afflicted.
                                                            They've got enough problems and shouldn't be penalized or given the third degree, or even think for a moment that they need to justify their needs.

                                                            1. re: monavano

                                                              I agree. But the "fakers" do burden the affected because they burn goodwill. As a result it increases risks for the genuinely ill.

                                                              As someone with a genuine allergy I err on the side of caution myself.

                                                              1. re: PhilD


                                                                When someone tells me they are gluten intolerant then twenty minutes later I see them drinking a Widmer Hefeweizen it destroys goodwill. I am far more likely to be skeptical the next time some hipster tells me he is gluten intolerant.

                                                                1. re: jpc8015

                                                                  My best was taking someone to a fish restaurant who declared they were gluten intolerant, interrogated the server over every dish - including the sashimi, then ordered the beer battered fish and chips.

                                                                  The server pointed out it contained gluten - they said no problem as they would take off the batter. The servers expression was priceless.

                                                                    1. re: PhilD

                                                                      That's pretty amazing. I mean, why would one even want to order that in the first place if you were going to pick off the batter?

                                                                      But, I guess people like that are why I get asked if I can't just pick the pepperoni off a pizza. As if a few pepperoni make a satisfying lunch, even if they hadn't been in contact with wheat dough.

                                                                  1. re: PhilD

                                                                    Yes, the fakers hurt the truly afflicted.
                                                                    Such is life.

                                                                    Jerks ruins a lot of things for the rest of us nice people.

                                                                    If a restaurant is so tainted, they should shudder their doors.

                                                                    1. re: monavano

                                                                      I prefer shuddering doors (creepier) to shuttered ones,

                                                                      but yes, the relatively few idiots out there spoil all the fun for the many in so many ways.

                                                                      1. re: hill food

                                                                        Should have just said "closed".

                                                                        Big words make me shudder.

                                                              2. re: MelMM

                                                                This is an issue we are currently discussing in our restaurant kitchen. Although we have a number of gluten-free items on our menu, both by accident and design, our kitchen is not a gluten-free environment. Add to that the number of people trying to eat gluten-free who do not have celiac disease, and does it become our business to mention that the creamed spinach they just ordered on their omelet contains wheat flour and their gluten-free pancake does not? And if we do mention that, are we now second-guessing our customer? Do we need to explain that the gluten-free waffle is made in the same appliance as our regular waffles? Seriously, we are trying to sort through these issues so we can better meet the needs of the customer. And finally, can you not tell which menu items are gluten-free or ask your server to check with the kitchen if you aren't sure?

                                                                1. re: elegraph

                                                                  You are obligated to say the creamed spinach has wheat flour in it if the customer has told the server that they must eat gluten-free. If they haven't, well then it's your choice, but it's not much different that telling someone who has ordered a seemingly meatless dish, but hasn't said that they are vegetarian, that there is some fish sauce or chicken broth in it. They might be an omnivore who just wants a relatively meatless meal, or maybe they really are a vegetarian... I guess it's best to ask.

                                                                  I always tell the server I must eat gluten-free, and then ask for his or her suggestions as to what to order. Or, if they aren't able to point me to the safe dishes, I will list a few that I think are likely to be gluten-free and which appeal to me, and have them check with the kitchen. Anyone with celiac disease is going to do this. What we shouldn't have to do, is say "I have celiac disease" - that's a bit too personal for some situations. But if the diner says he or she "needs to" or "must" or "has to" eat gluten-free, that should be a clue to the staff to take it seriously.

                                                                  1. re: MelMM

                                                                    I was going to correct to: "is there any meant...."

                                                                    But I also like picture of the ant chef.....I actually ate some in Queensland, the green ants are use in Aboriginal cooking for their citrus taste, they are quite refreshing.

                                                                    1. re: PhilD

                                                                      "Is there ant meat in this dish"

                                                                      I had to chuckle about this. I was picturing some poor sap in the kitchen swearing as he was making millions of filets from tiny locally sourced ant carcasses.

                                                                  2. re: elegraph

                                                                    I should add that there are advocacy groups out there with educational and certification programs for the food service industry, including this one:

                                                                    Celiacs would definitely want to know about the waffle-maker being used for both regular and gluten-free waffles, unless you have a way of thoroughly cleaning it between batches.

                                                              3. Funny that #9,“Don’t come in and make your own menu” is the opposite of the customization trend identified at the chef panel discussion summarized on NAF today. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/979384

                                                                1. I laughed at #13 (" stop drowning your sushi in soy sauce"). It doesn't offend me, but I have a friend who is a self-proclaimed sushi fiend -- and he soaks his sushi in so much soy sauce (plus a load of wasabi) that I often wonder whether he'd notice if he was being served only rice!

                                                                  1. And yet, being a chef? Is still being in a service industry. It comes down to pleasing your customers even if it annoys your sensibilities and pride--unless you want to be the Soup Nazi.

                                                                    If someone wants to put an ice cube in their glass of red wine, is it really OFFENDING you that greatly that that's how they like their wine? Are you going to dictate how they should choose to drink the beverage that you didn't even create for them, just had a server pour out of a bottle (and charged likely a huge markup on anyway)?

                                                                    And yes, 5. is fine, but then I'd add that servers and kitchen staff need to know how to answer basic questions about what is in their food. If I have an intolerance (not an allergy) that will make me really uncomfortable for several days if I eat something, and I ask a simple question about whether the dipping oil that comes out with the bread or the sauce on my fish will have raw garlic in it? They should be able to answer that question. It's not. that. difficult. I'm not asking for a special meal, just a little assistance in knowing what is actually in the dishes being served so I can order accordingly or perhaps ask for a sauce to be left off a plate.

                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                    1. re: sockii

                                                                      "Is still being in a service industry."

                                                                      So is practicing law. Is a chef somehow more servant than professional? All professionals have the right to decide how they want to deliver their services. Simply stated, whether you call 'em a customer or a client, they are not always right.

                                                                      1. re: MGZ

                                                                        A 'servant' is technically a professional as well - though perhaps an inappropriate term to currently apply to someone providing domestic services in a private home.

                                                                        There are some lawyers (and cooks, and gardeners) who work for one particularly wealthy individual who can compensate them for their entire salary - and other lawyers (and cooks and gardeners) who work for a variety of individuals who pay them a fee for a percentage of their time.

                                                                        The customer may not always be "right" - but any kind of server provider isn't entitled to be in business either.

                                                                        1. re: cresyd

                                                                          I've read your post a couple times, but I'm still not sure I understand what you're saying. Perhaps we are using different connotations of some words? Are you suggesting an "employee" notion somewhere? (You can omit discussion of attorney compensation issues - after almost twenty years, I'm pretty good on that subject. I mean, as much as a junior associate may feel like a servant, he really isn't).

                                                                          1. re: MGZ

                                                                            Your comment about a position being a "servant" or "professional" was one that I was challenging.

                                                                            If I am working as a chef, personal assistant, a lawyer, a gardener, a cleaner - I am a professional. A chef and a domestic laborer (as opposed to "servant" which is a professional title that has gone out of use) are both service providers. At what point a chef or a domestic laborer chooses to tell their client/customer "no - you're wrong" - is at their discretion. And then it's also at the discretion of the customer/client (particularly if the request isn't illegal) to choose to be served by someone else.

                                                                            1. re: cresyd

                                                                              Ahh, I see. And don't fundamentally disagree.

                                                                    2. I'll argue #15....ice cubes in Sangria works for me.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: fourunder

                                                                        #15 is the only one with which I disagree too.

                                                                      2. "1. Tip your server!
                                                                        18 - 20% is standard. Servers don't make minimum wage in many cities - they earn special lowered minimum wage ~ $4.00/hour. If you can't afford to tip, you should not eat out. Period. "

                                                                        On the flip side, if you can't afford to pay people a living wage, why are you running a restaurant?

                                                                        If you can't afford to pay your staff, you should not run a business. Period.

                                                                        22 Replies
                                                                        1. re: hal2010

                                                                          A friend forwarded me the link to a thread on tipping on another popular discussion forum and I was surprised by the number of people who commented that they only tipped 10% or didn't leave tips, or only left a few dollars regardless of the amount and were surprised that the "standard" was now 20%, while others were saying the standard was now 25%.

                                                                          It's obvious there's a big variation in how people understand tips and what tips should be. Some of it I can understand, the older generations lived through a time when 10% was a normal tip and never realized the "standard" has increased. Some people also don't eat out very often and may never have picked up on why tips should be higher. Overseas visitors may come from countries with nonexistent tipping traditions.

                                                                          While I don't doubt that there are truly stingy tippers and selfish diners out there, the statement that if you can't afford to tip at least 20% you can't afford to eat out is harsh given the lack of proper education about tipping etiquette among many people.

                                                                          All restaurants should institute a flat 20% service charge in lieu of tips. Or eliminate tips/charges completely and pay all servers at least the minimum wage, and raise the menu prices correspondingly. As long as tipping is separate from menu prices it will be viewed as either optional or the amount discretionary by many diners, and as such we will continue to have all these tipping issues.

                                                                          1. re: Roland Parker

                                                                            Optimal tipping % varies in different regions.
                                                                            Where I live, I think I would err on the side of over-tipping in other areas of the country.
                                                                            Others would under-tip in when visiting my area.

                                                                            I agree with this point, but also agree it was put out there pretty harshly.

                                                                            Dining out- is it getting to be like going to a professional football game? Out of reach?

                                                                            1. re: Roland Parker

                                                                              Completely agree. The system we currently have means that every time someone tips 18% on up - all it's really doing is making up for someone who tips poorly. What it ends up meaning is not "I value your service" but rather, I'm making up for someone who tips 10%, didn't like their server, or doesn't believe in tipping.

                                                                              I think it also sets up an adversarial relationship between servers and patrons, when that dynamic should be between servers and management.

                                                                              1. re: cresyd

                                                                                Yes, please don't look crestfallen when I order water and not a $15 cocktail or bottle of wine.

                                                                              2. re: Roland Parker

                                                                                It's illogical to say that the percentage of tips should increase because "the standard" has increased. People who say this figure that since inflation has increased the cost of cars, stereos, vacations in the country, and ground beef, etc., then naturally, the percentage of a tip should increase.

                                                                                But the percentage tipped should remain the same BECAUSE THE COST OF THE MEAL HAS INCREASED AND THAT INCREASES THE DOLLAR AMOUNT OF THE TIP.

                                                                                Let's say that if in 1980 a meal cost $20, then the 20% tip paid in 1980 was $4, but the same meal, due to inflation, costs $40 in 2014. That means that the 20% tip in 2014 would be $8.00. The servers aren't getting cheated. They have a built-in "inflation protection" factor.

                                                                                I wish that I did.

                                                                                1. re: gfr1111

                                                                                  Where the error of that comes into play is that if you go back to 1980, the base wage that servers were paid was basically the same. So tips needed to cover the remaining amount to ensure that the server was paid minimum wage was less in 1980 because their base way (addressing issues of inflation) was technically more.

                                                                                  The reason the percentage of tip has had to increase is because the base wage hasn't increased with inflation.

                                                                                  1. re: cresyd

                                                                                    The whole idea of a special minimum wage for servers is a bit weird to most of the world outside of the US. Canadians are often criticized as being poor tippers when in the US, but here a server gets $9.55 an hour and minimum wage is $11 an hour.

                                                                                    1. re: cresyd

                                                                                      That's a good point, Cresyd. However, I would need to know whether there was a lower minimum wage in 1980 for servers than the standard federal minimum wage back then. In 2014 there is a lower minimum wage for servers than the standard federal mimimum wage. Or was the minimum wage in 1980 applicable to servers, as well?

                                                                                      Then we would have to convert the 1980 minimum wage (either the lower one made especially for servers, or the standard federal minimum wage) into the 2014 minimum wage.

                                                                                      Having been a liberal arts major in college, prospect of that much math boggles my mind, but you could be right.

                                                                                      1. re: gfr1111

                                                                                        Haha - nope, but a bit of internet research has shown that federally speaking I believe the server minimum wage has been frozen at $2.13 since 1996. This isn't the case in all states - but in a number of states this is still the case. In 1996 the federal minimum wage was $4.25 and in 2014 it's $7.25 (again, amounts be higher in different states).

                                                                                        1. re: cresyd

                                                                                          There are only 20 states where servers make $2.13 an hour before tips, seven where servers get the full state minimum before tips (Minnesota, Montana, the west coast, Nevada, and Hawaii), the rest are in between.


                                                                                          Should we re-visit the 'should I tip the same in California thread? Once Seattle phases in the $15/hr minimum wage with no exceptions, will people still want to tip 20%?

                                                                                          1. re: babette feasts

                                                                                            I'd have to think about tipping 20%.
                                                                                            It would be a paradigm shift, for me, I think.

                                                                                              1. re: monavano

                                                                                                For a start - I totally agree. And I clearly have a strong "anti-tipping" perspective. However, I brought up the subject of being in Washington once the minimum wage would hit $15 and about what rate you'd still tip at - and my friends (we live in the DC area which has uniform low minimum cash rates for servers) were HORRIFIED at the idea of tipping less than their standard rates.

                                                                                                To provide a bit of context on this situation, this group of friends hadn't really thought much about tipping in general and they also haven't been out of the US very much. So they've never really encountered non-tipping or lower percentage levels of tipping. It wasn't the most informed debate with the first point being "we tip 20% because servers make such a low hourly rate" - then when I asked about Washington making the change in the minimum wage the response was "well it's standard". So not exactly the most information based discussion.

                                                                                              2. re: babette feasts

                                                                                                I think this would be a case where the restaurant industry would be best served presenting some kind of semi-unified front to customers saying "given how servers are paid we now recommend X kind of tip". Whether that x should be a new recommended percentage, some kind of symbolic amount, or even a statement of "our servers are paid a living wage - all tips will go to ABC charity" - would be helpful.

                                                                                                Because if I've been told (repeatedly) that I should be tipping 20% because my server doesn't make a living wage - then if my server starts making a living wage, then it'd be hard for me to understand continuing to tip like that.

                                                                                            1. re: gfr1111

                                                                                              Well the math does not boggle my mind.

                                                                                              Assuming compounding based on CPI and using cresyd'd numbers, $2.13 in 1996 is equivalent to $3.23 and $4.25 is equal $6.44. That tells you that minimum wage went up 81 cents more or increased by 71% ((7.25-4.25)/4.25) while a straight inflation adjustment would have been 52% ((6.44-4.25)/4.25).

                                                                                              So your $20 meal with a $4 tip would have generated hourly income of $6.13 (using a HUGE assumption that the server only waited on that one table for exactly 1 hour which is totally unrealistic). That $6.13 in 1996 would be equivalent to $9.29 in 2014.

                                                                                              Now that meal that cost $20 in 1996 would cost $30.33 in 2014. 20% tip on that would be $6.07. Add that to $2.13 and you get $8.20. If the meal went to $40 instead of $30.33, add $1.93 to these amounts.

                                                                                              If the $2.13 server minimum wage was inflation adjusted, the pay would be $9.30. If you adjusted based on the same percentage as the minimum wage it would be $9.70.

                                                                                              So what does this all mean?

                                                                                              Well the increase in the meal price and the corresponding tip amount at 20% results in the server being paid more than today's minimum wage but less than the future value dollars equivalent of pay 1996. So the server is better off and worse off depending on how you want to look at this.

                                                                                              But the problem with any analysis like this is it doesn't adjust for the fact that at any busy restaurant, a server is covering more than one customer at a time for an hour. So net result is that servers can individually be better off or worse off depending on the restaurant they work at.

                                                                                              I probably added nothing to the discussion and just confused a bunch of you.

                                                                                              1. re: Bkeats

                                                                                                and that is one table per hour. As a result, when some claim that servers make (in certain restaurants) $25 to $35 an hour, Not a bad gig and no wonder people are making a career out of job that was never, ever meant to be a career.

                                                                                          2. re: gfr1111

                                                                                            They have a built-in "inflation protection" factor.


                                                                                            Not if you factor in the *cheap ass* that tips poorly...or doesn't tip at all.

                                                                                            1. re: fourunder

                                                                                              I'm sure there were poor tippers in the 80s; even non tippers.

                                                                                              If they tipped 10% in the 80s and 10% now they're still "cheap ass" tippers but they've kept up with inflation.

                                                                                            2. re: gfr1111

                                                                                              But as you say if the percentage had stayed the same, the increase in the cost of food would have protected earnings. The 10% on the $20 meal would be $2 and now 10% on $40 would be $4. Why does it need to rise to 20% and $8.

                                                                                              So prices double but tips quadruple. And isn't the argument about the minimum wage wrong as it is such a low proportion of the take home. Thus quadrupling the tip massively over compensates for this part of the pay remaining relatively static.

                                                                                              1. re: gfr1111

                                                                                                In 1980 the tip would be %15 for full service, %10 for bar service and buffets. %15 would be added to a larger party, Then somehow they started adding %18 because large parties weren't uptipping for exceptional service, and now everyone expects %20

                                                                                                1. re: gfr1111

                                                                                                  I've heard another way to present your "point".

                                                                                                  If the tip rate is 15%, a server has to serve just under 7 entrees to earn enough to pay for 1 entree for themselves.

                                                                                                  If the tip rate is 20%, a server has to serve 5 entrees to earn enough to pay for 1 entree for themselves.

                                                                                                  If the tip rate is 25%, a server has to serve 4 entrees to earn enough to pay for 1 entree for themselves.

                                                                                                  If you keep eating at the same caliber of places and the service hasn't changed much, increasing the tip rate is equivalent to expecting less work for the same "reward" as measured in goods.

                                                                                                  1. re: DagingKuda

                                                                                                    That's a great way of looking at it and really puts tips in perspective. Imagine the same logic applied to any other minimum wage job.

                                                                                            3. I agree with most of the items, except that if there's the slightest bit of milk in an item, I'll be sick for days. I deserve to know if it's in there, and the waiter should be able to tell me.

                                                                                              Also, the DH and I are on low salt diets, originally to combat my DH's high blood pressure and prevent a heart attack. Most restaurants put WAY TOO MUCH salt in their food. It makes us insane to watch the cooking shows "liberally" coat food in salt. It's making all of us fat, unhealthy and really, food tastes really GOOD when you don't ruin it with salt. People's taste buds are just out of whack, and this country needs a wake up call, starting with chefs, IMHO.

                                                                                              We always order food with "no salt added", but it doesn't always come out that way. I've gotten to the point where I just can't/won't eat it because too much salt gives me a sinus migraine. I've sent food back that's too salty, which is an excellent reason to send it back. But it's very difficult to eat out, so mostly, I cook for ourselves to stay healthy, and use other spices to add flavor to our food. It works, try it!

                                                                                              14 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                  I'm not getting the connection.
                                                                                                  Also, of course the poster is sensitive to salt when their diet is restricted.
                                                                                                  Salt makes food taste good and what some think is good, is bland to others.
                                                                                                  I don't think salt in fine dining out is anywhere near as bad as chain restaurant and fast food eating out.

                                                                                                  1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                    Yes I agree that too much sugar will.make us fat. But salt attracts water in our bodies and retains it. That's why it pushes up blood pressure and swells your ankles, makes your heart work harder to circulate blood. And in my case draws water into my sinus and causes pressure migraines. It also swells my hands so my rings won't fit. It goes down after a day, but on a constant diet of high salt you will swell up and stay that way (fat). That mother just killed her kid by overdosing him on salt - so yes its dangerous and terrible. And yes the fast food places are much worse for us, but most chefs put in too much salt.

                                                                                                    My point is that you can always add salt to food, but you can't take it out.

                                                                                                    1. re: Fubarahh

                                                                                                      Add salt on top of food? Over food?
                                                                                                      How about IN food ?
                                                                                                      Just to help flavour. Not make the top salty.

                                                                                                      1. re: Fubarahh

                                                                                                        Edema isn't fat, it's swelling.

                                                                                                        And as monavano, I don't think in "fine dining" that salt is overused at all.

                                                                                                          1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                            I saw Edema Menzel in Wicked - fantastic!

                                                                                                            Salt does not make you fat. Water retention does not become permanent.

                                                                                                            1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                                              So what you are saying is I'm fat again?

                                                                                                          2. re: Fubarahh

                                                                                                            Well, water retention is one thing, and most of us experience it after particularly salty dishes. But I'm sure you've heard of "water weight" -- it's gained and lost just as easily, by restricting your salt intake for a while.

                                                                                                            I do not understand your reference about a mother killing her child by overdosing it on salt -- is this a national news item in the US these days?

                                                                                                            1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                              I did a cursory search on that one. Seems like five or more years ago there was a case where a mother was accused but not convicted. I didn't read the details.

                                                                                                        1. re: Fubarahh

                                                                                                          If you have an allergy or an intolerance, don't rely on probing questions. Rather, always, state you have an intolerance immediately and the waiter *should* relay the information to the kitchen.

                                                                                                          The servers no matter how educated will never know 100% of the ingredients or have their hands in the food preparation so you are better off having the kitchen informed who actually prepares the food and and control it.

                                                                                                          The waitstaff won't know every allegergen in every dish.

                                                                                                          1. re: Fubarahh


                                                                                                            I will continue to use as much salt as I always have. Excess salt is harmful only to people with certain health conditions, not the general population.

                                                                                                            And, in my case, I am medically required to consume extra salt to maintain a healthy blood pressure. If I don't, I pass out.

                                                                                                            Blanket statements really don't work well.

                                                                                                          2. I don't like well done hamburgers or steaks, but some people like them (or fear the consequences of a less than well done burger). I do confess to dunking my sushi in soy sauce and using way more wasabi than is considered appropriate. Either way, what's it to the chef? I've paid for the food. I should get it or load it up with condiments (the soy sauce and wasabi) the way I want it.

                                                                                                            26 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: gfr1111

                                                                                                              I think with many "creating" professions there is room to say "I am no longer a service provider - I am an artist. I create my art and you either choose to consume it as intended or not."

                                                                                                              That will work for some chefs. That won't work for most.

                                                                                                              1. re: cresyd

                                                                                                                Unless you are the chef at a place on par with French Laundry...that attitude won't work for me. If I want mayo with my burger, give me mayo.

                                                                                                                1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                                                  When the sushi comes out of the kitchen, it IS a work of art. It is beautiful, and I should be excited at having paid for something that is the culmination of YEARS of the chef life and hard work.

                                                                                                                  At THAT point, I'm going to put as much soy sauce, wasabi, ketchup, or nacho cheese sauce as I want on it, or slap it in a bun with some relish, because it's now MY work of art to do with as I please.
                                                                                                                  That same goes for adding ice or coke into my wine. Or hell adding my wine into a snow cone.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Midknight

                                                                                                                    Of course the restaurant can choose not to have salt or any condiments available to diners and not provide ice. If that is how they want to serve their menu it's their choice.

                                                                                                                    It can be argued that in a restaurant you are paying for the experience not the food, so if that's not the experience you want then you cook your own food at home.

                                                                                                                    1. re: PhilD

                                                                                                                      But my point is once I've paid for it, it's mine to do with what I want. It is no longer the chefs to tell me what to do with it, or how to eat.
                                                                                                                      I'll stuff it into my underwear if I want if I don't make a scene about it. :)

                                                                                                                      1. re: Midknight

                                                                                                                        So I assume you always wear underwear to accommodate your unique dining habits. But do you also carry ice, soy sauce, wasabi and salt to the restaurant as well?

                                                                                                                        1. re: PhilD

                                                                                                                          Of course not! That would be just be silly. :D

                                                                                                                        2. re: Midknight

                                                                                                                          True, but it shows a lack of taste on your part if you were to do those things. The point is not that you shouldn't be able to do them, it's that you shouldn't do them.

                                                                                                                          1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                                                                            But it's MY taste, it's how *I* prefer to eat what I purchased. Not yours, not my table mates, not my mothers, and definitely not the chefs' who sold it to me.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Midknight

                                                                                                                              Bottom line: You are NOT creating an externality, but you would be doing something showing a lack of taste.

                                                                                                                              That is all.

                                                                                                                        3. re: PhilD

                                                                                                                          When I go to a restaurant I am looking for good food, the "experience" is secondary. If they can manage both, good.
                                                                                                                          My feelings are that a restaurant selling good food can operated for generations. A restaurant selling an "experience" lasts about 2 to 3 years.

                                                                                                                          1. re: genoO

                                                                                                                            I'm with you, overall.
                                                                                                                            Experiences are for theme parks ;-)

                                                                                                                            1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                              "Experience" means the food, the service, the room, drinks menu, the noise levels etc etc. It isn't some obtuse artistic addition. A restaurant with great food, a crap room, shitty service, smelly toilets, warm beer, and no heating ain't going to be around for a long time.

                                                                                                                            2. re: genoO

                                                                                                                              I soooo want to agree with you. Really wish I could. My experience is the opposite.
                                                                                                                              Serve any shit on a shingle, mediocre service and at a price point for where and what it is, success is inevitable.
                                                                                                                              Good food???? soo damn rare to find. and when it is found it is fleeting. either the food changes to mediocre and worse or they shut the doors.

                                                                                                                            3. re: PhilD

                                                                                                                              They sure can. Good strategy, too: Keeps the restaurant from getting too crowded.

                                                                                                                      2. re: gfr1111

                                                                                                                        See, the well done steak thing gets me too - makes me very sad to see such waste. Cooking a beautiful, dry aged, prime slab of beef to destruction is like writing a book for someone who can't read, professing your love to someone who's asleep, or buying a new Armani suit to bury someone in. Only thing worse is they drown it in ketchup, glue the pages together, snore, or the funeral director offers to give it back to you.

                                                                                                                        1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                          What gets to me is putting what makes you happy on others.
                                                                                                                          If someone wants a tough, tasteless steak, let them.
                                                                                                                          What's it to anyone else?

                                                                                                                          We are all different and find our joy in different ways, including and especially when we are spending our hard-earned dollars.

                                                                                                                          How is it a waste if someone truly enjoys eating their steak well done?
                                                                                                                          Does it make the cow less dead?

                                                                                                                          1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                            As I said, I can't help but see the waste and lament what might have been. I get all "MacArthur Park". I feel the same way when I see a Red Lobster commercial and think of all the beautiful bugs that were sacrificed to be "Lobster topped Lobster" instead of MY afternoon snack.

                                                                                                                            I say, let the "well done" crowd eat sirloin tips and boneless chuck. Let those who know better, eat better - and keep all the really good meat for themselves.

                                                                                                                            1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                              But, do we really know better? What do we know exactly?

                                                                                                                              What the well done crowd knows is that a well done, cooked to shit, steak makes them happy.

                                                                                                                              I'm more about being happy than being right.

                                                                                                                              Food feeds all sorts of people and I cringe at the thought of parsing certain foods out to those who are considered "worthy".

                                                                                                                              I see where you're coming from and share your passion (obviously, I'm here!).

                                                                                                                              Also, not for nothin', but those bugs used to feed prisoners and poor people bitched about having to eat them!

                                                                                                                              When I get to eat lobster, I'm happy as a clam ;-)

                                                                                                                            1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                              is that Armani suit a 38 regular? 32 inseam? I'd take it.

                                                                                                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                I snore...so I guess we won't be sleeping together....and you won't have to profess your love for me....

                                                                                                                              2. re: gfr1111

                                                                                                                                To be fair, in both the steak and sushi section the author implored the reader to "try". It's reasonable to assume most people who order very well done steak have never actually tried it any other way. It's really difficult to believe that "very well done" is a true preference for a prime cut in a side by side comparison.
                                                                                                                                Similarly, the author the reader to try dipping just the chopsticks in the soy sauce and experience the sushi as it was meant to be. As a dunker, I'm going to take this advice next time, because it's very possible the chef knows something I don't.

                                                                                                                              3. Especially #9!! This drives our kitchen nuts!

                                                                                                                                1. If you know you are arriving close to closing, call ahead and let the house know. You might be able to order ahead as well.

                                                                                                                                  1. Glad to see that bit about cooking for chefs. Had a chef friend of ours over for the first time a few weeks ago and was very nervous. Made anything that required a knife before he got there, so he couldn't criticize my knife cuts. Kept it simple, Guac and salsa made in a molcajete, grilled sausage, asparagus wrapped in prosciutto and grilled and homemade chimichurri. He didn't say much, but did eat it.

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                                                                                                                                    1. re: saeyedoc

                                                                                                                                      I think professionals want to go out and ~not~ be "experts" or have to judge.

                                                                                                                                      Doctors (? your username), lawyers, and yes, chefs and caterers, want to be able to go to parties and ~not~ work.

                                                                                                                                      It's supposed to be a party, not the office.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                                                                        Yea,that makes sense. If I'm in a social setting I'm not going up to my host to tell him how red his eyes are or anything like that.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: saeyedoc

                                                                                                                                        There's a passage at the beginning of "Heat" in which the author invites Mario Batali over to his house for a dinner party. There are about six or eight people there.

                                                                                                                                        Author Bill Buford's wife's reaction to him, upon learning of the invitation is (not a direct quote), "Are you out of your mind?" She was intimidated by the prospect of having to cook for a professional chef.

                                                                                                                                        Buford tells us that Batali was incredibly grateful for the invitation because he almost never gets invited to dinner parties because people feel intimidated about cooking for a great chef. Batali thoroughly enjoyed it and did not say a word of criticism of the cooking.

                                                                                                                                      3. Spot on but I would add:
                                                                                                                                        Don't punish the servers (by tipping less) if the food takes forever to come or you do not like it. That's not their fault.

                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: zackly

                                                                                                                                          If a restaurant doesn't want servers to be punished by how long it takes the food to arrive to the table (a problem that a diner will not know who is actually at fault...maybe it's the kitchen and maybe the server forget to enter in the order in a timely fashion), then there shouldn't be a system that affords diners the opportunity to be punitive to one section of staff.

                                                                                                                                          As a diner, it's impossible to truly know for sure if service is slow because of service issues or kitchen issues.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: cresyd

                                                                                                                                            Amen. As it is said, shit flows downhill.

                                                                                                                                        2. At a real Tex-Mex restaurant I've smuggled in homegrown tomatoes and jalapenos to spice up my guacamole. Am I wrong?

                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                                            Well, I personally think that tomatoes do not belong in guacamole, but that's another issue.

                                                                                                                                            I used to be a breakfast regular at a place that had "sliced tomatoes" on the breakfast menu as a side. But there was another regular who grew tomatoes (professionally) and would bring in great tomatoes and share them with the other regulars.

                                                                                                                                            The restaurant didn't mind at all, but if they were bothered, it would not have been unreasonable for them to frown on the practice, or ban it outright. They just happened to be cool.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                              They had tomatoes in it, so I put in some delicious cherries.

                                                                                                                                          2. I think this is a great list!