Where is that item on the menu?

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WebFoodPros.com: Chefs Food Fight: Where is that item on the menu?
By sandra jayne mason (Jayne) on Tuesday, March 09, 1999 - 08:01 am: Edit

Why is it that it never seems to fail, an extremely busy lunch or dinner that you have a guest request something NOT ON THE MENU?? And of course they are "friends" of the owner so must be accomodated. Not only do you have to scramble to put together the item they are requesting but also have to neglect other customers to be able to just get this one SPECIAL request! Do you think "just say no" should apply to food service too??

By George Cook (George) on Tuesday, March 09, 1999 - 08:43 am: Edit

What's even worse is in a "private club" environment where EVERYONE is an owner and if your lucky they look at your menu as a list of what product is in house, and if your not lucky they just order without even giving it that much thought.

By lewis w chick (Chicklw) on Tuesday, March 09, 1999 - 10:25 am: Edit

Yes, it always astounds me how unaware people are when they eat out. Just as they demand health standards that few reach in their own homes, they unthinkably expect you to have everything on hand. Of course we have brought this on ourselves in a small way by demanding that we are never out of an item on the menu(even if we have to sell an inferior item or unripe),service,service,service.
We have gone thru a period of over accomodation. We give them "free stuff" for our mistakes, we offer so many "specials", we are unable to educate our clients to the flucuating market that we buy from even tho they pay the same up and down prices at the grocery store. There is no answer because people don't relate their buying to our selling.They don't relate their jobs to ours in terms of proffessionalism, nor our business to their's. We all wish that we could tell them to have a little respect and treat our business like a business--We will get product to the client in a timely and cost-effective manner.

By Timothy Banning (Cheftim) on Tuesday, March 09, 1999 - 11:05 am: Edit

I ahave always told my cooks " if you want to sell something make sure its not preped"

By Anonymous on Thursday, March 18, 1999 - 05:31 pm: Edit

I agree it a pain and they always come at the worst times. But guess what they are paying your bills. To quote from the AAA rating guidelines, for a 5 diamond rating you must be able to: "accommodate most special requests" and "accommodate health and dietary requests". So the question is, what level of service are you trying to provide? Yes the born again vegetarians piss me off as much as they do you, especially in a banquet setting. But the bottom line is if you donít give the customer what they want you might as well shut your doors.

By Gerard Jones (Gerard) on Monday, May 17, 1999 - 04:59 pm: Edit

". But the bottom line is if
you donít give the customer what they want you might as well shut your doors. ">>

Baloney. If you let them run you around like that you're displaying amateurism.
Customers will always (it seems) look at the choices and ask for whats not available, that doesn't mean you have to let them chase you around the stove. I worked in bakery where the owner would add varieties of bread at every request, in short order we were making 13 varieties!, this ensured we never made enough of any single type to reach critical mass and make profit, so we lost money on 13 varieties and guess what??
Customers still asked for more. But this is just human nature and doesn't mean anything if you say sorry spud...can't do.

Sauce on the side is one thing, sauce thats not on the menu is another thing.

Letting spoiled brats with ray guns ruin the service with bratty requests isn't a higher level of service, its unprofessional.

I was pastry chef for a private club in downtown Boston, the director wanted green jello available (just for himself) in case.....
Those places really don't want good food, they just want what they want and they have very pedestrian taste. Actually the food was decent ,even if the rouille actually had no garlic.!

By Timothy Banning (Cheftim) on Monday, May 17, 1999 - 08:13 pm: Edit

So is it balls to the wall we're cooking it the way we want because theyíre to simple to know what good cuisine is or is there some balancing act we can perform to preserve our artistic soul while at the same time providing the customer what they want.

By Martin Markovitz (Martym) on Tuesday, June 29, 1999 - 11:12 pm: Edit

I think that reasonable requests should be honored and a reasonable effort should be made for more difficult requests. As the staff and customers get to know your willingness to go out of your way and your coolhead under pressure (does that sound like you?) they will understand when you say NO and NO should be used. Being able to satisfy customers is our job. It is the food SERVICE industry. Take this chance to show that you are under control and show off. On Saturdays when we do 400 covers or so I get many easy to do requests (Can I have sauteed spinach instead?), 5 harder ones (Vodka Sauce for the Penne, Au Poivre for the Steak), 2 difficult ones (half potion of salmon and half portion of tuna on each plate) and 1 or 2 that are NO! (Holandaise, the use of anything that I do not have enough of for other dishes or any request that would leave me with leftovers that I had no use for such as a half portion of an entree. What would I do with one piece of a half order of Tuna?)

And when all hell breaks loose or we have two parties going on at the same time the answer for even little requests might be NO. But your willingness to accomodate at other times will help you out and in everyone's eyes you will be a hero.

Who are these chefs that think that if you accomodate special requests that you are unprofessional?

By lewis w chick (Chicklw) on Wednesday, June 30, 1999 - 04:18 pm: Edit

I know that, just as in life, the passion I feel doing my craft IS based on that balancing act performed and the priorities change all the time. So I agree with Marty that saying no has to be done at times with with an explaination and say a raincheck.
Wow, wouldn't it be great if, in some properties, we could train our staff to change those situations into positive outcomes.
NO, we won't make dish A even tho we have all the product in house, because we have a full house and it would interfere with service to the other tables atthis time.
BUT, we would love to do that dish for your next time you come in if 1) you remind us when you make you reservations. 2) you allow us to make your reservation at a less busy time.
This allows us to please the client, have time to figure FC, show our craftmanship, fill slow-time seats,etc.

We have trout and crab stuffed mussels on menu. Client wants stuffed trout. Mid-rush. You could sear the trout, stuff it with your mussel mix, toss it in your hot oven and serve. Or you can sell the client on doing it next time and do it right, making the stuffing so you don't lose money and your flavors match.

By Martin Markovitz (Martym) on Saturday, July 03, 1999 - 11:08 am: Edit

Customers ask me all the time for specials I have run in the past and if at the moment I can't or do not have the ingredients in the house, I ask the server to get their name and telephone number and we call them to let them know when I will be running it again.
They love it and it helps me decide what to run as specials next week and maybe even put it on the menu. It also almost guarantees return business.

By Bailey (Bailey) on Friday, October 29, 1999 - 12:07 am: Edit

I do the basically same thing. I know a lot of our regular customers by name and when I do not have the special item they have requested on hand... I just tell them to give me a day's lead on my voicemail and I will try to have it for them the following day. Otherwise they can leave me thier number, and I will be sure they get a call when we run that special (or item) again.

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