The Great Hall
I propose a new law for restaurant patrons


WebFoodPros.com: The Great Hall: I propose a new law for restaurant patrons
By Cvincolorado (Cvincolorado) on Saturday, July 10, 2004 - 01:29 am: Edit

I think a law should be passed saying " to be allowed to eat in a restaurant you must have at one point in your life have worked in one". This being passed, all restaurant patrons would have a clue as how to act appropriately. If you walk into a nice restaurant that is packed to its limits and everyone working there is running around in semi-organized chaos, you cannot expect your food in 15 minutes. If you have a concert or movie to catch in 30 minutes, get a sandwich or something. Does anyone agree?

By Chefgibz0 (Chefgibz0) on Saturday, July 10, 2004 - 11:48 am: Edit

Or how about a group of golfers that comes in to the club restaurant, when of course you are slammed, orders all well done burgers and clubs, "and oh by the way we have a tee time in 10 minutes". Geeze what do we look like back here culinary wizards that can pull food out of various body parts just to make sure they get their burger in time to wack some balls. And how about the server standing there watching you elbow deep in orders and food, 5 dupes back asking "how much longer?" And how about that group that walks in 5 minutes before you close, line is just about broke down? But if it were not for these types of people, how would we as rush addicts get our fix? And if everybody acted as they should then what would we complain about? I do agree that all people should work in the hospitality business for a spell. Then they would know, really know. But then again.......where would all of our crazy night stories go??

By Beachbumcook (Beachbumcook) on Saturday, July 10, 2004 - 01:01 pm: Edit

What about owners that come in at 1O minutes before closing on a tripple turn Saturday night with an 8 top and then send stuff back to "imperss" their friends with their power and expertice.

Time for the "secret sauce" ;<)

BBC

By Steve9389 (Steve9389) on Saturday, July 10, 2004 - 05:51 pm: Edit

I just started working the pasta stationat a very big, very popular, very busy Italian place (550 covers on Wednesday, more than 600 on Thursday). So at 7:00 on Thursday, a server comes back with a package of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese that these parents want made for their spoiled kid. They're willing to pay the regular $5 kids meal price for me to cook it. Whatever. That's almost as dumb as the folks who order plain pasta for $6.

By Beachbumcook (Beachbumcook) on Saturday, July 10, 2004 - 07:14 pm: Edit

Some folks just like plain pasta and $6 is reasonable when you figure all the surrounding expenses in.

$5 to specially cook mac and cheese is way too cheep unless it is for a beloved regular customer or in a club enviroment, It should be more like $20 when you figure in the distraction from the flow and time consumed.

We'll spoil your brats for you, for a price.

BBC

By Cvincolorado (Cvincolorado) on Saturday, July 10, 2004 - 11:57 pm: Edit

I've got a good "too much money for thier own good" story. Years ago I was the sous chef at a very expensive restaurant outside of Aspen in which wintertime access was by cross country skiing or horse drawn sleigh. New Years Eve, the second seating was $200 a seat. One of the tables had three kids(since we could have sold these seats we told them no kids meals). The kids wanted only mashed potatoes and veggies. $600 for three plates of potatoes and veggies. That sure helped our food cost.

By Dpconsu (Dpconsu) on Sunday, July 11, 2004 - 01:52 am: Edit

"Revenge of the Chef"
About 25 years ago, I was helping a friend who owned a nice pub in London and who wanted to turn his lounge bar into a diner place. We set up a pretty fair diner menu that would fly in a pub. One item on the menu was a real T-Bone steak, (a very rare thing at that time in England as they butchered the cows differently there and there was no t-bones to be had). I had to special order them from the meat dealer who had them flown in frozen from Nebraska. (Not cheap) we offered them at cost plus the trimings. One night a four top came in fom the pub side and the "host" a twerp with two too many in him ordered the t-bone and wanted it rare, so I send him out a rare steak, he puffs up and bellows at the girl serving the table that he wanted it rare not bloody well done, she was in tears when she got back to the kitchen with it, I checked it, the broiler guy checked it and even the pub owner checked it, it was a perfect rare, so we did him another one and I made sure that it was BLUE. The bast#^d sent it back again for the same reason, so I plated up a raw frozen one with all the trimmings and sent that out. The owner comp'd the three nice people and made the twerp pay for two steak diners or he was going to call the cops.

How nice it was to have an owner back you up when you are right!

By Chefgibz0 (Chefgibz0) on Sunday, July 11, 2004 - 12:48 pm: Edit

Now see Cvin, if all the twerps in the world worked in our business for a bit,and acted like we wanted them to, would we have all these wonderful stories to tell each other??

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Sunday, July 11, 2004 - 10:06 pm: Edit

If it wasn't for them we would not have jobs!
I know some are idiots but you know what my motto has always been.......you can have anything your heart desires, but you will pay for it!!!!!!
Top dollar!.....money talks...BS walks!
One New Year's Eve I had a guy come in after 3 seatings, ran out of everything, all the good stuff, he said cook me anything, so I cooked him mussels maranara, charged him $500 for a table of four, that's it for the mussels app for four!
On top of that he gave the four cooks $200 each!
Sometimes standing your ground pays!!!!

By Mbw (Mbw) on Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 08:56 am: Edit

"Triple turn Saturday night"

A movie?
A song?

no... Just poetry baby, shear poetry.

By Point83702 (Point83702) on Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 05:42 pm: Edit

One of my pet peeves is when someone comes in and claims to be "deathly allergic" to something very common, like onions. When this happens I generally tell them that if a stray piece of onion will actually kill them then they may want to dine elsewhere. I've toyed with the idea of printing up a liability release form and sending that out to the table.

By Adelie (Adelie) on Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 07:43 pm: Edit

So do people with allergies forfeit the right to dine out? I have one friend who is "deathly allergic" to finny fish but can eat shellfish, and another who is allergic to shellfish but can eat finny fish. Neither of them can tolerate even non-seafood that has been cooked on the same grill or turned with the same spatula as that used for their allergens.

Shouldn't they ask? What should they do? When they go to a steakhouse, should they just pray that their steak wasn't cooked on the same grill as the shrimp or lobster tails?

By Point83702 (Point83702) on Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 08:44 pm: Edit

Of course they can dine out, but I shouldn't be responsible if, after taking reasonable precautions in preparing their meal they have an allergic reaction. I've worked in many small and very busy kitchens. Two and three man lines mostly. One grill, one griddle, fryers and saute. In these operations everything is cooked on the same grill. Sure you try to have designated spatulas and different areas on the grill for different products, but in the middle of two or three hundred covers I won't stop everything to accomodate one diner. If they call me the day before or even several hours before their meal I'll bend over backwards to accomodate, but in the middle of a rush there is only so much I can do and still maintain the integrity of the food. I've noticed that you describe yourself as retired and as an amature cook. It's too bad because the sweaty view from the back of the house might give you some added perspective.

By Point83702 (Point83702) on Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 08:56 pm: Edit

By the way, is dining out a right? If so then I was denied my right as a child in a lower middle class family. Wonder if I could get reparations...

By Mbw (Mbw) on Sunday, July 18, 2004 - 12:21 pm: Edit

Having food service experience may not help. Sure it may open a few eyes, but just working in food service is no guarantee that you will be transformed into a good customer. In fact I would venture that some of the biggest %^#@# customers are in food service, or have food service experience.

Confession: My favorite breakfast place in San Francisco (near Haight & Ashbury) serves breakfast until 4pm on Sat/Sun. I have gone in there at 3:30, crew looking tattered, restaurant ALMOST empty and sit for breakfast. Sure I tip 25-50%, but is a $4 tip enough?

Two waiters come in for dinner to visit their old chef. The three had previously worked together at one of those celebrity chef chains (The chefs initials may have been J.T. but I canít say for sure). Clearly unaware that it was late (as in the late 90ís), the two ordered two glasses of White Zinfandel. This in itself was the real crime to me but what was to follow boggled us all. They sent it back because it was not white. They ate had a great time and stiffed the waiter. Huh?

By Adelie (Adelie) on Sunday, July 18, 2004 - 12:36 pm: Edit

No one is suggesting that you are responsible for other people's allergies. But it sounds as though you resent their even asking about ingredients and cooking methods.

My status as an amateur doesn't mean that I forfeit my right to stay alive when I dine out, or can only appreciate the work by doing it. I'm just trying to figure out how to reconcile your contention that you can't be bothered to cater to some requirements with the customer's right to know what's in the food they will be served, and whether or not it's going to kill them. I agree that in the ideal world, people would plan ahead and get the information they need, but that's not always possible. So in the meantime, they ask at the table. Perhaps if the servers were better informed of the ingredients of the offerings, or they were listed in the menu, you wouldn't be so bothered by people asking.

By Cheftim (Cheftim) on Sunday, July 18, 2004 - 06:06 pm: Edit

And it's not the people that are allergic and may have anaphylactic reaction that are a problem. They won't take chances. And that's the real point. In a commercial kitchen there are to many opportunities for an "allergen" to get into something unknown to the chef.

The pain are the ones that use "I'm allergic" as an excuse to change the menu to suit them.

I have friend that claims to be "deathly" allergic to mushrooms. Every time we go out she will order something that comes with mushrooms and be emphatic that the mushrooms not be included. In variably the plate shows up with mushrooms. I have seen her just scrape off or eat around them mushrooms. This is the pita kind of customer. The kind that has jaded chefs through out the country.

By Chefrev (Chefrev) on Sunday, July 18, 2004 - 06:48 pm: Edit

I don't suffer fools too much. That's why I'm a cook and not a waiter...or a manager I suppose. If someone comes in and says they categorically cannot tolerate a certain food, I try to accomodate them with reasonable effort and concern. After all, if I were eating out and had a severe allergy I would hope the restaurant would be flexible enough to help me find something safe and good to eat.

It's the picky, what my wife calls persnickety people that drive me nuts! Rather than motivating me to accede to their outrageous and often rude expectations, I am more tempted to hock a lugie in their food (never have for the record but it's been close once or twice). No jerk is worth losing your job or a restaurant's good rep over a lawsuit, but complaints I can deal with.

Ignorant customers abound in our line of work. That's reality. Reality sucks but it's the only place you can get a good burger.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 12:08 am: Edit

When somebody tells me they have allergies, I tell them, there are some items in cans and miscellaneous items that we don't know what ingredients they "really" have in there........so make sure you have your medicine with you if you decide to eat!!!!! (that's when I was young and ruled the world)!

By Bohica (Bohica) on Friday, July 23, 2004 - 01:11 pm: Edit

I am new to these forums and have been following this thread on allergies. I am an executive chef and I have a food allergy to rice and risotto. Not all rices mind you....jasmine, brown, sushi, basmati...no problem, but get me near Uncle Ben's perverted rice or some Italian arborio, and I have to have the Benedril near by. When I go out to eat, I just stay away from those things. When I go to a peers banquet, he will accomodate me and serve me some other rice. (a good friend).

As to other people and their supposed (cough) allergies, it has been my experience that these kinds of people just don't like what's being served (in a banquet setting for instance). If you truly have allergies, don't go out to eat, cause you never can be 100% safe.

By Adelie (Adelie) on Friday, July 23, 2004 - 03:40 pm: Edit

"I have a food allergy to rice and risotto....As to other people and their supposed (cough) allergies, it has been my experience that these kinds of people just don't like what's being served (in a banquet setting for instance)..."

So YOUR allergies are genuine and legitimate, but no one else's are? Wow - an authentic medical anomaly!

"If you truly have allergies, don't go out to eat, cause you never can be 100% safe."

That's absurd. A well-trained server ought to know or be able to find out what's in the recipe. If I'm allergic to peanuts, I probably won't go to an Asian restaurant, but the chef at an Italian restaurant ought to be able to accommodate me one way or the other. There are always ways to work around these things, given a flexible chef who really wants to please his customers.

And since you can't be 100% safe anywhere but in your own bed, you probably ought to stay there, under the covers.

By Beachbumcook (Beachbumcook) on Friday, July 23, 2004 - 05:43 pm: Edit

"That's absurd. A well-trained server ought to know or be able to find out what's in the recipe."

This statement is absurd. A very small percentage of servers are "well trained" and only in the most strict corporate enviroments are recipes followed to the letter, and even there their are manufactured products that have mystery ingreedients.

Unless you are in the privledged class that always eats in private club kitchens or restaurants with real chefs that are there all the time, anyone with a real allergy problem is taking their life in their own hands by eating out.

By Adelie (Adelie) on Friday, July 23, 2004 - 07:35 pm: Edit

My "privilege" extends only as far as enjoying public restaurants where the servers and/or managers and/or chefs know what's in the food they are serving. We don't eat at chains, and my experience is that in the smaller places we like, the chefs know their ingredients.

I don't have allergies, but friends do and they've never had a problem asking and getting a correct answer. Or maybe it's just because we tend to eat at places that don't use pre-fab ingredients.

By Cvincolorado (Cvincolorado) on Saturday, July 24, 2004 - 01:10 am: Edit

I have to agree with the fact that most servers will have no idea what the exact ingredients are. If the person that made a certain dish is not present at the question time it could not be 100% sure there is not a bit of some of the ingredient in that dish. I sometimes cannot recall exactly what I put into a sauce I made a few days ago. Here is a good example: One night a person that said he was very allergic to flour came in to eat in my restaurant. He wanted the prime rib special. No problem the server thought. They did have the common sense to ask my sous chef who in turn said there was no flour. One of the things we rubbed the prime with was chipotle(pureed cans of chipotle in adobo sauce). I heard this going on and went to the back to read the ingredients on the can and sure enough there was flour in it. I got to the table just before he took a bite. Now, I don't know if this would have been enough to hurt this person but I informed him and he chose not to eat it. My sous chef is an intelligent person and at the time was extremely busy and did not think to look at the can of chipotles. So, unless you are making it yourself I would be very hesitant about eating anything.

By Chefgibz0 (Chefgibz0) on Saturday, July 24, 2004 - 11:41 am: Edit

I want to know what percentage of restaurants in the nation have "well trained" servers in their ranks? Then again I would like to know how many servers in the nation even "care" to be "well trained"? I have done line up at very exclusive, prestigious establishments and when you are describing a new or special dish to the wait staff half are talking amungst themselves the other half stare at you with a zombie gaze while the captain is on his cell phone, so where does the so called "well trained" come into place? Now do not get me wrong, there are some very professional servers out there that really care and know what they are doing. But they are vastly outweighed by the "I'm only doing this til I find a real job" servers out there only caring about how much money the can stuff in their pockets tonite.
And as far as the ingredients list. How many different listing versions of MSG are out there? So how is a Chef or cook supposed to keep up? And when is the last time you looked at a the main stream burger joints cola ingredients?.......they are reputed as having animal products in there! When was the last time a vegitarian said " I wonder is there is beef in my cola?" I am not saying that all people that have allergies should never eat out. I welcome them to my place, But, in these times one can never, never be too sure. And do not even get me going on the question of lawsuits.................

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Monday, July 26, 2004 - 10:37 am: Edit

Two things, first, there are many ingredients in canned or prepared food items that we don't necessarily know about, read the label to know about or even know what it is by the chemical name they put on the label!
Second, the "trained staff" question; I was at the ACF convention recently and there was a person speaking (pitching) his certification program for FOH staff. The guy has a hell of a point!!!
I believe it now, why not a training and certification program for FOH staff???...we have it for Chefs!
Front of the house staff has always been looked down upon by the public and Chefs, in fact they are representing your product in the dining room, there is no meal that can make up for bad service and let's face it, some servers make better money then many Chefs!....cash $$$$!!!!!
Having said all that, FOH staff has always been seen as disposable, high turn over personnel; when it does not have to be!
With 20 hours of training and 6 hours of contact time you can train any FOH staff, they will be more productive, you will have less employee turnover, they will be more profitable and they will enjoy their job!
I'm not trying to sell anything here except a little common sense, does this make sense to you as Chefs????????

By Chefrev (Chefrev) on Monday, July 26, 2004 - 05:23 pm: Edit

Manny, the trained staff idea is a good one for restaurants that care about their public image and the quality of service they give. An experienced, savvy waitstaff really enhances a good meal and makes it even better.

The problem is, as you also mentioned, that most waitrons see the job as a temporary position that they just show up for. You can't motivate SOME of the temporary type of employees to care because they're not planning to stick around long. Training would be just a hoop they go through on the way to the job. If that's not what you want, don't hire them, I guess is the solution. But it's a tight job market so employers may be stuck.

In good restaurants, there are often several "career" waitstaff who have chosen to remain and they can be invaluable in helping new hires understand the importance of knowing what they are serving.

I would also instruct the cooks as to the dangers of allegergenic food ingredients and let them know that if a wait person asks what's in some entree, they're just looking out for a concerned patron, not being picky. Hey we might be coming up with a course of study for restayrants here for all staff...if it doens't already exist.

By Ladycake (Ladycake) on Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - 04:37 pm: Edit

I think that many patrons who claim to have food allergies, don't really... like was mentioned above, they just don't like something.

As a chef, I have no trouble making special dispensations for those who truly suffer; it is those who lie about it that make our lives uncomfortable. (Like the guy who can't eat pasta because of his wheat allergy, but bring on the chocolate cake!)

I don't know any chefs who would intentionally hurt someone with an allergy, but I second Chefrev "hocking a lugie" in the food of the liars and manipulators!

By Lgold08540 (Lgold08540) on Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - 06:22 pm: Edit

i am the pastry chef at an upscale italian restaurant in manhattan where many of the clients are regulars. the other day one of them called at 12:30 p.m. to request a lactose-free bday cake or other dessert for her daughter for the same evening. my assistant had quit the day before and i just did not have time and told her so. i suggested a nice fruit and sorbet plate
with "happy birthday" written on it...she said fine, and could you make that for 11 people? CHEAP!!!!!!!!!!

By Cvincolorado (Cvincolorado) on Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - 11:29 pm: Edit

Saturday night, I had catered events in three of the banquet rooms, about 70 people in the restaurant and close to 100 in the tavern. One of the banquets had a plated mixed green salad with a champagne vinaigrette. A guest at the party sends a server back with the salad saying she is "deathly allergic" to arugula. Could we make her a salad without arugula. This was a new one for me. Has anyone ever heard of someone that can eat all the rest of the greens in a spring mix but not arugula? Needless to say, I had to stop what I was doing and cut up a head of romaine.

By Point83702 (Point83702) on Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - 12:02 am: Edit

"People following a corn-free diet should avoid iodized salt since it contains dextrose, which should be avoided by those allergic to corn"
Found this while I was surfing the net. I never would have thought of it.

By Chef4u (Chef4u) on Thursday, November 11, 2004 - 01:06 pm: Edit

I agree with you totally. Some patrons want 15 minute meals during peak time. I often go to a seafood resturaunt in the area called Coffee Landing and it states in bold letters at the door as does signs at popular theme parks at this point it is a one hour wait for food!!! The hostess tells you this when you come in and request seating some wait some leave! If the food is good it is worth the wait if not taco bell is next door! I also dispise the patrons that snap their fingers or whistle at the staff as if they are the only patrons in the place. My waitstaff deals with these by telling them "my name is _____
i'd be happy to help you if you'd give me a chance to help all my guests" it usually works sometime not but gets the point across politely.

By Foodpump (Foodpump) on Saturday, November 13, 2004 - 10:07 am: Edit

Chefmanny has a point abut trained FoH staff. In Europe where cook's apprenticeships are typically three years, waiter's apprenticeships are two years, they gotta and do know their stuff.

In my neck of the woods the Health dept. has been offering "Foodsafe" courses for all food handlers. These are weekend courses and quite cheap, and now no foodsevice industry will hire staff that haven't had the course. There is also a "Serving it right" course for all those who sell alcohol, which is mandatory for all bars and social events where liquor is being sold.

I guess what I'm trying to say is a weekend course for FoH staff put on by a governmental body/third party. An employer may or may not choose to sponser his employees for the course, but then the course shouldn't be more than $100. Most job hoppers would take the course on their own to make their resume's look good and improve their chances of getting hired.


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