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The customer is NOT always right


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#31 BadRabbit

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 10:57 AM

An owner of a business should be able to do whatever he wants that is legal. If his decisions are bad, he won't survive. The diner also has rights. He can refuse to go somewhere that won't meet his wants.

The number of people with true medical dietary restrictions is pretty low. Unfortunately they are largely treated poorly because so many people lie about having restrictions just because it's the easiest way to force someone to change to a more preferred menu.

I had a friend that claimed to be allergic to red wine but often drank Cold Duck. I explained to her that her claim of being allergic to one and not the other was absurd but to no avail. If she didn't feel like seafood, she would tell the server that she was allergic to shellfish and would they please make the risotto with chicken. The next day, I'd see her eating a shrimp po-boy. It got to where I wouldn't go anywhere with her because her order would be so convoluted and full of falsehoods.

From my experience, the number of people who fall into the "fake" restrictions category FAR outweigh the ones with real problems.

As for the vegetarian thing, I'd suggest you stick to cuisines and restaurants that cater to that sort of thing. If you are not picking the place, either don't go or go and be prepared to be less than thrilled with your choices but don't show up to Bobby Van's and expect that they'll trot out a vegan cornucopia just because they have the ingredients and you feel you have the right to tell them how to run their restaurant.

Edited by BadRabbit, 07 March 2011 - 10:59 AM.


#32 xxchef

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 11:40 AM

But restuarant food isn't just food. If I wanted just food I would eat at home. If I'm eating out and paying for that eating-out-experience, I want more than just food!


This is another good point that bears exploring.

It seems like that the most likely practitioners of this "customer not always right" philosophy are also some of the more high-end chefs and restaurants. Aren't theses top-dollar places exactly the ones you would expect to bend over backwards to make the customer happy and satisfied? I would think that spending a lot of money on a meal should come with some expectation of being treated well. The refusal to honor simple special requests would erode this expectation rather quickly.
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#33 xxchef

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 11:52 AM

An owner of a business should be able to do whatever he wants that is legal. If his decisions are bad, he won't survive. The diner also has rights. He can refuse to go somewhere that won't meet his wants.

I agree completely.

Of course they can do what they want, but is it good business practice to be unaccommodating as a standard operating procedure? The success of many of the chefs and restaurants mentioned in the article seem to suggest it is. Of course, the ones for whom it didn't work for aren't there to write about any more.
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#34 Robbie

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 12:03 PM

I can understand not listening to every customers request, but simple things like condiments or whipping up a salad for a vegetarian are absolutely deal-breakers. I work hard for my money and there are enough restaraunts out there I don't need to listen to some chef make excuses for why he won't give me what I want. The whole concept just reeks of arrogance IMO.

Also on the list are chefs that won't make something for my 4 year old daughter, if you can't whip up some grilled cheese then I'll go somewhere else thank you.

#35 Mjx

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 12:26 PM

I think the right attitude really helps negotiate this sort of situation. Both the customer and the chef have rights, but the question of whose rights should prevail can get ugly, fast. If everyone keeps in mind that every 'right' is implicitly and inescapably tied to a responsibility of some sort, and people manage to at least act like they respect one another, the level of accommodation is often higher than might be expected.

I'm not comfortable requesting significant changes, but do sometimes ask questions about basic ingredients (in which case I order last, so the others don't have to wait, and I keep my questions few and simple), and the waiter has more often than not come back from the kitchen with not only an answer, but an offer from the chef to make an adjustment, if some ingredient is a problem. I'm profuse as hell in my thanks, regardless of whether or not I go with the offer; most people, including chefs, like to feel that what they're doing is appreciated, and others are trusting them to be in control of the situation.

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#36 pastrygirl

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 01:01 PM

The rules at my favorite neighborhood sushi place:

#1 Mashiko is a non discriminatory establishment
#2 Music is chef’s choice
#3 We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone
#4 Prices are subject to change based on customers attitude
#5 Please respect others when using your cell phones
#6 10% box fee added to all to go orders
#7 18% gratuity included for parties of 6 or more.
#8 We take reservations
#9 Cork fee $10 (it has to be good bottle of wine or sake)
#10 Everything you know is wrong
#11 Tip well… live long
#12 After you eat, eat more!
#13 Enjoy life
#14 Talk to the people around you (as long as you do not have food in your mouth)
#15 Do not be afraid to try something new
#16 Tako is not chewy
#17 Chopsticks are not drum sticks
#18 Soy sauce is not a beverage
#19 Trust us, we are professionals
#20 Visa and master card and washing dishes are all acceptable methods of payment
#21 Because Hajime said so

#37 scubadoo97

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 04:41 PM

So, if I eat out somewhere, I look at the menu first; if it doesn't work for me, I go elsewhere; if I'm in doubt, I ask (phone, ask waitstaff if it's looking quiet).

True, restaurants are service industry, and I expect restaurants to be sanitary, deliver what they promise, and have courteous (which includes being polite about saying 'No, we aren't able to accommodate that request', as long as the customer is being polite, too) and hard-working staff. I don't expect them to jump through hoops as though they exist in my (or anyone else's) private Sims universe.

Am I pleased if they offer me options? Certainly. But every business does try to perform within certain parameters, and if they end up trying to accomodate requests that stretch their time and other resources, it's going to affect what they're actually trying to do.



Agreed. Depends on the restaurant but I want the restaurant to prepare the meal the way they indeed it to be. If they are not loosing people then they are doing it right. If they are then they should rethink the menu or look for what else is turning people away. We have enough people that feel the world revolves around them and their every whim. I for one don't want to encourage that behavior. The customer is not always right

#38 Holly Moore

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 05:46 PM

Sometimes you don't have to ask.

A few years ago I dined at Marc Veyrat's former restaurant La Ferme de Mon Père in Megeve France. Three Michelin Stars at the time. I didn't realize it, but my intestine was becoming more and more blocked. Every few months it would act up as happened midway through their tasting menu. My dishes started to return to the kitchen partially finished - more and more left on the plate. It had to be obvious to the server that as the meal progressed I was having digestive problems. Finally, the dessert course. My dining partner was served the dessert listed on the tasting menu. For me, a wonderful bowl of porridge the kitchen whipped up to ease my distress. Though there was surgery in my future, the porridge saved the evening. Extraordinary commitment to a customer.

I have a problem when a restaurateur, chef or anyone else says a restaurant should not and need not go above and beyond for its customers. Sometimes a request simply isn't possible. But when an accommodation is possible it is inexcusable for a restaurant not to make the effort.

Every day, as a student, when I walked into Statler Hall, the home of Cornell's Hotel and Restaurant School, I was greeted with a plaque presenting hotelier Statler's philosophy of hospitality, "Life is service; the one who progresses is the one who gives his fellow man a little more, a little better service." Statler's words are as relevant today as they were in his time. I think the truly great restaurateurs and chefs instinctively understand that hospitality is every bit as important as the food.

Edited by Holly Moore, 07 March 2011 - 05:48 PM.

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#39 David A. Goldfarb

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 05:51 PM

Some diners don't regard arrogance as a negative. It's part of the show. New York has enough culinary masochists to support such establishments. They want to be dominated and want it done properly!

#40 ermintrude

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 06:20 PM

It seems like that the most likely practitioners of this "customer not always right" philosophy are also some of the more high-end chefs and restaurants. Aren't theses top-dollar places exactly the ones you would expect to bend over backwards to make the customer happy and satisfied? I would think that spending a lot of money on a meal should come with some expectation of being treated well. The refusal to honor simple special requests would erode this expectation rather quickly.


Well taken to the logically absurd conclusion, you could go to the fat duck and insist on an egg white omelette, macrobiotic dynamically grown mung beans and fennel twig tea - but what's the point!

That said, while the fat duck was one of my most memorable meals I will never eat their salmon covered in liquorice ever again, (my dining companion loved it). I guess with notice they would accommodate but rather than eat the spawn of Lovecroft I'd ne happy with a plate minus the eldrich black and pink horror so I could savour the grapefruit, manni oil etc.

Where you have genuine needs and let the restaurant know well in advance then provided they are normal and proven medical conditions (Vegitarian, Celiac etc) then I think a restaurant should try to accommodate. If dumped on at short notice then forget it (unless a walk in - and then do what you can)

Edited by ermintrude, 07 March 2011 - 06:22 PM.

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#41 Edward J

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 08:38 AM

I have been reading each and every post on this thread with great interest.

My views on this are a bit different, as I am a cook, have been one for almost 30 years now, and currently own my place. I deal with customers on a daily basis.

I think it all boils down to respect. Can I respect the statement "I'm allergic to onions"? Or can I respect the statement, "I don't like onions, can you refer me to a dish that doesn't have onions, or is it possible that the kitchen can make it without onions"?

One place I worked at we had this lunchtime regular, a mining engineer, I think. Some days he would insist on no garlic in any dish, and these were the days he would entertain Japanese businessmen, and other days garlic was fine but no alcohol, and these were the days he would entertain Muslim clients. But he always gave the owners a heads up.

Now the arguement about paying alot for fine dining places and expecting every wish to be granted is worth considering. I used to have a bumper sticker on my car that read: "Give me enough time and money, and I will rule the world!...eventually...." See, If I'm going to blow a good $100 on wine for two and another $100 for food, I'm going to do a little investigating, check out the wine list and menu on line. I know what my wife likes, and if the menu doesn't have it, I can ask in advance. It might not be possible, but give the kitchen a few days heads up, and the odds increase dramatically.

This I feel is a mutual respect, and it usually works for both parties.

#42 Jenni

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 09:12 AM

Now the arguement about paying alot for fine dining places and expecting every wish to be granted is worth considering.


I would just like to point out that I was not by any means saying this, I was just disagreeing with David Chang's "just food" quote.

Having said that, I do feel that spending my money in a restaurant entitles me to a certain amount of respect, even if any requests I may have cannot be accomodated. The danger of some of these restaurants that have certain policies about what condiments are allowed, whether adjustments can be made, etc. is that they can sometimes come across as very rude and anti-customer. Fair enough if you won't let me add spinach to my pizza, because you don't make alterations, but please don't be rude to me about it.

#43 Edward J

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 05:45 PM

No worries, I wasn't quoting anyone word for word.

I would however like to bring up what exactly goes into my, or a Chef's head when a request comes in for spinach on a pizza:

1) Do we have spinach?
2) Does the customer want it raw, or pre-cooked, on the pizza? If so, do I have enough time to cook off a portion for the pizza?
3)How much to charge?
4) How much to put on? If it is raw, it will shrink, and I will look stupid to charge $X for spinach when all you get is a few wilted leaves.
5)If it is raw, will it shed water as it cooks on the pizza? Now, I'm not a pizza maker, so I don't know the answer to this one.
6)If I do make the pizza with spinach, and the customer isn't happy with it because it isn't what they expected, do I have to comp?

All this should take about 1/250 of a second.



Now, for me, the word "rude" is very similiar to the word "Fruitcake". Let me 'splain...

Anyone under the age of oh, say 30 years does not like fruitcake. I've met very few exceptions to this observation, and tasting many of the commercial fruitcakes, I can't say as I blame them. People over this age will either like it or not, but it is not a given.

Anyone under the age of, oh, say 30 uses the word "rude" in a way that I am still getting used to. From the way I've heard, "rude" used in conversations, tweets, blogs, etc., means not getting what you want. It is always preceeded by explaining what you didn't get, but never followed by why you felt the other party was acting rude, i.e. a reason for this behavior, nor is the behavior that you found rude ever explained.

People over the age of 40-ish use the word "rude" to describe someone who verbally insults or uses brash, sometimes harmful movements.

I've had web savvy people describe me as "rude" because I can't accomodate their wishes for a booking in August. I can only explain patiently so many times that we are closed for the first week in August, and besides, the Strata has reserved that week to replace the awning on the enitre building. I am "rude" because I can't give them what they want, and this is communicated very clearly in blogs, etc., but the part about the place being closed for holidays or that the sidewalk and entrance of the building will be full of ladders and workers is never mentioned.

#44 IndyRob

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 06:15 PM

My first reaction after reading the article was:

"This is CRAZY! It's a service business and not supposed to be a platform where culinary demi-god-chefs dictate to the pions far below what they should eat and how. Of course chefs and restaurants should met all reasonable special requests and they should do it with a flourish and a smile!"

Then I remembered the singular best restaurant meal I've ever eaten.

...

That night she knew better than I exactly what I should be eating. It was perfect and I would, without reservation, put myself in her hands again anytime. I would not dream of asking her for a substitution.


This is what exactly what Bourdain was talking about - dining being an act of submission - that I alluded to earlier.

But I think that unless we limit the conversation to a particular type of resto, we're not going to get anywhere. Probably 8 out of 10 chefs would really love to put their best efforts into satisfying, say, a vegan client - well, maybe, once. But it would only make financial sense for maybe one of those 10 chefs.

#45 Mjx

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 11:41 PM

. . . .

This is what exactly what Bourdain was talking about - dining being an act of submission . . . .


???
Ooookay...
I admit my first thought was 'WHAT?! Don't they have special clubs for that? I don't mean dinner, clubs, either...'

I'm not seeing this statement in its original context, and have no way of knowing precisely how the word 'submission' was intended, but although I'm perfectly willing to do my homework on the restaurant beforehand, repect the efforts of the kitchen and dining-room staff, and be politepolitepolite if it kills me, submission seems out of place. If you aren't actively engaged in the dining experience, but instead submit to it, I think you lose out on part of what the chef has done, you miss the elements of dialogue, of exploration. Even if you go to a restaurant that offers a single, set menu on any given night, the decision to eat there is an active one.

My mind boggles a bit at the idea that I might have to consider and consent to a tacit power dynamic between diner and food/chef, which, to be honest, goes a bit beyond my idea of 'dining experience', but I imagine everyone feels differently about this, and I suppose that's entering a whole philosophical area related to how one approaches food, which might be considered a bit off-topic.

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#46 Jenni

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 02:21 AM

Anyone under the age of, oh, say 30 uses the word "rude" in a way that I am still getting used to. From the way I've heard, "rude" used in conversations, tweets, blogs, etc., means not getting what you want. It is always preceeded by explaining what you didn't get, but never followed by why you felt the other party was acting rude, i.e. a reason for this behavior, nor is the behavior that you found rude ever explained.

People over the age of 40-ish use the word "rude" to describe someone who verbally insults or uses brash, sometimes harmful movements.


Well, not sure how I fit in with your observations, but I am 21 years old and here is my view:

"Sorry, we don't make alterations to any of our dishes." - Not rude.

"No, no alterations, this isn't your kitchen. If you don't like it, get out." - Rude. Though obviously things could get a lot ruder.

I don't think it's unreasonable for me to want to avoid this kind of rudeness! :biggrin:

#47 Edward J

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 08:41 AM

Ahh, yes, I agree with you 100% that statement #2 is rude.

#48 skavoovie

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 12:37 PM

Don't forget it's also a sales pitch, just aimed at a different crowd. Not cooking steaks to well done or whatever might well bring in more people than it turns away, by signaling passion and staying true to ingredients. There are also cultural differences at play, but it seems to work in parts of Europe at least.

#49 angevin

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 06:21 PM


. . . .

This is what exactly what Bourdain was talking about - dining being an act of submission . . . .


???
Ooookay...
I admit my first thought was 'WHAT?! Don't they have special clubs for that? I don't mean dinner, clubs, either...'

I'm not seeing this statement in its original context, and have no way of knowing precisely how the word 'submission' was intended, but although I'm perfectly willing to do my homework on the restaurant beforehand, repect the efforts of the kitchen and dining-room staff, and be politepolitepolite if it kills me, submission seems out of place. If you aren't actively engaged in the dining experience, but instead submit to it, I think you lose out on part of what the chef has done, you miss the elements of dialogue, of exploration. Even if you go to a restaurant that offers a single, set menu on any given night, the decision to eat there is an active one.

My mind boggles a bit at the idea that I might have to consider and consent to a tacit power dynamic between diner and food/chef, which, to be honest, goes a bit beyond my idea of 'dining experience', but I imagine everyone feels differently about this, and I suppose that's entering a whole philosophical area related to how one approaches food, which might be considered a bit off-topic.



I get the submission thing. It certainly doesn’t mean you’re not engaged and it doesn’t mean there’s no room for dialogue.

But I love the act of totally relinquishing control; there’s something exciting and sensual about having someone not only cook for you, but decide what you want, what you’d enjoy. Which is why I always go for the chef’s tasting if offered. Or even if it’s not on the menu, I sometimes ask if it’s possible to just have the chef “take care of me”. But the act of submission involves trust. Aside from specific allergies and severe dislikes, the people who go overboard with special requests just don’t trust others preparing their food for them. And I say “their loss.”

#50 AaronM

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 09:06 PM

As a chef it's my job to make decisions for you. Not in a snotty entitled way, but decisions none-the-less. Do I make this pasta sauce with basil? Thyme? Both? I'm trying to make you the best food I can according to my vision of food. That's why you came to my restaurant. To try my version of food. So when you start taking apart a dish it can be insulting. A simple, "Can you do that without the onion?" request is no big deal if it's within reason to accommodate the request. "Chef, why don't you offer a vegetarian option on your menu? Don't you want my money?" Not really. Cooking vegetarian is not something I do. I can make a vegetable dish, but will it be as good as the things I'm truly interested in cooking? No. Not every place has to cater to every possible dietary option. That's how we end up with mediocre food. Trying to appeal to too broad of a swathe of the people results in lack of focus. "Thanks for calling xxxx restaurant - how can I help you?" "Do you offer a gluten free menu?" "No, maam, I'm sorry - the chef chooses to focus on bringing you the best food he can and stays focused on certain things. Thank you for your interest in xxxx restaurant though."

It's as simple as that.

Edited by AaronM, 09 March 2011 - 09:16 PM.


#51 Zeemanb

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 09:08 PM

I guess in my experience, both the "nazi chef" and the "fundamentalist whacko vegetarian" only exist in urban mythology. I can really only think of one local chef who would happily tell you to stick it, and even then it would only be if someone were trying to reconstruct a well thought-out dish and he felt the sudden need to show his ass. Even HE provides vegetarian options....and that is generally the case in 99.9% of the restaurants I've visited. For the most part, chefs want you to enjoy yourself and they want you to come back. I'm a lucky lucky man in that I don't have to entertain clients, I skip all co-worker lunches, and I don't have divalicious friends or relatives with whom I am forced to dine. I rarely have to eat someplace I don't want to and if somebody sneaks a finicky whiner into the group they know they stand a pretty good chance of an involuntary trip to the bathroom where they lose a finger. So nothing of value to add here, I just wanted to talk about what a spoiled shit I am. It's good to read both sides of a debate and realize it's something I'm never, ever going to have to worry about. King Baby, over and out!

#52 prasantrin

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 10:08 PM

As a chef it's my job to make decisions for you. Not in a snotty entitled way, but decisions none-the-less. Do I make this pasta sauce with basil? Thyme? Both? I'm trying to make you the best food I can according to my vision of food. That's why you came to my restaurant. To try my version of food.

. . .


To make a similar point from another angle. . .

If you (general "you") want to eat something the way you want to eat it, make it yourself. Why go to the trouble of going to a restaurant and asking the chef (who is not your employee, despite that you are paying for the meal) to alter what he does just to suit you? He has other customers he needs to cook for, too. Are you really so important that you can take up more of his time (and time away from his other customers) just so he can make you an extra special dish because you need what you want when you want it?

Or if you don't want to cook, but you still want someone to make your food exactly the way you want it, hire a cook or a maid who also cooks, or marry someone who will let you order him/her around in the kitchen. Then you can order that person around as much as you want (until s/he quits or divorces you), and you can eat whatever you want, anytime you want.

And in defense of bad-tempered chefs who refuse to do special requests, I have an anecdote.

I have a friend who owns a Thai restaurant. A customer ordered take-out, and requested that every dish be made gluten-free. The customer was told that it would be difficult, but the person insisted. Customer should always be accommodated, doncha know. So the staff said they would try to accommodate the request, but they couldn't make any promises. Customer says OK.

The next day, customer's husband comes in and bitches the staff out because his wife had a bad reaction to the food. Despite the best efforts of the staff to make a gluten-free meal, and despite the staff spending a lot of time during a very busy night to accommodate this absolutely inane (in my opinion) request, and despite being told no promises could be made, these people demanded their money back. And they were given it back.

IME, customers are far more likely to be rude about making (as well as not receiving) special requests, than chefs/staff are about not granting them. Very few chefs will just say, "No, we won't do that because we don't want to. If you don't like our food, go eat somewhere else," but far more customers will say, "If you don't make it exactly the way I want, I'll go somewhere else and tell everyone I know that you were rude about it."

#53 Edward J

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Posted 10 March 2011 - 09:06 AM

This is fairly typical of the lack of respect customers have for many establishments.

Playing the devil's advocate, I would have to say the Restaurant WAS guilty, as they "made no promises" and supplied food that they could not guarantee gluten free. The cutomer, on the other hand, could not extract a definite YES, nor could he extract a definite NO, so he just pushed and pushed. Is the cutomer right? Is he wrong? A jerk?

Meh, On certain blogs and websites, my business is known as rude becasue I could not accommodate during my annual holidys which also coincides with some major renovations to the building.

I'm a jerk and worse becasue I tell my customers that my milk chocolate products may contain traces of gluten (via barley malt extract) and therefore I can not sell it to them if they claim to have reactions to gluten.

Look, people have little or no respect to things that are, 1)in abundance, 2) below market value or free, or 3)easily abused. Things like fresh water, air, public libraries, good manners, and cheap locks are all abused.

And there is an over abundance of restaurants, each with narrow profit margins and a genuine eagerness to please, and very fragile.

Customers... Can't live with 'em, and you can't live without 'em....

#54 JudyB

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 05:58 AM

There is an interesting blog article from Raymond Blanc on this topic: Is it time to say no?.

Without copying the whole article here, the key points that he makes are that the current policy at Le Manoir (Michelin 2*) is that they always try to say yes, but that he is beginning to wonder if some of his guests with special requirements are perhaps doing this to get extra attention. He concludes by saying:

Maybe we ought to ring-fence part of our menu, and say "these are the dishes we can change so as to ensure absolutely that they meet special dietary requirements". We're discussing this now with Gary, Benoît. Mourad and the rest of the team.

It's not the empathetic attitude Le Manoir stands for today - but maybe it's the stance we'll be forced to adopt. What do you think? Should we always say YES?



#55 The Apostate

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 08:05 AM



. . . .

This is what exactly what Bourdain was talking about - dining being an act of submission . . . .


???
Ooookay...
I admit my first thought was 'WHAT?! Don't they have special clubs for that? I don't mean dinner, clubs, either...'

I'm not seeing this statement in its original context, and have no way of knowing precisely how the word 'submission' was intended, but although I'm perfectly willing to do my homework on the restaurant beforehand, repect the efforts of the kitchen and dining-room staff, and be politepolitepolite if it kills me, submission seems out of place. If you aren't actively engaged in the dining experience, but instead submit to it, I think you lose out on part of what the chef has done, you miss the elements of dialogue, of exploration. Even if you go to a restaurant that offers a single, set menu on any given night, the decision to eat there is an active one.

My mind boggles a bit at the idea that I might have to consider and consent to a tacit power dynamic between diner and food/chef, which, to be honest, goes a bit beyond my idea of 'dining experience', but I imagine everyone feels differently about this, and I suppose that's entering a whole philosophical area related to how one approaches food, which might be considered a bit off-topic.



I get the submission thing. It certainly doesn’t mean you’re not engaged and it doesn’t mean there’s no room for dialogue.

But I love the act of totally relinquishing control; there’s something exciting and sensual about having someone not only cook for you, but decide what you want, what you’d enjoy. Which is why I always go for the chef’s tasting if offered. Or even if it’s not on the menu, I sometimes ask if it’s possible to just have the chef “take care of me”. But the act of submission involves trust. Aside from specific allergies and severe dislikes, the people who go overboard with special requests just don’t trust others preparing their food for them. And I say “their loss.”


This is not intended to sound rude, but what I don't get is the use of "actively engaged' in describing the dining experience.

When you go the theater, do you go backstage when you enter, demand to see the director and then describe for him the plot line you're in the mood to see that night?

If you golf, would you tell your club pro that while, yes, you do want to lower your score, you think you should still keep that hitch in your back swing, and since you really like hitting off your back foot, he should work around that too?

Do you tell your mechanic how to rebuild your carburetor, your doctor how to perform surgery, or would you approach Mike Ditka in the middle of a game to tell you think it's time to run a draw play?

In my experience, it's not an issue of trust, it's a matter of control. For some people (certainly not all, as those with actual medical restrictions) the dining experience is simply one more extension of their need for control.

For me, I go, I dine on what's offered. If it's good I go back. If it's not I don't.
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#56 Edward J

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 08:56 AM

I really like Le Manoir's logic, "Yes, these are the dishes we are able to "customize", and these are the dishes that aren't".

This is, in my opinion, the best way of dealing with the situation.



On a completely different level, but still on "the customer is always right", I have a situation that happened to me last month:

On a busy Sat. afternoon a cutomer walks in with a dog (I'm a small artisan chocolate and pastry place with about 20 seats and non-alc. beverages.

The customer was clearly NOT visually impaired, the dog was a very cute 8-10 mth lab very well behaved wearing a doggie-coat with some kind of a anacronym and website enblazened on it.

When asked to leash her dog outside, great anger ensued. The dog was being trained as a companion for the chronically ill, part of a non-profit group, anmd specifically brought into small crowded places like mine to train the animal in thsese situtions, and how dare I question this.

I patiently explained that, to the best of my knowledge only seeing-eye dogs are allowed, and that I was subject to a $120.00 fine from the Health Dept. if it was determined that a dog was present in my establishment. Customer then explains that she does have a license that puts her animal in the same class as seeing eye dogs. When I asked her to produce this, she didn't have it, but promised that she would bring it by.

She did, later that afternoon, and you can guess how she described my actions.

The fact that I am held responsible for her actions did not impress her one bit. The fact that I am responsible for the comfort and safety of my other customers and employees did not impress her one bit.

I, am "rude"....

#57 Mjx

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 09:03 AM

. . . .

This is not intended to sound rude, but what I don't get is the use of "actively engaged' in describing the dining experience.


The problem may simply be in the lack of a general agreement on the meaning of terms, but in my opinion (and this aspect of the discussion is highly subjective) when you make a decision, you're actively engaged.

When you consider a a variety of restaurants, look over their menus, talk to others about them, and choose a place to eat, you're actively engaged in selecting where you dine.
When you order, in most places, there are decisions involved (if the place has a set menu, then that decision has been made previously).
The same holds true of the wine(s) you select, whether or not you have coffee, dessert.

You don't just go into a restaurant and say, 'feed me', tell the waiter to just bring you what he or she deems best. You become involved. I don't know about other people, but if there's something interesting going on behind the scenes, I'll read about that beforehand, since I find context interest; basically, when I eat out, I think.

This doesn't mean I believe I have the right to tell the chef what to do, but I do ask questions about items on the the menu (e.g. 'Does this come with a creamy sauce?', or 'I'm planning on having a fairly substantial dessert, is one of the main dishes particularly light?').

When you go the theater, do you go backstage when you enter, demand to see the director and then describe for him the plot line you're in the mood to see that night?

If you golf, would you tell your club pro that while, yes, you do want to lower your score, you think you should still keep that hitch in your back swing, and since you really like hitting off your back foot, he should work around that too?

Do you tell your mechanic how to rebuild your carburetor, your doctor how to perform surgery, or would you approach Mike Ditka in the middle of a game to tell you think it's time to run a draw play?

In my experience, it's not an issue of trust, it's a matter of control. For some people (certainly not all, as those with actual medical restrictions) the dining experience is simply one more extension of their need for control.

For me, I go, I dine on what's offered. If it's good I go back. If it's not I don't.


The scenarios you describe are not parallel: On any given evening, a theatre shows a set selection of performances, they don't offer a menu, and, while I wouldn't argue with an expert, I certainly would ask questions, because I'm an adult, and since I am accountable for my decisions, I prefer to be familiar with the options, tho process, what lies under the surface. I do know what I enjoy eating, and choose restaurants accordingly. Dining room staff not only take my order, but provide helpful information.

I simply do not see the desire to be informed as an expression of the need for control, or in the least likely to offend a chef (Seriously, who becomes disturbed by someone taking the trouble to be aware of how much effort they've put into something?). Submission is for infants, who, eyes and mouths agape, swallow whatever Mum and Dad choose to spoon in.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
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#58 Kouign Aman

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 04:42 PM

The customer has the right to ask for substitutions, the restaurant has the right to decline. life goes on. If you dont like peaches, dont order peche melba.
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#59 Kajikit

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 07:40 PM

I really like Le Manoir's logic, "Yes, these are the dishes we are able to "customize", and these are the dishes that aren't".

This is, in my opinion, the best way of dealing with the situation.



On a completely different level, but still on "the customer is always right", I have a situation that happened to me last month:

On a busy Sat. afternoon a cutomer walks in with a dog (I'm a small artisan chocolate and pastry place with about 20 seats and non-alc. beverages.

The customer was clearly NOT visually impaired, the dog was a very cute 8-10 mth lab very well behaved wearing a doggie-coat with some kind of a anacronym and website enblazened on it.

When asked to leash her dog outside, great anger ensued. The dog was being trained as a companion for the chronically ill, part of a non-profit group, anmd specifically brought into small crowded places like mine to train the animal in thsese situtions, and how dare I question this.

I patiently explained that, to the best of my knowledge only seeing-eye dogs are allowed, and that I was subject to a $120.00 fine from the Health Dept. if it was determined that a dog was present in my establishment. Customer then explains that she does have a license that puts her animal in the same class as seeing eye dogs. When I asked her to produce this, she didn't have it, but promised that she would bring it by.

She did, later that afternoon, and you can guess how she described my actions.

The fact that I am held responsible for her actions did not impress her one bit. The fact that I am responsible for the comfort and safety of my other customers and employees did not impress her one bit.

I, am "rude"....


Actually in that instance you were plain wrong. Didn't the vest and the 'well-behaved' young animal give you a clue? Seeing eye dogs are far from the only service animals in existence, they were just the first in common use, and disabilities can be far from obvious. If somebody walked in with a guide dog puppy, would you throw them out because they weren't blind? If you see an animal with a service vest on, and the person says it's a service animal, it's a service animal unless proven otherwise. AFAIK it's illegal to demand proof unless the animal creates an actual problem.

#60 pastrygirl

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 07:45 PM

'I'm planning on having a fairly substantial dessert, is one of the main dishes particularly light?'


I like the way you think :laugh: