Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

I thought I had heard everything until...


tan319
 Share

Recommended Posts

Ah, customers. Can't live with 'em...

In the course of my one-year-this-weekend working at a high-end restaurant on the Canadian prairies, I've seen:

The customer who wanted the seafood medley (lobster, shrimp, scallops, served on a lobster tail stuffed with risotto) without shellfish, 'cause of an allergy...

The customer who wanted the spinach salad, but with lettuce instead of spinach 'cause of an allergy...

The customer who ordered a steak medium rare, then sent it back to be butterflied and broiled to a crisp...

The customer who wanted our signature toasted-pecans-and-caramel-in-phyllo dessert done nut-free for him...

The customer who wanted all the onions strained out of his onion soup...

and many, many, more.

Some odd requests we'll accomodate, if it won't utterly ruin the dish, but usually the server goes back to the table with a tart (or downright heated) refusal from my boss.

When I was newly in retail, back in my early twenties, my manager took me aside once after a particularly frustrating encounter with an irate customer. "You're forgetting one of the fundamental laws of retailing," he told me. "You can't reason with an unreasonable person."

“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

People with unreasonable requirements are usually very unhappy and/or angry persons to begin with. I could always spot the men who came into my restaurant in a bad mood, determined not to like anything, by the way they sat in their chairs. They would have the chair backed away from the table, usually at an angle and blocking the aisle, as though unwilling to engage themselves at table. The most usual reason seemed to be: they disliked their sons-in-law! Usually, the SIL was trying to "sell" them on what a good restaurant this was, and they were determined to disagree with him.

Once, a poor SIL pointed out a large piece of material which I had stretched on a frame and hung as artwork. The FIL said, in a nasty tone, "Other than its being a repeating lithograph, what about it?" I'm happy to say the food never failed to win over the contrarians. By the second or third course, they were congenial and the SIL, if not a hero for bringing them to the restaurant, was at least no longer in the doghouse.

I can almost understand about the guy who hates blue. I discovered after my second restaurant's dining room was painted in blue that the color depresses me mightily. Blue clothes don't bother me, I just don't want it in my house to look at. My daughter, who has blue everything in her house, gave me a blue paperweight for my collection. That blue thing bugs me no end--I want it outta here.

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I could always spot the men who came into my restaurant in a bad mood, determined not to like anything, by the way they sat in their chairs. They would have the chair backed away from the table, usually at an angle and blocking the aisle, as though unwilling to engage themselves at table.

Oh my, thats funny.......now that you mentioned it I've noticed that too with "pain in the butt" custumers..........I never put it together. Thats how my father sits at every restaurant table and he's a PIB customer always. Next time I see that I'm getting away from that table fast.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Funny thing for me.....when a pain-in-the-ass customer walks through my door, I instinctually

know they're trouble. Don't quite know what it is about them, but an alarm goes off in my head.

I always second-guess myself though, and attribute it to being paranoid. But every time, my

"alarm" has been dead-on. I wish I could just not even begin to do business with these people.

But what would I say? I'm a psychic pastry chef and I don't do biz with people who give off bad

vibes? Yipes. When you're in the wedding cake business, these jerks are not only assholes, but

HIGH MAINTENANCE assholes, meaning you actually have to talk to them more than your average customer. The irony. Then you know when the job is finished you're STILL going to hear from them, because they WILL find something to complain about.

Like the time I assured the bride that I used NO shortening in my icings because she was obsessive about it. I also told her that because I only used butter, her cake would not be

stark white, it would be ivory. She acknowledged she understood. I don't know HOW many times

she called me to go over details again and again and again.....the cake was planned out to each freaking crumb. I couldn't wait for the wedding day, so it would just be OVER. But no. The week after she gets back from her honeymoon, she calls to say that she didn't like the cake because it looked "kind of yellow". And of course, she shouldn't have to pay for it. I think my mouth just dropped to the floor. For all the time she sucked out of me, I figured she owed me money even if she DIDN'T have to pay for the cake. All in all, I really would have been better off if I hadn't done business with her in the first place.

I always think about the scene in a great movie called "Mostly Martha". Martha was a chef who took great pride in her work, and she took customer complaints very personally (I think we all tend to do that-there's a little piece of our heart on every plate!). A man kept sending his meat back saying it was overcooked. Martha finally storms out of the kitchen, throws a piece of raw meat on the table in front of him and says, "There! Is that RARE enough for you??"

Gotta say I had a good laugh at that one. When I get a pain-in-the-butt, I try to go into my

zen mode and imagine myself in my little happy place storming out of the kitchen with a piece

of raw meat. IS THAT RARE ENOUGH FOR YOU.....you little bastard!!!!!!

Creative stress relief.....from having a good scream in the walk-in, to "accidentally" toppling the

dish rack full of cake pans (ah, the noise!), to "zen happy places"......

I'm all about stress relief. It's a fine art.

Ya gotta perfect it in this business!

Cheers!

Annie

:wacko::wacko:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Stressed is desserts spelled backwards, ain't that the truth!

At first reading this, the beginning, I thought you were a server.

Servers hold a special place in my heart right now, because after two shared meetings with them, my chef and I both, pointing out some important things to them, like they aren't selling enough product, or speading product out to include some things we need to sell, they still sucked all weekend!

I swear to God, if I could , I would fire 90 % of the staff, take the two good ones, pay them a salary to hire and train a decent crew and get on with it.

I think of this story a guy who worked for Ken Oringer at Clio in Boston told me, he said when the servers started punking out and not selling specials, etc., Ken would tell them simply, that if they couldn't sell his food, then to get the fuck out of his restaurant!

I know this thread has denigrated a bit from it's original intentions, it came close to that whole chef won't serve the food any differently then it is on the menu thing that went on last year for awhile here, but I have to get this off my chest.

I think a good portion of customers have to be alienated by these dimwitts who are servers by name, shitheads by actions.

I brought up to my chef before the meeting , when he was seeking input on topics, etc., that on the weekends when I do service, I see all the servers clogging up the expiditing station, and what's more, they're complaining about what shitty tables they have!

We , the chefs, cooks, work the BOH mainly because we can't stand the public at large, we like our solitude, the noises our machines, stoves, food makes when it's cooking, so we gave up earning the big bucks like servers make but, we do take our job of feeding people seriously, and when the FOH idiots screw everything up by forgetting shit, not getting it right in the 1st place, only being able to sell salmon and NYStrips, they deserve to get knocked out, sorry if that's shitty but it's the GD truth!

My chef will 86 steaks if that's all they're selling, tell them to sell something else, too bad.

My sorry ass has to just sweat that one of these sad sacks can actually sell something at all.

I saw my dessert report today, it was so sad, i wanted to get one of these guys to eat it, either that or hook a hose up to my car window from my exhaust and just forget about it.

At that meeting , I explained to them that behind wine, dessert has the largest profits in the whole place, if they seel them, they make money for everyone, but they must be deaf, 'cause they sure didn't deliver.

On saturday night, when I ran my choc,fennel pollen, coffee dessert ( see the abstraction thread, 5/2/04), one guy sold all of em, of course, because he's the best one...one after another.

Sorry, know we've been thru this before but really, c'mon people...

As far as wedding cakes go, you have my deepest sympathies.

They will pay you, correct?

People try to get me to do them, I just say no!

Right now, there a big storm brewing, because someone is trying to rope me into something, it's ridiculous...

Today has been one of those days when you ask yourself,"WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!!!???

Nothing much decent about it today;.

2317/5000

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ted! Sorry to hear it's been a shitty day :/ Personally, I think your desserts sound fabulous --I would order one!! (or maybe two! - that lemon napoleon sounded ESPECIALLY good!) It's not even understandable why the servers wouldn't push the desserts --it's more $$ for them too --not too bright :/

And Annie? The woman is crazy. And she damn well better pay you!! What do you have to do......write it all down and make them sign it?? ::sigh;::

Although I'm not a pastry chef, I do understand the oddities of people and how they don't listen. I do some web page design --and I can't tell you the number of times I've told somebody "No , you really don't want to do that because ..." or explained the pros and cons of something and they tell me emphatically that they want it their way ...........until it's done and they decide it just isn't right .......and they think I should redo it cuz it must've been my fault.

A parting ponderance ....

The Equine Equation ...

Why is that at any given time there

are more horses asses in the world

than horses??

--Jan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I was a computer salesman, my co-workers used to laugh at me for using the exact same phrases - every freakin' time - with every customer. Not that I gave them a canned "spiel", you understand...I always found out what they wanted/needed/knew before I proceeded...but if I explained a given system to a customer, it was *always* in the same words.

Then would come the inevitable day when a customer would return to the store, saying "But he told me...[fill in the blank]" and my manager would be able to look them in the eye and say, "No he didn't." Because he knew what I told them. Every freakin' time.

My point? I plan on doing some freelance catering and cake work over the summer, now that I've graduated (Yippee!) from school. You can bet that EVERYTHING I do for a customer will be spelled out in black and white, and bear their signature.

Yeah, I know, I'll still get grief. But I'll at least be able to eliminate the "honest mistake" from the repertoire.

“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ha!

As it happened, in the spirit of doing "good business", and not burning any bridges (the wedding biz is tight around here, and if you piss ANYONE off too much your business really suffers-word gets around). And of course the old adage that the "customer is always right".....I ended up agreeing to refund the bride half the price of the cake. Of course, that isn't saying that I actually wanted to throw up after that whole episode. It literally made me ill, and I considered becoming a Kalahari Bushman for a while. Truly truly....a customer from hell. I think she is the basis for all that paranoia I feel now.

Anyway.......Ted.....regarding the servers selling desserts......I don't know if this has ever been addressed here, but I am a religious supporter of dessert menus being shown and offered WITH the main menu rather than remaining hidden til the end of the meal!!!! I don't think it does any favors for the front OR the back of the house to keep it all under wraps!

I think customers should have the opportunity to see what's for dessert....they are more likely to save room for it if they see something tempting, and it's less of a "sell" for the servers when the customer already has dessert on their mind!

Most restaurants in my neck of the woods merely consider dessert an afterthought, and not nearly as much care goes into dessert as much as the main courses.....in fact, most desserts are "bought in" rather than made in-house. It sucks. and it doesn't make job prospects very plentiful, that's for sure!

Perhaps I should change my name to "Sara Lee".......

:raz:

Cheers.....Annie

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Anyway.......Ted.....regarding the servers selling desserts......I don't know if this has ever been addressed here, but I am a religious supporter of dessert menus being shown and offered WITH the main menu rather than remaining hidden til the end of the meal!!!! I don't think it does any favors for the front OR the back of the house to keep it all under wraps!

I think customers should have the opportunity to see what's for dessert....they are more likely to save room for it if they see something tempting, and it's less of a "sell" for the servers when the customer already has dessert on their mind!

That's a really good point. I've started a thread about it here:

Why separate dessert menus?

Edited by Pan (log)

Michael aka "Pan"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...