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stupid things customers say


detlefchef
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1. I suspect my local Thai restaurant has been corrupted; they always give us chopsticks.

2. Detlefchef, could you tell is more about the dish that started all this? My mouth is watering.

"Last week Uncle Vinnie came over from Sicily and we took him to the Olive Garden. The next day the family car exploded."

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"Would you please tell the chef that pork and cabbage is a polish thing not a Chinese thing."

Oh, yeah. It's a Polish thing, you wouldn't understand. :rolleyes:

I wonder why anyone would say something like this. Did he think you'd comp him?

Sad but true: A local "food writer/critic" described -- in print! -- the 'chorizo' she had at an Italian restaurant. I'm still shaking my head over that one.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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1. I suspect my local Thai restaurant has been corrupted; they always give us chopsticks.

Bobmac, there's the possibility that the people running your Thai restaurant are really Chinese.

Edited for clarity.

I find that most of the southeast Asian restaurants in NY's Chinatown offer chopsticks, perhaps for much the same reason that Chinese restaurants in small towns and suburban shopping malls offer forks (or at least used to). It's not out of authenticity, but to please the client or meet his needs or expectations.

Robert Buxbaum

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Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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"Would you please tell the chef that pork and cabbage is a polish thing not a Chinese thing."

Oh, yeah. It's a Polish thing, you wouldn't understand. :rolleyes:

I wonder why anyone would say something like this. Did he think you'd comp him?

. . . .

As originally reported, it did sound like a stupid comment, but as someone already suggested, there is at least one spin that would make it an acceptable comment. Sometimes, people say things to express a "solidarity" with another ethnic group. Often they do it when they are self conscious about the differences. It's unlikely, but still possilbe the remark was meant to be taken as "I"m Polish and we also typically use pork and cabbage in combination."

Misunderstanding is so rife, not just on the net, but in real life face to face conversations. Someone says "It's very Polish to cook with pork and cabbage," and that's reported back as "Pork and cabbage is a Polish combination not a Chinese one."

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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fruit bar chef? May i ask what that is?

Basically, what I do is create fruit and vegetable trays for a retail case as well as special orders. I am also called upon to do desserts, and prep ingredients for customers who would rather not take the time to do it themselves. I liken it to a cross between a prep chef with the "joys" of the retail world. It sucks horribly, but I am using it as the ground floor for launching my chef career. I have in interview next week with a gentleman who is in charge of personnel for a chef training program where I work. That's more in line with what I see myself doing in the future.

Are these titles provided by your place of employment? ie. salad bar chef, prep chef.

Sorry, off topic but i gotta know :).

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Although I must add that the tone of voice and manner used in saying it is important, too.

That line could have been made as a joke.

And the server might not have taken it as a joke for whatever reason. Lots of times people take things in negative ways personally that were not meant to be taken that way. . .

It's best to take it with a grain of salt, perhaps. After the initial blood-boiling hypertensive reaction. :biggrin:

The usual tone I encounter is an accusatory one. Since I am young and working a night shift, that simply don't care about anything. People make that initial misconception and it carries over to the products on display. Then they proceed to tell me how when they were "kneehigh to a grasshopper," they grew watermelons, cantaloupe, head lettuce, etc. and it never looked that "crappy". Why do customers incorrectly assume that because they grew a watermelon in their back yard it automatically makes them a farmer. "Oh, I grew up on a farm..." That's the most popular phrase I hear in my line of work. Just because you grew cucumbers and tomatoes in your back yard doesn't mean you're the Green Grocer. God that annoys me. You would think that a customer would gladly appreciate advise you can give them, but instead they see it as an opportunity for an argument to commense. The experience is similar when I worked for a butcher.

Once in a great while, when I do encounter a customer with the decency to listen to what I have to say, I thank them for the opportunity to educate them on whatever it was they asked about.

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Asking is different from telling.

To add, when I would explain that Thai people (including myself) usually only used chopsticks for certain noodle dishes and Chinese food, people usually gave me a look as though I were full of shit.

If they're used in certain noodle dishes, I guess you must HAVE some; I wondered why you don't just bring them and save yourself the stress of dealing with the customer.

Let HIM sit there using the wrong utensil and looking like an ignoramus.

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"Would you please tell the chef that pork and cabbage is a polish thing not a Chinese thing."

Oh boy, should I laugh or should I cry? I guess a hideous combination of both! I don't think it's an ignorant customer, it's ignorant people. I've worked FoH before at a Buddhist inspired vegetarian restaurant that is healthy and I've had my share of ignorant customers. After leaving the place, enrolling in culinary school and graduating... I've noticed that people like that are all over the place. I've cooked over at my friend's place and had similiar questions/remarks from others.

The worst I've gotten is "You know that Chinese people stole the idea of pastas from my people (she was referring to Italians and I'm Chinese)".

i am pissed just reading this..how did you contain yourself..not only is it stupid and untrue, it's a mean thing to say...this is childish and mean too but i hope her dinner had a personal deposit
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Although I must add that the tone of voice and manner used in saying it is important, too.

That line could have been made as a joke.

And the server might not have taken it as a joke for whatever reason. Lots of times people take things in negative ways personally that were not meant to be taken that way. . .

It's best to take it with a grain of salt, perhaps. After the initial blood-boiling hypertensive reaction. :biggrin:

The usual tone I encounter is an accusatory one. Since I am young and working a night shift, that simply don't care about anything. People make that initial misconception and it carries over to the products on display. Then they proceed to tell me how when they were "kneehigh to a grasshopper," they grew watermelons, cantaloupe, head lettuce, etc. and it never looked that "crappy". Why do customers incorrectly assume that because they grew a watermelon in their back yard it automatically makes them a farmer. "Oh, I grew up on a farm..." That's the most popular phrase I hear in my line of work. Just because you grew cucumbers and tomatoes in your back yard doesn't mean you're the Green Grocer. God that annoys me. You would think that a customer would gladly appreciate advise you can give them, but instead they see it as an opportunity for an argument to commense. The experience is similar when I worked for a butcher.

Once in a great while, when I do encounter a customer with the decency to listen to what I have to say, I thank them for the opportunity to educate them on whatever it was they asked about.

Yes, I understand. It is unfortunate that the place where people take themselves to eat is often the place where people decide to let out whatever it is that is bothering them in the form of strange comments to the service staff.

With older people, often this can just plain be loneliness which then expresses itself through being cranky and difficult rather than being open. (Edited to add: probably the same thing can happen with young people but then the attitude seems more snotty than cranky often. . .as in the apocryphal 25-year-old "Know-It-All".)

Food. . .can carry so many other things along with it, each day. It is common to all of us, and therefore open to comment by all of us.

Which is both an absolutely wonder of a thing and an absolute problem, sometimes.

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
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If they're used in certain noodle dishes, I guess you must HAVE some; I wondered why you don't just bring them and save yourself the stress of dealing with the customer.

Let HIM sit there using the wrong utensil and looking like an ignoramus.

Whether or not chopsticks were provided is irrelevant to the story. I was merely relaying a story about how I was treated by a customer, and the stupid things customers say (which is the topic).

But if you must wonder, I did bring them, and they were used. After explaining about the use of chopsticks primarily with noodles in Thailand, I always offered to bring them, anyway. As someone of Asian descent, I prefer to break down stereotypes ("all Asians use chopsticks," for example) than propogate them, hence the explanation. But sometimes people just liked to use chopsticks (especially children) and I was fine with that. Frankly, I didn't care what they wanted to eat their food with...chopsticks, hands, feet, whatever. They could use whatever they wanted and I was happy to provide it if I could. But if they treated me without due respect, I was going to take offense.

Edited to add:

I just thought of another story about chopsticks and stupid things to say...

Some friends and friends of friends and I were having dim sum. We were offered either chopsticks or forks and one friend of a friend said, "Oh, I use chopsticks all the time. My step-father is Filipino." :blink:

For those wondering, culturally, Filipinos don't use chopsticks at all. Many don't even use them when eating Chinese food, and many (in the Philippines as well as a certain segment of the ex-pat population) don't even know how to use them.

Edited by prasantrin (log)
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fruit bar chef? May i ask what that is?

Basically, what I do is create fruit and vegetable trays for a retail case as well as special orders. I am also called upon to do desserts, and prep ingredients for customers who would rather not take the time to do it themselves. I liken it to a cross between a prep chef with the "joys" of the retail world. It sucks horribly, but I am using it as the ground floor for launching my chef career. I have in interview next week with a gentleman who is in charge of personnel for a chef training program where I work. That's more in line with what I see myself doing in the future.

Are these titles provided by your place of employment? ie. salad bar chef, prep chef.

Sorry, off topic but i gotta know :).

More or less, yes. They're not chefs in the classic sense, but I take my job seriously when it comes to serving the best. Eventually, I would like to move out of the "small time" and study to become a true chef. It's a passion and a talent that all my friends and family can attest.

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I run an Asian restaurant that opened this week. One of the dishes is a Sichuan style clay pot that has, among several other things (tofu, black bean, chili, etc) pork and cabbage in it.  A patron, whom the waiter described as very snooty and inclined to opinion gave this complaint.

"Would you please tell the chef that pork and cabbage is a polish thing not a Chinese thing."

I don't even know where to begin.

I would have loved to have said---- "And what species of 'brassica' would that be?

The problem is that these blow-hard, know-it-alls can't see themselves.

Edited by jo-mel (log)
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I had a guest recently tell me she was allergic to curry. I tried to explain to her that it i not possible to be allergic to curry as it is a blend of several spices. No no she says curry is a power made from grinding curry leaves. now normally I would leave it a t that but if it is cumin in the curry she is allergic to and I use it somewhere in her menu she is still going to have a reaction.

Also had a lady very seriously tell me she was allergic to soup...all of them

www.azurerestaurant.ca

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My reply would be what can you eat? We don't serve that, Goodbye.

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

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My reply would be what can you eat? We don't serve that, Goodbye.

This ^ is the general tone of most cooks..... Why can't people with severe or strange allergies phone ahead by a couple of days, so that something can be arranged? My personal favourite combination: Vegan that is allergic to wheat and dairy.....Add nuts to the mix and you are screwed!!!!

With regards to the soup question above, 99% of soup recipes have onions, garlic, leeks or shallots in them somewhere....whether in the stock or the actual soup. I have actually met people who are "allergic" to this family of vegetables, however, I suspect that some of them are "allergic" due to religious reasons. Aren't Buddists (sp?) not supposed to eat this family?

However, saying that you are allergic to soup, that just comes off as sounding stupid!!!!

To add to the list: The other day I was looking for some feedback from a customer on a new dish that we had just started. When i asked the waiter what the table had said during their quality check, He said: "You're not going to believe this. They said 'of course the food is good, this is So and So's restaurant!'" They had looked at him with total distain for asking!

What can you do? :rolleyes: Most customers would be offended because you hadn't asked how the food was. These people were annoyed because he DID ask!

This is why I am not a server. I would have lost it on those people. :biggrin:

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im wondering what the commonality is in all these soups she claims to be allergic too ..since i just dont think its possible for any one person to be allergic to every soup going..... :blink:

Water? :wink:

if that person is allergic to water she has more problems than we want to know about....... :wacko::laugh:

Edited by ladyyoung98 (log)

a recipe is merely a suggestion

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My reply would be what can you eat? We don't serve that, Goodbye.

This ^ is the general tone of most cooks..... Why can't people with severe or strange allergies phone ahead by a couple of days, so that something can be arranged? My personal favourite combination: Vegan that is allergic to wheat and dairy.....Add nuts to the mix and you are screwed!!!!

A vegan allergic to dairy? You almost got me there. :laugh:

Personally, i built a small shop in my home town with a sign reading "free elbow grease!" above it. The shop's floor gives way to a 30 foot chasm. We dont have those kind of problems anymore.

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1. I suspect my local Thai restaurant has been corrupted; they always give us chopsticks.

Bobmac, there's the possibility that the people running your Thai restaurant are really Chinese.

Edited for clarity.

I find that most of the southeast Asian restaurants in NY's Chinatown offer chopsticks, perhaps for much the same reason that Chinese restaurants in small towns and suburban shopping malls offer forks (or at least used to). It's not out of authenticity, but to please the client or meet his needs or expectations.

Undoubtedly. But if any of you find a genuine Thai Chinese restaurant (serving the Thai-Chinese fusion food of the Thai Chinese community), you could be in for a great dining experience!

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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"Also had a lady very seriously tell me she was allergic to soup...all of them"

This is total b.s. I still do not understand why people lie about such things, either say "I do not LIKE soup" or do not order the soup. People like this are either snobs or just oversized babys crying out for attention.

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food allergies are very serious business, and I can't stand when people either: 1. lie about them or 2. don't inform us!

At an old job we served a chicken salad with apples and walnuts. Customer freaked when he saw nuts in his salad. fuh-reaked. I was incredulous, why on earth didn't he TELL us nuts would kill him?? and he thought I had an attitude because I was was rather freaked myself. Nuts or nut oil could be in so very many things that don't list "Nuts" on the menu.

And at current job we have a delicious chopped chicken vegetable salad. A customer calls, said she's just been in for lunch and was throwing up because she was allergic to the mushrooms in the salad and didn't think she should have had to pay for it. She wondered why the waiter didn't TELL her that there were mushrooms in the salad. I wondered silently why she didn't ASK if she was allergic as we don't list all the ingredients in the salad, but shit, if I was allergic to anything, i'd ASK...does this salad have mushrooms or walnuts in it??

So...I don't argue at all with the customer, find her cc receipt and refund back the amount of the salad, no big deal. But oddly enough, this exchange puts me in the mood for one of those salads so I order one. I sit down to eat it and i look at it and it's just so obviously filled with mushrooms, I can't imagine how that woman didn't have a clue before she took her first bite (she was also sitting outside in the bright sunshine, not like it was a dimly lit dining room.) Then I realize the wording of her call, that she was allergic to the mushrooms in the salad. so she knew the mushrooms were there and ate it anyway? Or realized after she ate them and didn't say anything at the time?

It just disturbs me that someone might go that far for a free lunch.

Edited by lia (log)
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