Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Never Say "Never"

This list of things one should never do in a restaurant is not only conspicuous for it's exclusion of truly foolish behaviors like trying to tip the server with an angry dog or arriving with your own china and flatware because you read about some dive where that had been cited by the health department for a busted thermostat on its dishwasher, but for it's inclusion of some truly wrong-headed tips. I'll refrain for now from telling you which of these tips I think are completely smacked-ass (My newest favorite expression. I'll get over it; I promise.) and sit back and enjoy your comments.

The home of this list of tips can be found at the end of an article at the TimesOnline that wonders if we are about to enter an era where chefs don't scream and throw stuff at their employees. The author wonders if the recent appearance of female chefs in a profession that was (and still is) dominated by males might alter the dynamic of the realtionship between the chef and the brigade de cuisine and lead to a kinder, gentler, more democratic style of management.

I say yes, because as everyone knows, women never scream or throw things. They are incapable of being dictatorial and intolerant and always value communication over bullying and intimidation. Sorry, I couldn't resist.





Things you should never do in a restaurant

•Trust the hollandaise sauce. Bacteria love it, and it’s never made to order.

•Even think about ordering anything if the bathrooms are filthy. Imagine what the kitchen must be like.

•Order your steak well done. You’re likely to end up with meat that the chef was unhappy to send out to anyone else.

•Go on a Monday. A lot of wine will be sold at the weekend, so the bottle you fancy could be out of stock.

•On Mondays, the ‘fresh fish’ could be less than fresh: boats don’t go out on a Sunday. And it’s a quieter day, so the chef is likely to not be there.

•Order the special. It could be that the chef legitimately wants to try out something new. But it might just as likely be designed to push older inventory.

• Get seduced by something with a sauce or gravy — they cover up mistakes.

•Order a medium steak and send it back as it’s pink in the middle. That’s what it’s meant to look like. Send it back when it’s not the kitchen’s fault and you open yourself up to a world of pain.

•Order oysters. Ever. I have a gastroenterologist friend, and the one thing he’ll never eat is oysters — they can contain the dangerous vibrio bacteria.

•Order off-menu. You’re just showing off. Unless you’re on a special diet. A chef does a menu to the best of his ability, and if you turn your nose up at it, you’re unlikely to get the best out of him. [Source]

20 comments:

blondee47 said...

Bob, I swear that picture is exactly how my ortho described how i will look when my braces are removed next year.....

Ulla said...

I find that whole women are better then men insane. I remember being in English class when I was in High School and someone said if we had women as leaders there would be no war. Not only is that idiotic they do not know anything about history nor could they have imagined Sarah Pallin.

Tags said...

I believe it's "never send ANYTHING back because one drop of liquid soap in your drink will anchor you to the toilet for days."

I heard that one as a busboy in Wildwood, NJ in 1973.

yoshi said...

Order oysters. Ever. I have a gastroenterologist friend, and the one thing he’ll never eat is oysters — they can contain the dangerous vibrio bacteria.

I like to add rule number 11 - ignore rule number 9. How compiles these lists anyways?

Frodnesor said...

*Get seduced by something with a sauce or gravy — they cover up mistakes.*

Yeah, Antonin Careme and Auguste Escoffier with their sauces, just incompetent hacks covering up their mistakes. Don't let them fool you. Sauce is evil.

Mike Pardus said...

Don't go to restaurants.Ever.Stay at home and eat irradiated peanut butter on Wonder Bread, you'll be much safer, happier, and so will we.

Oh, BTW - apparently Ulla knows a few of the women I've worked with - tough as nails, take no prisoners...line cooking knows no gender. GrillBitch - are you reading?

Sorry to be gone so long...

boberica said...

Sounds like I should start closing on Mondays and have a bathroom "cleaning party".
So how am I gonna unload my curried seafood medley???

cookworm said...

Wow, no sauces allowed, huh? I think that one is my favorite. Yep, anything with a sauce is bound to be a disgrace. Good thing we have Richard Johnson here to expose the truth!

MessyONE said...

Did anyone see Ruhlman's recent post on the subject of culinary sissies? Hilarious and to the point.

Many folks there seemed to think it was all right to dissect each dish and demand something different while claiming they were "allergic" to something. For those that ARE allergic, be cautious. I'm sure a lot of chefs are willing to accommodate.

For those that LIE about "allergies" just because they don't like something....how about a smack upside the head with a hot saute pan?

I couldn't believe the number of people who admitted they do that. Yeesh.

(As an aside. We're off to Paris next week for a break. Does anyone have any "must go" restaurants? We'll eat anything.)

craigkite said...

The list of DON'Ts reads like a cross between Bourdain's "Kitchen Confidential" and my daughter's OCD rants about germs on the catsup squeeze bottle.

MadFud said...

•Order your steak well done. You’re likely to end up with meat that the chef was unhappy to send out to anyone else.

Thers is a western BBQ place here in Arizona that if you order Well Done, they send out a cowboy boot on a plate!!

I am more of a medium-well person while the rest of my family loves it "bloody-as-hell".

Does the kitchen have the same distain for the MW order as the WD order?

boberica said...

MadFud,
About 5 degrees less disdain...
bob

Bob del Grosso said...

Ulla
Way back in the early days of the feminist movement there was a lot of talk about there would be no war if women were in charge. I remember that I was very susceptible to this idea and might have partially believed it.

But now I know much better. Regardless of gender, people will usually behave in a manner that is appropriate for the context they are in. Drop a someone onto a battlefield and they will kill to save their lives. Drop someone into a poorly managed restaurant that has little empathy for its brutalized workers and she will behave accordingly. Some rise above and change the dynamic, but these are exceptional people.

Maura said...

For those that LIE about "allergies" just because they don't like something....how about a smack upside the head with a hot saute pan?

I couldn't believe the number of people who admitted they do that. Yeesh.


Me neither. If I did it (and it never occurred to me that I could), I wouldn't admit it, even in the semi-anonymous world of on-line commenting.
Lying about an allergy is just unbelievable rude.

Get seduced by something with a sauce or gravy — they cover up mistakes.

That made me laugh. Truly smacked-ass (Don't get over that one, Bob. It could be the newest catch phrase.)

Jennie/Tikka said...

on "ordering well done."

A friend of mine always orders hers like this:

"I'll have a steak."
"And how would you like that done?"
"Spank it and send it to the table."

I think it's fair to say she's ordered it blue from time to time.

Jennie/Tikka said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob del Grosso said...

Maura
Not so long ago (maybe 3 months past) I met a customer who told me that she was allergic to pork. Then in the next breath she said (I paraphrase) "and, well, you know I keep kosher."

I love people and the convoluted pathways that their thinkings take (bad grammar and misspellings intended).

ntsc said...

Golda Meir

Queen Elizabeth I

Catherine the Great

Yup, no more war.

And I had the priviledge of taking a day course on sauces with Eve Felder. I did not get the impression she was a pushover. She didn't even snicker when I broke one of my sauces, but with some glee basically went: ' Oh good, now I can show you all how to fix it'.

Mike Pardus said...

If Eve Felder ran the world, there would be no wars.

I've worked with Eve for 14 years - as a colleague and as her subordinate (she was my dean for for a while); she is one of the most even tempered,reasonable and compassionate people I've ever met. We didn't always agree - as a matter of fact we often disagreed - but she always allowed for disagreement, debate, and compromise. I can't think of many people I would rather work with or for. I wish I could honestly say the same about myself (cantankerous, belligerent, and sarcastic are trademarked); Eve's nature calms me down and brings out my more thoughtful, reasonable attributes. There's no gender stereo type for anyone in a kitchen, Eve can be a hard-ass when it's called for, but she sure ain't no GrillBitch.

Don Luis said...

I'm not sure this post will be welcome, but here goes:

Cooking (despite what Bourdain thinks) is not the last meritocracy.

To me, it's a craft, not an art or a science, and if you're good, most people know it, and if you suck, most people know that too.

What fascinates me about the cooking profession is how similar it is to every profession I've ever had, from factory-floor mechanic to technical writer.

del Grosso and Pardus remind me of the best teachers I've had: they teach you facts, but more importantly, they teach you how to think.

Enough sucking up, I'm sure they both have flaws.