You Want Cheese With That Whine?

The customer is not always right.

By Lorraine Moss

We need a constant flow of guests who love food to survive in the hospitality business, but sometimes foodies make working in a professional kitchen an extreme sport. If we make a mistake, please send it back. We want you to be happy. But I’m about to say something that might make a few of you angry. The customer is NOT always right. Yeah, I mean it.

A well done steak is terrible. It’s chewy, and it kills its meaty flavor. BUT, if you really like your steak cooked to its second death, we will make it happen. Now imagine a well done bone-in ribeye steak, no char (so we have to wrap it in foil), topped with melted cheddar cheese, and a side of ketchup. That’s a real order I had to fire once because I worked in a kitchen where they believed “the customer is always right.” It was the most unholy $85 steak I’ve ever lowered into the pass (the place where servers/food runners take the plates to go out to the guests).

Allergies are another fun obstacle each night. Peanuts, seafood, gluten – those are all fine and have been accommodated since the beginning of time. This allergy card, however, is what my best friend’s toddler Giselle, would call “ridonkulous”. It’s a business card, sometimes laminated for an extra serious touch, with a long list of items a guest can’t eat. I’ve seen lists so long that it would be much easier if the “allergy sufferer” just told me what they could eat, then I could just whip something up – rather than stare at a grocery list with a 3 point font. If your allergies are that serious, maybe you should stay at home with the windows closed, the doors locked, and curtains drawn.

Look, we got into this business because we love food, and we enjoy cooking. There are few things better than watching you savor every bite of your chicken marsala. It gives us the “chef chills,” but try if you can to eat the items on the menu as they are meant to be prepared. You can’t always have it your way, and that is a great thing. It’s why so many people call themselves “foodies,” isn’t it? You want and should try new things, understand new cultures. Embrace the possibility that your chef might know what she/he is doing. That’s why you’re out instead of at home. As the inimitable Anthony Bourdain said, “Good food and good eating are about risk.”

For more on this topic, Please listen to @2sharpchefs podcast, “Like Cheese With That Whine?” available on iTunes, Spotify, Radio Public, & Stitcher.

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