Things Chefs Will Never Tell You

An anonymous survey of chefs across the country revealed insider tips about how to get the best value when eating out, as well as some other things that might curdle your appetite:

* Wine is marked up at least 2 and a half times what you could buy it in the store
* Don’t order the chicken or the pasta. The dishes are the most overpriced on the menu relative to their ingredients’ cost, and are often the least interesting.
* “Vegetarian” and “vegan” are open to interpretation. One time a cook saw another pour lamb’s blood in a vegan’s primavera.
* If you’re the kind of diner who keeps sending dishes back to the kitchen “to get them right,” you may become a target of revenge. “Someone once ran a steak through a dishwasher after the diner sent it back twice. Ironically, the customer was happy with it then.”
* Of all the fast food joints, chefs prefer Wendy’s.

Have you worked in a kitchen? What tips can you slop about what goes on behind the flapping doors? Sound off in the comments.

25 things chefs never tell you [Yahoo! Green] (Thanks to James!)

Comments

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  1. charrr says:

    “Someone once ran a steak through a dishwasher after the diner sent it back twice. Ironically, the customer was happy with it then.”
    I just laughed

  2. pop top says:

    But chicken and pasta are my favorites. :(

    • Muddie says:

      Then order them :-) It’s not that they are bad — just not the most bang for your buck.

      As a former chef, we also ate pizza from across the street more often then our own food. Our own food was fantastic and I loved it, I just hated cooking for myself and most wait staff eat standing up.

    • denros says:

      I Don’t get this argument, at all. Even if the markup is higher, the total cost is the same. Your tastebuds don’t care how much ingredients cost. Should we avoid things with rice, citrus, flour? those are all cheap ingredients.

      • Sammich says:

        Yeah, that should probably read “be wary of the reasons if the chicken or pasta is being pushed by the serving staff”.

    • FrugalFreak says:

      then go to a cheaper place. Why pay double for the same food?

    • jessjj347 says:

      I think gnocchi is worth getting after trying to make it myself.
      Also, freshly made pasta does take some time to make and in my opinion is worth it.
      Maybe these chefs work at places that don’t make their pasta.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Gnocchi is actually one of the easiest things I’ve ever made. The key is to get the potato strands to be super thin and mix the dough with just enough flour so that it holds its shape without drying out. Use a box grater.

        • watch me boogie says:

          I’ve found the hardest thing about making gnocchi is not handling them too much, especially when it’s very dry or very humid out. I’m guessing (hoping) it gets easier with practice.

          If you mess up your gnocchi and they’re all gross and leaden, throw them in a deep fryer. They make the most luxe, delicious tater tots!

        • watch me boogie says:

          I’ve found the hardest thing about making gnocchi is not handling them too much, especially when it’s very dry or very humid out. I’m guessing (hoping) it gets easier with practice.

          If you mess up your gnocchi and they’re all gross and leaden, throw them in a deep fryer. They make the most luxe, delicious tater tots!

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        i plan to try it this weekend actually with a recipe i found using potato flakes instead.

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      Sounds like that’s why markup is high… because they’re popular items.

      • Spider Jerusalem says:

        no, markup is high to make it look like its on par with the more expensive items on the menu. Chicken and pasta can be quite delightful, but there’s never a good reason to order pasta when you’re out, unless you’re a vegetarian and there’s nothing else on the menu.

        Speaking of…lambs blood…in primavera? Really? Not exactly ninja secrets.

  3. SkokieGuy says:

    #26 – I have a French rat underneath my chef’s hat that actually does all the cooking.

  4. Murph1908 says:

    Which is why if I have to send something back a second time, I tell them to just keep it.

    And stop at Wendy’s on the way home.

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      yeah – me too. I might send something back once, but if it’s still not good I tell them I don’t like it and I’m not paying for it and I leave. And I never go back.

      • DariusC says:

        This! These!

        Also, if I caught anyone screwing with my food in such a manner, I would end up in jail for the night.. or the rest of the week… Depending on how pissed I was.

    • Big Mama Pain says:

      I’m telling you, the “revenge” is not what you think it is. No one is going to spit in your food or run it through a dishwasher. I have NEVER seen that; most restaurants are crawling with managers now, there’s no way it would happen. It’s stuff like someone orders a well done steak and keeps sending it back because it’s not cooked enough, so the cook burns it on the third try. Or if they complain that something is too dry, poor obscene amounts of butter over it. And I will tell you, you think it’s going to “prove a point”, but the customer usually is happy with it!

  5. Tongsy says:

    Alot of these are common sense, at least to me.

    Regarding the vegetarian one, if you want it done right do it yourself or go to a vegetarian restaurant. Though, pouring lambs blood into a vegans meal is pretty ridiculous, downright malicious

    • teke367 says:

      Its not malicious, the cook was just trying to protect the customer’s first born for Passover.

    • Caged Wisdom says:

      When I was in high school I knew a guy who worked at Burger King. I don’t know if this is still a thing or not now but apparently back then it was fairly common for vegetarians to come through and ask for a meatless Whopper w/ cheese. This guy and his cronies would always slip in a miniscule piece of hamburger meat in amongst all the mayo and lettuce and such.

      So yeah, the lamb’s blood thing is horrible but doesn’t surprise me at all. Poor vegetarians.

      • lemur says:

        Yeah, anti-vegetarians like to think that they are demonstrating something by doing this. They are indeed demonstrating something: that they are jackasses.

        Bravo!

    • Ben says:

      It’s always weird to me, a vegetarian, that non-vegetarians think putting meat in a veggie dish isn’t a lame, hackneyed joke. And we don’t care. Maybe it’s a little gross, but even if you put lamb’s blood in my dish, I’m still eating less lamb’s blood than you are. So I’m still doing more good for the environment and my health than I would be otherwise.

      • guymandude says:

        When you stop using fossil fuels, textiles, pharmaceuticals, packaged food items and are growing your own food and collecting your own rainwater…. let me know. Otherwise please give me a break with your selective reasoning.

        • watch me boogie says:

          Why can’t a person just not want to eat meat? It’s pretty impossible to never be a hypocrite ever.

      • shepd says:

        Being strictly vegetarian (now vegan) actually is very unhealthy. You are missing many nutrients in most all dishes, except for a select few. If you don’t make a habit of eating dishes that contain those nutrients, you can actually end up very sick.

        Someone that eats meat, however, doesn’t need to think about those things.

        • Anri says:

          Yes, instead they have to think about cholesterol and salmonella and whatever. The average vegan is healthier than the average meat-eater in the States, simply because most people here eat like crap. That said, pescetarianism is probably the healthiest, and that poster you replied to is totally obnoxious.

          • hotcocoa says:

            Hmm, how many times have I seen in the news about e.coli and other outbreaks related to tomatoes, lettuce, and other veggies? You can get sick from just about anything these days. And if you were comparing someone who ate meat and worked out and was conscious about what they put into their bodies with someone who was vegan and did the same, I doubt one would be way healthier than the other…not everyone who eats meat is a sloth-like Mickey Ds addict. Not every vegan is a yoga-loving puritanical saint that doesn’t drink alcohol or smoke.

          • watch me boogie says:

            Salmonella and e-coli are definitely concerns for vegetarians and vegans. Fish are full of parasites and mercury and feckall knows what else.

            • magus_melchior says:

              Also remember that among the high-profile recalls due to salmonella and e. coli were ordered on things like spinach…

              Most of such recalls are on non-vegetarian/vegan things (case in point, the recent ones on beef and eggs), but that doesn’t mean the veggies are 100% safe. One mishandled harvest can have devastating consequences.

        • quijote says:

          That’s not true at all. You’re just regurgitating old misconceptions about nutrition.

        • watch me boogie says:

          No way, that’s so untrue.

          Here it is, folks: a proper diet is a proper diet. Vegetarianism =/= health. I’ve been a lean, well-nourished vegetarian and a chubby, malnourished vegetarian. I was a fat meat-eater, but that’s because I ate way too much of everything, especially quite-vegetarian chocolate, and never exercised. Meat-eating friends, same thing.

          Claims that vegetarian diets are automatically “healthier” are, frankly, a load of crap. Eating more vegetarian meals does make it more likely that a person will have a well-rounded diet with a wider variety of nutrients, but that doesn’t mean that eating french fries and Tofu Pups will make you the picture of health. Nor will eating meat automatically make you a ticking time bomb of cardiac death.

          Both sides of this argument make me crazy with the health generalizations. The best diet is an individual thing. OK, sorry, rant over.

          Signed, someone who would be pissed if a chef poured lamb’s blood in her food, but oh well, life’s crappy sometimes and you just have to roll with it.

          • Kryndar says:

            Woooo yay to your rant, agree fully. Personally I don’t eat too much meat, except at work with fish lunches, but that is mainly because of cost.

          • shepd says:

            I think the error is you’re equating overweight/anorexia with nutrition. I’m arguing that without care you cannot get appropriate nutrition from a vegan diet, and that the same care doesn’t have to be applied to a diet that includes meat.

            Being overweight has plenty to do with eating too much of the wrong things (The largest culprits being vegan items like grains, nuts, and potatoes, ie: starch), and anorexia, obviously with not eating enough of anything.

            However, nutritional diseases can result from a purely vegan diet that cannot easily result from a meat eating diet. B12 and iron deficiency related anemia come to mind, along with neurodegenerative diseases. Rickets, easily fractured bones, goiters, liver disease and atherosclerosis. Also pregnancy complications. You’re welcome to look all those up, you will notice that the main ingredients to prevent those diseases are easily found in meat, and are more difficult to find in non-meat items.

            A properly planned diet, of course, avoids those things. A haphazardly planned meat eater’s diet, however, also does. So, if you are not serious about your nutrition, a vegan diet is a dangerous proposition.

            But, yes, you can be fat eating meat, and you can be fat eating vegetables. But that wasn’t my point. And, please take note, I’m not saying you shouldn’t be a vegetarian. I am suggesting that telling others to be such can be unsafe if they take your advice without paying more attention to their diet.

      • Anri says:

        Quit being obnoxious and assuming you speak for all vegetarians. There are *plenty* of vegetarians who do care if they are eating lamb’s blood, and plenty of vegetarians who don’t go around telling everyone how much healthier they are. I *hate* people like you, because you give all vegetarians a bad name and give everyone else excuses for doing annoying things like putting blood in our food.

    • kajillion123 says:

      Wow, meat eaters sure get defensive whenever vegetarianism comes up.

      • spanky says:

        It’s just one of those topics that make people get angry and defensive at their mere mention, similar to using open source software or not owning a TV. There are some things that make certain people get all knee-jerk hostile.

        I am hoping that those keywords are making someone’s head pop off right now.

  6. teke367 says:

    Well, the wine should be no surprise. We used to charge $4 for a glass of house wine (Sutter Home), and a bottle was usualy $6 in the store. I think we charged $14 for the bottle.

    They avoid pasta and chicken, not necessarily suggest you avoid it too. One of the reasons they avoid it is because they want something they can’t make themselves. Assuming its just more than Pasta w/ marinara, or Grilled Chicken, odds are it is something a regular guest can’t make themselves. Of course, you could always make an interesting dish using chicken pasta. And while its overpriced (compared to its ingredients) it still is generally the cheapest options on the menu.

    I think the “revenge” thing is a little overhyped. I’ve worked in one restaurant or another for about 10 years before finally leaving, and I’ve rarely seen anybody actually follow through on something like that. Most chefs I know are too proud of their food to allow something that has been tainted to go out (and I wasn’t working at fancy restaurants). Many don’t have the stomach to actually do it. And of course, its so busy in the kitchen, it’d be hard to get away with it unless EVERYBODY was on board.

    • mac-phisto says:

      the markup on wine is no surprise, but most people don’t know that quite a few restaurants will allow you to bring in your own wine & charge a corkage fee (which is a nominal fee meant to offset the cost of serving the wine).

      it’s worth asking if this service is available before you arrive – not just to save money, but also to pair your meal with a wine that you enjoy (assuming the wine list isn’t very exciting).

      • evilcharity says:

        One of the fine dining places around here has a corkage fee so high (and it goes up the more bottles you bring) that it’s meant to deter people from bringing their own wine. They want you to drink theirs and I would bet that a fair number of places follow this practice.

        • mac-phisto says:

          some places take great pride in crafting their wine list. others just load it up with crap like sutter home & carlo rossi. the former is more likely to discourage you from bringing your own wine with higher corkage fees (or they may disallow it altogether). the latter obviously doesn’t care about their selection & should be more open to the practice.

          it really depends, but imo, there’s no harm in asking. for me, it’s not about price so much as pleasure – why eat a delectable dish only to choke down an overpriced swill with it?

      • Powerlurker says:

        Incidentally, BYOB restaurants in New Jersey are prohibited by law from charging corkage fees.

    • aja175 says:

      I’d bet it depends where you go. Chefs in nice places are proud of their food, but the kids slapping bad cuts of meat on an entirely too hot flat top at Applebees are a different story. At least the ones around here are.

      • Copper says:

        The way I can tell which restaurants have chefs and which have cooks who could care less is by their specials. If a restaurant has specials and especially if they are semi-complicated, chances are definitely in the favor of having someone who wouldn’t taint their food or allow it to happen in their kitchen.

        I’ve worked different places, from Applebees type to a family-owned seafood restaurant that had a chef who would make different fancy dishes everyday, even for Tuesday lunch.

    • Grungo says:

      Shocked that the wine markup was listed as a “surprising fact.” I thought the markup on wine was completely common knowledge. I guess if you never order wine except in a restaurant you might not know.

    • Spaceboss says:

      what is chicken pasta?

  7. trey says:

    dont piss off your server… or you never know what you will be eating.

    • FrugalFreak says:

      and that’s why I don’t eat out and support them.

      • Dallas_shopper says:

        I feel the same way. I see all these blogs and lists and such where waitresses do nothing but bitch about the unwritten rules of how we customers should behave if we don’t want our food messed with. Fuck that. I’m paying to have a meal prepared for me and I expect it to be prepared as described on the menu. I expect it to be brought to me in a timely manner cooked to the correct temperature without any FOREIGN OBJECTS or BODILY FLUIDS in it. And, depending on the level of service, I will leave a tip of my own choosing.

        I’m sick of them telling us how we have to behave. Fuck that shit. How about one fewer customer for you to wait on since you OBVIOUSLY hate us so much? I’ll save myself the time, money and aggravation and just eat at home. At least at home I don’t have to be a genuflecting obsequious spineless syncophant in order to get food that is pube-free.

        • sufreak says:

          Clearly you’ve missed the point. All ANYONE wants, (in customer service) is to be treated with respect and not like an idiot.

          Don’t talk down to the employee. Its really that simple.

          If you are a problem person, no matter what business, you’ll end up with consequences.

          • Dallas_shopper says:

            I am never rude to waiters/waitresses but it seems that they don’t even like it if you substitute an ingredient or ask for something on the side, or explain that you have a food allergy that can kill you. It seems as if they resent customers as a rule even though without us they wouldn’t have a job.

            I don’t appreciate the attitude and I avoid it by eating out very rarely.

            • mcnerd85 says:

              I bartend at a casual dining chain that gets a lot of bad press. I don’t know where you guys are from, but people regularly ask for substitutions and ‘sides’ of sauces, dressings etc.. I don’t care. It’s my job to get you everything you want (within reason.) If the servers at places you visit act like it’s a big deal, don’t eat there. Come eat at my restaurant, I’ll be more than happy to serve you, granted you tip appropriately.

          • Aedilis says:

            Hmm. I tend to agree with Dallas. I see so many of these blogs and ‘tip’s and all it makes me want to do is eat at home. All of these lists do is make me believe that we’re paying the restaurant for the pleasure of you serving us.

            SO you know what? Here’s my ‘unwritten’ rules that servers and chefs should know before serving me:

            - I expect my server to stop by my table no later than 5 minutes after seating me. If no one has stopped by in this time, we leave. After waiting 10-15 minutes before being seated, I’m not wasting more time waiting for someone to acknowledge I exist in there area.

            - Friendly servers are nice. However, I don’t need you to sit next to me and take my order or talk about your kids/life unless I actually know you. It doesn’t get you a bigger tip, it just creeps me out.

            - I expect my food to come out in a timely manner, as ordered, and heated. In return, I promise not to have every order include a substitute or removal of an item or a side of anything.

            - I understand mistakes can be made on food orders. Things get busy in the back and mistakes can happen. It’s not too much to expect that the mistake is fixed sans pubic garnishments and bodily fluids. If you do know or actually do things like this, think about if you would do that to your own family before you serve up the semen tartar sauce or pubic clam chowder.

            - On the same note, if a mistake is made give me a choice: take it back or take it off the bill. Offering me these choices won’t affect the amount I tip. I normally tip 20% of the original bill anyhow unless there was some serious problems.

            - On checking in on me: I know that you want to make sure that I’m doing ok, but acting like my helicopter mom and checking in on me every 3 minutes is irritating and disrupting my evening out with my significant other. Alternately, at least check on us once after we got our food. I may need some napkins or a refill on a drink.

            - When you leave me the check, don’t stick around and talk to me. All I feel you are trying to do is butter me up for more tip. Simply letting me know you’re around for any questions or if I need anything more is sufficient.

            So there you go. A customer’s list of expectations for the wait staff and chefs. If it comes off as pretentious and smacks of elitism, well think about how your list sounds to us.

            • dragonfire81 says:

              In today’s working environment, especially in the service industry, workers are often not treated well at all by management and some of them take it out on the customers. These lists often remind me of employees who get no respect from their bosses and feel like they don’t get any from their customers either.

              Also, The item on the list about sick cooks coming into work, I’d believe it. I don’t get sick days at my job, if I don’t go in, I don’t get paid. There are plenty of days I would have liked to have stayed home but I went in because I didn’t want to take the hit on my check. In one instance I was back at work the next day after puking my guts out the night before. That was a really long shift.

              • solipsistnation says:

                Yeah, this is pretty standard. You can’t call in sick because nobody knows how to run your station right. Taking a day off means you’re giving your job to the most ambitious and skilled line cook below you, who gives his job to the most ambitious and skilled prep cook, who is replaced by the most ambitious and skilled dishwasher. It’s great for helping people advance their careers, but a little hard on your own.

        • FrugalFreak says:

          +10 Good opinion

        • MTFaye says:

          Well, you sound exactly like the kind of person most restaurant workers would rather not have there, anyway.

        • amgriffin says:

          I bet the waitstaff remembers you wherever you eat. It’s probably not a good thing for you in this case. If you’re the sort of person that your post makes you sound like it’s possible that the restaurant staff would like you to make good on your threat and simply not eat there.

        • isileth says:

          I wholeheartedly agree.
          I really hate this “revelations” by people feeling entitled to stupid/mean/idiotic behaviour just because you don’t behave like they thing you should.
          Servers and/or cooks are entitled to respect, just as customers are.
          Exacting revenge like a spoiled brat because you think that I am not doing what you think I am supposed to do in your regards is not acceptable behaviour.
          If I am treated badly, don’t expect a tip and don’t expect to see me back.

    • cash_da_pibble says:

      Or, as the quote from Waiting goes…
      “Don’t fuck with people that handle your food.”

  8. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    “* If you’re the kind of diner who keeps sending dishes back to the kitchen “to get them right,” you may become a target of revenge. “

    I think this is the difference between a chef and a cook. If a restaurant has a decent chef, he’ll come out and talk to you if you send it back the first time. You might not like his answer but you’re not going to deal with revenge like he’s a cook at Applebees or Pizza Hut.

    • grucifer says:

      This happened to me once.

      The chef was a buddy of mine, but he didn’t know I was at the table. I sent back a pork chop because I thought it was pink, he threw it on for a few more minutes and let me know that a touch of pink is ok in pork chops these days.

      I thought it was funny that some people at that restaurant thought it was weird that a chef went out and talked to his customers. I don’t think that’s strange at all, definitely makes people want to come back when they know the chef.

    • HoJu says:

      I ordered veg tempura at a chinese restaurant once and it was TOTALLY alponian. No coating and dripping in oil.
      When I told the server it was inedible she was shocked. The manager came over and was equally as shocked. Then he went away and got the cook who came out and right behind me the manager started berating the cool. It was crazy.

  9. trey says:

    and remember… if it is a chain restaurant there is NO CHEF! only line cooks, you will not find a real chef in a cheap restaurant.

    • teke367 says:

      It varies, about half of my restaurant experience was chain restaurants, and about half that that portion there was an actual chef. Granted, the job itself resembeled more of a cook than a chef, but the guy had experience with actual “chef jobs.” The chain just happened to pay more, and while the guy would prefer to take less money for a more glamorous job, his kids school, food, etc, didn’t except prestige as payment.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Not only that, every chain restaurant thinks it’s being classy when it tells you the name of the “chef” but I find that the very respectable restaurants will have chefs who come out to talk to you when you say you want to speak to the chef. Outback and Applebee’s have cooks, not chefs.

    • Big Mama Pain says:

      I get insulted when people refer to the reheat and serve cooks at chain restaurants as chefs. Sometimes, I think they say that around me because they think I would be insulted by them calling them cooks.

      Sadly, chain restaurants usually pay their cooks far better, and there’s usually the option of benefits and vacation time!

    • lawgirl502 says:

      That is for sure- those are just cooks, typically with no real training. I was in the F&B biz for 16 yrs and I’ve seen it all….and I worked in fine dining where people actually think because they pay huge prices, that these people still don’t screw with them….wrong

  10. Tim says:

    I usually don’t send things back. A lot of the time, the chef/cooks don’t understand what’s wrong with it (or they’ll do something horrible to it). If I’m displeased with it, I just ask not to pay for it.

    • webweazel says:

      If I order something from the menu, and I simply just do not like the recipe, I’ll usually just eat it anyway and remember not to order it in the future. If there is something physically wrong with my food, I will absolutely send it back. I always send it back if say, a steak is very much overcooked (I usually ask for rare, but I’ll take a steak from rare to medium. Well done, NO.), or if fish/chicken is overcooked to the point of leather. If a steak is very much underdone, I just ask them to stick it back on the grill for a bit. If something is too cold, or has set for a while and gotten cold, I ask them to reheat it.
      These are usually legitimate, and nobody is going to get mad about it. The times that they get mad about it is usually if the person is making a big deal out of it and acting like an asshole rather than just making a simple request.

  11. CaptCynic says:

    also, they hate customers.

    • Thespian says:

      No, we don’t hate customers. We hate those particular (and relatively few) customers who seem to get some sort of perverse pleasure out of treating restaurant workers like serfs.

  12. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    My rule when I go to restaurants is that I try to only order things I can’t make, won’t make, or can’t make as well. As it is, there aren’t too many things I can’t make, but there are plenty of things I don’t make at home because Mr. Pi and I sometimes eat different things. I love all kinds of seafood, but it’s too much trouble to steam a pot of clams just to make clam sauce for myself when Mr. Pi won’t touch it with a ten foot pole. I’d rather find a restaurant that makes a kick ass clam sauce. I’ll do it once in a while, but it requires a lot of planning.

    Chefs cite the French Laundry as the best restaurant in the country not because of the price, but because the chef is Thomas Keller, one of the most revered and respected chefs in the world.

    IIRC, Anthony Bourdain was one of the first chefs to let people in on the “don’t order the fish on (day)” as a rule. He chose Monday, however.

    Aside from the daily specials, some chefs use complimentary amuse bouches as an experiment as well. You can get a good and quick survey of how people like a dish if you give it to them for free and stand back to watch their reactions.

    • 3rdUserName says:

      Chefs cite the French Laundry as the best restaurant in the country not because of the price, but because the chef is Thomas Keller, one of the most revered and respected AMERICAN chefs in the world.

      -FIXED-

      I’d say Robuchon is above Mr. Sous-vide by a mile..

    • Gramin says:

      Psh… Alinea is the best restaurant in the US.

      • Zoom says:

        I left Alinea after the full meal feeling a little sick. With so many different “courses” and wine pairings, I think my stomach got a little upset with me. I really enjoyed the experience and would go back when the menu changes, however.

    • Wei says:

      This is exactly my situation. I love cooking and expanding my repertoire, but the more I do the more I recognize things in restaurants I could have just made for half the price.

  13. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    I dislike people who are seriously picky with their food and then are surprised when it comes out wrong, especially if there is a large group that one person is handling.

    I recently went to a restaurant with a group of 10 people and one asked for everything but the kitchen sink and, no surprise, got what they didn’t ask for and sent it back about 3 times.

    I will mention it and hope for a discount if something is wrong, but as long as its edible I’ll eat it. *shrug*

    • teke367 says:

      There are some changes/subsitutions I understand, but sometims customers go so far as the dish isn’t recognizable. There have been plenty of times when somebody requested so many subsitutions, it was actually another dish we had on the menu.

      Of course, the actual article says most chefs DO NOT see revenge-tainting food. Only 15%, and that was actually much higher than I expected from my experiences.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      One time we were at dinner with some friends and acquaintances. One individual (one of the aquaintances) proceeded to snerk that he didn’t like anything on the menu and when it came time for him to order, he picked an item and revised it to high heaven. I was so embarassed. I don’t like picky eaters, and when you’re in a restaurant, one person being picky doesn’t exactly affect other people’s choice in meals – but when the picky person voices his discontent and proceeds to change a menu item to something nearly entirely different, it’s just embarassing for the entire table.

      The polite picky eaters know that if you’re in a group, you have to speak up if you don’t like certain kinds of food. And when you get to the restaurant everyone agreed to, it’s no one’s fault but your own that you don’t want to eat anything there, especially since restaurants tend to put their menus online now.

      Sorry, just a pet peeve.

    • RayanneGraff says:

      My mom does this. I don’t think, in all of my 29 years, I have EVER seen her order a meal that she doesn’t bitch about. There will be literally NOTHING wrong with it, it will be EXACTLY what she ordered, yet she’ll give it the stinkeye & make up some bullshit about the meat being too small, or the salad wilted, or not enough lemons for her tea, or whatever. She & her best friend have actually been banned from some restaurants for complaining too much. They basically tell her, “Maam, since we can’t serve you to your satisfaction, you would probably be happier eating somewhere else”. LOL.

      I shudder to think of how much spit she’s ingested over the years.

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      My sister was (or is still?) one of THOSE. “Food isn’t hot enough”, or “I asked for sauce on the side, could you send this back for me?”… I mean, EVERY time we went out for breakfast, lunch, dinner… there was always something wrong with it. It’s embarassing, and I can’t imagine the amount of saliva from other people that she’s ingested over these years.

      I’m basically the same as you, i’ll eat it if it’s decent. I might not be satisfied with it, but I know just not to go back to that place. And I understand the concept of “You get what you pay for”. I think the only time I sent something back to the kitchen was when it was an alfredo pasta dish, and I ordered chicken parm LOL.

  14. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    If you’re the kind of diner who keeps sending dishes back to the kitchen “to get them right,”

    Clearly they’re not getting it right if they’re putting animal blood into items that are supposed to be vegan/vegetarian. WTF is up with that?

    • guymandude says:

      I refuse to go out to eat with vegetarians/vegans. They are a total pain in the ass. Every molecule must be scrutinized. And the questions!! “Where is the wheat from? Is the salt organic? How long since was picked?”. The server doesn’t know or have time to care.

      • Anri says:

        I’m sure they are devestated by being unable to eat out with you.

      • HoJu says:

        Okay, here’s one. I was at a very high end spa resort. At breakfast there was a woman sitting next to us that was clearly pregnant.
        The waiter asked if she would like a drink and named a few standards including “Fresh squeezed orange juice.”
        The woman said “Is the juice pasteurized? I can only drink pasteurized orange juice now.”

        Lady, it’s fucking fresh squeezed! They don’t pasteurize it in the kitchen just after it comes out of the damn orange but before it reaches the glass!

      • AstroPig7 says:

        Those aren’t just vegetarians, they’re picky, difficult people. I hear about preachy vegetarians, douchebag vegetarians, and even the very difficult vegetarians on the Internet, but I have yet to meet one offline.

    • spanky says:

      Some people have really weird ideas about what vegetarian and vegan mean. Well-meaning people sometimes think that it’s just a prohibition on solid meat, so they don’t even consider things like meat stock or gravy to be prohibited. (I have a friend who was served something with pork in it and told that it was cut into very small pieces, so it was vegetarian.) Some think that chicken and fish don’t count; and some people don’t even realize there’s a difference between vegan and vegetarian.

      And not everyone is equally strict, so a lot of vegetarians will overlook non-obvious meat when someone else is doing the cooking.

      On the other hand, there are a lot of people out there–including a number of the commenters here–who are just irrationally hostile even at the mention of vegetarianism. I’m going to take a stab and guess that a cook who would pour lamb’s blood into a vegan sauce is probably one of those stupid ragey types.

      • Powerlurker says:

        From talking to my Indian coworkers, apparently their definition of vegetarian is closer to our definition of vegan, which helped explain why some Indian customers at the restaurant my sister was working at got upset when she brought them the vegetarian pad thai they had ordered (and she had confirmed multiple times) because it had egg in it.

  15. mechteach1 says:

    Maybe I’ve just been lucky, but the only time I’ve ever sent anything back was when it was extremely undercooked (medium rare lamb that was gelatinous in the middle and a calzone that had internal unmelted cheese and gooey dough), and could just be popped back in the oven or on the skillet. If I don’t like the flavor of something, I don’t think that sending it back is going to make it any better!

  16. buggurl says:

    Exactly *who* were these chefs that were surveyed? I think the part about 60% of chefs want their own cooking show is a little bogus…after all, the survey was sponsored by the Food Network Magazine. Considering the dubious quality of some of the “chefs” on their shows, one has to wonder about the qualifications and skills of the survey responders.

    • Caged Wisdom says:

      That’s a good point. The very first question – where only 15% of chefs say they’d eat anything – seems pretty telling too. Maybe I’ve been too heavily influenced by Anthony Bourdain but I think a true chef should be willing to try absolutely any dish once. You become a true chef because you love the idea of cooking and experiencing everything food has to offer. I think they surveyed a bunch of Food Network – quality cooks.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern are paid to try whatever comes their way. If you watch some of the more exotic episodes of No Reservations and Bizarre Foods, both hosts absolutely hate some of the food that they have to eat.

        Both of those guys have a real zest for trying different kinds of cuisine, but even they won’t eat anything that’s just offered. I think both of them definitely draw lines.

        Bourdain has said “I won’t eat rat. Or live monkey brains. One has to draw the line somewhere. That’s my line.”

        • Caged Wisdom says:

          Honestly I wasn’t thinking of the more extreme things that Bourdain or Zimmern have eaten – although I wasn’t clear in my original statement, sorry about that.
          I just think that in general Bourdain and others like him would be willing to give any dish a shot, within reason. It’s about experience and cultivating your tastes.
          The people in this survey have said they hate foods like liver, sea urchin, tofu, eggplant and oysters the most. If you’re turning your nose up at something as basic and versatile as tofu then I don’t think you’ve earned the right to call yourself a chef. It’s like the people who still compete on Top Chef after it’s been on for seven seasons and yet still haven’t taken two days out of their lives to learn how to make a few basic desserts. If you’re really a chef no dish should be outside of your wheelhouse.

      • magus_melchior says:

        It’s possible that the poll simply used a horribly worded question, as the response often depends on the wording of the question– “Would you be willing to eat anything?” would garner a very different response as opposed to “Would you be willing to try an unfamiliar food at least once?”

        I think even Bourdain would say “no” to the former and “yes” to the latter.

    • Foot_Note says:

      Considering Food Network almost stopped running Good Eats…. :(

  17. FatLynn says:

    FTA:

    “Your waiter is trying to influence your order.
    Almost every chef surveyed (95%) said he or she urges servers to steer customers toward specific dishes on the menu each night.”

    I am really curious what they are trying to make you order. Would have liked more info on this one.

    • purebyu says:

      the items I was told to push from the chef was the items he had bought fresh that morning, (probably from the discount bin in a local meat market) . Nevertheless, he was passing the savings on to the customer. Also, a good chef can make green meat taste good to the common taster with the right sauces.

    • Jfielder says:

      Overstocked stuff… Or things with sickening profit margins, like most fish.

    • Beeker26 says:

      I’m thinking a new dish? Or possibly one they like making? A good restaurant’s menu is very fluid and will change from day to day. It could also depend upon what they have a lot of in the kitchen. If they have an abundance of chicken that day they’re gonna want people to order chicken dishes.

      It’s certainly nothing nefarious.

    • backinpgh says:

      i.e. they ordered too much salmon this week, so they will push you to order the salmon dishes so they don’t have to throw it all out.

    • FangDoc says:

      When I was a waitress, it was usually menu items containing ingredients the kitchen had a surplus of and was trying to use up before they went bad. Not that they were trying to sell spoiled food, but rather, they had expensive ingredients that were nearing the end of their usability, and wanted to use them before they went off.
      Specials are frequently the same thing: use it up! We always had a special bruschetta appetizer when we had too many tomatoes.

    • Aeirlys says:

      I used to be asked to steer customers away from certain dishes, too. If we were running low on an ingredient the chef would ask us to guide customers to other dishes so we wouldn’t have to announce that we’d run out of something.

    • humphrmi says:

      My guess, and it is in no way based on any experience in the industry, is: in the case of a truly honorable and artistic chef, it is indeed a specialty that has turned out exceptionally well that night, and he wants to share it. In the case of less honorable chefs, I would guess it’s a high margin dish.

    • GameHen says:

      When I waited tables at a chain restaurant, our “specials” tended to be items that the kichen was set up that night to produce a lot of..or had a lot of extra stock they needed to move. When we were slammed, the bar would ask us to guide customers away from ordering drinks that needed a blender (ie. frozen margaritas or milkshakes). And of course, higher priced meals = higher total cost and hypothetically larger tips.

      All in all though, if a customer asked for my advice on a certain dish or drink…I gave my honest opinion.

    • veg-o-matic says:

      In the restaurants with which I’m familiar, servers are primarily salespeople. Their job is to sell you on the food and incredibly overpriced booze, make profits for the restaurant, and encourage large tips for themselves. The actual serving of the food is done by other employees.

  18. scratchie says:

    Nice spin on the “revenge” item, Consumerist. The actual article points out that only 13% of chefs have ever seen a cook do something like that (not even done it themselves, but seen someone else do it).

  19. MeOhMy says:

    “Some of their biggest pet peeves: When customers pretend to be allergic to an ingredient, and when vegetarians make up rules, like “a little chicken stock is OK.”

    “Vegetarian” is open to interpretation.
    About 15% of chefs said their vegetarian dishes might not be completely vegetarian. Beware if you’re one of those super-picky vegan types: One chef reported seeing a cook pour lamb’s blood into a vegan’s primavera.”

    OK so it’s cool when the chef decides a little chicken stock (or lambs blood) is OK, but not when the customer does? It’s really ridiculous considering the vegetarian customer who is tolerating the chicken stock is probably trying to be less of a bother and somehow that’s annoying?

    The food allergy bit also annoys me. How do you know the customer is making that up? Truth is, neither you nor the waiter has no idea, but whether it’s a bona fide allergy or just an intense dislike you can be sure the customer is claiming it’s an allergy because when they asked nicely in the past to have a particular ingredient left off, it often got ignored.

    If you’re unwilling to alter the recipe, just say so and have the customer choose something else. It’s certainly better than serving the customer something they don’t like…or could kill them.

    • Jachim says:

      On the other hand, if you don’t like something just don’t order a dish that contains it.

      I personally don’t like coconut, so I don’t order anything with coconut or coconut milk in it. Yes, this can sometimes severely limit my choices, but I suck it up and deal with it. (My one exception is coconut fried shrimp, the frying eliminates most of the coconut flavor.)

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        On the other hand, if you don’t like something just don’t order a dish that contains it.

        Which works great IF you know for certain that the dish doesn’t contain something. You don’t have to worry about coconut being in a soup or a salad. But that isn’t the case with things like meat. Meat stock and fat get used in what would otherwise be vegetarian dishes for flavor.

        • webweazel says:

          I have a friend who is allergic to chicken. Yeah, that’s a tough one. Chicken or chicken broth is in everything, even beef soups. He always asks about any chicken ingredients, and is always reassured when something doesn’t have it. Usually, an hour or so later, he’s hanging over something hurling that meal and two meals before it up. He doesn’t eat out much anymore. He’s tired of being lied to.

          People COULD have an actual allergy to something common like that, and the flippant use of “allergy” by people when they don’t actually have an allergy to it, just a dislike, and the chefs/cooks/clerks who have heard it all before and don’t give a shit anymore, really ruin it for the people who can be harmed by it.

          • Not Given says:

            Someone assured a vegan I know of that a dish contained no dairy, thinking that the tiny amount of dairy would never be noticed. Anaphalactic reaction, 911, paramedics, ER. She never ate anything prepared by that person again.

            • webweazel says:

              OUCH. My friend is not that bad, but if someone has an allergy THAT acute, to anything, they should definitely carry an EpiPen.
              This is a good example of the cook thinking ‘oh, she’s just another one of those whiny pain in the ass vegans, what she don’t know won’t hurt her’.
              Maybe if she states clearly that she has a ‘life-threatening allergy’ to dairy, it might help? Probably not, because my friend has stated something similar, and he was still hanging over the trashcan later.

              • Framling says:

                Plus, it seems like slamming the EpiPen on the table makes it clear that you have an allergy, not a preference, and you are not fucking around.

          • Rectilinear Propagation says:

            the chefs/cooks/clerks who have heard it all before and don’t give a shit anymore

            The chefs/cooks/clerks should not care.If they do substitutions then it shouldn’t matter why the customer wants it. If it’s a pain in the ass to do then charge more for it or limit how much a dish can be changed or stop doing substitutions.

    • rmorin says:

      It’s funny, you actually can tell when people are lying about allergies sometimes. Had a costumer claim he was allergic to tomatoes (so we wouldn’t put it on his sandwich) and ordered his sandwich with ketchup. Same thing with mayonnaise. The mayo was actually made fresh, and when people claimed they were allergic, the chef would have the server ask if it is the oil, egg, or vinegar. Costumers would say “no I can eat all of those, just not mayonnaise”. People have legitimate allergies, and thats why I have zero respect for people who claim they do when they don’t.

      • RS says:

        People may assume they’re allergic to a prepared product (e.g. ketchup) when it’s really an ingredient inside of it (spice), but are forced to generalize, since determining the actual allergen can be really difficult. It’s easier just to avoid the product, at home & in restaurants.

  20. aloria says:

    Regarding the vegetarian/vegan thing: some people really are genuinely clueless.My college was super proud of having an “upscale” food service provider (Lackmann) for their cafeteria. Students started complaining that items that were labeled vegetarian actually had chunks of chicken in them. Lackmann’s response? “We consider an item containing vegetables to be vegetarian.”

    There are also people who don’t get that no, chicken broth in the risotto is not OK, no, you can’t cook an item with lard and call it vegetarian, yes, fish counts as an animal, etc.

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      Did you go to Boston College or Hofstra? Both are my Alma Maters and both used Lackmann for catering…

    • lemur says:

      While recovering from surgery I once had an argument with a nurse who insisted that chicken is vegetarian. Having this argument in an *hospital*, of all places, is just incredible.

      • Framling says:

        It’s so close to vegetarian, though, you know? They’re so stupid. Chicken is the hardest meat for me to not eat, they’re delicious, and basically walking vegetables. GOD I miss chicken.

    • dadelus says:

      At my place of business we bring in clients for training and serve lunch during these sessions so clients don’t have to quickly find someplace to eat. A few years ago we had clients who made it very clear that they were strict vegetarians. This wasn’t the first time we had experienced this so we assured them we could happily make these accomodations for them and that the lunches we served would all have vegetarian options.

      They would call about once a week to check on some detail or another and during every call they again made it clear that they were vegetarians and wanted to be sure we would accomodate their dietary preferences and each time we assured them it would not be a problem. The week of their training class arrived and during lunch they received their vegetarian meal and seemed to be happy with it.

      The second day of training all the clients came in and were discussing what they had done the previous night. The two “strict vegetarian” clients came in talking about the wonderful steakhouse they had been to the night before and how they had had some of the best steaks they’d ever had there. The trainer informed us of this and we all just shook our heads and had a good laugh about it.

  21. scratchie says:

    Menu “specials” are often experimental dishes.
    Contrary to popular belief — that specials are just a chef’s way of using up old ingredients — most chefs said they use specials to try out new ideas or serve seasonal ingredients. Only five chefs admitted that they try to empty out the fridge with their nightly specials.

    Gee, somebody tell the waitresses, since this is the exact opposite of what they said a couple of weeks ago! Sheesh.

  22. balthisar says:

    >>”Don’t order the chicken or the pasta. The dishes are the most overpriced on the menu relative to their ingredients’ cost, and are often the least interesting.”

    I always detest seeing this advice in this manner. Who the hell cares what the orginal ingredients cost? Unless you’re a fattie at Luby’s cafeteria, the point of eating out isn’t to cram as much food into your gullet for the least amount of money possible. Is the pasta dish interesting? Who cares if it costs $15.95 versus $16.95 for the one with shrimp instead. A good dish is still a good dish.

    Then if your idea of “eating out” is McDonald’s, well, then, the dollar menu McChicken is just as good a value as the dollar menu double hamburger with one slice of cheese sandwhich.

    • MotorboatJones says:

      Relax… It’s just advice. No one is forcing you to take it. If you’re asked for your opinion, do you consider everyone else’s opinion first? No, you just answer of your own expertise.

    • LastError says:

      My take on that was that the chefs like to cook interesting things. Chicken is a damn dull ingredient. It’s almost tasteless unless it’s drowned in sauce or grilled up or some other difficult prep method that’s easy to go wrong.

      And in the end you still get … chicken. The dullest meat ever. It’s also cheap and probably comes in a plastic pouch ready for microwaving. Hell, you’d probably make chicken yourself if you were at home, right?

      And that’s why the chefs don’t like it.

      It’s like going to an ice cream place where they can hand-make any flavor you want, where they have the skill and training to do anything you can imagine with ice cream…. and you just want vanilla. Nothing special. Just vanilla.

      You’d probably be perfectly happy with a $1.00 vanilla ice cream cup from a gas station, but what the hell, you’ll get your vanilla here.

      I don’t cook for a living but that kind of thing, or chicken, would drive me nuts.

  23. tiz says:

    good thing i make DEADLY chicken, it’s one of my favorite things to cook. it’s delicious, versatile, and relatively cheap. i buy 3kg boxes of boneless, skinless breasts for $19.99 CDN.

    nothing on that list really surprised me. EXCEPT FOR THE BREAD BASKET!!!!! that’s kind of alarming.

    my hubby used to be a chef, for many years. and it is a very grueling, ruthless job with less than great pay. also, long hours and tons of overtime. he said that in the kitchen, he witnessed his boss throw a KNIFE at one of the sous chef’s head…

    and the thing about chef’s cooking while they’re sick is ABSOLUTELY true. so, if you’re a germaphobe, you had better beware!

    • Powerlurker says:

      In my grandmother’s younger days, her aunt took her out to a nice restaurant in Chicago once where my grandmother stuck her used chewing gum in an uneaten roll. That roll ended up making it to another customer before they’d even left the place.

  24. aloria says:

    On the “pretending to be allergic” thing:

    Serving someone food they are allergic to is a potential lawsuit, but serving someone food they severely dislike or which gives them a sour stomach gets a “oh, suck it up, cupcake.” For example, I’m not allergic to tomatoes, but eating them raw will give me explosive butt syndrome and cramps for hours.

    This is why people claim to be allergic to food they really can’t stand, because they feel like they don’t get taken seriously otherwise.

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      Or in my case because I’m actually deathly allergic to it. If I ingest shellfish, I will end up in the hospital. No ifs, ands, or buts. This is why I avoid seafood restaurants even though I love fish. I also avoid restaurants where the menu is so full of various shellfish dishes that it would be difficult to get any item that wasn’t potentially contaminated (i.e. prepared or cooked on the same surface) by shellfish.

      Mostly I avoid this problem by eating at home almost exclusively or by eating at kosher or Middle Eastern/halal restaurants/cafes, but it’s nice to step outside of that niche every once in a while.

      Allergy doesn’t always mean “high maintenance diva.” Sometimes it really does mean “allergy”.

    • cvt2010 says:

      I think you’d be well within your rights to say you are “allergic” to tomatoes, since in my mind, “allergic” is commonly used to also incorporate severe sensitivities and intolerances. Would you object to someone who is lactose intolerant asking that a non cream-based sauce be substituted for a cream sauce?

  25. GrayP1800S says:

    The wine thing makes sense. Liquor licenses cost a fortune not to mention the high taxes on alcohol (at least in Texas). Alcohol used to be where restaurants made their profits, but now it’s getting harder and harder. And there is a difference between Chilis and L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, in the fancy restaurants I have worked at I never saw a chef do anything to the food that was sent back… It can be iffy in the other places that pay their cooks 8 bucks an hour…

  26. Gulliver says:

    I really think the pouring lambs blood into somebody’s food is criminal. If somebody specifically does not want to eat something it is THEIR choice.
    Imagine a person with a peanut allergy asking for something like a Chinese chicken salad with no peanuts. Some asshole cook thinks its funny to add a peanut into it just for shits and giggles? If I knew about that when I ran restaurants, I would fire him right then and there, not even wait for a shift change or anything else. I would also call the police for intentional food contamination. I would likely get sued after I kicked his ass too.

  27. Dallas_shopper says:

    Stories like this just make me more steadfast in my resolve to not eat in restaurants anymore.

  28. Outrun1986 says:

    I’ve only had a problem at a restaurant with the food once or twice in my life, a genuine problem (where the food tasted so bad to our whole table that there was clearly something wrong, at a place where we have previously gotten good food), which we handled by calling and asking for the manager the next day.

  29. j_rose says:

    “The appropriate tip is 20%…
    That’s what chefs leave when they eat out, and it’s the amount they think is fair.

    …unless the service is really poor.
    An astounding 90% of chefs said it’s fair to penalize bad waiters with a smaller tip.”

    YES! Despite having to listen to bitchy wait staff, even they realize a TIP is a TIP. Not part of the price!

    • veg-o-matic says:

      Chefs also don’t make less than minimum wage, which many servers do.

      So yes, tip is part of the price. You’re subsidizing the restaurant’s payroll – don’t blame the server, blame the minimum wage system.

  30. Aeirlys says:

    The wine markup seems low to me – the restaurant I worked in priced wine so that the first glass paid for the bottle, about a 4x markup. The markup is actually highest on cheap bottles because there’s an upper limit to what most people will pay for wine.

  31. PSUSkier says:

    Rule #1: Don’t be a douche. If you’re nice, courteous, and polite you have nothing to worry about. Also, familiarize yourself with proper meat temperatures. Nothing is more irritating to a cook than someone ordering a medium steak when they want medium well or well and having to cook it over and over. When I worked in the industry, I took pride in my work.

    As an aside, I’m really glad I’m out. The life of a network consultant is much less stressful.

  32. GTB says:

    “..One time a cook saw another pour lamb’s blood in a vegan’s primavera.”

    That is journalism at its finest right there.

  33. energynotsaved says:

    One of the nicest aspects of my divorde! I hated going out to dinner with my mother-in-law. Never once did we eat out that she didn’t send back something. (She was no better behaved at my house!)

    I have sent back under-baked baked potatoes. (They have to be mostly raw. If there is 50% baked, I won’t complain.) When something is delivered in error (cooked carrots, anything with liver), I will ask my server for a correction. However, if I like what was delivered, I usually won’t say anything and will just eat it.

    I probably accept too much. However, someone has to balance the karma!

  34. evilcharity says:

    As a person who, well, drinks her fair share of wine purchased from the grocery store…the bit about the wine markup is painfully obvious. Also, I never ever order chicken when I’m eating out. If I want chicken, I’ll cook it at home. Fresh pasta can be worth it though, even if the mark up is outrageous.

  35. RayanneGraff says:

    I feel bad for chefs, many restaurant-goers can be real dicks. I always try to go easy on the cooks & waitstaff when I eat out. I try not to do substitutions unless the meal I want comes with something I absolutely hate, and I only send stuff back if I get a completely different meal than what I ordered or if I get an extremely over or under-cooked steak.

  36. syzygy says:

    Most of the problem is people who call themselves vegetarian, when they mean “I avoid red meat, pork, and chicken, but eat fish, eggs, and dairy”. Identifying yourself as part of a group (usually for some reason other than diet or moral reasons), and then eating things that don’t fit that group, is confusing. Hence the lack of clarity when preparing “vegetarian” meals. It’s hard to get a clue when the mystery to be solved is undefined.

    • Marshmelly says:

      eggs and dairy are considered “vegan” not “vegetarian”. I’m sure most people that label themselves as vegetarian (not vegan) would eat dairy products.

  37. MTFaye says:

    Something I learned since working in kitchens: Special orders often take a minute or two longer than regular orders. I don’t mind making special orders, as long as they aren’t ridiculous. Most of the people I’ve worked with agree, though; special orders disrupt the flow. When working in the kitchen, everything you cook in your station is basically muscle memory, so you cook and prepare it consistently without even thinking. Everything in a particular station is arrange, or mixed, or ready to go to create the foods as-is on the menu. Special orders disrupt the flow, and sometimes create a situation where you have to move things, or prepare a particular ingredient on-the-fly. So, please don’t complain if your extra-well done burger with no lettuce, no tomato, add mayo, sub provolone, burnt on one side, grilled bun, add sauteed mushrooms took three minutes longer than the table next to yours. I probably had to run into the fridge (yes, RUN, not WALK) to find something you wanted.

  38. dru_zod says:

    “Three chefs admitted that uneaten bread from one basket goes right into another one.”

    So….not that I would do this, but hypothetically, if I, say, pick up a piece of bread and fiddle with it in my dirty hands for a few minutes, then put it back in the basket and no one eats it, it will be served to someone else? Well, that’s nice to know. I hope no one at the last table sneezed on the bread basket.

    • Rachacha says:

      Seen that, and unused/recycled bread at the end of the night is often saved, left to harden and turned into breadcrombs for various dishes.

    • Powerlurker says:

      Yes, my grandmother once stuck her used chewing gum in a roll at a restaurant when she was young and a customer at another table ended up finding it.

  39. Rachacha says:

    I worked in a restaurant, and before I started there they had a REALLY Bad Chef. As I was told the story by several different people, a customer ordered a prime rib “Rare”. The meal was prepared and delivered by the server. The server came back in and advised the cooking staff that the customer sait “It was not rare enough”. The head chef asked for the plate back. He put the plate on the counter, grabbed a knife, sliced his finger open, dribbled his blood on the prime rib, spread the blood around with his hand and handed the plate back to the server. The server alerted management and the chef was IMMEDIATELY fired and the customer (who was oblivious to what was going on) was given a new prime rib cooked to his liking.

    General rule of thumb, NEVER send anything back to the kitchen a second time. If you don’t like the meal, ask to see the manager and request some other corrective action.

  40. sock says:

    I used to eat out several times per week. I now eat out rarely. This story just bolsters my resolve. Snotty servers, arrogant owners/managers, hairs in food, and people’s misbehaving children: it’s gotten worse in the last 20 years and I’ve had enough of it.

    I’m not a picky eater, vegetarian, allergy-sufferer, nor do I drag children with me. When I do go out I always tip 20% minimum.

  41. solipsistnation says:

    Another of these lists? The last one had no surprises, and this one doesn’t either. “Oh no, chefs are sometimes unsavory in the kitchen but like good food and tip good waiters well but bad waiters poorly!” My goodness, the scandal. Ho hum.

  42. iParadox{InLove} says:

    Yay they ran my suggestion! *happy*

  43. Ben_Q2 says:

    I have done work for TFN, its not bad. Me I would not want me own show.

  44. tooluser says:

    Food served in restaurants is more expensive than what you can buy in a store. Really?!?
    Those who choose to restrict their diets should not depend on others for food.
    All Wendy’s, at least near me, are uniformly awful.

    Article Fail.

    P.S. Always tip in direct proportion to the service you have received.

  45. ellemdee says:

    “”Vegetarian” and “vegan” are open to interpretation. One time a cook saw another pour lamb’s blood in a vegan’s primavera.”

    Eww…any chef should realize that vegan (or even vegetarian) means no animal blood in the food. No “interpretation” of veganism involves eating blood. That’s not interpretation, it’s ignorance or indifference, neither of which is acceptable for a chef in this situation. What if the chef “interpreted” a peanut allergy to mean that peanut oil was ok, as long as the dish didn’t contain any actual peanuts? Unbelievable…

    But seriously, I’ve come to realize that vegetarians have to specify what a vegetarian is (no, we don’t eat chicken), what foods are actually vegetarian (again, if it has meat in it, it’s not vegetarian), and even what “meat” is (some restaurants don’t consider fish, poultry, or even lamb to be meat) to a server at every restaurant, every time. It gets tiring. I recently tried a new Mediterranean restaurant (usually pretty veggie-friendly) and was initially happy to see an entire page of dishes labeled specifically as being vegetarian. After a few questions, I found out that every item on the “vegetarian” page, except for one, was made with chicken broth and/or cooked in the same oil as meat. It’s rare to find restaurant staff that are honest or even knowledgeable about how the food is prepared. I’ve had a server insist that a dish was vegetarian because there were vegetables in it and I’ve had servers outright lie about how a dish is prepared, though I didn’t find out until the next visit when I asked again. Chili’s, of all places, does a great job of posting online which menu items are safe for vegetarians or people with certain dietary restrictions or allergies. A lot more items were off the menu for me than I realized (no tortilla chips, for example), but I appreciated the availability of the info.

  46. magus_melchior says:

    So we’re hosed if we go to a restaurant that specializes in pasta?

  47. blakek says:

    What a putzy article.

    1. Everyone knows bars and restaurants usually make money on beer and wine. They should, dealing with selling alcohol can be a hassle sometimes.
    2.If you feel like eating chicken or pasta, ordering something else because you don’t want the restaurant making a profit is just being a douche. You can often more cheaply cook food at home, but that doesn’t mean you should go out of your way to sabotage profit margins of people you presumably like.
    3.If you pour lambs blood in it, it is neither vegetarian nor vegan. Open to interpretation?
    4. I guess there is some truth to this… If you annoy other people they might try to seek revenge. Shouldn’t happen in good kitchens though, if someone is abusing your chef the chef should tell them to F off lol, or just humor them if the chef feels like it.
    5. Wendys is pretty good, fair enough.

  48. Kishi says:

    “Wine is marked up at least 2 and a half times what you could buy it in the store.”

    Duh!

  49. lawgirl502 says:

    don’t ever piss off a waiter-guaranteed to get your food compromised, if not by the waiter, by the cook that has to re-cook it or make something new for you

  50. Extractor says:

    I utilize what I call “the death penalty”, which usually means that I will not return for at least 6 months. If it’s an extremely bad experience, the death penalty is permanent. I have several allergies and at Carrabas the waiter gave me soup rather than the plain lettuce I had requested and I asked him if certain ingredients were in the soup. Trusting him, I consumed the soup only to react violently later to it. I gave it a 6 month death penalty but since my wife and everyone else wanted to go there, I reluctantly retracted it; just wouldn’t have the same server. My wife went back to a lakeside restaurant a year after we both gave it the penalty for lack of service and the treatment we got. I haven’t returned. In Michigan, places can’t afford to be terminated by patrons. The economy has terminated several including 2 of my favorites, Chinese and Deli.
    We should all impose the penalty on crappy places and if its no good in 6 months, make it permanent. If it’s absolutely horrible the first time, then its permanent. Money talks BS walks.

  51. FeelinFroggy says:

    Been there done that….
    There are good places and bad places to eat in terms of cleanliness and service but the same rule applies to both. Don’t be a dick about your order and tip accordingly.
    Example – “The unwanted regular”…
    I come in regularly, sit by myself yet feel the need to refuse a smaller table and insist on a bigger table for four. I know I get complimentary soup OR salad, yet I insist on both. My bread is free as well but I want it hot and when I’m feeling froggy I insist on garlic bread that is not even on the menu nor offered. I only drink water, never order and appetizer and no matter what my main course is it must be modified in some way shape or form. As if his constant bullshit wasn’t enough this a-hole would end up leaving a tip consisting of the leftover loose change from whatever his total bill was or if we’re lucky a crisp clean dollar bill. $19.45 = 55cent tip… $25.99 = $1.01 tip….you get the point….
    We let this slide 3 times because well….you know….three is enough to recognize a pattern.

    Result – Now I partly blame the mgr for allowing this to happen because to him it was just another lunchdinner ordered…and besides he was always too drunk to care…but that’s beside the point.
    We would routinely puntkick his bread from one side of the kitchen to the other and if you could get the loaf into the oven without it hitting the kitchen floor it was your turn to choose which “a la mode” we would execute. My favorite was the kitchen floor dribble with the accidental stomp. OR….Bring the loaf of bread into the bathroom with you for a well timed number 2… I know what you’re thinking and No we did not use number 2 on it. We just let it marinate in the john until we were done… Garlic bread? Sure! everybody pull back real hard and hock one into the cup to prepare the garlic, butter and oil spread. Needless to say, we were happy campers when this douche ordered anything with lots of sauce.
    Then there’s the famous “Baked scallops sauteed in white wine, lemon and butter”….
    We do nothing to it at all….he sends it back because it’s too buttery!…mind you he just polished off a loaf of garlic bread! So we take it back and have them whip up a new order…very little butter. How’s this sir? “the scallops are too dry take it back”! Well we wanted to make sure we got it right this time soooooo…. This batch, we have every single member of the staff spit in his dish and to ensure a moist scallop, the sous chef takes a well timed leak into the pot….. I present the plate to him holding back the laughter and the tears and walk away. I go back one minute later for the million dollar question….”It’s fantastic, by far the best dish I’ve had here…my compliments to the chef!…oh and be sure to let him know I’ll be back for the same dish next week!”

    If you have to change the dish or need to make multiple modifications to your order……order something else!
    Rule of thumb…..Don’t fuck with people who serve or prepare your food!

  52. LastError says:

    They didn’t mention that a lot of kitchens get their ingredients from places like Sysco foods, and may come in a box either pre-cooked or at least pre-packaged to the point that you wouldn’t want to pay what you’re being asked to pay for it.

    After all, if all the restaurant is doing is cutting open a plastic pouch and putting some grill marks on a chicken breast, is that really REALLY worth $14?

    Not trying to pick on Sysco. There are many other food suppliers doing the same things.

  53. mmmmna says:

    Lets do the NUMBERS, people.

    One relative is a waitperson for Applebee’s…. makes more in a week than I make in two weeks, and yet popular web discussions want me to believe these people think I expect too much when I try to get them to visit my table after the food gets randomly dropped (dropped by servers, not by the waitperson)? “Who gets the pasta?” (The wait person knows, but they aren’t there, serving the food!!). I asked for my meat to be medium rare and it arrives grey inside…. but I should NOT send it back?? Then why ask me how I wanted it to be cooked, if grey is only the allowable outcome?

    Another relative is a sous chef…. he blows more money on alcohol and recreational drugs in a week than I earn in a month, but hey, all restaurant staff CLEARLY honor me with their presence, so I should suck it up?

    Another relative has earned $400 in a single NIGHT as a waitperson, no special event, just a pricey restaurant.

    No need to cop an attitude, waitpeople.