Behaviors that drive chefs batty

With a plethora of websites that allow people to rate their dining experience, everyone has the ability to be a restaurant critic. Most of the time chefs and restaurateurs do not react outwardly to the negativity that inevitably seems to be hurled at them. The Guardian thought it would be fair to turn the tables, so to speak, and let chefs vent on what infuriates them about the dining public.

Says chef Mark Greenaway of Edinburg’s Grazing, “Restaurants aren’t airlines – we don’t overbook. We book to capacity, pay chefs to prep the food and staff waiters accordingly.” He estimates that this happens about 20 percent of the time. In a small establishment, that can spell financial doom. Influencers also draw the ire of restaurateurs. According to Alexis Gauthier, they receive a couple of requests per day for free meals in return for posts. He turns most of them down. “The consensus is: if an influencer needs to approach you, they’re not worth working with. Some are polite, some cocky, some downright entitled. They believe their own hype.” Gauthier says it’s the long-term regulars who make a restaurant successful, not a viral Instagram post.

Chef Liz Cottam of Home in Leeds gets upset when people do not inform the staff about allergies or preferences. She notes that her restaurant can accommodate dietary requests when they are properly informed about them. “But although we do all that, you’ll still get someone with a lactose and gluten intolerance that precludes 99% of the elements on every dish who won’t tell us until the night.” Cottam explains that people will say they are allergic to nuts as they are eating a dish that might contain almonds. “Why would you not tell someone about something so severe? It terrifies me,” she notes.

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  • MarciK  on  February 26, 2020

    The allergy thing. My friend with a severe wheat allergy ate at a pizza place that has gluten free pizza. She still got an allergic reaction and had to use her epi pen while driving to her home 75 miles away. Next time she was in town, she wanted to go to the same place and asked them if they could cook hers in the oven separately from the pizzas with gluten crusts. They refused. Even when she told about her allergy and requested an accommodation that caused the last reaction (crumbs from the other pizzas), they wouldn’t do anything about it. Then there is a Chinese restaurant that put peanut butter in their egg rolls without listing it in any way on the menu. I suppose people with peanut allergies would know to ask about everything, but I wouldn’t have ever expected egg rolls to contain peanut butter to know to ask. I’ve had servers ask right up front about any allergies or dietary restrictions, and I think that’s a responsible way for a restaurant to handle it. But if it is for an allergy, they do need to take it seriously in every respect, not like that pizza place that put her in anaphylaxis.

  • robinswood  on  February 29, 2020

    How would she expect the pizza place to have a crumb-free oven if that was not a standard protocol? Have one on standby, just in case? The peels would also have residual wheat on them, the work benches, the pans – everything. There is even flour dust in the air in a pizza place. It is actually not that easy to accommodate for a one-off. If they said they could they would be lying. That is something she should understand with such a bad allergy (as should anyone with celiac disease).

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