Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Don't complain

I am sure you have heard stories of what happens when you complain about your food.  I know many people who are afraid to send something back to the kitchen for fear of what the chef will do to it.
If you have ever seen any of these exposes showing what happens in some kitchens it is a wonder why anyone would want to eat out again.  I saw one that showed a waitress putting rat feces in someone's coffee.  One lady blew her nose in a handkerchief and then put her hands in the customer's salad without washing her hands.  There were other unspeakable acts of pure disgust.

Here is a story about something I witnessed while working in a restaurant that is both sad and funny at the same time.

It was the middle of a Saturday night,the dining room was pumping with about 150 people to the soundtrack of conversation, silverware clanking on plates and glass being chimed.  Someone ordered a medium rare steak.  I was on the saute station and Juan was working on the grill, the station that prepared the steaks.  The order was cooked and plated.  The manager returned to the kitchen stating that the guest had complained his steak was not cooked properly.  We looked at the ticket to make sure we read it correctly and it said medium rare.  We then looked at the cut portion of the meat revealing the inside and it in fact, was cooked medium rare.  We asked him how the guest wanted it cooked and the manager replied, "medium rare."  We both looked puzzled and replied, "it is fucking medium rare!"  The manager said the guest wanted it cooked more.
Let me tell you there is nothing more frustrating and infuriating for a chef than when a guest complains about something and they are wrong or if they just don't know what they want, especially if the guest is an asshole about it.  Shit man, if it was not cooked properly I could understand but don't tell me the damn steak is not medium rare when in fact, it is medium rare.

Juan was cursing under his breath, recooking that steak for about a minute on each side.  We knew the guest was a moron because he obviously didn't know what he wanted and those guests can actually cause the most headaches.  If the guest doesn't know what they want then how the hell am I supposed to figure this out?  The reason I wear the big hat is because I am a chef, not a mind reader. Since we didn't know what he wanted we didn't want to cook the steak too much only to have the dude send it back saying it was overcooked.

We plated the steak and sent it out.
A few minutes later the manager returns with the same steak.  We both shook our heads and asked what the problem was now.  The manager said "the guest said it still isn't medium rare."
"I have never seen anything like this!" I shouted.
We put the steak back on the grill for a minute more and sent it out.
If you can't figure out the story by now, the manager came back with the same god damned steak and said the guest wanted it cooked more.

The only thing I could figure is that this guest was one of those people who actually likes his steak well done but felt embarrassed (as you should) to order it that way.  I can understand that because why on earth would you take one of the most premium, most expensive cuts of meat and order it well done?  Oh yeah, I forgot, someone who wants something with no taste that resembles shoe leather.
Juan was livid at this point and understandably so.  I was too and I didn't have to cook the thing.
The funniest thing was what he did next.  He threw the steak on the floor danced around it and stepped on it a few times with a kind of musically aggressive rhythm.  It reminded me a bit of "Stomp," the musical theater of choreographed percussion.
He then put the steak back on the grill, plated it and sent it out.
The manager came back and told us the guest said it was perfect.
Juan and I just smiled at each other and went back to work.  All that frustration was worth it to have that whole episode end like that.

I can honestly say I have never seen anyone cross the line like that because I have always worked in nice places with professionals but that was one of the funniest things I have ever seen.

1 comment:

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