Here are the 5 Reasons Why Chefs Hate Your Order:
1. We want you to trust us. Believe it or not, us chefs — we know what the hell we’re doing. There’s a rhyme and reason behind every dish, as well as the menu we’ve developed. Both are based on the goal of creating things that are balanced, while at the same time, are able to speak to who we are as creative people. This is why we look for contrasts in flavor, texture, temperature, and the list goes on, in all of the ways in which one can adequately describe a dining experience. It’s the reason why crème brûlée works — the hardened, candy-like shell provides a crunch to a dessert that would otherwise be regarded as a poor adaptation of vanilla pudding. It’s why we put spices in our dry rubs when BBQing, but at the same time, we add brown sugar, molasses or some other rich sweetener to the BBQ sauce in order to perfectly offset the spice, making it manageable. When done right, the balance works wonders, creating perfect harmony in a dish. We’ve thought it out.Again, we know what we are doing, and we really want you to trust us. When you don’t, it’s a jab to the ego, and that never feels good.
2. We are busy, usually really busy: Modifications, more often than not take clarification, which typically means tracking down whatever server or bartender it was that rang in a crazy ass order that us kitchen guys can’t make sense of. Let’s hope they can clarify any ambiguity in the order, so that we can work on and then plate the dish along with the rest of the orders for that table.Timing is everything.
Allergies? No hard feelings for you guys, we know it sucks, and we take tremendous caution to ensure there is no cross-contamination that could potentially put you in harms way, however, when six people at the same table claim ownership of an allergy to tomatoes and or onions — that’s annoying. Only about 2 percent of the population has any sort of food allergy, whatsoever, so you aren’t fooling anyone.
3. Consistency: When we create a dish, there are the technical components necessary for execution, however, there’s also an artistic vision, a master plan behind what is being created, and what we want a dish to represent. When you ask for your sauce on the side (which I’ve been guilty of), or you prefer to swap out sides, it throws off the entire chemistry and vision of the dish. It no longer makes sense, visually, and as we all know, we “eat with our eyes first”. As chefs, we can’t make it beautiful, the way we envisioned, if you choose to have things “your way”.
4. Control: Some of us are control freaks, while others are milder, more laid back, while working through the stress of service in the kitchen. Maintaining control amid the heat of the rush is paramount. It’s why we spend so much time thinking out our mise en place (readying our stations), because this puts us in the best position to succeed. The long and short of it, is this: the less moving parts the better. It’s already often high stress and chaotic, as we seek to move as efficiently as possible. We’ve planned our workspace in order to optimize that, and a small wrench amidst the hustle and bustle mid shift can be enough to completely disrupt the rhythm. That’s not good.
5. It’s Art: When is the last time you went into a museum, were scanning the various galleries of oil paintings and you nodded over to your spouse, “you know I like what he did here with this landscape, but if he would have used a bit more shadowing, I would like it a lot more.” We’d never say that. We might have thought it, or something similar, but for those of us that aren’t experts at oil painting, we understand that our opinions aren’t really important. This might sound brash, but perhaps another way to look at it is like this: if there is a piece of art out there in the world, and you don’t really connect with it, maybe the artist didn’t create it for you.
Regardless, we, as chefs, treat it like art and put ourselves out there as artists. In return, we expect you, the diner to hold a certain appreciation for art and craft of it. We expect you to appreciate it, even though you will most likely never appreciate it the way we do. It’s what we love, it’s who we are, and it’s what keeps our blood flowing.
I’ll be the first to admit, back in my earlier years I was known to throw a tantrum or two, when I felt like I was being insulted by a customer because of their complete bastardization of one of my dishes.
It’s frustrating, but it doesn’t matter, because there’s not a damn thing we can do about it. We know what we signed up for in choosing to walk down this career path. We have a delicate balancing act between creating the food that matters to us, and at the same time accepting the fact that our art isn’t for everyone — and that’s okay. If we can figure out how to balance these two, we’ll be a lot more happy when it’s all said and done. I’ll be the first to take a heavy dose of my own medicine. In the mean time, for all you diners out there, do us a favor? Next time you stop by for a nice meal — trust us.
We’ll thank you for it. You see, our food — it’s part of who we are.
- CHRIS HILL