Chefs Reveal Their Most Outrageous Customer Requests

One Chinese student sparked ridicule when she asked for cooked sushi at Jiro, so we asked five well-known chefs for their wacky customer interactions, and it turns out that crazy kitchen requests are a universal chef experience

Jiro Dreams of Sushi
Would you dream of ordering cooked sushi at Jiro or unbreading queso fundido with lettuce instead of tortillas at Xoco?

The Internet was quick to ridicule the Chinese student who went to the world-famous sushi restaurant Jiro without knowing what sushi was, and proceeded to ask for cooked sushi. The student has since returned to the restaurant and apologized for her “fish pas” and Jiro’s son reportedly said “Everyone makes mistakes,” in response.

But as it turns out, crazy customer interactions are a universal occurrence and par for the course when it comes to working in the culinary industry. We rounded up some of the best-known chefs like Jonathan Waxman and Michael Symon, and asked for their wackiest, funniest or most unbelievable customer stories.

Michael Symon, host of The Chew, owner of Lola “This has actually happened a few times. A customer will order a rare steak and send it back because it’s cool on the inside. They literally want it raw and hot, and they don’t understand that that’s impossible!”

Norman Van Aken, Norman’s“At my very first cooking job I remember a lady ordering our crispy fried chicken. When it arrived she asked for 'a large bowl of piping hot water.' She got it and proceeded to sink her fried chicken in that bowl. When it was soaked she peeled off the skin and sent said skin and the bowl of water back to the kitchen to be 86'd... and ate the skinless bird.”

Lydia Shire, Scampo Boston“Whenever Julia Child dined in my restaurants, she would invariably order duck. One time she came in and she ordered duck. I sent out the duck and she returned it and said it was chicken! I was stunned (as it was duck ), then I did what I have always done if someone is not quite happy with their meal. I said, ‘What else may I do for you?’ (As a side note, I have all the most wonderful memories of Julia and time spent with her. We all miss you Julia!)

Rick Bayless, Frontera Grill, Xoco “We specialize in Mexican sandwiches called tortas. One of the tortas is called the Choriqueso, it's basically queso fundido on bread. We had a guest ask to substitute lettuce for bread. She wanted the melted cheese served right over the lettuce. I described it to her like matter and anti-matter: all that hot cheese would wilt and destroy the green leaves. In the end, we served her queso in one bowl and mixed arugula and romaine in another. The bottom line was the guest was happy.” (as told by Arthur Mullen, manager of Xoco)

And finally…our favorite wacky customer interaction award goes to….

Jonathan Waxman, Barbuto“At Jams one evening, a woman ran downstairs and asked if I would intervene because Milton Berle and Arnold Schwarzenegger had lit up two enormous Montecristo Churchill cigars. I replied, 'lady, if you want to tell Uncle Milty and the Terminator to put out the cigars, please do, because I ain't'.”

Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @JoannaFantozzi


Be a Part of the Conversation

Have something to say?
Add a comment (or see what others think).

Comments 14
5
Ratings8


Like this story? Get updates by email, facebook and twitter
Get daily food and wine coverage


Latest from The Daily Meal

The Daily Meal Video Network
David Guas Cooks Up Vidalia Onion Marmalade with Grilled Mini Sausages

14 Comments

tdm-35-icon.png

I cooked offshore for several years. frequently I would grill up steaks for the guest crew we usually had on board, some 20-30 of them plus my own 3 of the boat. I had one guy tell me he wanted his rib-eye so rare a good vet could get it back on it's feet in 2 minutes. I simply seared both sides at 45 seconds each. when I flopped it on his plate he was delighted because no one else ever got it right!!

tdm-35-icon.png

I have a restaurant in Addison Texas the name is Antonio Ristorante . One day a lady coll for reservation and ask for a table in the patio than she ask me if it is outside. Nothing surprise me now, Luciano

tdm-35-icon.png

I owned a deli/luncheonette and was my own short order cook. A customer asked for a bacon and egg sandwich on a roll, cut in half, eggs over easy, to go. After leaving, he returned to complain that I broke his yolks. True story.

tdm-35-icon.png

I love how people think sushi is "raw fish".
Sushi (すし, 寿司, 鮨?) is a Japanese food consisting of cooked vinegared rice (鮨飯 sushi-meshi?) combined with other ingredients (ネタ neta?), seafood, vegetables and sometimes tropical fruits. Ingredients and forms of sushi presentation vary widely, but the ingredient which all sushi have in common is rice (also referred to as shari (しゃり?) or sumeshi (酢飯?)).

Sushi can be prepared with either brown or white rice. Sushi is often prepared with raw seafood, but some common varieties of sushi use cooked ingredients.

tdm-35-icon.png

Be the first to Comment...

tdm-35-icon.png

Once in a hotel in Daytona Beach I heard a lady order a vegetarian omelet with bacon.

tdm-35-icon.png

A couple years ago at a hotel in Daytona Beach I heard a lady order a vegetarian omelet with bacon.

tdm-35-icon.png

Be the first to Comment...

tdm-35-icon.png

to prove im human pullezz of curse im human wat do ilook like a cat 2 u peepel.

tdm-35-icon.png

2china eese yu zill look like dinner

tdm-35-icon.png

I remember working in a fish restaurant in Fort Lauderdale back in 1998 and a woman came in and order the largest plate of fried shrimp and then requested a second plate. She chewed each shrimp into a pulp and then would spit it out on the empty plate. Several of the other tables next to her requested to move. It was quite gross, and I made one of the bus boys give her the bill and clean the table. Really turned me off of serving food.

tdm-35-icon.png

In 1965, at the old Carroll Hotel in Brush, CO, the barmaid came to the desk where I was working and said some drunk had ordered a plate of rocky mountain oysters - raw! The chef said ok, but the guy had better eat them. Not only did he eat them, he ordered a second plate!

tdm-35-icon.png

That's great, I wonder if he ever figured out what they were. As a pledge in college we ate some raw and that stays on your breath for a week.

tdm-35-icon.png

Uncle Milty is now Uncle Moldy

Add a Comment

Upload a picture of yourself no larger than 3MB, please see Terms for details
CAPTCHA
Please answer this Captcha to prove you are human
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.
CAPTCHA
Please answer this Captcha to prove you are human