Things Chefs Wish You Understood
November 21, 2014
If only you could walk a mile in their clogs…
Things Chefs Wish You Understood
In restaurants, there’s often a big disconnect between what’s happening out in the dining room and what’s going on back in the kitchen. There’s a lot happening back there that you may not realize, and there are a few things that chefs wish you knew about what it’s like to run a kitchen.
They Wish You Wouldn't Lie About Allergies
When the kitchen gets word that a customer has an allergy, they have to take extra steps to make sure that the food that the customer is allergic to doesn’t come into contact with any of their other food, meaning that knives, cutting boards, and other equipment need to be replaced. If the customer is lying, that’s a lot of unnecessary work. If you simply don’t like something, just ask your server if it can be left out.
They'd Rather You Didn't Order Anything Well-Done
Because well-done meat just tastes overcooked, chefs tend to reserve the most prized cuts for those who order them cooked to a lower temperature.
They Work Much Longer Hours than You Do
A kitchen staff can arrive at work as early as 6 a.m. to receive deliveries, do prep work, make sure the kitchen is spotless, and get the restaurant ready for service. Then after the last customer leaves, the restaurant a kitchen need to be cleaned and everything needs to be made ready to do it all again the following day. No matter how long your day has been, a kitchen worker’s day has been longer.
Keep Your Substitutions Simple
“When you go to a restaurant, you are not just there to eat, you are there to experience the talents of the chef,” chef Matt Bolus of Nashville’s 404 Kitchen told us. “When you request changes be made to a dish that are not medically related, you cross a line that you can never return from. What you are saying is that you don't feel like the chef has done his job appropriately and you can do it better. There is a reason why those things aren't on the menu together.”
No, They Don’t Ever Spit in Your Food
If a cook were to get caught spitting in a customer’s food, they’d most likely be fired on the spot. It’s just something that doesn’t happen, so don’t worry about it.
They Want You to Speak Up if There’s Something Wrong
“If you see something wrong, don't be too intimidated to say something,” NYY Steak’s executive chef, Angelo Panageas, told us. “We are eager to do everything we can to make your visit memorable."
They’re Constantly on Their Feet, and Rarely Get a Break
"Chefs and cooks in a busy restaurant do not sit down during the day. They are constantly moving, on their feet,” The Belgian Beer Café’s Bill Peet added. “Rarely if ever do we get some kind of break.”
They Want You to Ask Questions
Don’t be intimidated by the menu. “I want to encourage guests to ask questions, especially when ordering at a steakhouse,” Panageas added. “Your server is a great resource to help you choose the right steak temperature. If in doubt, err on the rarer side. You can always send it back for a little extra time on the grill, which is faster than firing a new steak because the first was overcooked for your liking.”
They Hate It When You Show Up Right Before the Restaurant Closes
If a restaurant closes at 11 and it’s 10:50, do the kitchen staff a favor and dine elsewhere. After the last customer leaves, the kitchen (and for that matter the whole restaurant) needs to be cleaned and prepared for the following day’s service, and that one table can force an entire team to stay late.