Sunday, 15 November 2009

'Everything OK?'

God I hate that. Interrupting your meal in an attempt to drum up positive feedback. In our place I don't want the waiters bugging the customers during the meal. But, and it's a big but, I need to know what the customer feels. That little throwaway comment at the end of the course is like gold dust in the kitchen.

Firstly plate waste. If the customer has not licked the plate, then the waiter is allowed to ask. Some customers 'weren't hungry'. It could be a lie, but if not, why the hell did they go out for a meal. Worst throwaway customer word is 'interesting'. I was out for a meal and it was overpriced plain food, with a chef so desperate to suck up the compliments that I think the kitchen porter was doing all the cooking. I called his food 'interesting' and I wanted it to sting.

Next swearword is 'nice'. 'Nice' is empty and meaningless. It's english politeness that cuts like a knife in the kitchen. Waiters that bring that word back know they have to leave the kitchen quickly. At least 'lovely' is a step up.

'As good as my mum/gran' (from men) is one to treasure. Doesn't sound much, but that gets a grin in the kitchen. That's a serious compliment. It's difficult for a restaurant to capture that sense of a meal that you get at home with real friends and family. If we've succeeded then we're proud. Equal with that is 'what's the recipe?' Yeah, the true compliment is wanting to steal it.

Sometimes the customer can recognise where a recipe has come from – come on, you think all these recipes are made entirely from fresh by the chef? Only God creates from nothing. Anyway, I like it when the customer sees the roots of the recipe. There's a sense of an knowledgeable customer out there.

But my personal favourite, up their at the top of the hierarchy is 'that was the dog's bollocks'. That one makes the evening and as far as I'm concerned the customer can have the food for free.

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