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Chefs versus cooks

To: ospreycove on Sep 2, 2010 11:16 AM
You made a couple of comments that I would ike to quote because they are so applicable to our society as a whole. May I have your permission?

When to complain in a restaurant

I can't believe that I read the whole thread, but I did; in part because of my experience in Chicago this past weekend. In the past I was more assertive when it came to responding to less than adequate service and ill prepared food. I now live in Tampa Bay, another tourist heavy area and this may account for my increased passiveness/tolerance. We went to O.J. in Old Town Chicago. Other than having the food delivered to our table and the initial pouring of water, no one ever came to our table or asked us if everything was fine. IT WASN'T. It was obvious that the management was also serving and return customers were getting service and communication. The only service that we got was that our empty plates were removed - silently. My dish was beyond being edible. Spices were great, however the thinly shaved lamb was the texture of sandpaper. My husband's dish was different and edible. He ate mine since no one even asked why mine sat there for about 15 minutes untouched. I ate his. At the end I tipped about 12% vs my customary 18 to 25%. While we were in the vestibule reading - antiquated & outdated reviews - the waitress came out to get my missing signitaure on the CC receipt. At this point she madea comment about seeing us when we came back. I responded that based on the service and quality of food that would never happen. She stated that we never called her over to ask for anything or to complain - my response was: "You're right no one ever came back to check on us or ask us if we were doing OK." I am not accustomed to hailing people down - I'm from the South. She wanted us to speak to the manager - I graciously declined and we left. Within a minute the owner came outside and stopped us. His position was that if we were unhappy with the service or food it was our responsibility to bring it to their attention. My position was and remains that it is not for me to try to hail down a server as they provide services to other tables. They should have noticed that I was not touching the food, while 2 others ate, and should have asked. Also it is their job to bring water, not mine to ask for it. Had the owner and server given me 1/2 the attention during my dining experience that they did after it - things would have been better for all parties concerned. Also he made excuses why the meat was so dry and brittle - and said that they could have put some "gravy" on it to moisten it. Personally all this did was reaffirm the fact that they could/would not have been able to rectify the situation adequately. Rehydrating "jerky-like" meat with a blanket of gravy does not solve the problem. I closed by stating that my level of expectation and requirements were not compatible with his product and letting bygones be bygones is the best solution. Sometimes - walking away is the best part of valor. I bet he's still scratching his head wondering why we felt that "flagging down" the staff would be rude.

Only Tools Don't Tip on Takeout, and Other Rules of Gratuity You Should Know

This whole tipping thing has gotten outrageous. At one time it was far more equitable and honorable. Now it has fallen into the category of “entitlement subsidy".
I was a cosmetologist for over 30 years, starting in the mid 60's. I was a college graduate, chemistry/fine arts major. I did hair because we moved a lot, it paid well, no problem getting work in all the locations, and it was a creative outlet. I charged, and got paid by a repeat clientele, what my services were worth. I would allow a transient client to leave a tip, only under duress. The regulars found other innovative ways of providing something extra. The reason that I did not like tips and still don't is that, in my eyes, it demeaned me to a lower echelon. I was a professional - I set my fees accordingly - and I performed accordingly. (Very quickly in each town, my clientele list read like the area's "Who's Who List" and I had a significant waiting list.
Most of my clients invited me to their homes for social events. (I never saw their gardeners or maids at these events, and very seldom their secretaries.)
When I lived in New Orleans, decades ago, there was a fine dining plantation, that no longer exists. I mention this because there, the waiters were your "guides and consultants" to a dining experience, not just chow time. Some became very dear friends. Their posture was basically similar to mine. (My husband was a physician and they out-earned him significantly.) These well-tailored waiters exuded authority, expertise and discretion. I've had the pleasure of meeting others of their rank throughout the years. And I tip them accordingly. It's difficult to set a price on quality service - not so when it comes to the mere presence of someone who has to be repeatedly requested to provide an "obvious" need. Need I say more - I will continue to tip accordingly. It’s a sad statement when someone feels that they have to grovel for tips.
If packing my order to go is not part of the job description - what is? Am I to assume that the establishment pays the serving staff a salary to stand there and look good. Otherwise, what are they being paid for? I do and don’t pay for “to-go-orders”. I don’t tip for simply packaging my order; and if one must ask about is the difference, than no matter what I say – it will fall upon deaf ears.

Nov 20, 2010
Afternoon Delight in Features