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Random Food Questions Thread

Discussion in 'Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel' started by kwilkinson, Apr 8, 2010.

  1. Steve Plotnicki

    Steve Plotnicki Member

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    It all comes down to the same (single issue.) If you do something that 95% of the people who use it approve of, you have a choice in how to deal with the other 5%. You can either find a way to make them happy or you can tell them to shove it. To say that catering to that 5% somehow impacts the other 95% (his consensus issue) is a bogus argument. The fact is he doesn't give a hoot about the 5% because he makes a lot of money from the 95%. Why doesn't he just be honest about it and say so rather than making up all of those silly arguments to cover up his own (selfish) behavior.
     


  2. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt The Liberator Dubiously Honored

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    I think you've zeroed in on completely the wrong issues here. First, it is au courant to ascribe all bad behavior to financial greed (selfishness) these days, but I find it hard to accept that this policy is one aimed at gain. First of all, he is in the fine restaurant business, which tells you something about how he prioritizes money, and second, the marginal cost of allowing somebody to have a burger without blue cheese is, well, negative, and even if he were to go really crazy and allow cheese customization, the marginal cost of a few slices of cheddar a day would be more than offset by the ability to upcharge a dollar for the right to customize your cheese. Financial motive here doesn't work.

    Second, the issue isn't how he is treating his 5% of non-blue cheese, ketchup loving customers, it is about how he is treating 100% of his clientele. He is taking the position that it is his place to exert vast control over somebody's time at his restaurant. Fine. That is his right. But in doing that he is deciding to be more important than the diners, and therefore to make the time at his burger joint about him, and not about what it might have been, a few friends eating a really good burger and enjoying the time they have together. Now the relationship is each diner with yoon first, friends second.

    These two issues, or what I see to be the issues here, are firmly centered around the need to be a star, an artist etc and to have everything be about your art, your importance. It mimics what you find when you watch something like Nathan Mhyrvold's (utterly pretentious) lecture to the Harvard food science class. It is, in many respects, a new dining experience, except the experience focuses not on sustenance, not on camaraderie and not on enjoyment. It is just a 300 day a year performance of low art and self indulgence.

    (BTW, I'd never seen your site until this thread. It's very interesting)
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2012


  3. Douglas

    Douglas Stupid ass member

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    Amen. You know (I think) that we are much aligned in this philosophy of food, though you are of course far more sophisticated and experienced as far as all this is considered. I call it the "fetishization" of food... I think it's sort of a backward (very StyleForvm) way of looking at food, prioritizing all the wrong things about breaking bread. I won't try to re-state what you said so eloquently, other than to note that it is why I prefer family-style plating... and may explain why I am so terrible at making those nice fancy single plates that y'all are so good at.
     


  4. Steve Plotnicki

    Steve Plotnicki Member

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    You know I agree with you 100%. But I also believe (and I have reached this conclusion over the past 30 years of being in business,) is that the primary factor for a chef installing these rules is his not needing the money from that 5%.

    I was one of the first bloggers (if not the first) to write about David Chang. Back then I was wheat gluten intolerant and when he knew I was coming to the restaurant, he used to go out and buy rice noodles for me so I could have his ramen with noodles. . He used to physically leave the restaurant and go to the health food store and buy me rice noodles. I am not making this up. And while I probably recieved special treatment because of who I am, he used to accomodate requests from people all of the time. Now that he doesn't need the money he changed the rules. Do you think he would have changed them without his restaurants being filled all of the time?

    As much as chefs would like a restaurant to be an art project, as long as the experience includes consumption and sustenence on behalf of the diner, the diner will always have his say on what is right and what is wrong. Chefs either care about that or they don't' And in my experience, the only chefs who don't care what people want are the ones who can afford to act that way. The lone exception I can think of is Wylie Dufresne who insists on serving food that limits the potential of his business. But I suspect that if Father's Office was only operating at 90% capacity rather than 100%, Sang would change the rules.
     


  5. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt The Liberator Dubiously Honored

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    You may be right, and I don't know if I hope that you are or hope that you are not. I do know, however, that this ability to not care, and to blatantly show your clients that you don't care, is a new one. I'll just relate a story from about 20 years ago when I was working in the kitchen of a, then, highly rated (29 Zagat, etc pre Michelin in the US) restaurant which was sold out every night. One day a guy ordered, rather out of nowhere, a fillet mignon black and blue with a side of jalapenos. We were all like WTF, is he serious? As it turned out, there were some jalapenos in the box for staff meal, the head chef sliced them up, laid them on a large plate in the design of the restaurant logo and sent them out with the steak. Now, of course everybody had a good laugh, and was a bit annoyed, but the guy was happy and it was, in the end, a pretty generous thing to do. I don't imagine that being part of the high end restaurant culture today, but what do I know, I have been out of that business and in the real world since I was 22 or so. It just strikes me that the change has been more fundamental than restaurant to restaurant, though without doubt the need (or lack of need) to make ends meet is a driving factor in every decision for a marginal restaurant.
     


  6. mordecai

    mordecai Immoderator

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    This is compelling, though it seems perhaps more like an issue of currency than money specifically. Some restaurants do seem to be acting more like art galleries in this way.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2012


  7. edinatlanta

    edinatlanta Senior member

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    I would also say, to refuse to accommodate someone who has a legit allergy (and granted if you do, then EVERYONE has "an allergy but still) is utter bullshit and inexcusable.
     


  8. Cary Grant

    Cary Grant Senior member

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    Very well put.


    I love stories like this (and the Chang story) and feel blessed to have a couple of local favorites that will always treat customers that well.

    I have, as have we all, unfortunately witnessed the blowhard guests who are determined to come in and basically rewrite the menu or prep of whatever they order and understand how that can fairly be seen as a royal pain. Those on staff that accomodate this with a smile certainly do have the patience of Job.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2012


  9. foodguy

    foodguy Senior member

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    vidalias -- and other sweet onions -- are only slightly higher in sugar than storage onions. but they're lower in acidity, which makes them tastes sweeter. Since that acidity is heat-volatile, always use sweet onions raw. You're just wasting money cooking them.


    that is lukshon and it is very, very good. be sure to try the whole steamed fish.
     


  10. foodguy

    foodguy Senior member

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    ...
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2012


  11. edinatlanta

    edinatlanta Senior member

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    UGH. So the poast in the preview... so pissed i didn't read it.

    Thanks for the tip, huge fan of Vidalias, never seen the baby ones.
     


  12. Rambo

    Rambo Senior member

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    Isn't this also endemic of our new Nanny-state culture that we live in, where everybody has to be pleased 100% of the time, and god forbid anything ever doesn't go your way? I mean, if you hate blue cheese, and the restaurant refuses to modify any of the burgers without blue cheese, then shouldn't you be taking your happy ass down the road to some other burger place instead of littering the blogosphere with tales of your mistreatment and malaise?
     


  13. mordecai

    mordecai Immoderator

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    No, the opposite. The discontent is a byproduct of those who aren't satisfied with the nanny chef solution to the public need for an artistic burger.
     


  14. foodguy

    foodguy Senior member

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    i'm hhonestly quite divided on the question. on the one hand, i agree with matt that it is symptomatic of the whole wave of fragile flower chefs whose creations are so exquisite that they must not be trifled with. on the other, i have seen way too many invented food "allergies" that merely seem to be an excuse for a diner insisting on special service (and i'm saying that knowing full well that there are indeed quite serious food allergies -- my daughter was allergic to dairy, peanuts and eggs until she turned about 16; that's not what i'm talking about). I've even seen customers dby enough to come in and insist on mixing and matching ingredients from different menu items (can i have the carrots from the lamb and the lentils from the salmon and a piece of wagyu on top of that?).
    in the end, i guess i come down on the side of free enterprise. if a restaurant is hospitable enough to humor these requests (or desperate enough for business), more power to them. but I don't think the desire to have a Father's Office burger served exactly the way you want it is an inalienable human right. If you don't like it, you certainly have the freedom to go elsewhere.
     


  15. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt The Liberator Dubiously Honored

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    I agree that it is certainly their right to do as they like, and I am not a fan of substitutions myself, I just think they are obnoxious for how they do it, and dislike the idea that dining should be more about the cook than the diner and the experience. I don't have to go, though, even though I sometimes want to and enjoy.
     


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