The Customer isn’t always Right


Yes, you! The one who claims to have an allergy to certain foods in order for the restaurant to make you a special version of the dish without the hated ingredient. Stop that insidious behavior right now.

In reading the comments of Michael Ruhlman’s post pertaining to culinary sissies, there seemed to be a fair amount of people who stated that it was there right to have ingredients that they disliked out of their order, even if it meant that they had to deceptively state that they were allergic to said product. In my opinion, these are the worst sort of customers, using a fake illness as a pretense to get what they want.

A distinction should be made between restaurants here. I’ll concede that many mid-level and lower-level restaurants make it policy to alter dishes to fit the need of a specific customer. Removing onions from a salad, or asking them to not put ketchup on a hamburger is part of the restaurant/customer agreement.

But at some point, this behavior becomes unseemly. At some point, the chef becomes the center of the show, not the customer. A great deal of time and energy has gone into making a dish into a very specific manner, and requesting a version without a specific ingredient is akin to asking for a entirely new dish.

Additionally, if a kitchen allows for making a new dish for one, then they have to make that an option for all. Changing one dish may not be a problem. Changing ten becomes more problematic.

So what are your options if you don’t like, for example, onions, and see Chicken Marsala with Charred Onions on the menu? Either order the item as is, or move on to the next menu option.

I’m sure that this plays into the larger issue of ego-centrism that permeates our society. But if I delve too deeply into this aspect, I’ll rant and rave myself hoarse without talking about food, and none of us wants that.

But what it really comes down to is this: True allergies and discomforting physical responses aside, there is only one correct response when Thomas Keller offers you a bowl of sea urchin soup, even if you don’t like sea urchins. That answer?

“Yes, please!” Because it’s Thomas-effin-Keller offering you a bowl of soup.