[Sca-cooks] Cooking steaks was Re: lethal drinks

Lady Celia CeliadesArchier at cox.net
Tue Jul 22 20:12:50 PDT 2008

<<I grew up on cheap steaks cooked to the consistency of plywood at a  
time when cheap steak was still often cheaper than chicken. I actually  
had a restaurant waiter, when I was a teenager, have an honest, frank  
discussion with me on the subject of well-done meat. Essentially what  
he said was, "if I go into that kitchen and explain to the chef that  
you want the kind of meat we serve here well-done, well, I can do  
that, but the chef will feel insulted, and everyone except, perhaps,  
you will have a bad day from this point on, including all our future  
customers for the rest of the day. And most people agree the steak  
really is much better medium-rare. Can I persuade you to try it that  
way, and if you don't like it, I'll take it back to the kitchen and  
we'll cook it to well-done?">>

Ummm... I know I'm more of a service related person than a 'chef', but all
three of my parents (including my step mom) cooked, both of my parents
worked in the food industry, and I did my time in my teens, early 20s.  If a
waiter had given me that impertinent speech, I would have told him to forget
the order entirely, then asked for the manager and explained to him that the
reason I was not going to patronize his establishment was that I had no
interest in dining in a place where the chef was so temperamental as to ruin
the dining experiences of the patrons for an entire evening because a diner
requested their meal prepared to their taste, nor where the wait staff felt
it was acceptable to lecture the patrons as to the manner in which their
food needed to be prepared.  Perhaps the steak *was* better medium-rare. A
professional server would have simply stated something more along the lines,
of, "If I may suggest, sir... most of our patrons agree that the type of
meat that we server here tastes best served medium-rare..." and *then*
asked, "Can I persuade you to try it that way, and if you don't like it,
I'll take it back to the kitchen and we'll cook it to well-done?"

<< I tried  
arguing the point, but eventually came to the conclusion that this was  
not about quality, but about taste and expectations, and that what  
these people wanted was overcooked, dry meat, and would not be happy  
with anything else.>>

Precisely!  And when a customer has paid for their meal, they should be able
to expect a meal that they can enjoy.  I grant that the rules at a feast,
where the dishes are prepared banquet style for everyone is one thing, but
in a restaurant, especially one which is well appointed enough to have a
temperamental chef, you should expect service which is both professional and
above and beyond.  Your resolution at feast was humorous, and at a feast
that's certainly acceptable - but telling a customer, essentially, that if
you tell the chef how they want their food that he'll throw a temper tantrum
and spoil the evening of everyone in range until he goes home to cool down
tells me that the chef needs to cooking only for himself, or for snobs who
have precisely the same tastes he has, or will be cowed by his diva
attitude. Sheesh!


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