Tasting Menus

The topic for our Foodie Friday Fun this week is tasting menus.

Augustin Théodule Ribot: The cook and the cat

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ll admit upfront that I tend to shy away from anything that reeks of what some call “chef totalitarianism” but as with most things I’m trying to keep an open mind.  As an article a while back in Vanity Fair put it “in the era of the four-hour, 40-course tasting menu, one key ingredient is missing: any interest in what (or how much) the customer wants to eat.”  You know what I mean.  Many top chefs no longer offer a full menu but will serve you six or eight courses of what they want to serve you.  While in almost every case the food is fantastic and based on the best ingredients the chef could procure that day, the customer has no say in the matter.  You must arrive at the designated time and eat what is put in front of you.  Maybe it’s kind of like going to a relative’s for dinner in that sense, but no relative of mine has ever charged me hundreds of dollars per person.

There’s a business point in this, of course.  I realize that customers have a choice – there are many restaurants in most towns – go elsewhere.  But should any service business force its customers to take it or leave it?  We’ve seen what happens in other businesses that  convey that attitude.   We see that sort of approach in lousy negotiators as well.  Instead of trying to listen to the important items expressed by the other party, they focus on their own needs and give no negotiating room to that party – or to themselves.  Can you imagine that person being successful?  I can’t.

“I’d never patronize a business who does that,” you say.  Really?  I suspect most of us click through various websites’ policies and accept them even though they’re offered on that same basis.  Sneaky?  Fair?  You tell me.

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