Tag Archives: Foodservice

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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Filed under food, Thinking Aloud

Ending The Week On A Brutal Note

I’ve been informed that I was a bit brutal on the good, hard-working folks at CL&P yesterday. Maybe, but sometimes honesty is mistaken for brutality, and I try always to be honest here on the screed. If any of your relations or friends work for the power company here in Connecticut  I’m sure they’re doing the best they can.  Whomever is directing them, however, needs to think about another profession.

With that in mind, let’s turn to our Foodie Friday Fun. What else but brutal restaurant reviews?  This piece from HuffPo highlights 10 of the most scathing restaurant reviews they could find.  The piece makes a good point – brutal reviews are always more fun to read than positive ones.  As it turn out, they get wider circulation via social media too.  Having written a few bits of snark in my time, I’ll tell you they’re way more fun to write.  I mean, it takes a fair amount of effort to find a clever and accurate way to say “it sucked”.  Each of the reviews cited is fun – I particularly liked this one from Frank Bruni – and well worth a few minutes of your time.  That said, they do raise an interesting business point.

Suppose you were on the receiving end of one of these babies?  Are your listening posts set up to recognize them?  Is there someone who is designated with responding in a non-confrontational, transparent manner?  What do you do if the criticism is accurate and warranted (that gets well beyond fixing some bad reviews, I know)?  Can’t happen to you?  Check out the reviews not related to restaurants on Yelp sometime.  Google will serve up local search results with negative reviews embedded.  Private sites such as Angie’s List can kill you with you ever knowing it.  Brutal, indeed.

It used to be that a negative newspaper review was bad but not fatal.  After all, very few papers have the kind of circulation (even years ago) that could kill a business.  Word of mouth could hurt, but that took a long time, giving a restaurant ( or any other business) a margin for error.  Not any more.  Restaurants open and close in weeks – there is no time to fix it so they need to start out very good and get better, listening to the information flow all the while.  That’s brutal!

Are you listening?

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Filed under digital media, food, Reality checks

Learning Not To Cook


It’s Friday and the topic, of course, is food-related. I was speaking with a friend of mine the other day and he mentioned that his business used to remind him of a cook and a couple of helpers but now it’s a big kitchen and the cook has become a chef. As we kept talking, it was obvious to me that the guy had NOT become a chef – he was still a cook and that’s the business point I want to make today.

I hear lots of folks complain about chefs (most of them celebrities now) who have six or ten or more restaurants. “How can they run the kitchen from 1,000 miles away?” is the common question. But they can because they’ve learned not to cook and that’s what my friend’s boss needs to understand. Continue reading

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Filed under Consulting, food, Helpful Hints