Bringing your own china and silverware to a restaurant

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by snausages, Jan 21, 2011.

  1. snausages

    snausages

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    My friend, who posts here, asked me to start this topic as he feels my behavior in restaurants is excessive.  However, I feel that I'm not doing anything that far outside the norm.

    I keep a set of dinnerware in the trunk of my car - plates, silverware, glassware, and disposable napkins - for use at every restaurant I visit.  I just don't feel comfortable using the pieces they provide, which have been used by hundreds of patrons before me.

    After the meal, I ask that they wash the dishes - again, not out of line; they'd have to wash them anyway had I used the plates and silverware provided by the restaurant.  Besides, this hardly takes fifteen minutes.

    So, what do you think?  Of course, I feel like I'm doing no harm; the customer is ALWAYS right, and if they're taking my money I get to do whatever I want while inside their restaurant.
     
  2. gunnar

    gunnar

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    OMG, well while they may do it...I know any crew I worked with would be be making fun of you in the back of the house. Also just because your a customer does not mean you can do ANYTHING you want but a nice place will let you get away with quite a bit. I am surprised your friends put up with it. I certainly would be embarrassed to have to sit at the table with you.
     
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  3. trooper

    trooper

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    They could play the "Sorry, your dishes and cutlery are not NSF Certified" card... But more likely - They don't mind if you use your own flatware; But to ask a line to plate o your own dishes is excessive. Maybe on a Tuesday when the place is slow- the BOH may get a laugh out of the request, and not mind. Come in on a busy Friday night and make the same request - your dishes may just get "opps! Smash! Here- take one of our plates as a condolence and GTFO!"

    I bring a tasting spoon with me when I go to fine dine/multi-course menu dinners. People think that is odd enough - Just one little serling silver, perfectly round bowl tasting spoon. Since I am a germaphobe as well - I could even see someone using their own silverware setting.

    But to bring your own cup, plate, bowl, glass.... seriously now. They have 191degree water and salamanders in the kitchen for a reason.

    And maybe if you worked in a kitchen - you would see that most :germs: that end up on your plate come from how the elements are prepped, not by way of a dirty plate. Seriously.... If you get a dirty dish - send it back. But spare the kitchen the extra overhead of tracking your dishes on the line and at the dish station.
     
  4. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    I agree that it's rather obsessive, and unfair to the boh people, as it interferes with their systems and work flow procedures.

    More to the point:

    Back of house, where they are obsessive about sanitation to begin with, they plate on service that's gone through a detergent/water washing at about 180 degrees (to put that in perspective, the typical household hot water is 120), been rinsed, then dipped in a sanitizer as well. The cooks and/or expeditors, who are either wearing gloves or who have just washed their hands, arrange the food on that serviceware.

    Next comes, a server who has perhaps just bussed a table, getting left-over, partially eaten food, on his/her fingers. Maybe he or she has paused to wipe them. For sure those fingers weren't washed. The server then picks up your order, laying his/her thumb over the plate to stabalize it, and lays the dish before you.

    Question: Do you really think your serviceware, no matter how well washed (either at home or in the restaurant's kitchen), is protecting you from contamination? The unfortunate, mostly unstated fact is, that in most restaurants cleanliness and sanitation stops at the pass.

    My advice: Leave your serviceware at home, stop embarrasing yourself and your companions, and just enjoy the dining-out experience.

    I feel that I'm not doing anything that far outside the norm.

    Of course you are. "Normal" is defined as the way the majority of people behave. The norm, in a restaurant, is to use the serviceware provided. How many other people have you ever seen ask that they use the patrons cups, plates, bowls, and flatware.
     
  5. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Haha who is this?  Are you one of our own forum members with a made up screen name just to pull on our leg?  That's just too funny.

    There's a big difference between "the customer is always right" and "the customer is crazy" and bringing your own dishware and then requesting that the staff clean it is not only rude but a little insane.  Are you sure they're cleaning your dishware?  How can you be sure?  Are you sure they're not cleaning it by dipping them in the toilet bowl?  Just saying, if I was back there and was asked to do someone's personal dishes I may drop them into the toilet bowl and wipe them dry with napkins I found in the trash... by accident of course.

    But besides that, restaurants should really not be allowing this to happen.  I used to work at a lunch counter and from time to time people would bring in their own mugs and ask me to put their drinks in there so that I didn't have to waste a paper cup.  I'm not sure if this was a health regulation or not but the owners of the store absolutely did not allow this.  A restaurant holds enough responsibility to keep things sanitized without people bringing in their own questionably clean dishes.

    You should bring your own salt and pepper shakers while you're at it.  Do you have any idea how many people (who have just licked their fingers) have touched the salt/pepper shakes at your table?  You should bring your own chair while you're at it.  When does it end?
     
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  6. chefbuba

    chefbuba

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    I agree with KY... sanitation stops at the pass. Servers are not gloved or constantly hand washing.

    I would not allow it in my place. Your comment, "Besides, this hardly takes fifteen minutes"   Do you think that any restaurant is going to spend 15 min to wash your plates ?

    And just because you are in my place of business, no you can't do what ever you want. Stop embarrassing yourself and your friends, and get some professional help.
     
  7. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    I don't believe it.

    If he's worried about sanitation to the point of brining his own setting, then why have them wash it? It's no cleaner then than any of the other settings.
     
  8. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Phil, I believe he means he brings them in clean (which, itself, is kind of questionable), but has the restaurant wash them after the fact.
     
  9. snausages

    snausages

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    Thanks for all the replies, I'm a bit surprised as I expected more people to side with me.

    I didn't think it was that unusual, and I'll admit to doing things that are a bit more extreme on occasion - for instance, bringing my own ingredients (meat, mostly) to the restaurant to ensure what I'm served is not old inventory.  I don't do this at finer restaurants, only places which I consider to be questionable.

    Public/shared things just get under my skin, I couldn't imagine going to the store and touching things without my heavy rubber gloves.  I'm trying to get more comfortable in my daily routine, but it's hard when you've lived your entire life as a germaphobe.

    It's not only a cleanliness issue...I'm just very particular about my things, and hate sharing with other people.  I refuse to share enclosed spaces such as elevators, taxi cabs, etc. with others.  Maybe weird, but just the way I prefer it to be.

    My friends are very tolerant of my behavior, and have gotten used to it for the most part.  Besides, being the only person carrying a plastic bag with raw chicken on ice to a 40th wedding anniversary dinner tends to be a light-hearted icebreaker.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2011
  10. snausages

    snausages

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    I really try to make exceptions at finer establishments out of respect.  For instance, I trust Alinea in Chicago to have above-average sanitary conditions, so rather than bringing my complete kit into the restaurant I simply brought in a small container of rubbing alcohol to disinfect my silverware and empty glassware with.  Our waiter was very discreet and accommodating as one would expect at Alinea.

    Of course, I brought my own napkin - using a cloth napkin at a public restaurant is on par with wiping my face with a used pillow case.
     
  11. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    You must have very good friends who tolerate that.  I would not.  But the further you explain your behavior the stranger it sounds.  I really don't think this is a case of kooky character, it sounds more like a severe dsability of OCD, germophobia and agoraphobia all rolled into one.  I don't think any of our suggestions will really help you here, have you thought about seeking counseling?  It sounds like a terrifying way to go through life.  Dissinfecting silverware and stemware with alcohol is not exactly healthy you know, you're putting chemicals on your dishes that are more hazardous than the germs that may or may not be on it.

    Furthermore, why go out to a restaurant at all if the environment disgusts you so much?  I know some people of an older generation like my grandmother and my inlaws who do not trust the sanitary practices at restaurants but rather patronizing dining establishments and bringing their own food and dishware they choose not to go at all. 

    If someone came to your home and brought their own plate and accused you of not being clean enough to eat off your dishes and then handed you their dirty plate to wash, wouldn't that be insulting to you?  It is, and it is insulting and uncomfortable for everyone around that has to watch it unfold.
     
  12. gobblygook

    gobblygook

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    This isn't completely universally true.  Sanitizer is required if the water temp doesn't get up to a certain temp (I think 170 degrees).  As such, the food service companies LOVE to "lease" dishwashers to restaurants which are low-temp (130 degrees) and require the sanitizer chemicals, which the food service company sells.  At one time, and probably still the case, handwashing could also use head instead of chemicals, but then you have to find a way to get those dishes out of 170+ degree water and you only stick your hand in there once.  For those using temp, an immersion heater is used in that tub of the sink.  So, in my experience, it has to be chemical OR temp, not both.

    As to the original poster, bring in anything you want, but don't expect the kitchen to wash it.  Large restaurants have specific dishracks that fit their dishes.  This keeps the dishes from banging up against each other during the wash cycle.  In addition, dishes are done when they're done, not immediately after bussing.  Smaller restaurants often don't "do" dishes during lunch, but let the dishes build up and bang them out between 2-5pm.  In addition, your meal should come out on the restaurant's plate and you can move it to a cedar shingle if you want. 

    I appreciate that germaphobes exist and that they have special issues, but those issues are for the germaphobe to resolve, not the restaurant. In short, most servers would be waiting for Ashton Kutcher to jump out to tell them they'd been "punked". 
     
     
  13. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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  14. abefroman

    abefroman

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    Do they give you a discount since your bringing in the meat?
     
  15. jim berman

    jim berman

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    Wow! Has anybody ever seen http://tinyurl.com/23urfrn (My Strange Addiction' Focuses on Unusual Obsessive Behavior Bizarre Uses of Blow Dryers, Ventriloquism and Toilet Paper)?

    And I don't say that to poke fun or be mean. But, some people do some.. uh.... interesting stuff:
    • Lori Broady could not live without her hair dryer. Since she was eight years old, she says, she couldn't fall asleep without it turned on next to her in bed.
    • a woman addicted to ventriloquism
    • one who can't stop eating toilet paper
     
  16. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    If I have reason to question the age of the inventory, there are probably a host of other more serious concerns that will prevent me from eating there.

    Restaurants, at least in the USA, have far more stringent food safety regulations than you can possibly equal on an individual basis.

    Perhaps you should contact your local health inspector and have your kitchen/dining area at your home inspected to the same standards that restaurants must meet. My guess? Your home facilities will not pass.

    The first hurdle is the requirement for a minimum of seven (7) sinks in your kitchen. Take a look at the 2009 Food Code.
     
  17. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    Oh, BTW, you DO realize that allowing ANYTHING into a commercial kitchen that has been handled by un-trackable persons or processes is illegal in most jurisdictions, correct?SUBMIT
     
  18. gobblygook

    gobblygook

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    I disagree about the health inspection part because you may see the health inspector 4 times a year for 15 mins a visit.  A health inspector only evaluates at a specific point in time.  He also doesn't dig into the back of the walk-in and check to see if there's anything old and moldy.  Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares (the US version) had some outright nasty kitchens that obviously had passed health inspection at some point. 

    I am not sure where the 7 sinks requirement comes from.  You need a 3-basin dishwashing sink, a hand sink, a prep sink, and a mop "sink".  Perhaps you're counting "basins" and then counting the hand sink that must be with the restroom too?
     
     
  19. irenie

    irenie

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    There is a health concern for the restaurant to plate on your own dishes in the first place. How do they know that's they have been sanitized (sitting in the trunk?)? If they touch your plate with a shared utensil for plating, there could be potential cross-contamination. So they would have to be very careful - not sure if I were the owner - I would allow this.

    As for them washing your plate ...  If you were concerned about using their plates in the first place, how can you be sure they would wash them/handle them any cleaner? 
     
  20. chefedb

    chefedb

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    My place is inspected by my local health dept. and a report is available for your inspection. I would not let you bring your dishes in from an un -inspected kitchen(yours)  Mine are certified cleaner then yours by the health inspector.  Unless you are observing dietary law. Which in fact if you were you would not be in my place anyway. If I let you do this I could be sued as it is illegal, at least here in Florida. I think for your own sake I would see a Doctor and ask him the signs of Paranoya