Dealing with bad reviews

Joined Dec 8, 1999
Currently, I'm the sous at a new (3 months in business), fairly upscale German restaurant. We had a review last week in a local weekly, and were severely bashed. The critic specifically singled out a period when the exec was in Germany and I was doing his job along with mine. Specifically, she said "what do you make of a restaurant whose food is mediocre when the chef is there, and awful when he's not". Regardless of the mistakes she made (the use of molasses in one of our desserts was referred to as the "nuance of pumpernickel" and our sour cream free cold potato salad was referred to as "sour cream dressed"), I can't seem to get this one out of my head. I've never had a bad review on my food before (the same critic has given glowing praise to my cooking at different restaurants); how does everybody else deal with this (non-violently, that is)?

[This message has been edited by Greg (edited June 08, 2000).]
Joined Oct 28, 1999
I don't think you deal with it at all. I don't want this to sound like psycho-babble, but you know what quality you have produced. If your food is good, you know you have done well. If your food is off, than you know that you haven't done what is expected. I don't think anybody, in any profession, needs to be told that they are doing well (or not). As a professional, you should know before anybody tells you. Sure, it is nice to see a glowing review and hear compliments, but they don't necessarily mean much. Let's face it, how many times have you thrown something together, it wasn't very good, but you still heard how wonderful it was? The same can go the other way.
The only implication with somebody that is not "in the know" sharing their thoughts with the world, via a newspaper review, is that many readers may take that review at face value. Again, not to keep using comparisons, but how how many times have you read or heard a bad movie review and then liked the movie?
I am sure I would be upset with a nasty review, but you know... "True character is revealed when you come face to face with adversity." Take this adversity and use it as a strengthening tool.
You could probably call or write the reviewer to contest some of their comments or even offer to cook another meal, but the article has been written. Again, embrace the criticism as mechanism for making yourself an even better cook. All the best!
Joined Jul 27, 2015
As a professional Chef we are always learning and evolving our skills. I know when my food is not at its best, this is what drives a Chef to always do better. The culinary style i learnt 50 years ago is to "old school" so although the cooking techniques are the same, presentation and the availability of ingredients are different. my suggestion would be to thank the critic and invite him or her back for another visit. I challenge every chef out there to admit that they have served food that is not the best it can be.       
Top Bottom