Dinner Failure...what do I say?

Joined Aug 14, 2006
I just put out a requested dinner for my owners tonight.  Sous vide pork chops finished on the grill, steamed broccoli & carrots, truffled mashed potatoes.  I tried all of the dishes before they were plated and all seemed seasoned, cooked properly.  Ten minutes after service all plates came back saying it was horrible. I know it wasn't horrible because I tasted everything.  Said the potatoes didn't have any seasoning and pork was dry.  All of this aside, this has never ever happened to me.  What do you say? I apologized already, offered something different and they plan on having the dessert I prepared later this evening.  What do I say besides apologize? I am really embaressed and terribly confused as to what happened at the dinner table.
Joined Apr 3, 2008
somedays you just can't win. Sorry to hear it...try getting other opinions from the crew and see what they say. the owners may have eaten something or drank something that disrupted their palate or maybe you have. hard to argue with people about the amount of seasoning if your just talking salt and pepper, it could be too subjective. best of luck.
Joined May 5, 2010
As a private Chef, I can tell you from experience that some days are good and some are bad.

Even IF you taste the food before you serve it that doesn't necessarily mean they will enjoy it the way you do.

Remember...........that taste is subjective, and to that end even the wine they are drinking with dinner can and does throw off the taste of the food you prepare.

I feel for you as I have this happen to me a lot.

One of my clients would love to eat macaroni and cheese right from the saucepan while sitting on the floor, the other client would not touch the stuff unless I called it "Tagliatelle al Quatro Forno."

The only thing you CAN do is apologize and try to do better next time.

I know this doesn't offer much empathy but, then again, it is what it is....
Joined Feb 15, 2010
I had someone send back a glass of wine today saying that it tasted "vinegary" and that "maybe it had gone bad."  We opened it tonight, I tasted it (and spit) and everything was fine.  It was essentially identical to several of the other bottles I had opened of the exact same wine of the exact same vintage.  I am learning very quickly that in this industry you just cannot win sometimes but that is completely outweighed by the satisfaction and outright enjoyment most customers experience and express to us.
Joined Aug 14, 2006
Thanks everyone for all of the input.  You are all right. I will just keep doing my best and hope this doesn't happen again any time soon.  Again Thanks.
Joined Feb 13, 2008
If you know what "correct" seasoning levels are -- as opposed to what you -- personally like -- and you're confident you hit them... well you hit them.  Either the pork was dry or it wasn't.  Both are more objective than subjective standards. 

On a purely technical note, my impression is that it's better to mark the pork on the grill and then cook it sous-vide than the other way around -- as grilling temperatures forces protein to "seize," and thereby toughening.  Also, how do you not overcook? Further, if the chops were not allowed to adequately rest afterwards it could also cause them to seem dry.  More, a lot of "modern pork" is so lean as to tend strongly towards dryness with almost any techinque.  I brine the leaner cuts (including loin) as a matter of course.  However, the dryness of the pork is not up for argument.  If it wasn't it wasn't.

If the owners were nasty and out of sorts and took it out on you... they suck.  If you messed up dinner, you suck. 

Don't let it bother you too much.  Everyone sucks and is the ****ing idiot sometimes.  That's life. 

By way of example, "forno" means "oven," not cheese.   

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Joined Apr 5, 2007
Hi Boat,

I know this reply is so slow out of the gate that it might be pointless.  

I hate it when I make excuses for myself, let alone for others but---

It almost sounds like you are being set up to fail.   Based on this pork incident and your previous question about lamb racks it seems like your boss is not only dictating your menus (to a pretty specific detail) but your cooking medium as well.

Are you experienced with sous vide?  Are you comfortable with this cooking style?  Is there a chance that your employer has unrealistic expectations about the results of SV cooking?  I've dabbled with it over the years but since last February I've been cooking this way almost exclusively ( I finally got myself a real rig, no more hacked crock pot, thank you very much!).  Despite all the talk about mathematical precision there is a learning curve with this method.  An instinct needs to be built up just like grilling and braising.

One thing I have found is that some meats, especially pork and chicken, act a lot like they've been poached.  In other words they come out of the bag juicy and melt in the mouth but if left dry and exposed to air with tough up and take a mealy texture really fast.  I mean kitchen to table fast.

Let us know how things are going.  As has been said a bad day is just that.  But if there are factors stacked against you doing your job well this will keep happening.

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