Head Chef and Sous': Don't you hate when something great is disliked by FOH?

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by linecook854, Sep 8, 2013.

  1. linecook854

    linecook854

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    So I made a really nice almond gazpacho, perfect chilled soup for a humid end of summer day. Did everything right and came together beautifully. Blanched and peeled some organic almonds, used some fresh garlic from the farmers market, added some really nice PX vinegar for some acidity, used Maldon sea-salt, utilized the wonderful homemade baguette for body. Topped with rainbow radishes on the mandolin, some estate grown olive oil from Greece and some chives. Done classically and filled with great ingredients, the flavors were balanced and it tasted like it should have, almonds! Uber fresh and vibrant, it was so clean and refined. It looked fantastic in the bowl with contrasting colors over a bed of velvet smooth white.

    FOH absolutely hated it. Literally spit it out. I know my palate is good, that soup was awesome. Of course naturally they didn't sell any of it, I assume they didn't even mention it to the guests as we also had a hot soup offered as well. "Gross it tastes like almond-milk soup!" Yeah that's kind of what Spain has been doing for centuries and it's worked for them. "It's so light? Isn't there any meat or something?" No actually it's a light, chilled soup if you want chili there's a Wendy's down the corner.

    Is it just me or doesn't this type of stuff drive you crazy?!?
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2013
  2. someday

    someday

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    I am currently running a white gazpacho on my menu where I work and I just find that it is hit or miss. It seems to be one of those things that you either like or don't like. I garnish mine with grapes, toasted almonds and EVOO and find that the grapes add a burst of sweetness that goes well with the soup. I tone down the garlic a bit too, only using one or two clovers per batch. 

    But yeah, I love the soup but others seem to not like it. Don't feel bad, we've all been there.

    One of my biggest pet peeves is when the FoH staff makes faces and shit when I am describing my specials or new menu items. How am I supposed to trust these people to sell the specials when they give off that air like the food is disgusting--they crinkle their nose when I do a foie torchon (or whatever), and lo and behold, we don't sell many of them. Customers pick up on body language and whether the server is "into" a dish, so it's no wonder that this stuff doesn't sell. They look at me like I am crazy when I ask them to stop making faces and shit when I talk about the food I make. Yeah, maybe you don't like liver or sweetbreads, but others might, and hey, I just spent a couple hours making this shit, so how about you show some respect. 

    Yeah, I guess it drives me nuts too, lol. 
     
  3. linecook854

    linecook854

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    Someday thanks for the input. As far as lack of respect from FOH you have no idea what goes on in my place LOL, they are by far the most disrespectful and completely incompetent group of people I have ever seen. Guess that happens though when they have no management overseeing them.
     
  4. ljokjel

    ljokjel

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    But a similar dish on the menu at my last job. 

    The reaction was in a way similar. It was either or.

    Those who liked it, loved it. Those who didnt, didnt at all. 

    I guess people are just not used to those kinds of flavours. 
     
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  5. kaiquekuisine

    kaiquekuisine

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    Lol , i guess its natural not to be blessed with a good and comprehensive wait staff -_- . 

    Not that i havent seen any , i just havent been blesses with any. 
     
  6. garball

    garball

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    Is it truly a great dish if nobody likes it?

    Not saying the soup was not in fact wonderfully prepared and tasted like it was supposed to, but who was it made for; you or the customer?

    I think we have all made masterpieces that did not sell, but in retrospect, most of the blame falls on us for not cooking what we know will be popular whether we like it or not.  I lived in a place where you could put cream gravy on a breaded cow patty and sell it.  It took months of stubbornness and denial before I succumbed to the masses.  Once I started cooking what I knew the servers would/could sell, I couldn't keep a special in the kitchen.
     
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  7. rocket

    rocket

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    I agree with Garball. I'm a Canadian living and working in Bristol, so it's hard for me to swallow my pride and deep fry everything. Haha right now I'm just spending a lot of time observing.
     
  8. linecook854

    linecook854

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    Thanks for the input, great advice.

    I am slowly learning that "dumbing down" the food for our market is difficult, it's slowly happening much to my cringing. As for the soup we didn't sell any of it so I got no feedback, I assume most would not like it but a handful would really enjoy it.

    As for specials I know exactly what you mean, I know what my servers personally like and if I make something they'll like it will see like hot cakes. Put pesto or balsamic reduction on anything and it flies out the window. Truffles, brown butter, pommes puree ("too buttery and fattening!!") and beautiful duck confit simply will not move. FOH staff drives me crazy how their personal opinions influence our menu items and what type of market we are trying to appeal to LOL FML.
     
  9. garball

    garball

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    It can be a difficult lesson to learn.  Being a successful chef doesn't necessarily mean you are cooking the best* food, but the correct food.  It is, after all, just a business.  That does not mean you have to dumb yourself down.  Create outlets for your creativity and where your skills will be appreciated; competitions with other local chefs, food shows, private dinners, wine dinners, etc.  

    *used as a completely subjective term comparing what you are cooking versus what you have to.  Everything you create should be the best you can make
     
  10. jimmy lauria26

    jimmy lauria26

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    Thisis a tough call because most foh empoyees judge the taste on a personal level. Also familiarity with the dish being served. If your executive chef approved your dish that's when he or she needs to step up during pre-service. Not everything we prepare as chefs will be liked by everyone, but the employees should not judge your dish only your executive chef after all hes responsible for what goes out. then you must consider discipline by the foh mgr. the wait staff must not judge a dish just because they don't like it. After all I hate sweet breads, but ive served it.
     
  11. brandon odell

    brandon odell

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    Disagree. Your FOH staff should absolutely judge a dish. They have the single best vantage point to recognize what your customers like, better than the Exec Chef, better than the owners, even better than the GM and FOH managers. They are the people who are directly communicating with the guest. They are the ones the guests trust most to give unbiased feedback to. If you want to sell food in a restaurant, you need to sell food the servers support, and any cook that doesn't weigh their server's opinions of what the guest wants more than their own is cooking to feed their ego, not their guests. Many, many chefs have met their demise cooking the food they wanted to cook instead of the food the guests want to eat.
     
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  12. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    Some of them.  Maybe the more senior ones.
     
  13. brandon odell

    brandon odell

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    Good point. Not all your servers have been there long enough to really know your guests.
     
  14. jimmy lauria26

    jimmy lauria26

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    I agree with your comment to an extent, true the servers do no their customers more then the back of the house, however, if the restaurant has a clientele for gazpacho soup and certain customers order the soup then the waitstaff shoud give an unbiased opinion on the soup not their own personel opinion. E.G. A customer goes into an Italian restaurant an orders tripe whether the waitstaff likes the dish or not it is their job to explain how it is prepared, cooked and served then let the customer make the decision. the response by the waiter should be " I PERSONALLY DONT LIKE TRIPE, HOWEVER IT ISPREPARED LIKE THIS, COOKED IKE THAT AND SERVED WITH THIS". This way the customer coud make an unbiased decision about the dish and thank the server for their honesty and professionalism.
     
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  15. linecook854

    linecook854

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    Good points everyone.

    One thing I think should also be taken into consideration is no matter what I know server's personal opinions greatly influence what they sell to guests.

    One server always seem to sell a certain dessert at a much higher clip than anyone else, also happens to be her favorite one. Another server almost never rings in a certain app and when asked about it she simply said "it's boring". Also if I put a new menu item out on the table for FOH to try and it gets good reviews I know it's flying out the window that night because I know they personally approve so they naturally advocate for it at the table.

    This is has some good and bad to it like everything else. It still drives me nuts that hourly FOH staff who really don't give a f*ck other than how much money they're making that night have such an impact on our businesses. So hard to find good help!
     
  16. foodslinger

    foodslinger

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    hahah...just be glad you aren't stuck with my servers! I'm sous in an old style steakhouse (dead animals on the walls, real fireplaces, and big ass dry aged steaks) where my best server is a truckers wife...however, 2 years ago we built a half a million dollar patio (all stone and wood, fire pit, giant stage,misters, 85 new tables) and we started hiring servers for, shall we say, more astetic reasons. So I dId black chillean mussels with a white wine garlic cream sauce dish...nothing fancy, but fancy for them I guess, because they came to me to ask where a "chill-e-en muusell" came from. With a perfectly straight face, I told them they came from the rain forests of antartica..."oh really?' i didn't even bother to correct them simply because most of them don't even bother to tell the specials to their tables...
     
  17. chefross

    chefross

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    I disagree most strenuously.

    The Chef SHOULD know his clients from the very start.

    Sure a brand new Chef taking over has to learn his customers like and dislikes.

    But to say that servers, who know nothing about food other than there own personal tastes,

    should have Carte Blanche to tell the kitchen what to cook is, IMHO very wrong.

    Servers are there to serve, not to judge the Chef's food.

    Educating you staff is key.

    If they snicker at pre-service, call them out and ask why. Put them on the spotlight and ask them why.

    Have they ever tried this before?

    Then how can they judge it without even tasting it?

    You are very wrong. The kitchen rules NOT the servers.

    BUT...............OTOH................. far out creations in a location where something like that is not the norm, should be worked out and understood before being created.

    Almond Gazpacho might work in La-La Land but not in southern Kentucky as it were.

    Know your clientele before you start being creative.
     
  18. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    FOH personnel are the sales staff of a restaurant and, for a successful restaurant, require adequate training to sell what the kitchen produces as well as provide feedback to BOH as to what the customers enjoy and want.

    Inadequate training of FOH staff can be the death knell.

    Whether a FOH or BOH staff member personally enjoys a particular dish should be irrelevant, what the customer wants is what generates the income to pay the bills.
     
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  19. someday

    someday

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    Exactly. A good chef will and should be able to tell when a dish is a clunker, either by taste or by guest feedback. If lincook's FoH had sold the gazpacho, and plates were coming back full and people weren't eating it...then he would know that the dish didn't work for his clients, even though he made it well. Not because the foh refused to sell it because they thought it was "gross" or something. 

    FoH are good (sometimes) for relaying guest feedback on dishes and being on the front lines, but it isn't up to them to guess or decide what a guest wants based on their own personal taste. 

    But seriously, I want to scream sometimes when they make faces when I talk about the new sweetbreads dish or whatever. And when they describe my halibut special as "hake" and wonder why we don't sell any. 

    I don't want this to turn into a rant on the FoH though. 
     
  20. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    Hm, perhaps a rant on who is responsible for untrained FOH personnel might be worth exploring? /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif