server refuses to taste the chef's special??

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Joined Oct 30, 2015
Hello everyone, i am asking a question to all those who are knowledgeable. Today at the restaurant i work at our new chef went around and had all the servers taste test his special (delmonico with broiled blue cheese and a balsamic reduction). Except one server refused to try it! Me and the chef both agree that every server needs to try the specials to know how to describe them. He ended up telling her she wasnt a good server, she started crying, owner became disgruntled at the chef, and a crisis was created. My question now is 1.) should all servers try all dishes? And were me and chef wrong for standing up for our belief of what a great server is i.e. someone who tries all food regardless of taste preference? Please tell me your opinions and facts on this subject matter, it was difficult finding any information on this topic
 
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Did anyone ask her why she wouldn't taste it?  Is she a vegetarian or vegan?  Maybe she doesn't like bleu cheese. Frankly that's not a cutting-edge feature; who hasn't had a steak with bleu cheese and/or balsamic reduction?  That's something you could get at a Sizzler.  No one would have trouble describing that to a customer unless that server or customer was ten years old.  Generally I feel the servers should know the food and it's a very good idea for them to taste a feature.  But you have to understand that it's not feasible to force vegans to taste a steak or insist that they eat something they already know they don't like.  And what if someone has an allergy- would you still force them to eat something that can't eat?

To me it sounds like the chef needs to chill out.
 
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Joined Oct 30, 2015
That is a very good point Phaedrus. She quite frankly has a problem with authority and thats a pure fact from what ive seen. The reason she didnt try it is because she didnt want to. She has a tendancy to act like a 10 year old but the point you have made is a good one and changes my perspective on the situation. This dilemma appears to be that of a power struggle.
 
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From the server's prospective....

Fine line between trying to educate and being a bully.....

That said we would usually taste the specials at family meal.... a relaxed setting free from "someone" standing over you with a plate force feeding you.

mimi
 
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Balsamic vinegar what is it?

The chef used a reduction of Balsamic vinegar.  This I am sure is a reduction of a Balsamic Vinegar of Modena or a copy of that product.  Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is a completely different product.  The First is a reduction of wine vinegar and addition of food additives to simulate the traditional.  My wife brought me some of the traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena from a trip to Italy.  It is completely different from what is used in American kitchens.  I priced the traditional online at around $300 for a 100 ml bottle.  A few drops on some parmesan or fruit and wow. I just commented of this because it seems that many chefs think a “reduction of balsamic” adds class to their dish.  Now I always wonder how much they really know about the ingredients they use.  I have used balsamic for years and just recently tried the traditional balsamic.  Now only when I use the traditional do I highlight it.  I still use the less expensive type as an ingredient. Trivial but I hope interesting.

If you force a server to taste something do you really thing they will try to sell it? .  
 

pete

Moderator
Staff member
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Joined Oct 7, 2001
Sorry, but I just don't see the need to force a server to try a special, although I don't know many servers (unless they were vegetarians) that would turn down an offer of steak. All you're going to do is piss off the server and they aren't going to push the special.  Besides, a good server should be able to sell a dish whether they tasted it or not.  I've worked with hard core vegetarian servers who would have guests salivating at their descriptions of the duck special.  I learned long ago to pick and choose my battles (advice I don't always remember or adhere to) and this one just sounds like a battle not worth fighting.

I would have much more of an issue if this was one of my cooks and they were not tasting their food.
 
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I think the server in question has a little sumptom sumptom going on with the owner. Hence, him being disgruntled and then a crisis. 

Personally, I really can't get excited about a Delmonico, with broiled bleu cheese. Maybe a rib but who knows what cut is was. And then reduced balsamic. I dislike reduced cheap balsamic.

I prefer balsamic aged to a viscus state rather then reduce it with heat.
 
5,507
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Joined Oct 10, 2005
I dunno... I think everyone in the place is a liitle loco....

Firstly, the special does nothing for me, not saying its lousy, just nothing special.

Secondly the server is there to sell food and beverages. What she likes to eat or doesn't, has absolutely no bearing on her job.

Thirdly, the Chef shouldn't get into a hissy fit about something so trivial.

Forthly, the owner should't get so involved in something so trivial, and if he has to, should be a little more diplomatic.

Here's how I would handle it:

"I don't want to try it"

(me)"I'm not asking you to make a meal of it, I'm not asking for your opinion. I'm trying to help you do your job better, letting you sample the special so you can communicate with the customer, o.k.? My question to you is, can you sell this special? How many would you like to reserve for your section?
 
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Balsamic vinegar what is it?

The chef used a reduction of Balsamic vinegar.  This I am sure is a reduction of a Balsamic Vinegar of Modena or a copy of that product.  Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is a completely different product.  The First is a reduction of wine vinegar and addition of food additives to simulate the traditional.  My wife brought me some of the traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena from a trip to Italy.  It is completely different from what is used in American kitchens.  I priced the traditional online at around $300 for a 100 ml bottle.  A few drops on some parmesan or fruit and wow. I just commented of this because it seems that many chefs think a “reduction of balsamic” adds class to their dish.  Now I always wonder how much they really know about the ingredients they use.  I have used balsamic for years and just recently tried the traditional balsamic.  Now only when I use the traditional do I highlight it.  I still use the less expensive type as an ingredient. Trivial but I hope interesting.

If you force a server to taste something do you really thing they will try to sell it? .  
Many places reduce Balsamic vinegar. In my world I call it "Bal-tar" It is thick and can be squeezed out of a bottle. That being said I HAVE tried 25 year old Modena and it is awesome.
 

kuan

Moderator
Staff member
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Joined Jun 11, 2001
Firstly, the special does nothing for me, not saying its lousy, just nothing special.
 
This.  

Other thing is this sounds like the chef is trying to get his ego stroked.
 
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Props to FoodPump (AGAIN! damn you FoodPump, and for your nick !) serving is a serious part of the flow of produce to plate to freakin CASH, if you don't know your product your freaked! KNOW YOUR PRODUCT at the very least ! and to the Chef, chillax bro, talk to the owner in real speak, how the freak is someone going to sell something they don't actually know anything about except what color it is ??
 
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Personally ive never known a customer to be offended when a server says
"No I haven't tried it myself but I understand it tastes like this and this...."
Not like theyre saying "i dont believe in eating meat and neither should you."
And if customer is still unsure by then, a description isnt going to sell em anyway.
Offer to bring them a sample of the sauces and go from there.
I see this as a non issue with nothing more than a chefs pride at work.
Id personally offer a server a taste...if he or she declines so be it.

But the true bottom line here is theres a fundamental difference between tasting
a product in the kitchen to get it right, and tasting it in order to sell it.
 
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The funny thing is offering food to servers is usually like feeding wild dingoes.  Pull your hand back quick before you get a finger bitten off.
 
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Nice job foodpump. How many would you like reserved for your section. A good server should be able to sell most anything. The tasting is to help describe the dish and be able to better describe and thus sell it. If she can describe the dish and has knowledge of the ingredients than who cares. It is nice that you do a tasting as i feel that is a benefit to the staff and not everybody does it anymore. If she doesnt want to take advantage thats her deal. If her numbers drop because of her inability to describe it it hurts your bottom line and hers and opens up an avenue for the discussion of tasting to take place.
 
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Joined Jun 9, 2015
Quote:
 
The funny thing is offering food to servers is usually like feeding wild dingoes.  Pull your hand back quick before you get a finger bitten off.
yeah a server that DOESN'T want free food is like a cook that DOESN'T want free booze, suspicious.
 
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Joined Jul 23, 2002
Can't make someone taste something.  Can strongly recommend they taste but can't make.  I have vegetarians and vegans working for me.  I won't ask them to taste what they don't eat.  I will give good descriptions and recommend they use additional inputs from other servers and cooks as references...   
 
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Joined Jul 28, 2001
It's a non issue. Unless things have changed, I would never taste the Chef's special. It was usually something he or she was trying to run out something old. I mean, I never order the special at a restaurant, especially seafood.
 
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Joined May 5, 2010
 
It's a non issue. Unless things have changed, I would never taste the Chef's special. It was usually something he or she was trying to run out something old. I mean, I never order the special at a restaurant, especially seafood.
Sorry to say I've had that experience when dining out. Sometime it works and sometimes..........

Went to a place that had Osso Bucco (braised veal shanks) on special. The chaulk board on the wall just read that it was Osso Bucco.

Only until the plate was set down in front of me was when I realized it was in the STYLE OF Osso Bucco and NOT veal shanks.  Wow.

Some obscure meat the kitchen was trying to load off on the nightly special.

Unfortunately when you have your mind set on something and you don't get it, it is quite frustrating.
 
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Joined Dec 18, 2010
I completely understand that frustration. I'm never sure if that situation is the end-product of a blatant lie or a creative decision. But what really sets me off is the thought that the menu wasn't fully disclosing the truth and neither was the server.

But did it taste good?
 
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