Stop, in the name of love......think it o' o' over...

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at what point do you stop 'modifying' a dish for a customer? i'm not talking 'on the siders' or subbers, who while annoying, i usually comply...well, for the most part. i'm talking customers who so completely modify a dish that it makes you wonder what attracted them to order the dish in the first place..it's not modifying..it's a total makeover...take a pasta primavera order that came in the other night with so many stars on it it was virtually impossible to even read the ticket...hold the tortellini, just penne, no zucchini, squash, shallots, arugula, sun dried tomato pesto, pine nuts or cream...just penne, garlic, herbs, mushrooms and white wine...not even remotely the same dish.....just curious...at what point do you just say no?

chef special's i will not modify at all...period...no negotiation...i strive to create dishes that have the perfect balance of flavors, textures and playfulness. each ingredient has a role and is important in achieving that goal....when one is removed, it upsets the whole balance.....so, for me, it's a take it or leave it attitude, for specials.. how about you?

joey
 
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If the customer understands and agrees to a "modified price", along with knowing that they're paying for and taking it the first time out with no "do-overs", then I'll cook them anything they want. I'm very accommodating like that. I still however, won't do veal or foie gras, no matter what people will pay. I will though swap in some other ingredient telling them it is veal or foie gras, because I just will. 
 
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There are only two reasons that i believe a dish should not be prepared to a customers specifications.  

The first, and most obvious, is that it simply cannot be done. This would entail lack of requested product, inability to effectuate changes (i.e. subtract ingredient from finished sauce), lack of necessary equipment for preparation, etc.

Second, is if it would severely disrupt service.  Especially people with dietary restrictions request something that may take an additional amount of prep time that is not available.  If a dish cannot be modified without affecting others dining experience then other options must be presented to the customer.

I take pride in pleasing customer on an individual basis.  That is why those with allergies and special diets should be aware to inform of them at the time of the reservation, so that something can be prepared for them.  Anything that can be done should be.  If someone wants penne with garlic, mushrooms, herbs, and white wine, and all of those things are readily available, give it to them.  There are very few instances where a chef's ego should come before a guests request.
 
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I would also like to add that if they are requesting a well done tuna, hot carpaccio, etc... the server has the responsibility to suggest an alternative, as this is not the preferred method of handling that product.  Should the guest still desire that preparation, it should be  accomodated. 
 
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For me, the line in the sand is the menu.

If it isn't on the menu, then it is "customized" which requires 24 hrs notice and a "modified" price.

Like, Ford makes many models of cars and trucks, but not specialty vehciles like hearses, ambulances, or fire trucks.  But it can be done, just a wee bit more expensive....

This usually takes care of the "specially just for me" b.s..

Allergies are a different story and I do go out of my way for gluten free and vegan, but I have to have notice, and most of the real cases do give at least 12 hrs notice.

If it's a "reg" who's bored with the menu and I have the ingredients on hand, sure, why not?  But I will do the suggesting......
 
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succotash,

i apologize if you misunderstood or i wasn't clear enough here... it's not about ego actually..it's not about allergies or medical conditions...those i certainly both understand and accomodate easily. it's the people that want it 'their way' that are my rub...why come to a restaurant to eat a certain chef's food just to have it 'your way' the ones that think they own the joint,think they know more than you( and they might) and are trying to impress their dinner companions by modifying, modifying, modifying.......cuz they know what's best...gimme a break...

joey
 
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I agree with you on being aggravated by these people.  These requests have been a thorn in my side since as long as I can remember. Nonetheless, every Chef that I've known has said the same thing.  If you can do something to accommodate the customers desire, then do it, for a small fee.  Unless you have the type of place that can refuse modifications, you have to roll with the punches.  I let this type of stuff upset me far more often than I should, so I understand where you are coming from.   Unfortunately it is our job to make them happy,roll with the punches,  at least we don't have to deal with them face to face. 
 
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 the ticket...hold the tortellini, just penne, no zucchini, squash, shallots, arugula, sun dried tomato pesto, pine nuts or cream...just penne, garlic, herbs, mushrooms and white wine...not even remotely the same dish.....just curious...at what point do you just say no?  

That would be the point I would say no.. I would ask the customer to order something else. There is no way to make a good flavorful meal out of those ingredients. I would have gone out and talked with the customer and tried to figure out what the problem is and suggest some other menu ideas................ChefBillyB
 
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A little laminated card

To a wonderful customer of ours.

Hourly rate of pay for Restaurant Chef: $ 21.00

Hourly rate of a Private Chef: $39.00

I'm honered to prepare your Entree. Please add $18.00
 
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