Where Do Chefs Go to Eat Out?

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Joined Apr 26, 2012
We have a unique take on restaurant food. We know how it is made. We know the actual cost of a dish, why it is plated like it is, what the temperature should be and how long it has sat under the heat lamp, and when someone screwed up in the kitchen.

So where do you go out to eat? What do you look for in a restaurant? Does the service play a big part of where you decide to eat? Are you mentally deconstructing the dish you are eating? And at what point do you not accept a dish that you are served? What mistakes in a dish are you willing or not willing to tolerate?

Or do you simply not eat out? Is your knowledge of the kitchen just so exposed that dining out is not even something you want to do?
 
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Joined Oct 31, 2012
I agree with Kuan for most meals, at least at home. I am not inclined to put much effort out after a day at work. But when I go out, I look for intention.
Years ago while on a road trip, I stopped at my first Waffle House out west, I believe it was Oklahoma or Kansas. The waitress poured me a coffee and moved on to another table. After one sip I was about to complain that the coffee was weak, horrible and tasted like dirty dishwater. As I raised my hand to get her attention while she poured refills for a table of four regulars, one of them said to her " Hey, Helen, The coffee is really good today". I kept my mouth shut. Clearly I was the odd one out and they intended it to be like that.
Since then I try to assess where I am and what kind of place they are trying to be. A place specializing in burgers should be able to cook one to my order of MR. Seafood in a seafood restaurant should be fresh. If I don't like the food but the place has been in business for twenty years and everyone likes it, I just don't go back. If for whatever reason I can see right away that they don't have a clue I simply go somewhere else.
Knowing the business well means that I generally understand what is happening and why so I tend to be more forgiving if every indication is that they are working hard at trying to do a good job. I've also noticed that many places I decided not to return to go out of business within a year, typically because I'm not the only dissatisfied customer.
 
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Joined Jan 4, 2011
I tend to go out and eat whatever it is that I'm not cooking. I like big football-sized burritos. I like BBQ ribs and brisket. I like lots of Chinese dishes. As long as I was not cooking that dish that day I can enjoy it out. I don't take anyone's dishes apart. I eat and enjoy (hopefully).
 
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Joined Mar 1, 2017
I think its hard for a chef to just go out and eat a meal and just enjoy it. At least for me it was, until I retired. I would always catch myself scrutinizing the details. Was there too much butter in the scampi? Were the dinner rolls cold or hot? Were there any spots or fingerprints on the glass or silverware? Were the sides made to order to piled up under a heat lamp?

Now that I'm out of the business, I can relax and actually take my beautiful wife out for a wonderful meal and finally focus on her rather than far less important things! I have no idea why she stayed with me all these years!

Sorry.....got a little carried away there. :)
 
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Joined Apr 26, 2012
It is my opinion that chefs cook fancy and eat easy. They like well crafted food.
I tend to agree...
I believe it was Oklahoma or Kansas. The waitress poured me a coffee and moved on to another table. After one sip I was about to complain that the coffee was weak, horrible and tasted like dirty dishwater. As I raised my hand to get her attention while she poured refills for a table of four regulars, one of them said to her " Hey, Helen, The coffee is really good today". I kept my mouth shut. Clearly I was the odd one out and they intended it to be like that.
This is one of my points... that we may have, under certain circumstances, been exposed to a quality of food that many people have not.
Knowing the business well means that I generally understand what is happening and why so I tend to be more forgiving if every indication is that they are working hard at trying to do a good job.
Yes, I have also thought this.

I tend to go out and eat whatever it is that I'm not cooking.
Same with me. And although I do know some about curries, I like to eat expertly made curries as well... to remind myself just how far off I am, and to adjust my palate to where it needs to be for those dishes.

I think its hard for a chef to just go out and eat a meal and just enjoy it. At least for me it was, until I retired. I would always catch myself scrutinizing the details. Was there too much butter in the scampi? Were the dinner rolls cold or hot? Were there any spots or fingerprints on the glass or silverware? Were the sides made to order to piled up under a heat lamp?
We all tend to do this.
Now that I'm out of the business, I can relax and actually take my beautiful wife out for a wonderful meal and finally focus on her rather than far less important things! I have no idea why she stayed with me all these years!

Sorry.....got a little carried away there. :)
Not at all... this is actually where I hope to be some day.
 
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Joined Dec 13, 2018
I like to get great ethnic cuisines I have no clue how to make. I was recently introduced to Sancocho and fell in love. I'm a sucker for a great Neapolitan Pizza though.
 
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Joined Apr 26, 2012
I like to get great ethnic cuisines I have no clue how to make. I was recently introduced to Sancocho and fell in love. I'm a sucker for a great Neapolitan Pizza though.
I do too! I am always looking for great ethnic dishes. And absolutely, Neapolitan pizza is phenominal!
 
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Joined May 5, 2010
For a long time I gave up eating out for the reasons chefwriter pointed out.
I could not understand how a restaurant kitchen that is busier than heck put out such poorly made food. and same as sgsvirgil, I tolerate a lot more now that I am no longer in the business.
 
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Joined Apr 26, 2012
I want to say to all of us who work or have worked in food service... I understand.

We are trained and work in an environment where we have been shown how the magic works. Our diners and customers come to our eating establishments in the bliss of ignorance. And it is our job to keep the magic alive and very much real.

That is the art of cooking... to make it magical. And those who don’t know the lists of ingredients or the methods we have to create delicious food will always look to us to work our magic.

The payment we give and the sacrifice we make is that we know the secrets of our craft and how it all works.

But honestly, I wouldn’t trade the satisfied reaction of a diner experiencing a dish I made for anything.
 
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Joined Jun 7, 2021
I may not be a professional chef, but am a well experienced home cook, ever working to make my food better. Plus, I have eaten some extraordinary food, both in many parts of the U.S., and in several Pacific Rim nations. That being said, I want my food cooked properly. I know good food from mediocre. Sweet potatoes can't be too sweet. Vegies must be dressed, and seasoned lightly, fresh, with just a bit of crunch left in them, to allow the full taste of the veggie to shine. Proteins are the same. Heavy herbs and spices just hide the natural flavors of the proteins, at least to me..

I try to enjoy the food I'm served. However, because the food usually isn't better than what I can prepare, I'm often disappointed. I figure that I'm paying to be served something great. Why go out if I can make it as good, or better at home, and for a fraction of the price. Fortunately, I know a few places that make food that is as good, or better than I make. I tend to frequent those places, and they are old school burger places, that still serve the food on window trays by car-hops. The burgers are large (3/4 pound), juicy, tender, and made to order, with enough cheese to taste. You definitely need a napkin. There was this Mexican restaurant in El Cajon, CA, that made some of the best Mexican food I ever ate. Their Carne Asada... It was a small, converted Tasty-Freeze, owned by a family. Sadly, it no longer operates.

I truly enjoy really good food. I am fortunate to know a couple of outstanding restaurants, none of them chains.

Seeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
 
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Joined Feb 8, 2009
Chefs will stay away from all of the casual food places that train 18 year olds to cook the menu. I like Mom & Pop places along with Chef owned restaurants. When I worked fine dining I wanted noting more than a Dbl Bacon Cheese burger, fries and a thick shake.
 
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Joined Dec 23, 2004
I like indies and Mom-N-Pops, and BBQ is a fave. A good steak is always nice and I will often go out for Chinese. Basically anything that's a PitA to make at home, either due to specialized equipment or a lot of ingredients that I don't keep around.

But I have some guilty pleasures, too. I can absolutely destroy some Jack-In-The-Box!
 

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