Wednesday, April 17, 2024

THE ONE THING… This Chef Will Never Order at a Restaurant

What’s one thing that chefs never order in restaurants? With all of that experience and knowledge about what goes on in the kitchen, what do they avoid?

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Chris has been a chef for several decades now, having worked in some of our finest restaurants here, and abroad.

And while he loves to eat out and enjoy other people’s cooking, there’s one thing he rarely orders.

“I love to make seafood chowder or bouillabaisse, but I don’t order it out,” he says. “I only order it if two conditions are met: One: you can see the sea from the table you’re eating at, and Two: that table is covered in a starched white tablecloth.”

He says ideally the restaurant is both a fine dining establishment within a stone’s throw of the ocean, but he’ll occasionally order it if it meets one of those two criteria.

“I’ll tell you what,” he says. “I spent a lot of time as a teenager and in my early 20s working in not-so-good restaurants. And you quickly learn how some places turn a profit – by cutting corners.”

Chris says that when you’re eating at a fine dining restaurant you’re paying for the high quality of the food, the experience of the chefs, the quality of service, and perhaps location.

“A good chef only wants to deal with good cuts of meat, fresh, good quality veges etc,” he says. “That’s what you’re paying for. If you have a good cut of meat, an extremely fresh, good fillet of fish – you want to be interfering with that as little as possible. You can let that do the talking.”

Which is why he is dubious about dishes like chowders and bouillabaisse from what he’s seen in not-so good kitchens.

“I’ve seen those dishes used too many tines to hide fish and seafood that’s on the brink or well beyond it’s best-by,” he says.

The places that people order them still shock him, he says.

“God, just a few months ago, my wife and I stopped into a dodgy little place during a US road trip that was our only option,” he says. “I just about spat my drink out when my wife ordered the chowder. I ended up splitting my sandwich and fries with her when she saw it arrive anyway. If you’re far from the ocean, the best case scenario is that you’re eating frozen fish. You don’t want to think about the other options. Unless, of course, you’re eating at a Michelin starred restaurant where that piece of fish might be helicoptered to you, right off the boat. Otherwise, no thank you.”

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