Chef Pet Peeves

Chef pet peeves: How diners annoy some of the best restaurants in Houston

Chef pet peeves: How diners annoy some of best restaurants in Houston

condiments on a table salt pepper Ketchup catsup THIS
You really should give your food a try before you start requesting changes in the dish and adding way too much seasoning and additions. Artwork by Ralph Goings
Justin Turner of Bernie's Burger Bus
“I’m surprised how many people season their food without tasting it,” says Justin Turner, chef/owner of Bernie’s Burger Bus.  Photo by Kimberly Park
Giacomo's Parmigiana-Reggiano
“It makes me want to cry when they start scooping tons of Parmigiano-Reggiano on a dish before they even taste it,” says Lynette Hawkins of Giacomo’s cibo e vino. Photo by Marene Gustin
News_Marene_chefs_gadgets_Vanessa O'Donnell
“I think it is so gross when people ask us to put extra sauce on their desserts,” says Vanessa O’Donnell, owner/pastry chef, Ooh La La Dessert Boutique.  Photo courtesy of Ooh La La Courtesy of Ooh La La
condiments on a table salt pepper Ketchup catsup THIS
Justin Turner of Bernie's Burger Bus
Giacomo's Parmigiana-Reggiano
News_Marene_chefs_gadgets_Vanessa O'Donnell

“What annoys me most is when we create a dish with several flavor profiles and the guest wants to completely reconstruct the dish, asking the server if we would take out this and that, it completely changes the creation,” says chef Paul Friedman of Peli Peli.

And he’s not alone.

There may have been a time in American restaurants when the food was rather bland, when people first grabbed the ubiquitous bottle of ketchup and dumped a hearty portion of it atop everything from scrambled eggs to steaks and fries

 “It makes me want to cry when they start scooping tons of Parmigiano-Reggiano on a dish before they even taste it." 

But today chefs and the cuisine they turn out is much more refined. And you really should give it a try before you start requesting changes in the dish and adding way too much seasoning and additions, like cheese in Italian restaurants.

“It makes me want to cry when they start scooping tons of Parmigiano-Reggiano on a dish before they even taste it,” says Lynette Hawkins of Giacomo’s cibo e vino. “I saw someone put it on the trout once.

She sighs.

"And then they complain the dish is too salty," Hawkins says. "And I’m thinking, well that’s because you just put a half pound of cheese on it.”

Obnoxious Customers?

“I’m surprised how many people season their food without tasting it,” says Justin Turner, chef/owner of Bernie’s Burger Bus. “Also super surprised in the amount of people who complete, or damn near close to complete, their meal and then say ‘It was not to my liking, I would like my money back.’ ”

 Frank’s Americana Revival chef Collin Shine has a pet peeve when it comes to condiments and it’s A1 sauce.

“It really hurts when people ask for that,” he says. “And usually it’s for a medium or well done steak. I just want to cook them a perfect steak and ask them to just try it without adding anything to it.”

 "I just want to cook them a perfect steak and ask them to just try it without adding anything to it.” 

Sushi chefs often complain about people who douse nigiri creations with soy sauce and wasabi before tasting. In Japan the chefs put the exact amount of wasabi they want in the creation between the fish and rice roll. If you add more they may just smile and nod, but you know they would be rolling their eyes if they weren’t so polite.

And not even desserts are safe.

“I think it is so gross when people ask us to put extra sauce on their desserts,” says Vanessa O’Donnell, owner/pastry chef, Ooh La La Dessert Boutique. “Sometimes people request that we put so much sauce that you can't even identify what the dessert was in the first place. Yuck! The most popular and most requested sauce is the strawberry sauce.”

And it’s not just the chef you’re annoying.

“There are people who change all the ingredients and then complain they don’t like the dish,” waiter Michael Foster says. “And as a waiter you just have to stand there and say you’re sorry.”

So cut the restaurant some slack and try the dish the way it was meant to be. You just may be pleasantly surprised.