I am trying to fight through the worst bout of writer’s block I have had since I started writing this blog. I started at least three different posts yesterday that ended up in the recycle bin. In my last post I promised to get back to some server related posts, but my brain has forced me to break that promise. In the meantime I have been holding this one back for just such an occasion.
An article recently came to my attention that I am surprised none of my fellow bloggers jumped on. The Food Network recently did a survey of chefs around the country. They wrote up the results in an article titled “25 Things Chefs Never Tell You.” For the most part I think it was a balanced and informative article. There are probably a number of points that most diners are not aware of. I recommend the article for those of you who have not put in time working in a restaurant.
As a server though, I think there are a couple points where they draw the wrong conclusion. The author chooses attention-grabbing wording over accuracy in a number of places. In this effort to keep the reader’s interest the author, in my opinion, completely misrepresents the actual findings of the survey. I keep referring to “the author” as such because no name is attached to the article. After reading this post, you will probably understand why.
A few excerpts that got my attention:
“Just half the chefs surveyed graduated from a cooking school. The rest got their training the old-fashioned way, by working their way up through the kitchen ranks.”
I was under the impression that Chef was a professional title. Nurses don’t become Doctors by working their way through the hospital ranks. I know many Chefs who find this infuriating.
“Your bread basket might be recycled. Three chefs admitted that uneaten bread from one basket goes right into another one.”
Three Chefs said it? Out of how many? Let me assure you that this is not common enough to even make an issue of, Still it is better than the next gem.
“The five-second rule actually applies. A quarter of the chefs surveyed said they’d pick up food that dropped on the floor and cook it.”
That means that 75% of the chefs surveyed would not. When I was in school a rule that was correct only one out of four times was an invalid rule that did not apply. This is like a surgeon doing a procedure that has a 25% chance of death telling you that you are going to die.
“Waiters take home an average of $662 a week, often tax free.”
Did you get this number from Tom Emmer? The actual number nationwide is $20,380 per year or roughly $400 a week. Only off by 40%. The tax-free part is beyond absurd. I am not sure where the author got that side note, but it is completely inaccurate. The four figure check I write to Uncle Sam every year tells me differently.
“Menu “specials” are often experimental dishes. Contrary to popular belief — that specials are just a chef’s way of using up old ingredients — most chefs said they use specials to try out new ideas or serve seasonal ingredients. Only five chefs admitted that they try to empty out the fridge with their nightly specials.”
That is 40% more than followed the recycled bread rule which was conveyed as fact. In reality Chef’s specials are based upon the ability to receive a premium product at a discounted price that allows for maximum mark up. It is about profit, Also, if only five chefs admitted to using specials to burn out inventory, a whole lot of chefs noses just got longer.
“An astounding 90% of chefs said it’s fair to penalize bad waiters with a smaller tip.”
An even more astounding 100% of servers surveyed by me just now wish they could penalize chefs when they screw up orders, take forever to get a dish out of the kitchen, or run a crappy high profit special.
“Most chefs said that a bottle on their wine list costs 2½ times what the same one would cost in a wine store.”
That would be a 40% wine cost. I think that is actually a little low. It is also nearly double what chefs would like to keep their food costs at.
Check out the full article for more insights like these. The whole article convinced me more than ever that the Food Channel is a “smart mark” rather than an insider. While I think this article was a blend of good and bad information, I am curious what everyone else thinks. Any waiters upset by this? Anyone outside the industry learn something new? As always the comment section is open for your thoughts.