We have a few chefs among our family and friends, and we’re always interested in hearing about the restaurant industry from their perspective. I always learn something new when I get to chat with them, and it has definitely opened my eyes to a lot of things about eating out that I didn’t know before!
One thing I’ve learned from my conversations with chefs is that there’s a lot they wish they could tell those of us who are dining out at their restaurants. But since there isn’t usually much direct communication between chefs and their customers, much of it simply goes unsaid!
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But because I’ve benefitted so much from chefs’ insights myself, I wanted to bridge the gap and help share those unsaid bits of wisdom with all of you! :-) From suggestions about ordering to enhancing your dining experience, here are 7 things that chefs wish they could tell you!
7 Things Chefs Wish They Could Tell You About Dining Out
1. Show Up For Your Reservation
You may think it’s no big deal to show up fashionably late to your dinner reservation, but it can have a big impact on the kitchen! Restaurants make reservations available on a staggered schedule to keep the kitchen running smoothly, and showing up late throws off that schedule.
If something comes up and you know you’ll be late for your reservation, just give the restaurant a call to let them know! They’ll know to hold your table for you, and to give the kitchen a heads up about your new plans.
It’s equally important to call ahead if you know you won’t be able to make it to your dinner reservation at all. This will let them open up your table to other customers, instead of holding it for someone who isn’t actually coming.
2. Split Dishes Yourself
If you order a dish intending to split it with someone else, be willing to do the actual splitting yourself! Each dish is plated in a specific way, and expecting a chef to reconfigure that plate on the fly is a pretty big inconvenience!
Instead, just let your server know you plan on splitting a dish when you order it. They can bring you an extra plate, and whatever else you might need to successfully split your dish!
3. Menu Size Matters
If a restaurant’s menu fits on one page, that’s usually a good sign. Consider it something of a quality guarantee, because the fewer items they offer, the better each item needs to be.
Conversely, if a restaurant has a ten-page menu, that can often be a red flag. Think about it—a kitchen has to have the ingredients to make every item on their menu. The more ingredients their menu requires, the more likely it is that many of them are frozen, microwaved, etc.
4. Be Polite
If you notice something isn’t right with your dish when it arrives at your table, politely bring it to the attention of your server. It was likely just an honest mistake, and a little politeness can go a long way in these sorts of situations.
If you’re polite and accommodating, the staff will likely go out of their way to fix the problem quickly, and you might even receive a free dessert out of it! On the other hand, being mean and demanding might get the problem solved, but don’t expect it to make you any friends.
5. Speak Up
When dining out, be sure to speak up about any dietary restrictions or food allergies you may have! Whether that means adding a note when you make a reservation, or calling ahead to let them know, they will always appreciate the heads-up.
If the menu isn’t clearly labeled in terms of which items are vegan, gluten-free, etc., just ask your server! They can tell you right away which items will work for you.
And in the rare event that they don’t offer any menu items you can eat, the kitchen will usually be happy to make something for you! It may not be as elaborate as the menu items, but it’s almost certainly going to be better than fries and a side salad (AKA the “I can’t eat anything here” meal!)
6. Call The Restaurant
If a restaurant appears to be all booked up online, call and double-check anyway! Many restaurants only list a portion of their available tables online, so you might be able to snag a free table by calling in.
7. Know When It’s Busy
If a restaurant is busy, it’s probably going to take a little longer for you to get your food. So if you make a reservation for 8pm on a Friday, you should go with the expectation that you’re going to be there for a while!
If you want to know when a particular restaurant usually gets busy, check their Google listing. Restaurant listings often show how busy it gets hour-by-hour, and you can use that information to help you decide on the best time to go.
Do you have any tips or tricks about dining out?