When it comes to dining, there is this belief that the customer knows best. Some people believe that when they go out to eat they should combine components from other dishes to create their own idea of what they want.
This is an issue that most chefs deal with day and night.
People have this belief that because they are paying for something, they are entitled to have whatever they want. I have yet to find a restaurant that advertises this service, other than Burger King's "have it your way." It is now the normal expectation of what true customer service is by giving the guest whatever they want.
Some people would say I'm wrong, that this is exactly what dining is all about. Throw in a recession on top and everyone is cow towing and marginalizing any culinary integrity to make a buck. Chefs understand they have to be business people, and that we are not artists but craftsman.
However, I would like to present a different perspective. I want every guest to be beyond happy when they leave. When you dine in a restaurant with a chef, you are there to buy the experience they are selling. Allow us the opportunity to share our creations.
What other form of entertainment do you get to decide how it ends? I can think of many movies that I wish I could have changed the ending. How about a concert that ended without hearing your favorite song?
Even when your sports team doesn't win, you don't get a yellow flag and a do over. Those mediums are no different; they sell a product that you consume just like dinner.
When a guest starts to recreate or invent things that aren't on the menu, we as chefs are forced to ultimately become glorified short order cooks. Some customers have even created temperatures of how they want their steak cook that don't even exist.
Really, what is medium rare plus? There are only five temperatures to cook a steak – rare, medium rare (the in-between temperature), medium, medium well (the other in-between temperature) and well.
There is a reason the XFL failed. We don't always need to dumb-down food because it might be new or different. Sometimes you just have to trust the chef. Great customer experience occurs not when we give you whatever you demand, but when you trust us to find a way to use our talents and skills to create a personalized experience, a memory you won't forget.
Wisconsin has talented chefs and innovative restaurateurs that can progress the dining landscape. That notion, however, is contingent on the idea that if diners want more from restaurateurs, operators and chefs, they have to be willing to expand their horizons.
A crab cake, Caesar salad, surf and turf, and a molten chocolate cake are not qualifiers of a great restaurant. It says either the chef doesn't have a new idea or you the customer are not willing to try one – so let's give the guest a safe dish. If every restaurant is compelled to serve the same food, then why have more than one restaurant? Trust the chef, if they have a tasting menu, try it. It's where he or she can truly express him or herself.
A chef spends hours upon hours into finding the right balance of innovation, creativity and business sense into designing a menu to please you. We live off your loyal patronage, adulation and admiration.
I can't speak for all chefs but nothing is more gratifying when I get to see smiling faces in the dining room. And yes, if we have the ingredients in house, I will make whatever you like, because, I too am in the customer service business.
Or you can just trust me.
Chef Jason Gorman has been eating for almost 41 years, cooking for 26 years, and has had the privilege of working with some of the country's top chefs and restaurants.
He's been fortunate enough to have worked in many different aspects of the hospitality world, from fast casual service, "ma and pa" restaurants, catering, 1,000-room plus hotels, independent stand-alone restaurants, some corporate chains, a casino, 4- and 5-diamond restaurants, even a steakhouse and the state's No. 1 boutique hotel, The Iron Horse Hotel.