Are you asking for Trouble if you Send your Food Back in a Restaurant – No

Posted by · Leave a Comment 

Had there been an “it depends” choice for voting, it would likely have been the winner of this round.

Sending food back to the kitchen in a restaurant probably isn’t going to be a major issue if one decides to put aggravation aside and exercise a bit of common courtesy. Unless the meal is being eaten in a rather small family restaurant, it’s probable that the server is not the “chief cook and bottle washer” – so, the tone one takes with his or her server will likely make all the difference in the world as to how the food is handled once it reaches the kitchen on it’s return voyage. 

Having worked in food service for the better portion of my younger years, I know whereof I speak.

A rude customer who quickly develops an attitude as his food is being presented, angrily demanding that it be returned and prepared to his liking, is not going to motivate his server to look out for the well being of his plate once it reaches the kitchen. The server will likely inform anyone who cares to listen, primarily the chef, and that’s the one person said customer would be wise not to anger.

On the other hand, a polite customer who is clearly disappointed with how his food has been prepared, but requests in a kind manner – perhaps apologizing for the inconvenience to the server and the chef – that his food be returned and prepared to his liking, is almost always going to be treated with kindness in return. Such an attitude will usually be conveyed to the chef, or no fuss at all will be made about the return. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “There is no beautifier of complexion, or form, or behavior, like the wish to scatter joy and not pain around us. ‘Tis good to give a stranger a meal, or a night’s lodging. ‘Tis better to be hospitable to his good meaning and thought, and give courage to a companion. We must be as courteous to a man as we are to a picture, which we are willing to give the advantage of a good light.”

It would seem one might have better things to do in life than to risk “scattering pain” by rudely making demands of others. Why not give the benefit of the doubt to the one who may have delivered the meal and request kindly that the issue be remedied? 

Healing Properties of Coffee

Posted by · Leave a Comment 

Oh, just the smell of freshly brewed coffee in the morning, can be enough to make even grumpy people a little bit happier. Millions of people enjoy their coffee at some point during their day. Coffee is so popular that it has spawned its own culture. If you are a coffee drinker, then you understand the value of this aromatic brew. So you know your favorite coffee drink is the best tasting thing ever invented, but do you know that your morning “pick me up” could also be healthy for you too? 

In ongoing studies conducted between coffee drinkers and non coffee drinkers, encouraging results have been discovered:

Less likely to develop type 2 diabetes

The proof is pretty solid for people who drink coffee being less apt to develop type 2 diabetes. What makes this possible? Simply put, it is the naturally occurring antioxidants in coffee. Antioxidants are nutrients that help prevent damage to tissues caused by oxygen-free radicals. Coffee also contains minerals like magnesium and chromium which helps the body use hormone insulin to control blood sugar levels. 

Parkinson’s disease

There are tests that show that drinking caffeinated coffee reduces risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. It would appear that the caffeine is the reason for this, but it is unknown at this time exactly why. 

Dementia

People who drink 3-5 cups of coffee daily, were found 65% less likely to develop dementia. These results (2009) came from a study performed in Sweden and Finland over 20 year time period and followed a group of 1400 people. Some were regular coffee drinkers (3-5 cups), some were occasional drinkers and some were non coffee drinkers.

The facts 

Fewer cases of certain cancers, heart rhythm problems and strokes were also noted during these studies. It is important to note that these positive results do not mean that coffee is a cure all for the diseases mentioned or any others, however the data suggests that coffee drinking can reduce risks of developing certain conditions. If you have a certain disease or condition, drinking coffee will not cure it.

It would be great if it was that simple, but it doesn’t work that way. What these results do suggest is that by continuing your normal coffee drinking ritual, you can reduce risks of certain health conditions. Not to be a broken record here, but unfortunately there are some people who would jump to conclusions and think that coffee will make them immune to diseases and that is not true. The other side of the coffee coin is that the caffeine is not too healthy for you in general. High levels of caffeine consumption can raise blood pressure and adrenaline levels, both of which are certainly not good.

This is a truly wonderful thing, discovering that coffee tastes good and is possibly good for you! Who knew that your morning eye opener in a cup could have so many healthy benefits?

Now, on the more serious side, it is important to understand that the coffee benefits listed above are based on plain coffee. The added sugar, flavors and milk/cream are not part of the studies that were conducted. With that statement out of the way, go out and enjoy that cup of coffee with an even bigger smile!

How to Gracefully Dine alone

Posted by · Leave a Comment 

I used to see people eating in a restaurant by themselves and feel bad for them. I know it was judgemental, but for some reason it always seemed sad to me that they had no one to eat with and talk to. Suddenly, one day I realized that some people may actually eat alone by choice. It may be the one time of day they get a few minutes alone or it may be a time that they use for other things. Regardless, I began to wonder what it would be like to go into an eating establishment and say “One” when asked how many. So, I did just that one day and I learned a great deal about dining alone.

The first thing I learned is that it can be a very relaxing time. When you first get to your table, it is important to pick the seat that you want. After all, there is nobody there to tell you otherwise. Once seated, take your time and peruse the menu because unless you are in a hurry, there is no reason to rush. Be sure to ask those questions that you might usually stifle to save time when eating out. Have that glass of wine or that appetizer that you always think you would enjoy. The more comfortable you are, the more graceful you will be.

Another thing I learned, was that when dining alone, nobody else is paying any attention. They might look up when you walk by, but unless you feel the need to explain to the waiter or waitress why you are alone, most people could not care less. So, relax and enjoy. There is no need to keep looking around to see who is watching you because I did just that and the answer is for the most part, not one single person is watching.

Finally, if you are concerned about looking obvious, bring something to do. Maybe it would be a good time to write a grocery list or a quick thank you card. You could calculate your checkbook. This tip is especially helpful if you feel self-conscious about being there alone. It will keep you occupied while waiting for the meal.

There is no shame in dining alone and you should feel free to do so should the occasion ever arise. You may just find that it is a welcome treat every once in awhile.

Expected behaviour at a business lunch

Posted by · Leave a Comment 

Business luncheons are organized to ease the usual work tension and to provide a more conducive environment outside the work environment to do business. It helps a great deal to motivate and refresh business partners and associates. Some business luncheons are organized to test how well an employee or prospective employee can represent the owner of a business and his business especially when asked to transact business with other associates at a luncheon. Some individuals usually get carried away and make some avoidable mistakes; they forget the fact that they are not in their living rooms. As an employee, you would not want to embarrass your boss during one of those luncheons.

Table manners

The basic thing to note during a business luncheon is to observe the basic table manners; do not blow your nose into your napkin as this could be nauseating, do not eat with your mouth wide open and of course don’t forget that your boss is not interested in the sound that comes from your mouth while eating. Manage the use of your cutlery and do not drop anything that falls from your mouth into your plate.

You would not want to look stupid where your boss is, in other words, do not go to the luncheon unprepared. Check online for the menu list of the restaurant where the luncheon is being held, this helps you to have an idea of what is served at the restaurant so that when it is time to choose from the actual menu, you would be sending a message that you are smart in your decision making; this makes your boss happy and satisfied that he has hired the right person in his organization.

Avoid competing with your boss. In most cases, do not order the same meal that your boss orders so as not to question his authority as the boss, if you do, you make your boss feel threatened. In cases where your boss recommends a meal for you, though, do not object. Just smile and flow so that it would not destabilize you and make you feel unserious and unsettled.

With your boss with you on the same table, you would not want to be rude, so put your mobile device- iPhone, blackberry on silent mode or you can switch them off so that you would not be tempted to pick calls during business conversation. Not only that your ring tones can disrupt the meeting and the purpose of the luncheon might seem thwarted.

Eating Steak on the Cheap

Posted by · Leave a Comment 

The flavor and aroma of a nice, juicy steak is hard to beat. The problem is that steak is usually cost prohibitive. It is a safe bet that a lot of people would love to be able to eat steak once in a while, but may not be able to afford many dollars per pound to purchase it. A person can save money on steak, though.

Traditional method

It is normally less expensive per pound to buy meat by the quarter or half, meaning a quarter or a half of the animal, and then to cut it up at home. While this will often save substantial money, for many people this isn’t an option because of the initial expense, effort and lack of storage space, however. Still, this method is worth some thought. If the price of cheap steaks is over $4 a pound and a hundred pound quarter costs $2 a pound, it would cost less than half as much, though the initial outlay of money would be much greater because a hundred pounds of meat are being purchased.

Meat on special

Meat is also sometimes on special, either at a store or a butcher shop. It pays off to buy the meat when it has been discounted, freezing any excess for later use. Again, this assumes that there will be space for the extra meat and it ignores the fact that the special prices are often because the meat isn’t high quality and might be tough. 

Boneless roast

Using a roast can be the best way of all. It isn’t uncommon for roasts to also be on special, especially if they weigh five pounds or more. Even if they aren’t on special, the roast is usually less expensive than steak. Using a roast has additional benefits, as well. The meat tends to be more tender than cheap cuts of steak and a person can cut it, against the grain, to the desired thickness. If the roast is indeed on special, even a small freezer is normally large enough to handle any excess.

As an example, in a small town in Montana, the main store often sells beef round steak for just under $5 per pound. Top sirloin steak is often over $7.50 per pound. A boneless sirloin roast normally sells for a little less than $3 a pound, with occasional specials that are closer to $2 per pound. This means that the equivalent of top sirloin steaks cost much less than half the cost of the actual steaks, and a five pound roast can be cut into 5-10 steaks. 

There are ways to save money on steak, without sacrificing flavor or quality. If a person chooses to use a bone-in roast, the cost can be even less, though the bone normally will need to be cut. In any event, a person can buy in bulk, they can purchase the meat when it is on special or they can cut their own perfectly good steaks out of a roast. The savings are often substantial, allowing a person on a low or set income to still delight in a treat of steak once in a while.

Why you should be Polite to your Waitress

Posted by · Leave a Comment 

Waitress job is an honorable job in the hospitality industry. Because of her excellent performance, customer will really enjoy their time with her. She can make every customer become happy and feel in at their home atmosphere. She can let her customer forget their tiredness and fatigue when she shows up.

People will never forget their golden moment after they get the excellent service from her. Whoever will respect her because her job shows her wisdom and talent.
In the past, the old generation thought that waitress job was low class job in the society. Most of them didn’t want their daughter to be a waitress; they thought that waitress got less money and face many troubles to her guests. It is very easy to get complain from the guest when something working not smoothly. They didn’t understand what the real meaning of a waitress is.

They misunderstood the waitress job; they would rather let their daughter work at another job. Actually their thinking is not correct, because they neglect the importance of a waitress job. They don’t understand the waitress can bring the happiness and joyfulness to the people. When people think of that; the waitress job is really a great job. She will be proud of herself because she can create the new environment and good atmosphere for her customers. She should be praised and encouraged. People will thank her excellent job and her hardness.
If you are a guest, please understand the waitress situation.

Try to not scold or blame the waitress when you think her job is not perfect; for example, due to some reason the food is delayed, wrong food order, or drink spilled on the clothes etc. Sometimes the restaurant is very busy and less manpower, it might make some mistakes, and especially the kitchen side is easy to create some problem. It cause the food served late or served to the wrong table. When this kind of things happen to you, you should clam down and check the waitress, let her follow up your problem. Never show your attitude or lose your temper to her. You have to understand her and excuse her, let her not feel embarrass. Because the situation might be very hard for her, the workload is over her capacity at that moment.

If you treat the waitress not properly, it may hurt her heart. When you see her next time you might difficult to get your satisfied service from her. She also will escape you when she see you again. If you do it like that you can not enjoy your meal anymore. On the contrary, if you treat your waitress very politely even she happen some small mistakes. She will never forget you and try to recover her job mistake as soon as possible. She will keep an eye on you and do her best for you whenever she serves you.

She will remember you and provide the convenience to you when you see her. Whatever you need she will try her best to satisfied you and show her helpfulness. You will feel really happy when you see her next time.

Dinner Party Seating Etiquette

Posted by · Leave a Comment 

Seating etiquette often comes second to all the other demands of holding a dinner party. The food, the wine, and the guests are all important. However, the seating arrangements can make or break your dinner party.

Seating arrangements

Formal dinner parties always have specified places for each guest. Seating protocol is particularly strict at diplomatic or other high-ranking dinners, which are beyond the scope of this article. Semi-formal and casual dinner parties may also use specified seating arrangements to accommodate people’s personalities or needs. The most casual buffet parties don’t need seating arrangements.

Each seat placement is identified by a separate place card. These should be styled appropriately to the event.

= Seating protocol =

The places of honor are to the right side of the host and to the right of the hostess. A male guest of honor sits to the hostess’ right. A female guest of honor sits at the host’s right. If there are no guests of honor, the positions are filled by close friends or by guest seniority. In some cases where there is only a single guest of honor, the host and hostess may sit together.

At Eastern formal dinners, the most senior person at the table sits at the head of a rectangular table. From there, seniority passes down the table on both sides. This is also the same order in which eating begins.

= Men and women =

Where both men and women will be guests and seating does not follow a strict order of precedence, an equal number of men and women should be invited whenever possible. The seating in this case will alternate men and women. With an odd number of people, choose 2 like-minded people of the majority sex to sit together.

Married couples should not be seated together unless the husband or wife is paintfully shy. This separation at dinner parties promotes conversation with others.

= Professions and interests =

Seating guests of similar professions together has both advantages and disadvantages. Talking shop is much more likely when people in close seating proximity have similar professions. You may prefer dinner conversation to flow along points of interest rather than professional detail. An alternative is to seat guests who have common non-work interests together.

The dinner party is also a business meeting, the host and hostess usually sit together at the head of the table. Other guests are seated in groups as appropriate to the requirements of the meeting. This may require a varying size selection of tables to accommodate different group sizes.

= Cautionary note =

Do not seat people who do not like each other together unless, for some reason, that is the point of the dinner party. Breaking this rule can also break your dinner party.

Sitting down

At a formal dinner, the men escort women to their seats and pull out their chairs for them. No man sits down until all the women have been seated.

The first couple to go to their place are the host and the female guest of honor. The next is the hostess and male guest of honor, although the male guest to her left should pull out her chair for her.

After all the guests of honor are at their place, others can find their seats. Men should escort women whenever possible, with each man escorting the woman who sits to his right. After all the women are seated, the men can join them. Shortly after that, the first courses can be served.

Late arrivals

A dinner party should not be delayed by more than 15 minutes for late arrivals. Anyone who knocks at the door after that time should be met by the host at the door. A late guest apologizes to the hostess before being taken to his or her seat.

If a female guest is late, the other men at the table should rise while her tablemate to her left pulls out her chair for her. They do not sit down again until she is seated.

Lasagna with Homeade Sauces

Posted by · Leave a Comment 

Lasagna is much like the other famous Italian meals (pizzas or pastas particularly) in the respect that once someone gets the basic idea the recipe proves to be very flexible and ingredients can easily be swapped around to better suit personal taste. It can also vary a bit in difficulty: most of the ingredients like sauces and pastry can be bought pre-made, so in some cases making the actual meal is no more than layering the right ingredients in the right order. This article is aimed for medium difficulty lasagna (which actually is still pretty easy and only skips one part: hand-made lasagna pastry).

Ingredients for 4:

1 medium onion

1 lb tomatoes (fresh or canned)

3 cloves of garlic

1 lb minced beef

1/2 cup butter

3 cups of cold milk

1/2 cup flour

3 cup grated cheese

1 pack lasagna pastry (usually about 1 lb)

1/2 lb spinach (fresh or deep frozen)

Oregano, basil, black pepper and salt

Preparation starts with chopping the onion fine and frying it in oil until transparent. Then the mashed garlic is added and after a few seconds (it really doesn’t take more, but it is good to fry garlic for a bit in oil, since this gets the flavour out) the chopped (or canned) tomato joins the pot. When it starts to boil, the oregano and the beef is added to the sauce and boils until the mince is cooked.

Now the second step, the cheese sauce, which is much easier to make than one could expect – and in this case one does not only avoid the use of unwanted preservatives but also can customize the taste.

After the butter is melted in a deep frying pan (or pot) and heated until the water in it is gone (it stops bubbling), then flour is added. This is heated until the flour becomes foamy (this should be way before it starts getting any brown color) then the heat should be turned off. The cold milk is whisked in rapidly (to avoid the forming of lumps in the sauce). Then the heat is turned back on, and when the sauce thickens the cheese (of choice, it can be cheddar, smoked cheese, grated Parmezan, Mozarella or any other fatty cheese that melts) is added. The sauce can be seasoned with black pepper to taste.

The hard part is over, now all there is left is to assemble the lasagna. After a deep tray is oiled the process starts with a layer of lasagna pastry in the bottom, a little bit overlapping. Then a layer of meat, a layer of spinach, a layer of cheese sauce. Then pastry again (it is not that important anymore that it fully covers the surface), meat, spinach, cheese sauce and this repeats until the ingredients last (it should usually have at least 3 of each layer) . The top layer should be cheese sauce that prevents the pastry from getting burned. If someone would sprinkle some oregano on the top of it (together with any cheese that is left over, that would give the meal a mouth-watering scent way before it is ready.

The tray is put in the oven and is baked for 30-40 minutes on 350 F, then it should rest on room temperature for 10-15 minutes to make cutting it up easier.

Of course this recipe is not written in stone, one can use canned lasagna/ spaghetti sauce instead of preparing their own, buy the bechamel or cheese sauce, leave out the spinach or actually substitute the meat with stir fried vegetables (zucchini is great for vegetarian lasagna). If someone loves melted cheese on top of things, some extra grated cheese can be used, or one cup of cheese can be saved for this purpose. Some people add sausages, meatballs, mushroom. There is nothing wrong with that. The important thing is that now it is more clear how lasagna is made and everyone can customize it in a way they and their families will enjoy it the most.

Restaurant Terms

Posted by · Leave a Comment 

When you go out to eat at a restaurant and you are seated near the expeditor and/or the kitchen, you may hear a few terms that you are not familiar with, unless you have worked in the restaurant industry. These terms are commonly used among cooks and servers. It is like their own language. When a person gets their first job in a restaurant, getting used to this language can be difficult. Many of the cooks and servers will use these terms and walk away leaving you wondering what the heck they just said to you. If you are curious about the most common terms in this restaurant language, read on.

Back of the house/front of the house: This one is easy. The back of the house refers mainly to the kitchen, but the office and expeditor station are also situated there. The front of the house is the part of the restaurant where guests dine, people are seated and drinks are served.

On the fly: On the fly means, make that as fast as you possibly can in restaurant terms. This term is used when something was not ordered back to the kitchen in a timely manner or there was some other mistake along the way. So, if you hear an authoritative voice in the kitchen say, “Ordering a (insert food here) on the fly.” you know they are in a hurry.

Behind you: After ten years spent working in kitchens, I find myself using this term in all kinds of places-especially the grocery store. “Behind you” is what a staff member will say when they are walking behind someone else. Restaurants can be so loud and busy that it is all too easy for people to just crash into each other. If you say behind you, then your “teammate” knows you are there and will not back up into that hot pot of water you are carrying.

Corner: Corner is another restaurant term that is used to keep people from crashing into each other. It is used when you. . . you guessed it. . . are going around a corner. It does not matter if you are empty-handed, the person who may be coming around that corner might not be. These terms should be used consistently.

In the weeds: This restaurant term is often used an S.O.S. If you hear a cook cry “Ah! I’m in the weeds.” it means she/he is getting too many orders at once and they need help. It can also be used as a negative answer to a request to help. For example, “Can you help me clean my station?” “Sorry, I can’t. I’m in the weeds.” Basically, it means, “I am very busy. If you’re not going to help me, get out of my way.”

86: 86 is simple. It means we are all out. Cooks use this term to inform servers and other cooks that they are out of something. The message is then passed to the rest of the staff. This is a cook’s favorite restaurant term. It is dorky, but when my shift was over in the middle of a rush, I used to say “86 Shelly.” with a big smile on my face.

Fire: When a cook tells another cook to fire something, that means get is started. This term is used when certain dishes need to go out before others, so you have to wait to start some of them. Once the salad or appetizer is on the guest’s table, you fire their entrees.

Up sell: This restaurant term is the dirty word that leads your server to push certain drinks or foods on you. When a server comes to your table and say something like “Have you tried our mojitos? They are to die for.” That means that their manager has told them to “up sell” mojitos. It is probably just an ordinary mojito, trust me.

Dish pit: Dish pit is the restaurant term for dungeon, I mean, dish area. This is where our busboys, dishwashers and, on the occasion, managers, servers and cooks, wash dishes. It is my belief that this term got started when a poor cook was forced to wash his own pots and pans when a dishwasher was out sick. It really is like a pit, minus the sunk into the ground part.

Now that you know what these terms mean, you will have a better understanding of what is going on in a restaurant the next time you enter one. It seems like a small success. However, I have to admit that I feel much better knowing what those cooks are yelling about in the “back of the house.”

The best Gift to Bring to a Dinner Party

Posted by · Leave a Comment 

Here in Greece the traditional gift to take along when dining at someone’s house is cakes. Not just any cakes but cakes from a bakery. There is a very distinct difference between taking along some home made offering and that from a shop, and the pastry shops produce large sickly sweet confections full of honey and cream which no one ever appears to eat. Quite what happens to them all once the boxes are open is anyone’s guess but the most likely outcome is the boxes are piled in the fridge and then thrown out when the cakes have gone off.

If wine is taken along then it is far more appreciated if it is the home made variety in a plastic bottle rather than any of that rubbish bought from a shop which will be full of chemicals. Home made red wine from real grapes is highly prized and thought of as good medicine. It is known as spitico, and the best tavernas produce their own and people eagerly await the day when the barrel will be ready. Usually it is available from November to March and after that people need to risk being poisoned by shop bought wine.

Flowers aren’t terribly popular as gifts but there are a number of plastic flower shops which stock offerings. Real flowers grow outside but indoors they simply attract mosquitoes and die in the heat. However a gift of a pot plant in vibrant hues to add to the balcony display will always go down well, as would a pot of basil. Naturally one mustn’t be seen to eat the basil as this is considered a rather odd habit and if you want to buy a basil plant you must go to the florist.

Naturally it is acceptable to take a gift of olive oil for your hosts and it is fine if you put it in a plastic water bottle. This type of gift would be suitable when the first oil of the year is produced and it is fresh, and even if your hosts have just filled their own barrel with 100 kilos of olive oil for that year’s use they will still appreciate your offering as long as you didn’t buy it in shop. It is imperative that the oil must be from your own supply and it would be considered very bad form to try and pass off a plastic bottle from the shop as your own as most likely it could have been watered down.

These gifts of shop bought cakes, home produced olive oil, basil from a florist, and spitico wine will all be appreciated by your hosts. Just remember to keep the items in order and never turn up with home made cakes, shop bought wine, flowers out of the garden or olive oil from the shop.