Search This Blog

Friday, October 10, 2014

Meeting Dining Expectations

Expectation, this is what every restaurant customer walks through the door with, more than the company they intend to keep, more than the dollars they willing to part with, more than what lay in wait for the remainder of the evening, they have had expectations. The expectation varies with each individual for they are seeking satisfaction of their very needful expectation. Depending on the style of the restaurant the expectation will be subject to change in most areas except one, receiving the finest meal for the dollar (large or small) that is exchanged in accomplishing expectation.

Disappointing the expectation is the loss of the customer? Perhaps not, but more importantly, it is the dissolution of the faith the customer has placed within those who have promised to meet those expectations. When a menu offers an item prepared in a certain manner does it come that way or have the promises made upon the menu met with a disappointing lack of concern for the expectation of all concerned. There becomes an unwritten partnership in service within a restaurant where each one involved in that partnership has duties and expectations.

 First the customer, the most important partner, for without the customer there can no longer be a need for the business. The customer is the one who comes with the highest of expectation and will quickly dissolve the relationship when those expectations go unfulfilled. A promise of a creamy risotto, which turns into nothing more than gruel, a sherry laced lobster bisque which becomes a cold cayenne infused liquid or jumbo sea scallops that are really nothing more than bay scallops all lead to the ruin of the expectations and a dissolution of the partnership. The customer knows one thing for a certainty, there is another restaurant just around the corner or right next door and they are quickly willing to change the partner they presently have.

Keep in mind that beyond the expectation of a wonderful meal all the expectations that follow do so based on implied promises found within or upon the pages of the menu. Right there in the menu item description. When one fails that, they fail self and that is where faith is lost. Not fulfilling the written promise is tantamount to breaking a written covenant with your partner. What the menu promises create's the expectation of the customer, "the most delicious house baked cheesecake you ever had" does not mean it comes out the freezer sent directly in by the food service purveyor, it means the restaurant staff made it. When you go cheap on your customer, you quickly have no customers. The menu reads "we use only the finest, freshest, local ingredients" yet the pantry and refrigeration are filled with pre-made heat and serve or instant product. A lie on the menu is still a lie and a slap in the face of your partner the customer. An unhappy customer must viewed as nothing more than a failure to meet expectations, not only theirs but our own as well.

Every chef comes to the position with the expectation of his/her ability being well received. These expectations define the present and the future of the chef. Compromising personal and instructed standards only lessens the opportunity to meet the expectations and makes cheap the skills of the chef.

A chef who has a passion for his/her cuisine and has maintained that passion knows every dish is the reflection of that passion. A chef is as only as good as the dish he/she is serving at any given moment. Being sure of your ability provides a confidence in the customer but being true to your word meets the expectation of the customer. A no compromising attitude only goes to fulfilling all the partners expectations. Many kitchens are under the management of those willing to part with what their skills have taught them in an effort to save a few pennies per plate, before long less customers are coming and the slide to the destruction of the restaurant has begun, simply because of compromise and failure to meet expectations.

Culinary education, high standards and skills are only as good as the effort made to make use of them. If you possess them, then there must be an expectation to use them, not to meet that expectation is fail self and all others.

Touting those skills on social media and internet only goes to accomplish the reason they exist, that is to feed the expectation of a new or existing client. Here more than ever the maintaining those standards and meeting the expectations carry their weight in gold. This of course means the photography of menu items placed online, be sure that the same dishes served in the restaurant match the pictures, you set the expectation with the photo, did you meet it? Those who use this media (more all the time) do not hesitate to express both the fulfilling and failure through the social media sites, where word of mouth may affect up to a few hundred people now social media affect thousands. What is stated on line must be truthful and complete.

Front of the house staff to have expectations, when the expectation of their customer is left unfulfilled, the good ones, take it as a personal slight and feel somewhat that they have failed. They have when the failure is completely within their control, being inattentive, sluggish, or distracted fails the expectation of the consumer. However the majority of a server problem is kitchen related, the customer tends to forget the server is the transportation department simply delivering what the kitchen has been ordered to prepare by the customer, who expects exactly what they desired. It is the server who hears the disappointing moaning and groaning of the consumer not a kitchen who cares little for that consumer.

Managers and chefs who cannot fulfill on the menu promise crash the expectations of the customer in turn the customer crashes the expectation of the manager and chef by not returning. If the menu promises an item be sure you have it, and it is exactly what is stated. An 86 item makes no friends, every host or hostess should notify the customer of 86 items the moment the menu is presented thus eliminating any disappointed expectation. Every effort should be made to prevent this from happening, but they do, so handle with a little concern for the expectation of the customer.

Lobster Bisque
5 lbs lobster
10 cups water
4 tbsp butter
1 finely diced medium onion
1 minced garlic clove
1 finely diced celery
4 tbsp flour
1 cup peeled, seeded, diced tomatoes
3 oz tomato paste
1/3 cup sherry
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 cup whipping cream

Place the lobster in a large kettle. Cover with the water. Bring to a boil and boil for 30 minutes. Remove the crayfish and allow to cool. Remove the tail meat from the crayfish, reserve the meat, return the shells to water. Simmer the lobster shells until the water has reduced to 4 cups (1 L). Strain the broth, reserving it. Discard the shells.

In a large saucepan, heat the butter. Sauté the onion, garlic and celery until tender.

Sprinkle with flour and cook for 2 minutes over low heat.

Pour the crayfish broth over the vegetables. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, crayfish tails, sherry, salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Transfer the soup to a blender and puree. Return to the pot and continue to simmer for 5 minutes. Whip in the cream and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.

Serve very hot.



1 lb. Fresh sea scallops
2 Tbps. Butter
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 – 1/2 cup of dry white wine

Heat butter and thyme in a non-stick pan
Toss in the scallops and cook for a few minutes
Flip them over.
Deglaze the pan with a little white wine
Turn the heat off to let them finish cooking for a minute or two.
Place on risotto (follows).
Serves 4


1½ cups arborio rice
1 qt seafood or fish stock
½ cup white wine
1 medium shallot or ½ small onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups peeled and de-viened 30/40 count shrimp
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp chopped Italian parsley
Kosher salt, to taste

Heat the stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan, then lower the heat so that the stock just stays hot. 

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the oil and 1 Tbsp of the butter over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the chopped shallot or onion. Sauté for 2-3 minutes or until it is slightly translucent.

Add the rice to the pot and stir it briskly with a wooden spoon so that the grains are coated with the oil and melted butter. Sauté for another minute or so, until there is a slightly nutty aroma. But don't let the rice turn brown.

Add the wine and cook while stirring, until the liquid is fully absorbed. Add a ladle of hot stock to the rice and stir until the liquid is fully absorbed. When the rice appears almost dry, add another ladle of stock and repeat the process.

Continue adding ladles of hot stock and stirring the rice while the liquid is absorbed. As it cooks, you'll see that the rice will take on a creamy consistency as it begins to release its natural starches. Continue adding stock, a ladle at a time, for 20-30 minutes or until the grains are tender but still firm to the bite, without being crunchy. If you run out of stock and the risotto still isn't done, you can finish the cooking using hot water. Just add the water as you did with the stock, a ladle at a time, stirring while it's absorbed.

Stir in the shrimp during the last five minutes of cooking the rice.

Stir in the remaining 2 Tbsp butter, the Parmesan cheese and the parsley, and season to taste with Kosher salt.

Serve at once, holding the rice even for a short time will turn it glutinous at the cost of the creamy sauce like texture, which is truly what you want.



3-½ cups graham cracker crumbs
1 tbsp cinnamon
¼ cup melted butter


1.5 lbs cream cheese
2 cups granulated sugar
1-½ cups heavy cream
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp vanilla
4 eggs, room temperature
1-½ cups sour cream


Combine crust ingredients. Press into the bottom and sides of a buttered 10" springform pan. Chill. Preheat the oven to 325F (160C).


Beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the cream, lemon juice and vanilla, beat until well blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the sour cream. Pour mixture into prepared shell. Place the springform pan in a larger pan containing an inch of water. Bake in the oven until the center is set, about 90 minutes. Turn off the oven and prop door open slightly. After about 30 minutes transfer to a rack to cool, chill overnight.

Serve with fresh fruit or fruit sauce.

No comments: