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that's not what i ordered
a chef's plea
by stephen g. cook

Here we go>
I am a chef in a private club in New York.I have lived in six other states and have been in plethera of kitchens and consider myself a well rounded culinary professional.
I am writing this little article to help other overly amuzed Americans on how to order food.I will also help you overcome the fear of sending your dish back.Hopefully by the end of the article some of you may enjoy more fruitful dining experiences in the future.

First of all beefeaters...
If you don't want to see any red or pink in your meat forget words like medium and rare alltogether.Oh you knew that right??Of course you did but when you're in my shoes people send steaks back ordered medium rare on a weekly basis and wonder why there's color still left in the middle.Do I get upset?No way because at least they sent it back.I'll explain later.

Please read every word of the food description on the menu.If your Salmon comes topped with a lemon and caper sauce...then the sauce will have capers in it.Pay attention people.If you see a fancy french word on the menu and don't know what it means then ask for Pete's sake!!The French will eat anything so don't complain when a pile of raw duck liver shows up on your salad entree!!

Ask your server what he or she recomends on the menu.I'll bet you a million bucks she won't even have to think about two quick tried and true offerings that everyone likes on a daily basis.She's not going to steer you to an unpopular item.She's trying to make a living.

Lastly and what I'm really trying to get too...
If you don't like the taste,it's not what you ordered,or even if it's not cooked to your liking,then God please send it back!!Don't be shy.You're out to dinner and you're going to pay good money for it.The cooks won't care.Those of us who create food because we enjoy it will eagerly fix any problem with your meal.Do you want to know what makes me want to take a 40 caliber Glock to my head??It's when people clear their whole plate and then complain!!These are the people we should shoot through a hole in the ozone.Send your food back people!Gut it up.It's Friday night,you've worked hard all week and you're an American!!Have some balls and your tummy will be happy and I will sleep a whole lot better.Thank you for listening.


I live in upstate New York where the winters are bad but a hurricane won't blow your house down.I am a musician and a chef.Life doesn't bother me at all. In the past I have cruised chicks with Joe Procopio at putt-putt golf courses.I have no real column writing in my background(just some poetry and lyrics)but enjoy visiting the site and it's culture.

more about stephen g. cook


still at it
one meal at a time
by stephen g. cook
topic: general
published: 5.5.05

let's not play putt putt
the lost art of cruising chicks
by stephen g. cook
topic: general
published: 6.1.05


jeff miller
3.22.05 @ 2:29p

My guess is (anyone who knows the author will back me up), given the chance, Chef Steve could sweet-talk a whiny customer looking for a burnt tenderloin into drinking his bloody steak with a straw.
Given the chance, anyway.

tracey kelley
3.22.05 @ 2:33p

Hi Jeff!

from the bio: "In the past I have cruised chicks with Joe Procopio at putt-putt golf courses"


from the column: So, what do you prefer to cook? What are some of your favorite dishes?

stephen cook
3.22.05 @ 3:02p

Hi Tracey.This is more of a rant and not a column.I know my skills are lacking compared to those of my peers on this sight,but I'm still having fun.I love cooking anything really.I like to use the best and freshest "in season" ingredients around.I will use any excuse to hide Jalepeno peppers into many unlikley dishes.Thanks for the advice on picking a "winner column" out of my bio.I'll get to work on that soon.Peace...

jael mchenry
3.24.05 @ 12:52p

I can't second the "speak up if you don't like it" thing enough. I'm not in the industry, but I frequent a lot of online forums where people talk about food, and the number one thing that burns my cheese is when someone complains "the soup was salty, the table was drafty, they never brought my coffee, and the bill was wrong! Boycott this restaurant! They don't care about you!"

And then someone asks, "Well, did you say anything? Did you tell them about the salt? Did you ask to be moved?"

And the answer comes, "No, we didn't want to make trouble."


tracey kelley
3.24.05 @ 4:25p

Life's too short to eat bad food.

stephen cook
3.24.05 @ 8:43p

Thank you Jael. I'm glad you feel me. You hit the nail on the head about not wanting to make any trouble. The same person will leave the facility in a bad mood and complain all the way home!! I never got into this business to ruin anyone's evening. People have to learn how to help themselves sometimes.

jael mchenry
3.25.05 @ 9:15a

And now with all the ways you can tell other people about your bad experience -- online chats and forums and bulletin boards -- it's pretty unfair to start blackening a restaurant's reputation just because the waiter forgot to bring your coffee. Remind the waiter. You'll get your coffee. If you don't, THEN get annoyed.

I had rare tuna for the first time the other week and it was delicious. Bring on the pink centers!

stephen cook
3.25.05 @ 10:38a

No better way to eat tuna than seared. I agree and would love to prepare it for you myself over a nice bed of watercress. MMMMMMM. Next time have your salmon that way. It's a close second.

lucy lediaev
4.4.05 @ 4:04p

I live in a big city where I expect people to be fairly sophisticated about dining out. Mostly, though, that's not the case. I'm amazed at the number of times I've had to urge friends to return a dish because they don't like it or it isn't prepared as they requested. I've also had to complain on their behalf because a beverage is not delivered, an item like dressing is missing, etc.

If food and/or service are beyond normal expectations, I make a point of finding a manager so that I can express my appreciation.

In regard to the doneness of beef, those who like it well done would be more likely to order it that way servers would stop making faces when the request is made. My father always ordered his beef well done, and suffered a lot of comments, as well as looks. (I agree that level of doneness approaches the texture of shoe leather, but if someone wants it that way...it's on them.)

tim lockwood
4.7.05 @ 12:32a

I don't exactly work in a gourmet restaurant that requires a chef, but we are known by our customers as the best pizza in town. Plus we have lots of other tasty goodies on our menu that you won't find at run-of-the-mill pizza places. I have to go along with the "ask first if you don't know what it is" sentiment.

For instance, we serve several sandwiches that have marinara sauce on them, such as our chicken parmesan and our Italian beef. But it's happened more than once that a first-time customer has brought their sandwich up to the counter and said indignantly, "I thought this was supposed to have marinara sauce on it. All I see is spaghetti sauce, and nobody said anything about that." At which point you have to put on your best customer-service smile and very patiently explain without sounding condescending that yes, marinara is one of the more common types of spaghetti sauce.

By the by, how is the sandwich? "Oh, it's fine, I just wish I had known there was going to be spaghetti sauce on it. When you said marinara, I was expecting something completely different."

juli mccarthy
4.7.05 @ 5:03p

On the other hand, Tim, I once ordered linguini with pesto sauce and was snootily asked by the waiter, "You DO know that's not a red sauce, right?" Fine line between educating a customer and being a BIG HONKIN' JERK.

My cousin Greg is a really really good chef, but we once had to restrain him from assaulting a customer who ordered a filet mignon, well-done, with American cheese melted on top and a bottle of ketchup.

lisa r
4.7.05 @ 7:36p


You should have let him beat the nitwit to a pulp. What a hideous thing to do to a filet!

juli mccarthy
4.7.05 @ 8:29p

But it was HIS filet! If he wants to blow his money on a ruined piece of meat, isn't that his perogative?

I just made faces behind his back.

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