Archive for the ‘NERDSTEAK – Food Rant’ Category

We in the food industry love to figure out the best way to sell a product with a romance description, crisp food photography, and innovative packaging, because these are all the things that affect what you buy, before you have a chance to eat it.  However, there is always a bit of trickery in this process.  This could be hand placed fresh ingredients for the photo, an exaggeration of the flavor profile, and my personal favorite, playing with the standard of identity.

For instance, to call something ‘Greek yogurt,’ it’s traditionally a strained yogurt made with Greek milk with a high protein content, and thicker consistency with less sugar than standard yogurt.  This is the standard of identity which must be submitted and regulated before a product can be labeled as ‘Greek yogurt’.  You can throw all of that our the door if you label it as ‘Greek-style yogurt’.  Now you can add thickening agents, flavors, or other dairy products to have a final yogurt that tastes LIKE Greek yogurt, without having it produced in the standard way. Shenanigans.

There are many examples of this in both foodservice and retail establishments.  Andouille-style sausage, firebaked style flatbreads…the list goes on.  Whenever there is a a regulation in place for a product description, using the word ‘style’ gives us a little leeway.  If you are looking for traditional products or ingredients, avoid items labeled as ‘yada-style yada’.  The advantage of incorporating the word ‘style’ is that the product is usually at a better price point, last longer, better organoleptic properties over shelf-life, and it some cases, consumers aren’t concerned if it is authentic.  I am not saying either is right or wrong, just make sure you know what you are looking for.

There are also food items that have NO standard of identity, which then can use whatever they so desire as a descriptor.

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What are some of your favorite misleading food terms?

ID-100105597For whatever reason, I get upset over the smallest things when I go out to eat.  I want my dining experience to be as smooth as Sinatra.  Here are a few that make me want to chuck plates at people…

  • IT’S NICE TO SEE YOU – Please pretend that you are happy to see me and appreciate my business.  I don’t care if you are having a bad day.  If you ruin my day, your boyfriend/girlfriend problems are going to be the least of your worries.  You also won’t have any tip money for gas to get home.
  • DOING IT ANYWAY – As you walk me through the labyrinth of tables during a prime time dinner service, we arrive at my table which looks like someone has been using a circular saw on a 2×4.  Crumbs, napkins, plates, and a tip are all on the table, and you tell me to have a seat and we’ll get this cleaned up right away, then you run to get the busboy??? If anything, I would feel better if YOU yourself started to clean the table and offer your condolences since you should notice my big bald head starting on fire.  The same goes for when you give me a dirty glass, plate, or flatware.  I KNOW you saw it and gave it to me anyway.
  • COLD BUTTER – Excellent! The server has brought out what appears to be a fresh loaf of crusty bread that is warm to the touch, as well as a ramekin/pat/ball/stick of butter.  As soon as I try and scoop some up with my knife and smear it on my artisan bread, I sand a hole in my piece because the butter is right out of the FRIDGE!  How do you expect me to spread something that has the viscosity of modeling clay on my hand crafted slice of pumpernickel?  Maybe if you planned ahead and let my butter temper for a bit, I would not hurl my ice cube butter ball through your window.
  • BUSINESS SAVY  – Do I want to try your…”insert up-selling item here”??? You mean the one I saw a commercial for, and read on your billboard, and saw a big picture of in your front window, and is on the specials board in the front of the restaurant, and is on the table tent, and is on the new menu insert, and is written on your actual menu?  If I wanted it, you would know already.
  • GGOOOGOLEDEND – That is exactly what it sounds like when you walk up to me while I am enjoying my meal, and obviously chewing it, then ask me questions. I don’t care if it is a fine dining restaurant or Shenanigans, a server should almost be like a ghost and provide you with everything you need without interfering.  Please wait for me to stop talking to my party or chewing my food before asking if my meal is to my liking.  When you walk up to my table, I will acknowledge your existence before you can speak.  In return, I will never snap my finger, or yell for you to cater my every need.
  • TIMING IS EVERYTHING – If I wanted a buffet I would have went to a buffet.  Thank you for bringing my appetizer, salad, and entree all at the same time.  Could you please just mix them all together and give me a shovel?
  • NOT MY PROBLEM – One server is slammed while the other ones are in the back playing Candy Crush and watching water boil.  They casually walk past tables with empty drinks, and dirty dishes.  I SEE YOU not doing anything so why not grab a dirty glass and bring it to the BOH before I start unscrewing all of the salt and pepper caps.
  • KING OF THE CASTLE – I try to keep a low-ish profile at a restaurant because it’s a public place.  If you decide to bring everyone and their mother and THEIR kids, could you please try not to invade my dining experience?  I don’t want to hear you scream, I don’t want to have a staring contest with your child, and I don’t need to know how your last doctor visit went.  Maybe even make a small effort to clean up after yourself or organize your dirty tableware.  I’m sure this is how you act at home too.

What are some of your restaurant pet peeves?