All You Can Eat


In all likelihood, over thirty years working in hospitality deems me incapable of objectively pondering “all you can eat” phenomena with anything less than contempt and bias. “All you can eat” is a mindset triggered by the suggestion of unrestricted consumption. From humble beginnings along the Las Vegas strip in the 40’s and 50’s, all you can eat became an integral facet of North American culture. All you can eat condoned gluttony, encouraged excess and banked on popularity. Quality mattered less than quantity, all you can eat fooled patrons by suggesting they controlled the dining out experience.

Fine and dandy, but here’s the problem – all you can eat culture has come to consider every edible display as all you can eat. Regardless of setting or demographic, despite common sense, decency or good manners – the moment an unrestricted table of food is displayed, is the moment “all you can eat” seizes the day.

A few days ago a client booked coffee, desserts and non alcoholic beverages to be served following a public lecture at Science World. No problem, 150 guests, service split between two stations, and if I do say so myself, stunning visual presentation. Who am I kidding? Within moments post lecture, long lines formed at each table. I watched the first thirty or so load plates with perilously high stacks of dessert bars.WTF! Do they think it’s a bottomless pit? Are they aware of how many people are lined up behind them? Did they consider a garbage bin full of “one bite taken” throw aways, while dozens go hungry?

One of my first ponders is titled “Is That A Hot Dog In Your Gucci?” Linked below for consideration –

https://notestoponder.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/is-that-a-hot-dog-in-your-gucci/

 

Annoyances and Bad Form


Time for my annual Christmas party ponder. A grumpy, exhausted caterer’s list of annoyances and bad form –

You failed to inform us “Sparky” is a very bad dog. You – executive of a major corporation hosting a Christmas party with your lovely wife. Never mind ridiculous expectations and timeline, we’ll make it fabulous. Pardon me? Sparky is snarling at my chef because he doesn’t like men wearing caps? Would you like a hair in your prime rib? Never mind. Oh, Sparky is hungry. You want my chef to feed him while carving the beef? Maybe you should feed Sparky and put him in another room. How silly of me, Sparky is much too precious. Just watch him beg for food as your guests awkwardly pretend Sparky isn’t drooling at their feet. Let me assure you – bad dogs are neither cute or entertaining, Sparky is a very bad dog.

Bad dogs have nothing on bad people. Being a reflection of his clueless environment, Sparky pales in comparison to blithering clunk-heads oblivious to their surroundings. You’re a guest at a company dinner – guests at 6 pm, passed appetizers and drinks for an hour, please be seated for dinner at 7 pm. Look around – this isn’t a restaurant, did you notice the kitchen we set up behind pipe and drape. Never mind, please be seated. Oh wait, you changed tables and now are making a scene because servers couldn’t find you to deliver a gluten free vegan meal? My sincerest apologies, if you would be so kind as to take your seat we’ll have you eating in no time.

Place setting jumpers and bad dogs pale next to passed appetizer garbage dumpers. Garbage dumpers catapult beyond canape lunges. Pushing guests aside to ensure first crack at a platter,  only embarrasses individuals oblivious to polite decorum. Taking an appetizer then depositing the pick, spoon or napkin back on the tray of canapes epitomizes bad form. Garbage dumping eclipses annoyance, forcing an immediate server about face to the kitchen. Clearly common sense eludes these geniuses – why should they care when a full platter returns to the kitchen for a scrub because their garbage prevents servers from feeding co-workers.

Baked Brie is not a pie. Yes, I see you put half a pound on your plate but no, I don’t have a fork. See the little knife for spreading it on sliced baguette? Notice scores of people politely waiting to spread a morsel of Brie on that bread? Is grumpiness trickling from corners of my forced smile? Fair enough, you probably haven’t seen a wheel of Brie large enough for fifty people – figure it out – I still don’t have a fork.

I’m sorry, your host didn’t order coffee. No, I don’t have any hot water with lemon. Can I make an exception for you? With all due respect please don’t confuse my good nature with perceived ability to pull a kettle out of my ass. I’m sure you’re lovely, mean well and truly desire a warm beverage – please look around, this isn’t a restaurant, there isn’t a pot of coffee in the back. This is the observation deck of an office tower – even if I could boil water, your host didn’t pay for hot beverage service. Can you understand my limitations, has it occurred to you one exception opens a can of worms I haven’t the staff, authority or inclination to deal with. Do you really think one exception ends with you, that none of 200 in this room will demand equal consideration? You don’t like my attitude, poor customer service? Take it up with your host – I don’t have a freaking kettle.

Why are you blocking our service area? Are you vacant, oblivious, gripped with self importance vast enough to deem it your right to stand where you damn well please? How many times have I politely asked you to step aside? Are you passive aggressive, amused by my servers struggling to maneuver around you, honestly this inconsiderate? Did you notice that one ton truck outside? What crosses your mind each time I ask you to move? Are you conscious of exhausted staff struggling with enormous loads, dolly after dolly of heavy equipment hauled outside, loaded on that truck? Silly me, of course you didn’t.

I’m tired – Christmas party season is over in a week. Like childbirth and tequila, destined to seem like a good idea the next time it rolls around.

t

 

 

 

 

Poor Manners Has My Blood Boiling


Having spent the last 30 years in the Hospitality industry there is virtually nothing left to surprise me. I’ve seen a major rock star perform a sex act on a farm animal, painted nails red on raw chicken feet, received a month free rent in exchange for a certain autographed picture, hidden a groom from his bride on his wedding night when his black eye told the story of a “date” with a hooker gone terribly wrong, turned storage rooms into prayer rooms, complete with tablecloth mats when guests suddenly needed a place to face Mecca. I have volumes of stories, yet it is bad manners that has me pondering.

This is Canada. We do not double dip, we do not place the tooth pick that has just been in our mouth onto a plate of passed appetizers, we do not push our way into service areas and proceed to unwrap platters for our personal buffet, we do not push or shove people while attempting to rush a server who is trying to pass a platter of prawns, we do not put a quarter of a wheel of baked brie on our plate and demand a fork,  we do not fill the pockets of our 2000.00 suits with cheese.

Ponder good manners as a starting place for global harmony. Respect has a lot going for it.

http://www.cbc.ca/documentaries/doczone/2008/rude/world.html

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http://lib.fit.edu/library-displays/200604.php