Friday July 31 4:48 PM EDT
Caviar and cocktail sauce, sauteed liver...
By Gail Appleson
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Chefs at some of the nation's top restaurants say
with some pain that customers are always right -- even if they want their
liver medium rare and pureed and their beluga caviar smothered in cocktail
New York-based Nation's Restaurant News, a trade publication, reports in
next week's issue on some of the stranger requests the leading U.S. chefs
One chef, Ed Brown of the SeaGrill in New York's Rockefeller Center, tells
of a guest whose mouth was wired up from dental work and asked for his
meal pureed. That might not have been so bad, he said, but the man ordered
liver sauteed medium rare with balsamic-honey glaze, fried onions and wild
"It was the most unappetizing food I ever served. It was so ugly I lost my
appetite," Brown said. "It looked like what I imagine the inside of a
sewer looks like. I didn't dare put it in a glass because I didn't want
anyone else in the dining room to see it."
Brown also recalls a request from a diner for cocktail sauce with his
beluga caviar. Unable to contain his curiosity, the chef surveyed the
dining room and watched the man "slamming down spoons of caviar and
cocktail sauce. The beluga was over $100 an ounce."
Another memorable request came from a diner who wanted fried lobster. "It
actually turned out to be fairly decent," the chef admitted, after he
dipped the blanched shellfish in a tempura batter. "But that wouldn't be
my first choice for a treatment for lobster."
Jean Joho, chef-owner of Everest and Brasserie Jo in Chicago, told
Nation's Restaurant News about an order for a raw veal chop with plain
vegetables on the side.
Joho prepared the meal. "If this is what he wants, this is what he will
get," he said. But he wondered why the customer did not just eat at a
Susan Weaver, chef at New York's Four Seasons hotel, also said diners
should get what they want, the trade paper said.
It said her list of unusual requests, carried out mostly by room service,
included pureed pizza, all blue M&M candies, two cases of French Evian
mineral water at room temperature for a bath, a bottle of Evian for a dog
and a specially prepared dog's dinner (the customer provided the recipe).
The dog's dish was billed at the hotel's rate for a burger, $24 a portion,
but the tab for the bath water came out to more than $200 a dip, not
including the tip.
In Atlanta, chef Guenter Seeger said a diner told him he had enjoyed the
steamed white asparagus but wondered why the soup was so bland. The
"soup," Seeger said, was actually a finger bowl served alongside the
The NRN trade publication says a sense of humor helps to defuse most
potentially embarrassing situations.
Michel Richard at Citronelle in Washington tells about the time a diner
asked for Chinese-style duck in his French restaurant. The chef asked in
his thick French accent: "Why do you come to a French restaurant for that?
Do you go to a Chinese restaurant and order beef Bourgogne?" NRN reported.
But Richard did his best to comply, adding some sugar on the skin and
cooking the duck a little longer to make it crisper. "It wasn't Peking
duck, but he liked it, and maybe I created a new recipe," the chef told
Richard said his sense of humor always saves him when customers ask if
vegetables and fish are fresh. "Even if they are not fresh, what do they
expect me to answer? 'No, the fish is old and smelly?"'