7 Things That Chefs Hate

A careless dinner order might make a chef mad. Learn about their biggest pet peeves and how to keep cooks happy.

December 6, 2017

We all know not to make our servers mad (unless a spit garnish sounds tasty), but what upsets the most important person in the restaurant? Though we’re all used to seeing celebrity chefs yell insults at wannabes, it’s rare that we ever really get to know what makes them tick in an average restaurant.

Turns out that chefs have a wide variety of pet peeves. From little customer habits that would annoy anybody to outrageous requests most people wouldn’t believe, we’ve compiled all the things that chefs hate most.

Before you read any further, please remember that chefs work hard. Really hard. It’s not all yelling at prep cooks and serving celebrities like TV shows would make it seem. According to KQED Food,
chef Charlise Johnson gets hit extra hard by special requests. She prides herself on her work at her boutique bakery Intimate Eats. “Because I design and create very intricate specialty cakes, I really hate last minute requests,” Johnson says.

Now, Johnson’s not talking about people wanting their grandma’s name on a Happy Birthday cake or any such simple request.

“Customers contact me and say things like, I want a replica of the White House by tomorrow,‘” Johnson says. Yes, a customer actually thought it was completely appropriate to ask for a cake version of the most famous building in America with less than a day to make it!

Johnson won’t shy away from a challenge, but she finds it very rude for customers to expect her to work miracles overnight. So, super special requests are doable, but make sure the chef has plenty of time for a potentially difficult dish.

7. “What’s the recipe?”

Johnson admits she has another big pet peeve: when customers ask for her special recipes. “This drives me crazy!” Johnson says. “I wouldn’t mind sharing if this wasn’t such a niche business. I only sell made from scratch baked goods. My recipes are essential to how my business makes money.”

This is true not only for Johnson and boutique bakeries, but for any chef with a signature dish. When a customer asks for the recipe, they’re asking for the chef’s livelihood. Hey, if everybody started making their meals at home, they could potentially go out of business.

Now, I totally get that this simple request doesn’t seem that offensive to most diners. In fact, I’ve sadly done this myself. But I’ll never do it again!

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