As prominent as they in their ever-popular restaurants and open kitchen concepts, chefs are still mysterious creatures. They work hard in the background to perfect your dinner and don’t always have time to banter with a full room of eager foodies.
Regardless of what city you’re in, it’s pretty much guaranteed that chefs will proudly present their top dishes with vigour. But, when it comes to the face-to-face moment of your dinner, how are you supposed to engage with a chef?
Here are 6 things you can do to show your favourite chef that you care about food and love coming to her or his restaurant.
1 Know the chef’s name - This one kind of seems like a given, but this detail is often overlooked. Knowing the difference between ‘Joshua’ and ‘Josh’ or ‘Stevenson’ and ‘Stephenson’ is always appreciated. Especially when it comes to textual mentions on your website or social mediums.
2 Don’t bring picky eaters to their restaurant - Do you know what I hate? Picky eaters. I can guarantee to you that most chefs hate them too. Don’t get me wrong, hate is a strong word, but unless they’re six years old, there is no reason for a person to not like mushrooms, pick red onions off of their burger, or make a disgusted face at the sight of eggplant. It is 2013, so restaurant visits should only be paid with open-minded foodies in tow. If you don’t agree with me then get new friends!
3 It’s ok to become a ‘regular’ - Now, I’m not saying you need to pop by your favourite eateries four times a week and drop hundreds of dollars on quality drinks and food. Very few of us can legitimately live the food critic lifestyle. There is absolutely nothing wrong with stopping by for a quick after work drink and appy or swinging by later in the evening for a visit with friends and a cheap dessert. Regular attendance never goes unnoticed...unless you just come in for water and to use the bathroom.
4 Don’t always bring your camera or tweet/instagram/whatever like a crazy person - Sometimes it is ok to just let go of ‘social’ responsibilities. Trust me, this is coming from a guy who is virtually married to his phone. No pun intended, we almost got divorced this month...Photos are always appreciated at pivotal happenings (i.e. first visits, special dinners, break-ups with insane girlfriends), but a casual Tuesday night dinner and drinks with friends doesn’t always warrant full SLR and flash attention. It took me a long time to realize this.
5 Know what you’re talking about when it comes to the food - I am not asking you to be an Alton Brown - because I am not either - but if you’re in a great restaurant, you should probably know the difference between a green herb oil and a chimichurri sauce. Too often food bloggers comment on components of a dish without understanding exactly what they’re eating. Trust me, restaurants (and their chefs) hate that. Google has been rumored to answer almost any question. So, if there’s any doubt, consult your best friend Siri!
6 Acknowledge the chef and restaurant appropriately on social media - After knowing their name, loving their food and chatting with the chef, one of the worst possible thing you can do is mention them incorrectly on the internet. We all understand that internet attention is of the utmost importance - please sense some level of sarcasm here - , but hash tagging something like #greatmealdarryl or #charcutismyfav (shameless Calgary plug for Charcut) are wasted characters. I mean, you wouldn’t want my friends to say “Had a gr8t night out with #myBFFdan” would I? Of course not!
Written by food writer and columnist, Dan Clapson, based out of Calgary, Alberta. In addition to writing for Avenue Magazine and Food Network Canada, he blogs about his culinary adventures at www.dansgoodside.com. He's currently knee-deep in his popular Top Chef Canada blog series where he takes the challenge home every week and re-creates it for his roommate and best friend, Baub the parrot". He likes to eat pickles out of the jar. Twitter: @dansgoodside