It’s Just Food

That’s right. Let’s not lose sight of that. We–all of us–need to remind ourselves once in a while. Myself included. It’s when we start taking ourselves too seriously that we start to head in to trouble.

Same goes for drink

It’s just drink. Sure, like a lot of people, I love good drink. I like being able to talk about the differences of a left-bank vs. a right-bank Bordeaux. I love a nice aged bourbon. A single malt scotch. BUT. It’s still just drink. 

We aren’t reinventing the wheel here. Although, plenty of chefs, bartenders and sommeliers like to pretend they are.

I understand it

I mean, it’s hard not to have some ego invested in this whole thing. As with anything, if you are passionate about what you are doing, it can be easy to cross that line in to pretense.

However, we must be careful. Walk that fine line. Care about what you are doing, put your whole soul in to the creation of it, but that is when we have to let go of the rest. It is not up to us to decide whether or not we did it right. That is for others to decide.

An example

You live in the Northwest. You have some of the greatest food the world has to offer at your fingertips. You get your paws on some lovely fresh, line-caught, wild Chinook salmon. You come up with a great preparation for it, send it out to your guest, and they ask for a bottle of ketchup.


Now, that is what I call an example. Let’s see now, who is paying for that salmon? That’s right, and they get to do whatever the hell they want to it, whatever it takes for them to get it down their gullet.

This is just a reminder to not take yourself or your craft too seriously. Food and drink are some of the great pleasures in this life. So go ahead and put everything you’ve got in to it.

And then let it go.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Jane says:

    I thought of you today along with the Portland dining scene. We had lunch in Rhode Island and the service was excellent along with the food. We had excellent service at a place in DC too. I wonder if it is an east coast thing. PDX often misses the mark.

  2. Marie Bates says:

    Hi Tom! I’ve been reading your blog and thoroughly enjoying it. I had to share an incident we encountered recently that made me think of today’s entry topic, a customer’s whims vs a restaurant’s dictates.

    Todd and I were in Florence (Italy, not Oregon) last November and found a really wonderful restaurant that served steak Florentine. As we waited for our slab o’ meat to arrive, we observed a party of four at a table across the room, drinking heavily and looking like they were having a pretty good time. They ordered the steak, too, but when it arrived at their table, one of the women in the party was aghast to see how pink it was in the middle. Now, I typically like my steak cooked right in the middle – neither mooing-raw nor incinerated – but that meat was meant to be eaten rare to really experience the juiciness and flavor of this spectacular cut so famous to the region. Well, she sent it back to the kitchen after having tried it at the waiter’s gentle insistence, and had them cook the hell out of it till it was a big, brown wad of what became essentially shoe leather. The waiter was crestfallen, but subtle in his dismay. And I can only imagine the terse words exchanged in the sanctity of the kitchen, fortunately out of dining room earshot. But it impressed us to see that his politeness and willingness to accommodate their choices never wavered. He had her try it first but only as an option because he felt she’d never tried it like that and it was a very expensive dish she was asking him to ruin. She tried it but she just couldn’t enjoy it that way, and I think he felt better knowing he was taking that steak back to the kitchen with her informed decision.

    He knew that ultimately she was paying for the meal which the party seemed to enjoy regardless. She was happier not seeing any blood on her plate and the waiter was experienced enough to know this. So be it. We, on the other hand, told him he didn’t need to overcook ours. He seemed pleased, a bit relieved and smiled knowingly at us.

    –Marie Bates

  3. Tom Bethel says:

    Thank you, both Marie Bates, and Jane for you input. Local restaurant owners could certainly learn a thing or two about handling these customers.

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