Should a Chef Alter a Signature Menu Item If a Customer Requests It?
But what if the customer wants a signature dish with alterations? I asked Valley chefs and restaurateurs to offer their thoughts on changing their signature creations per customer requests -- here's what they had to say:
NO: The reason most of us do this is passion. We want to cook food that evokes a positive emotional response. If we're fortunate enough to have a few signature dishes, it's because in the process of creation we have achieved a unique taste profile that impresses us and our somewhat educated palate. This is what we want the guest to experience. This is what sets us apart from the next person with a set of knives.
YES: Cooking is a collaboration and my guests play a huge role in my cooking. If you removed the guest's feedback from the equation, you would be doing a huge disservice to your operation. If I notice a trend in feedback, I will absolutely re-evaluate the dish and tweak as needed.
YES: As a chef, I signed up to be in the service industry, and that means to serve as needed. If a guest would like to make a change, I'm happy to do it. That said, if it's a really odd request I may suggest not making the change. But then again, what do I know? If it tastes good to a guest, then I guess it is good.
NO: When they are altered, they no longer remain signature dishes. As a chef, the recipe was made the way I wanted it served, and it should stay as close to that as possible. Although, there is always a need to adapt to new palates.
Aaron May, chef and restaurateur
YES: I'm a big believer that the customer is not always right but should always get what they want. If the guest wants to alter a signature dish, we will always accommodate them; however, sometimes with the caveat that the dish is not going to work as well. Obviously, if there's an aversion to the key element of the dish, there's a significant reason that the dish was created that way.