Chefs have access to the finest ingredients and use their inherent creativity to come up with the most delicious recipes to please diners at their popular restaurants. That same creativity has served them well as parents, as they face the challenges of dining out with their children and helping to raise adventurous eaters. This week, in honor of Mother’s Day, a series of famous chefs are sharing their exclusive tips for making eating out with children a pleasurable experience for everyone at the table.
Wolfgang Puck, the chef/owner of Spago Beverly Hills and CUT by Wolfgang Puck (among many others), is one of the first true celebrity chefs, famous for changing the landscape of California cuisine (and pizza!) and becoming a household name. With a dynamic personality and continued culinary brilliance, his success continues to multiply – as has his family.
Chef Puck believes communicating with restaurant staff can be essential to a successful dining experience with children. He says, “My two young boys, Oliver, 4-1/2 years old, and Alexander, 3, do not sit still for more than 45 minutes. So, whenever I take them to a restaurant, I take that into account and I will tell the waitstaff, the faster they can serve us the better. I won’t order a tasting menu for my wife and myself. If you go out to dinner with young children, you want to make sure that you don’t spend three hours at the table. Kids will make you feel uncomfortable and the other guests might get annoyed.”
He also recommends going to favorite and familiar restaurants. “When I go with my young children to a restaurant, I generally go to one where I am well known, and I’ll call them in advance to have something ready as soon as we sit down, like a pasta or a risotto or maybe some chicken skewers, so that way the kids won’t fill up on bread.” The kids will also be immediately engaged in their dining experience.
Along with the foodies everywhere, Wolfgang’s boys adore some of his most popular dishes. He says, “Both of my kids love pizza. Oliver is especially fond of our white truffle pizza, and Alexander loves risotto. As for me, lamb chops are their favorite, and for dessert, panna cotta.”
The folks who run the food and dining section of the Chicago Tribune probably dine out a lot, so it’s not surprising that they’ve got a complaint (or 10) about their fellow diners. Judy Hevrdejs compiled the list, which includes people who linger at a table long after their meal has ended and diners who bring their own salt to a restaurant.
When I was a restaurant worker, I had a lot of complaints about diners. A LOT! As a diner, though, I have just a few, one being people who monopolize the wait staff’s time at the expense of other patrons. You know the people I’m talking about — the ones who ask question after question about the menu, the specials (“What was the first one again? And what did the other one come with?”), or the server’s personal life (“You’re from Texas! How’d you wind up in New York?”), while you wait and wait (and wait) for your check.
What do your fellow restaurant diners do that drives you mad? Has another patron’s behavior ever ruined your dining experience altogether? Tell us about it here or over on Facebook.
Made famous first as a vacation spot for folks living in Pennsylvania and western New Jersey, the Jersey Shore has stepped into the spotlight lately, courtesy of the eponymous MTV “reality” show and the antics (G-T-L!) of cast members Snookie, DJ Pauly D, JWoww, and, of course, The Situation (only one of whom is actually from New Jersey). In actual reality, the Jersey Shore is a picturesque stretch of beachfront communities with fine dining restaurants aplenty. To kick off the coming season of fun in the sun, restaurants along the shore are celebrating Jersey Shore Restaurant Week. Participating restaurants include Avenue in Long Branch, David Burke’s Fromagerie in Rumson (home to Bruce Springsteen), Scarborough Fair in Manasquan, and more.
Book your reservation today, but don’t expect to spot Sammi ‘Sweetheart’ and Ronnie. While they will return to the Jersey Shore eventually, the cast is currently filming the show’s second season in Miami.
The Daily Mail reports that a thirsty London diner asked for a free glass of tap water in a restaurant — and was refused. After spending more than $300 on dinner and ordering a bottled water and a round of drinks, the patron, Sonya Adams, politely requested a some tap water, only to be told it was against restaurant policy to serve diners free tap water. However, this policy is in violation of a new law introduced in the U.K. designed to help thwart alcohol-related crimes; alcohol retailers cannot turn down a patron’s request for a complimentary glass of water from the tap.
The restaurant’s management could face a hefty fine, prison time, and/or a revocation of its liquor license. Adams, who paid her bill but opted not to leave a tip, won’t be returning to the restaurant.
Charging for water has been an issue here in the States in the past year. What would you do if a restaurant refused to serve you a glass of tap water on the house? Walk out? Leave a small or no tip? Offer to pay for the water? Weigh in here or tell us your thoughts on Facebook.
Being a bit of a cynic, I wondered how this pricing experiment was going, so I phoned Celeste Nichols, the general manager. She says, “It’s been very well received. We’re getting lots of local diners as well as people from out of town.” In terms of the value diners are placing on their entrees, Nichols reveals, “We’re pretty much getting $13 or better. People are loving it! They think it’s a great idea.” Nichols, who championed the concept, said she’d seen a restaurant in another state do it and thought it might be something that would be fun to try at The Wrigley Mansion. She admitted she was a bit skeptical at first (after all, someone could just wish to pay a quarter), but, Nichols says, “It’s turned out that people pay fairly, if not better than we anticipated.”
Available at lunch, Tuesday through Saturdays, the “Pay What You Think Is Fair” promotion at Geordie’s in The Wrigley Mansion has been going on for more than six months with no end in sight.