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Don't mess with menu classics

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In the November issue, editor Michael Sanson wrote about how some restaurants list classic items on their menus, but then serve a version that is anything but classic. If you’re going to change the original recipe, then say so on your menu or rename the menu item, he wrote. A Margherita pizza with four cheeses is not classic.  

I’ve been in the restaurant industry for over 30 years.

I hate how some chefs screw with classic desserts. I’m not a big fan of Black Forest Cake, but it is what it is. It doesn’t have chocolate mousse on the inside, so don’t fill it with chocolate mousse or let people know. The result of chefs changing up classics is that the unknowing patron now thinks what you served them is black forest.

Another pet peeve is when you see an ingredient called out on a menu several times. One instance I recall is Maui onions listed as an ingredient for five dishes on a menu. This was back when Maui onions were the it ingredient. In my opinion, that makes a special ingredient less special.

Patty Mitchell
Executive Chef
Mondelez International Foodservice
Vista, CA

I fully agree with your comments on changing classic dishes while keeping the same name. It should not happen, but I put it down to lack of appreciation of classic cuisine and, in some cases, lack of training. Also, it may be an attempt to make the menu sound better than the food that is being served.

Many years ago a chef I trained with said, “A consistently mediocre restaurant is infinitely better than an inconsistently superior restaurant.”

Joe Dolan
Former chef

We refer to our business as front of the house and back of the house.  We portray the warm feeling of “come to my house.”  But, we call visitors to our place of business “customers.”  Customers go to supermarkets, banks, car dealers, drug stores, etc. I stress that we have guests who come to our house to enjoy a meal. When people come to your private residence, do you call them customers or guests?

As hospitality consultants we stress to our restaurant and hotel clients that they have guests and this sets a different, more welcoming atmosphere. Employees who contact guests take a different, softer approach.

Hal Hodgson
Creative Partner
The Marketing Deli
San Diego

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