It’s easy enough these days to read about a restaurant’s strengths and weaknesses. On social media, we’re bowled over with shots of “amazing” dishes as well as those that might be called, as a songwriter of my acquaintance once wrote, the “burnt crust of failure.”
But who created those meals? A chef. A cook. You know, that hardworking food magician in the kitchen who aims to please with every dish.
Even with all the flair, creativity and passion they infuse into their servings, chefs are more often hit with complaints than kudos. That’s why, after enjoying an elaborate feast or complex meal, you might want to shout your appreciation from the mountain top. But will your chef hear it?
On a Quora.com forum on how to thank chefs, one industry insider writes that while chefs have a reputation for being gruff, they all appreciate being thanked by customers. “Want to see that raving lunatic of a chef de cuisine genuinely smile for once in his miserable existence?” the cook asks. “Deliver a legitimate ‘compliments to the chef’ from a paying customer who is not a personal acquaintance and briefly glimpse the soft side of the beast.”
So, feel free to ask your server to pass on your thanks to the chef for an exceptional meal. Busy chefs are not easily yanked out of the kitchen, but on occasion, they will duck out and say hello. Should that happen, stand up and shake the chef’s hand and let her or him know what was great about your dish.
One dining patron on the Quora forum who had ordered a complicated pizza gushed: “I almost kissed the chef and thanked him from the bottom of my heart for preparing such a delicious pizza and requested him not to make any changes to it, no matter what.”
Some chefs might even get a little teary eyed at such heartfelt praise. They spend their days and nights in hot kitchens, working against the clock, toiling with an often-harried staff, to meet their patrons’ expectations. It’s gratifying for them to know their efforts were not in vain.
One cook posted about her preferred way of thanking the chef: Order a nice bottle of wine. “When the waiter/sommelier has opened it, and you’ve taste-checked it,” she says, “tell them to send a glass to the chef with your compliments on the delicious meal.” Others suggest sending a cash tip to the kitchen or to the cook who prepared their favorite dish.
When a patron felt strongly about thanking the chef, one former server noted that she’d let the manager know, and often, the manager would send a dessert to the guests’ table. And, if the chef were available, he or she would bring it out to the guests and chat with them.
If all else fails, you could try the trick mentioned by one person on the forum: “Bus your own empty plate back to the kitchen, hold it up and thank the entire
kitchen for your meal,” he says.
Best of all: Instagram some love. A shout-out on social media will make any chef’s day.