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People who dont know meat nomenclature...

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
I find this frustrating, but I would imagine that it is only because I'm relatively new to the line (only been doing this for about two years). Nothing makes this cook turn red more than a customer who orders his meat rare, but sends it back three times to be "cooked more" until eventually we find out that what he calls "rare" the rest of the professional world calls "medium". We get this all the time because of the great variety of meats my restaurant serves.

I almost want to put posters into production that show cross-sections of a steak with the different degrees of done-ness labeled. I'm sure these exist, but at this restaurant this problem occurs so often that I almost want to include a diagram in the menu! Does anyone else have some meat stories to tell? :D
Chris Hinds
Chef, Blue Door Cafe'
Culinary School Prospective
Chris Hinds
Chef, Blue Door Cafe'
Culinary School Prospective
post #2 of 24
I think I've seen some corporate places that actually put temp descriptions in their menus.

As long as they just want their stuff cooked up, I don't mind. Recooking bothers me more.
post #3 of 24
YEah I feel your pain Chris, I've had the happen a few times. Once a person ordered it medium rare, then kept sending it back until it was medium well. A big help in this matter is your servers, they should be able to communicate to you exactly what the customer wants. And they in turn should be finding out what exactly the customer wants. Asking a customer how they want their steak cooked, then simply reciting what they said isn't good enough. What they say and what the want aren't always the same thing.
post #4 of 24
Yeah, it's almost a relative thing. I've run into this more times than I can remember. It's a pain, but you just have to smile and nod, get over it and keep cooking. I try not to waste too much time fretting over a customer's definition of rare.
post #5 of 24
I found that the main cause of this is poorly trained waitstaff. Or waitstaff that just doesn't care. There are tactful ways of ascertaining just what the customer wants for a temp, but when the front of the house doesn't know what med rare really is, or they think that there are 2 dozen levels of doneness, then you have trouble.
post #6 of 24

I have to get this off my chest

This is one of those things that sticks with you because after the experiece you had your palm on your forehead calling yourself an as&$%#^....

I was in southern France, with my mother, in the middle of summer, and we found the last room in a small restaurant with rooms in Avignon. We (I) drove all day, and were blessed with a quaint room overlooking vines. That night at dinner, I ordered beef. When asked how it should be prepared, I said "as the chef prefers," of course wanting to show respect. When it came, it was purple. I didn't know what to do! The waiters were circling like sharks around me, sitting there in the middle of the garden, dumbfounded, starving, and not able to eat my meat. So... I sent it back. I was served another -- even more purple than before. I was almost in tears, but I could not eat it. It was my fault for not communicating what I wished for! But, I sent it back again. Oh, my goodness, what a scene it was. A Parisian woman at the table next to us said I would find a horse head in my bed. The steak came back charred and chewy, and I deserved it.

If a customer wants a steak done a certain way, it is their responsibility to communicate it to the waitstaff, who then communicates it to the cook. Period.

Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death! Auntie Mame
Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death! Auntie Mame
post #7 of 24
I've found that a lot of customers order their meat under done. They told me most places over cook their meat, so the figure it will come out the way the want it. But it can be a pain in the *** when you give it to them properly and they send it back to be cooked more.
post #8 of 24

color of meat!!

i agree with jbyl that most places i have been to over cook the meat.
i was surprised that "the sizzler restaurant" chain has big poster sized
pix of the different degrees of doneness. reeeeally helps in the ordering

as for meat stories, i often like to order my steaks "blue" .....
raw steak with both sides seared 30 seconds on a hot cast iron pan.
when i was at a "dude ranch" in colorado, wednesday was "steak night"
and i watched as the cook placed the beautifully marbled rib steaks
(from cattle raised on their ranch!!) on the charcoal grill. i watched and
i watched and watched and watched and ..... watched. when the
steaks came to the table they were more like jerky than steaks.

i commented "..... a little overdone, huh??" the cook asked "you from the
big city, huh??" and i said "yeah" and she said (get this!!) " we raised
the cattle, we slaughter the cattle, we butcher the cattle, we see what
is INSIDE the cattle, and THIS is how we cook it!!"

almost makes ya wanna give up meat!
post #9 of 24
Instead of asking the customers how they like their steaks.. Rare, medium, well done, etc.. I ask the servers to find out what the customer prefers..


customer " I'd like my steak rare please"
waiter" " The chef's rare is a cool red center,.. will that be okay?"

customer " OH no, I like a warm center if thats okay"

waiter " sure no problem"

It doesn't have to work like that, but as long as you find out exactly what the customer wants, not just what he says based on the old rare, medium etc.. scale. I find it gets to the heart of the matter, and it isn't subject to the chef or customers sense of what a rare steak is.
post #10 of 24
if you get a chance, take a look at NAMP's recommemded temps with accompanying pics-you will probably be very surprised.....
post #11 of 24
Fincher - Right on!

I agree 100%

Front of house can help make sure every one is happy with the steak the first time it goes out.
Chef Bob

"Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what's for lunch?" ~ Orsen Wells (1915-1985)
Chef Bob

"Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what's for lunch?" ~ Orsen Wells (1915-1985)
post #12 of 24
Hi Chefs :)

I know this is the Chef Discussion forum, so I'll keep me comment short (as I'm not a chef).

As a cutomer, I've run into the same problem that your discussing. But on the other side of things. I prefer my steaks cooked medium rare. But overcooking must be a common solution to the problem of customers ordering steaks less done than they'd like. Because I commonly find my steaks overcooked.

I've never thought that the reason my be a solution to customers who order their steak to a particluar doneness, only to return to be cooked a bit more. Maybe I'll start asking the wait staff what their description of medium rare is...or perhaps what temperature that they consider medium rare.

I suppose the picture or temperature method my be best for both the chef...and the customer.

thanks...I may have actually found a way to better serve myself when ordering a steak.

post #13 of 24
first, order steak at a steak or chop house and you'll not get overdone steak(usually)
second, I think it's part of evolution. My parents rare, is todays medium. That was in a time when we thought we had to cook out germs and bacteria. They still tell me I'm going to die if I don't start cooking certain fowl till it's dry and chewy.
JMHO :cool: :D :bounce:
post #14 of 24
Wow, I feel your pain but from the customer side. (We don't cook traditional meat dishes at my restaurant.) Whenever I order a rare burger, steak, anything, it often comes medium to medium well. I have begun the practice of making sure that the waiter understands that I am ordering rare and I ask them if they know what that means and also ask them to remind the chef when the put in the order. Obnoxious, yes. :eek:
post #15 of 24

Train the wait staff`

Comunication is key; if the wait staff comunicates what the chef considers a temp to be and then I am sure the customer can make an informed decision :chef:
post #16 of 24
not a chef.
i have said rare, really really rare, 'philly style', black and blue, blue, extra rare, cold inside, and even "wipe it's *** and throw it on a plate" (really, at a chili's up in vancouver bc) and i STILL GET MEDIUM. dammit, i want the mother cold on the inside and charred on the outside! (which i have also said.) sometimes i think its the staff's prejudice at work-'oh, she really COULDN'T want that.... that lil' housewife doesn't really know what she's saying..' when yes, in fact, i do!! really! beef doesn't taste right unless it still looks like meat!

in other words, rivitman has the definitive 411 on this.

*sigh* gee, i feel better now!
post #17 of 24
[QUOTE=redace1960]not a chef.
i have said rare, really really rare, 'philly style', black and blue, blue, extra

This is refered to as a Pittsburg style steak not Philly :chef:
post #18 of 24
well there ya go! :blush: :blush: :blush:
thanks for the info! why pittsburgh, i wonder?
post #19 of 24
Pittsburg - I heard two explanations both about steel mill workers who would cook their meat at work. One version has them using a blow torch(A trick I use my self for my pittsburgian customers{I think that's gross, but try to respect it}). Another has them cooking it on the hot machinary. I believe the term was originally just refering to a hard char, not for rareness.

Three more points, please. FOH seems to rarely know what a rare, med etc are. Educate your staff(Even though they always seem to fight that)!

Customers inventing temps drive me mad - "MR more toward the rare". What is that? I'll just program my steak cooking maching for 3f less than MR.

Cooks and chefs who look in scorn at any order above med. Burning, no seasoning, "forgetting" in the oven, etc. A well done steak can be made to taste good. It can also be quite juicy.

Ok, enough of my ranting.
post #20 of 24

get over it

the only thing that matters is that the person who is paying doesn't like the way you cooked it. There wrong, your right blame,it on the still doesn't change the fact that you have to recook it. Why do people who are allergic to garlic want the garlic potato puree on the side. When did fish become a vegetable. The customer is not always right. But they should always get thier way. You dont want to recook food, there's alway an opening if the front of the house.
post #21 of 24
I worked at a steakhouse for the last 8 months (thank goodness that's over, bleah!) and we had this printed on our menu:


Served with your choice of garlic mashed potato, baked potato, rough-cut steak fries or the Chef’s rice of the day.

How we do it…
Blue Rare - The rarest of rare, very lightly grilled on both sides
Rare - Seared on both sides with a cool and bright red center
Pittsburgh Rare - Charred on both sides and blue rare in the center
Medium Rare - A warm red center and pink toward the outside
Medium - A juicy pink throughout
Medium Well - A pink center and well done toward the outside
Well Done - Grilled until there is no pink showing
post #22 of 24
Redace, tell them to walk it past the stove!

I hadn't heard of the term "Pittsburgh" in relation to steak until I saw it here at ChefTalk. (Yet one more reason to bless the day I found this site.) I used to order it "charred rare" but usually wound up with rare or medium rare. I have my theories as to why this happens, but I will send a steak back if it's overdone.

To be honest, in some restaurants the quality of meat is not good enough to enjoy it rare or Pittsburgh style. If I find myself in one of those places (I know which ones in my area) I order something else.
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post #23 of 24
lol yea just tell them what "kind: you want it..

And some might not let you do it for foodbourne related issues
post #24 of 24
I was watching a show the other day and the customer told the waiter he wanted Steak tartar but he wanted it prepared and assembled before him ... well, the waiter asked him are you sure; you know what it is and the customer assured him he did and rushed him off.

When he came back and began combining it, the customer shrieked, "It's raw!"

The waiter who had been waiting tables for over 40 years dutifully returned to the kitchen and while the chef was bellowing "of course it's raw ... that's what it is!" ... the veteran waiter said in a low and soothing voice, "just cook it a bit".

It was hilarious.
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