I am new to the web site ChefTalk. I am employed within the restaurant industry.
I have the question(s) regarding the etiquette for fine dining for the host/hostess and guests.
If this post isn't appropriate for this forum, please direct me to the specific forum or thread that discuss the etiquette at length with specific questions answered.
Allow me to explain my inquiry on the etiquette for the positive fine dining experience and certain improper items -- that should be consciously aversive -- which could negate the fine dining experience.
As far as I know, booking and attending the fine dining establishment is a privilege with the set of strict rules, to be enforced by not only the executive chef and his sous chefs, but also the wait staff noting the appropriateness of the behavior of the diners, even if nuanced and slightly oblivious to certain rules.
The rules are uniformly unwritten, so it would be expected for the fine dining customers to have the knowledge, besides the appropriate dress code. The common dress code is usually smart casual.
Rarely do certain restaurants, such as the few exorbitantly priced restaurants in New York City, require highly refined clothes, complete with the jacket wear requirement.
I found the following pages that might help explain the following listed etiquette:
The Top Ten Rules of Fine Dining (Listverse)
The Urban Etiquette Handbook (New York Magazine)
Restaurant Tipping Guide (Fine Dining Section; iTipping.com)
My understanding is it is assumed that the host or hostess is solely responsible for the party's behavior, in addition to his or her action, as the collective guest at the fine dining establishment.
I have learned the meaning of the restaurant industry slang term, "86."
I'm sure you know what this means. When the chef says "86 that [person]," he or she is summarily banished from ever visiting the fine dining establishment again, for lifetime likely, for failure or not being able to conform to the unwritten rules.
My understanding is the usage of the term is dependent on the temperance of the chef after being notified by the wait staff (waiter or server), perhaps buttressed by the "observant" front house manager and/or hostess (booker/cashier) supervisor, of the guest and/or the host's party's behavior that might appear rude.
The definition of "rude" is as follows, in no particular order, and one word or all words may be applicable:
3. Condescending (patronizing towards the waiter and/or server assistant to denote assumed superiority, perhaps)
5. Acrimonious (especially towards the fumbling or interrupting waiter in silent presence, perhaps)
6. Oblivious (towards the specific and perhaps obscure fine dining rules which could be construed as disrespectful)
Here is the hypothesis.
Imagine, for a moment, when the hearing impaired diners, the party of two (acquaintances, dating or married couple), four, or more, arrive appropriately dressed for the occasion at the fine dining restaurant, with the knowledge of most fine dining etiquette?
Imagine the hearing waiter who is assigned to the table of the deaf persons, whose preferred mode of communication, other than verbal conversation, is sign language that is (perhaps "very") expressive?
Assuming the hearing impaired diners observed good manners by learned experience or reading the etiquette list referenced above. Read the menu considerably, look up to the waiter with eye contact, and point, with the index finger, to the menu selection for the choice, or speak out loud in intelligible speech at normal decibel.
Yet, after serving two courses over the course of an hour or two, the hearing impaired couple or party is denied the dessert after the order, because the hearing waiter -- perhaps unfamiliar with and ignorant of the deaf culture and linguistics -- has complained to the back of the house (the 'master' chef and assistant chefs), claiming the deaf couple or party is rude by conducting the communication in sign language that appear "too" expressive.
What happens thereafter is the deaf couple or party will be discomforted and impatient, awaiting the dessert and the waiter's attention (unreasonable wait). They had been ignored by the waiter who see them in view, yet continue serving the other tables. Even after the host or guest raised the index finger, politely with eye contact.
The couple or party is not informed by the waiter, front house manager, or hostess supervisor that their behavior, comprising the utilization of sign language that seems expressive but do not emit any noise whatsoever, appears rude, which angers the back of the house when the waiter enters to state the allegation of rude behavior.
Consequently, following the waiter's complaint in allegation -- perhaps reaffirmed by the observant front house manager and the supervisor (perhaps also ignorant of the deaf culture and linguistics like the main waiter), the chef states the verbal order to make the couple or party leave by voluntary resignation through the pressure of inordinate wait time followed by the bill payment with a tip proportionate to the service. Or, in the extreme (hypothetical) case, expelled by pressure by physical contact or insistent verbal directive, forced to pay the bill under the watchful eye of the front house manager and the supervisor, and then summarily banned? ("86'd")
Let's assume the hearing impaired couple or party indeed comply with the dress code and conducted themselves reasonably according to the etiquette by self-education.
Yet they receive the improper, substandard or negligible service simply because they communicate using expressive sign language, which emit inaudible or silent sound, which might be (mis)construed as rude that purportedly violate the unwritten code that "absolute politeness" is an essential component of the fine dining experience with the decent or superior wait service?
The last detail is that the back of the house with the crucial staff -- the chefs -- feel insulted to the point of, for the lack of expression, murderous rage by the alleged rude behavior of the hearing impaired couple or party, based on the statements of the otherwise presumptuous and ignorant waiter, manager, and supervisor as the collaborating reporters.
Here's the non-hypothesis. The above happened recently, supposedly.
To the point, the conformance to the fine dining rules, unwritten or implied to be informed by experience or helpful instruction, is essential to the enjoyment of the experience as one of the highlights of our lives, as the guests.
Perhaps it should be made clear that absolute politeness in verbal communication and behavioral rigor, in addition to the etiquette outlined in the web site references, will make the experience happy and vital, without denial of service or deliberately slow service.
Maybe the deaf (and disabled) people who rely on sign language as the means of communication should be banished as the matter of policy, in explicitly stated posted notice or silent code, from every fine dining establishment.
But there might be the problem with certain laws in certain countries that prohibit discrimination, especially the United Kingdom and U.S., regarding the treatment of certain guests on the business property. I.E., the fine dining restaurant governed by the owner or executive/master chef & sous chef(s).
Edited by KitchenBoy - 10/2/12 at 7:58pm