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Heston Blumenthal - "Service is more important than food"

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hey
Just heard him say this in his latest promo for his television show.
I tend to disagree.
I think they're equally important when going for the Michelin star rating thing, and great to respect completely in all circumstances, but I wouldn't put one above the other.
I've had chefs who believe that service can be crap as long as the food is good. (Asian restaurants)
I don't think it's as simple as that.
What say you?
post #2 of 14

I'd say that this would reflect Mr. Blumenthal's skills as a Chef :smoking:

 

Sorry - was too easy 

 

Ok - serious?

Very very dangerous statement to make.

Of course service is important, no matter the type of outlet.

Some types of restaurants surely will get away with much "worse" service than others, just because the expectations are lower from the people coming there to eat - but the same can be said about the food.

You will not expect the same food quality, presentation and experience when dining at Chow's Food Palace as opposed to the French Laundry....would you?

 

So - to put it bluntly - what type of outlet are you running?

 

Having bad service surely will affect you when spending large amounts of money on a meal - especially when you are not swimming in cash at home. But not imagine spending that money and the food has no WOW factor....I'd think that be worse.

 

In Vienna for example, where I had the pleasure to work for a few years (back a couple of decades haha) it is actually very common for the staff to be UNfriendly to their patrons - this is not only accepted, but actually part of the "Viennese Charm". What would Mr. Blumenthal say here....he'd be shocked.

 

IMO - the food is more important than the service in most outlets, as the guest might accept a rude waiter or an incompetent staff but will no be coming back if the food was bland and he got sick after...just my two cents.

post #3 of 14

I think some of us have been to places where the food was so amazing that those small irritating stupid things servers did were simply not important.

In situations like this (albeit these examples are very few and far between) the food does command the audience.

 

Alternately good service CAN make up for mediocre food, in ANY restaurant. It doesn't necessarily have to be fine dining. Fast casual and family dining come to mind.

 

I don't believe that any restaurant should get away with poor service or food, yet, it has been my experiences that the public is quite willing to accept poor service or mediocre food, and call it "okay" or "good."

 

They can be ignored, given the wrong food or drink, have to call another server because theirs is nowhere to be found, and the list goes on, yet, when asked at the cash register how their meal went, most people simply say good or okay.

 

Why?

I think Iridium12 hit the nail on the head when he said:

 

QUOTE "Some types of restaurants surely will get away with much "worse" service than others, just because the expectations are lower from the people coming there to eat - but the same can be said about the food.

You will not expect the same food quality, presentation and experience when dining at Chow's Food Palace as opposed to the French Laundry....would you?"

post #4 of 14

Heston is a culinary god!  No question of his bona fides.  FWIW I think he has a point. Both are important but sometimes I think service is more important than food.  Again, you need both but bad service can ruin good food.  It's hard to have good food with bad service.  Places with bad service get the orders wrong, stuff sits on the pass too long, etc.  As a chef I'm obviously committed to food but it's a waste of time trying to do good food without good service.  It's like trying to row a rowboat with just one oar.

 

There are a couple of places I go to eat primarily for the food, but since I cook for a living when I do go out I mostly just want to be waited on.  I'm not the average customer but I just want my tea glass to remain filled, my plates to be bussed and to be otherwise left alone to eat in peace.   That is really huge to me.  No matter how great a job the kitchen does if my salad hits the table and my entree is twenty seconds behind it I'm gonna lose my shit. 

 

Bad service bothers me more than bad food.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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post #5 of 14
"Never EVER overestimate the taste of the American people"

/\ don't forget that...

You could serve 9.5/10 Americans frozen pre-processed crap with a genuine smile, in a timely fashion and they would be more than happy to pay you good money for it.
post #6 of 14

 "No matter how great a job the kitchen does if my salad hits the table and my entree is twenty seconds behind it I'm gonna lose my shit."

 

I could go on about this, but suffice to say the kitchen's need for speed with the tickets is not my kind of service. If I go to an area restaurant at lunch where many businesses patronize, THEY may want their lunch in 20 minutes, but I must tell the server I am NOT in a hurry and wish to dine slowly, or else I get the enter 20 seconds after I start to eat my appetizer.

 

post #7 of 14

Does Heston explain why he thinks service is more important? 

post #8 of 14
Question:

How do you eat service?

If its only service you want,try a car mechanic or a doctor.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #9 of 14
Dining is a multidimensional and multidisciplinary experience. Trying to simplify it too much can only lead to arguing where all arguments are incomplete. Some statements are intentionally simplified to start discussion and nothing more than generating a faux controversy to gain website hits or talk show listeners. I think that's what HB is doing here.
post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by foodpump View Post

Question:

How do you eat service?

If its only service you want,try a car mechanic or a doctor.

Amen :)

 

The last service I ate people pointed fingers at me and scenes from Silence of the Lambs flashed through my mind....

post #11 of 14

The restaurants 99% of people go to daily don't require any or very little service. If fact I think most people would rather hear their number called to pick the food up hot at a service window. All of the Fast-food  and casual restaurants that are packed with people on Friday nights are food concepts created for the middle class. They offer food for a reasonable price so the middle class can afford to eat out with their family. Good service at casual dining restaurants wouldn't out weigh a bad meal. The person eating at these restaurant has already set the bar pretty low. They don't expect much but they do expect good. The cooks are 18 to 24 years old with the waitstaff being either from 18 to 24 and in some cases the over 50 crowd. No one waits tables between 24 and 50 years old, these people have already quit saying I'm not putting up with this shit anymore. The over 50 person doesn't really care and just tells everyone to ignore the asshole manager because he'll be gone in a week.

   The fine dining experience can only be found when your paying for your meal with $100 bills. IMHO there are no excuses in these kinds of restaurants for bad food. I mean they should have enough people in the kitchen over seeing things to ensure quality. I see a bad meal in one of these kitchens as a kitchen that thinks everything they do is fantastic. When approached about it they would figure it was my taste buds that were the problem. By saying good service is more important than a bad meal is like saying the Walmart greeter is more important than low prices in the store.


Edited by ChefBillyB - 3/17/16 at 9:11am
post #12 of 14
Nicko,

Would it be possible to invite Mr. Blumenthal to comment on this thread?

Perhaps we've taken his comment out of context, maybe we completely misunderstood it.

In any case, no one ( so far) has been disresepectful towards Mr. Blumenthal, but we sure as heck are curious to understand what he really meant by it.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #13 of 14

Perhaps if someone would fill us in on the scheduling of his new television show... we could watch it!

 

But, this seems like a 2-year old discussion topic:

 

http://www.thebraiser.com/heston-blumenthal-service/

 

http://www.goodfood.com.au/good-food/eat-out/dishing-the-dirt-what-culinary-superstars-discuss-behind-closed-doors-20131014-2vhh5.html

post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
Well, since it was my thread topic at the top, I'll provide the background as I understand it.
A few months ago, our national community broadcaster SBS launched a new channel focused on food programming. It's basically all their Australian production food shows mixed up with content from the US Food Network (and branded as Food Network too).
They have recently started promoting an upcoming series following Heston and his team as they move the Fat Duck to Melbourne as a pop-up while they renovate the UK premises.
It looks to be all about the logistical problems and enormous amount of work that this endeavour entails.
The quote from Heston about service is part of the promotion advertising.
To me, it could be all about the fact that to make entertaining television about food is quite tough, as the viewer has to engage without two of the most important ingredients in food enjoyment - smell and taste.
So a successful food show has to appeal on a level where these elements are unavailable.
A straight up "here's how you cook this" program works because it relies on viewers trying the recipe out at home.
Any other type of food show relies on elements such as drama in the kitchen, travelogues, competition, hard luck stories, biographies etc.
Most of Blumenthal's other shows have focused on the theatre he brings to his cooking, and the wow factor with all his molecular stuff. Very few home cooks have access to liquid nitrogen gear and so on.
So perhaps his hook for this show is how he succeeds in moving a legendary restaurant half way around the world, rather than spotlighting his gastronomy.
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