Support Local Journalism. Join Riverfront Times Press Club.

Friday, April 2, 2010

What Local Restaurants Can Learn from Momofuku's Front-of-House Rules

Posted By on Fri, Apr 2, 2010 at 2:42 PM

click to enlarge IMAGE VIA
An e-mail containing the front-of-house rules at Ma Peche, the latest venture of It Chef David Chang of New York City's Momofuku empire, has been making the Internet rounds over the past day. You can read the complete list here.

Though the hook of the article linked above is basically "OMG. Can you believe this draconian workplace?" Chang's rules don't strike me as out of line for one of the most famous chefs in the world's most scrutinized restaurant scene. And I certainly think that St. Louis restaurants could learn a thing or two about service from the list.

Here are a few of Chang's rules that address foibles I've witnessed on my many local restaurant visits:

1. "Check all menus, make sure they are not soiled, look good, correct."

Dirty menus are inevitable, but that doesn't mean a diner should have to choose his or her meal from one. This is especially true at restaurants that print new menus every day or week. Flimsy paper menus are more likely to be stained, torn, etc. -- and are much, much easier to replace.

2. "Always visually check in with guests within seconds of food dropping, but there's no point in asking them how they are doing if you can see they haven't even tried the food yet."

This is a real pet peeve of mine. A server can see -- often at a glance, without disturbing the diners -- that they have taken no more than a bite or two, if that, of their meal. On the other hand, servers shouldn't make themselves scarce after dropping off the meal in case there is a problem (e.g., under- or overcooked meat) best dealt with immediately.

3. "Do not say 'enjoy' after everything. Also never say 'are you done enjoying that?'"

Really, any kind of leading question ("Aren't the seared scallops divine?") should be verboten.

4. We don't say famous, signature, baby, micro, housemade.

Agreed on famous and signature. ("Award-winning," too -- even if the award was conferred by RFT!) Culinary buzzwords are a dicey proposition, and I'm as guilty as anyone. For example, I use "housemade" frequently in my reviews. I do think it has a place when describing something -- potato chips are probably the best example -- that diners are accustomed to having premade by an outside company. At higher-end restaurants, though, "housemade" should be the default position.

Tags: ,

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 27, 2021

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2021 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation