Jump to content

What Do Chefs Think of Foodies?


DanCole42
 Share

Recommended Posts

What do chefs think of foodies?

Let's be honest, a lot of us are kind of geeks when it comes to food. It's like how I imagine Star Trek actors feel about Trekkies. The actors are just normal people doing a job, they're not obsessed with it. Even if they may have a passion for the craft, it doesn't mean that they're "fanatical" about it the way the "fans" are.

Are we annoyances? People with presumptuous questions that pester over nuances that no one should really care about? "I noticed in episode 405A that the Vulcan ambassador was wearing a uniform clearly belonging to the Romulan Tal'Shiar secret police. I hope someone got fired over that!" "Pfft. That zuccini is soooo last season. How can you pair that with yogurt?"

Are we something to be merely tolerated since we help pay the bills?

I know the "correct" answer is, "We love foodies! They support us! Shout out to the fans!!!"

But what is the truth? Do chefs secretly want to get up there, put on their best William Shatner and say, "Get a life, will you people?" Or do chefs truly enjoy having us around?

Just something I think about.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What do chefs think of foodies?

Let's be honest, a lot of us are kind of geeks when it comes to food. It's like how I imagine Star Trek actors feel about Trekkies. The actors are just normal people doing a job, they're not obsessed with it. Even if they may have a passion for the craft, it doesn't mean that they're "fanatical" about it the way the "fans" are.

Or some of them are Wil Wheaton.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What do chefs think of foodies?

Let's be honest, a lot of us are kind of geeks when it comes to food. It's like how I imagine Star Trek actors feel about Trekkies. The actors are just normal people doing a job, they're not obsessed with it. Even if they may have a passion for the craft, it doesn't mean that they're "fanatical" about it the way the "fans" are.

Are we annoyances? People with presumptuous questions that pester over nuances that no one should really care about? "I noticed in episode 405A that the Vulcan ambassador was wearing a uniform clearly belonging to the Romulan Tal'Shiar secret police. I hope someone got fired over that!" "Pfft. That zuccini is soooo last season. How can you pair that with yogurt?"

Are we something to be merely tolerated since we help pay the bills?

I know the "correct" answer is, "We love foodies! They support us! Shout out to the fans!!!"

But what is the truth? Do chefs secretly want to get up there, put on their best William Shatner and say, "Get a life, will you people?" Or do chefs truly enjoy having us around?

Just something I think about.

I would say that chefs (and aspiring ones like myself) absolutely need foodies to be successful. There's a tangible difference between having people that are passionate about food and people that are there for a meal in the dining room. Foodies are what make up a restaurant's core clientele- the people that actually come back to see what new stuff the chef is going to roll out. We need to know that there will be people around to try the new, off the wall stuff that we make. And that's actually more true as the restaurant gets more "out there" in terms of creativity.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I remember watching some of Jamie Oliver's series where he took at-risk kids and taught them to be chefs. At some point in that show, he muttered something disparaging about someone being as bad as those people who watch the Food Network. We laughed at the time, but it is an interesting comment from someone who has profited greatly from those same people.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The question is too broad to be answered. What the hell is a "foodie?" A pretentious dilettante with more attitude than palate? A lightweight devotee of Rachel Ray who couldn't cook their way out of a evoo-soaked paper bag and won't eat anything that some authority figure -- Martha, Rocks, Food & Wine -- hasn't signed off on first? A serious and thoughtful "gourmand?" A Falstaffian character who loves eating well but could give a rat's ass about the provenance of the goat cheese, organic arugula and the free-range pork, as long as the wine keeps flowing?

My experience is that chefs like people who a) appreciate their work, :( spend money at their restaurants and c) are fun to drink with, in roughly that order. Whatever you want to call them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't know what makes a foodie and what makes someone who just loves good food. Lables are not what matters.

It is always nice when you get customers who know food and have collected knowledge from their eating and adventures. These folk are fun to deal with. They get it when a dish is created with tradition in mind, or when a dish is a real variation or riff on tradition or simply an inspiration with little grounding to tradition. They can be a lot of fun to feed.

On the other hand, there are some who have less knowledge of the food they are eating. They have pre concieved notions of what a dish should taste like that does not have anything to do with the dish as prepared in its home setting {tacos should have a crunchy deep fried shell so soft tacos are inauthentic which I have over heard in Mexican restaurants; how can an Italian restaurant not offer sausage & peppers in a thick Sunday gravy? Well that is really an American Italian variation on a Neapolitan dish and our dishes are Tuscan etc}. Or they order an ingredient and then complain about it for exactly the feature that makes it special (a whole fish has bones in it, milk fed pig has fat}. O r they order something with a very specific menu description, seared rare fish for example, and then complain about the fact that the fish is seared rare. The goal with customers like these is to educate them and try to get them to see what is so special about the food they are eating. But often there is just no pleasing them, which is sad. In all of this, I am not talking about when we as a restaurant make a mistake, but when we deliver exactly what is described on the menu.

There are times when someone orders a dish and you simply know they are going to hate it because of the pre ordering discussion but they order it anyways. Or someone who redesigns a dish beyond the integrity of the menu prep, and then complain that the dish isn't very good.

Yet if you ask the former, they may not describe themselves as foodies and the latter may self describe as so.

And finally, in my experience, there are regulars who come in to sample the latest thing on the menu and then there are others who come in and eat the same thing almost every time they come. It takes both kinds to allow most restaurants succeed.

So in all, we love customers who are willing to interact, to experience the restaurant on the terms we are trying to offer, not make us something we are not. Some of these will be foodies and some not. In the long run, these are the folk we are going to be able to grow our business on.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I suspect many people here share my dislike for the word "foodie," or, more accurately, for what the word represents. Like other "-ie" words it connotes shallowness and immaturity. That is generally my first impression of someone who describes himself this way, because other perfectly serviceable words have long existed to describe someone with a deeper intellectual and/or sensual appreciation of food (gourmand, gourmet, gastronome). In my mind, a foodie is someone who likes to eat out more than cook, likes to talk about food more than read or write about it, and who, often despite travel and personal wealth, has retained a rather narrow gastronomic perspective and a firmly held set of expectations about food, especially in restaurants. A true dilettante, a bookish gastronome or a Dionysian sensualist usually has better judgment and taste than a foodie, who is irretrievably an inhabitant of the mainstream in his strenuous and self-conscious effort to swim outside it. I imagine most chefs patiently coddle foodies thus defined, but probably don't find them very interesting.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I suspect many people here share my dislike for the word "foodie," or, more accurately, for what the word represents. Like other "-ie" words it connotes shallowness and immaturity. That is generally my first impression of someone who describes himself this way, because other perfectly serviceable words have long existed to describe someone with a deeper intellectual and/or sensual appreciation of food (gourmand, gourmet, gastronome).

Thank you! Count me among those who dislike the term "foodie." I have yet to find one word that accurately describes my appreciation of good food and certain cuisines. I understand that a lot of people have no problem describing themselves as "foodies," but I can't help feeling that the term is pretentious and narcissistic, especially when it is self ascribed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I suspect many people here share my dislike for the word "foodie," or, more accurately, for what the word represents. Like other "-ie" words it connotes shallowness and immaturity. {...}

A true dilettante, a bookish gastronome or a Dionysian sensualist usually has better judgment and taste than a foodie

It returns to the fact that language is fraught, that connotation and denotation are not one and the same. "Foodie" may have been an attempt to bring a measure of egalitarianism into a vocabulary for a world that, in its origination, had little place for or reflection of such. So it returns to the matter of definition (Michael Ruhlman, among others, took this on not that long ago) and the fact that language is never so precise as we want it to be (cf. Dan referencing Trekkies, but what about Trekkers, and what about the fact that no one outside that particular fandom has the slightest inclination to know or care what the difference is?).

Those of us who would be offended at being called foodies are not the ones who need the term in order to express something they can't easily verbalize. English is a little bit difficult like that.

None of this is an excuse for the term -- I don't like it, particularly, but I'll use it for lack of something better, particularly outside the world of food itself.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I suspect many people here share my dislike for the word "foodie," or, more accurately, for what the word represents. Like other "-ie" words it connotes shallowness and immaturity.

Indeed, always reminds me of "trekkie." Someone in their mom's basement cut off from the outside world save by an electronic umbilical cord, through which they gather and pass pointless and obsessive information and opinions at a level of detail no person with an actual life could master.

oh, wait....:(

... other perfectly serviceable words have long existed to describe someone with a deeper intellectual and/or sensual appreciation of food (gourmand, gourmet, gastronome)
.

Given my recurring (but very mild lately) experiences with gout, I consider myself a gastropod.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

(cf. Dan referencing Trekkies, but what about Trekkers, and what about the fact that no one outside that particular fandom has the slightest inclination to know or care what the difference is?).

This isn't a difference which requires the services of a chick sexer to sort out, by any chance? We seem to have one soliciting, or at least declaring availability for, work....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This isn't a difference which requires the services of a chick sexer to sort out, by any chance? We seem to have one soliciting, or at least declaring availability for, work....

It'd be the most action a lot of 'em see.

{rim shot}

In fact, there's a documentary of sorts about Star Trek fans*. I don't recommend it if you will feel guilty for laughing your ass off/cringing at some truly amazing displays of geekdom** and social awkwardness.

*Thankfully, I am not profiled in this film. I mean, it's pretty obvious I can get my geek on with the best of them. :(

**No geeks were harmed in the making of this movie. To the best of my knowledge, anyway. Maybe if they were raisng incorrectly sexed chicks, though...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I suspect many people here share my dislike for the word "foodie," or, more accurately, for what the word represents. Like other "-ie" words it connotes shallowness and immaturity. That is generally my first impression of someone who describes himself this way, because other perfectly serviceable words have long existed to describe someone with a deeper intellectual and/or sensual appreciation of food (gourmand, gourmet, gastronome). In my mind, a foodie is someone who likes to eat out more than cook, likes to talk about food more than read or write about it, and who, often despite travel and personal wealth, has retained a rather narrow gastronomic perspective and a firmly held set of expectations about food, especially in restaurants. A true dilettante, a bookish gastronome or a Dionysian sensualist usually has better judgment and taste than a foodie, who is irretrievably an inhabitant of the mainstream in his strenuous and self-conscious effort to swim outside it. I imagine most chefs patiently coddle foodies thus defined, but probably don't find them very interesting.

I suspect that a chef who judges the people he cooks for to such an extent and with such disdain would soon be cooking only for himself.

I personally have a bit of the whore in me and love anyone who pays me for what I do. Our motto is: "We love all our guests--some when they arrive, and others when they leave."

That being said, genuine enthusiasm--no matter how shallow, immature, misguided or poorly dressed--is greatly cherished, above all else I would say, and is the true barometer of our work.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I suspect that a chef who judges the people he cooks for to such an extent and with such disdain would soon be cooking only for himself.

I personally have a bit of the whore in me and love anyone who pays me for what I do. Our motto is: "We love all our guests--some when they arrive, and others when they leave."

That being said, genuine enthusiasm--no matter how shallow, immature, misguided or poorly dressed--is greatly cherished, above all else I would say, and is the true barometer of our work.

Obviously a good businessman should be happy to serve anyone who pays him. But your own distinction between the love for guests that leave and for guests that stay indicates that some guests are less fun to serve than others. I imagine that foodies, as I defined them, fall into that group. Of course, the chef could also just be a hypocrite.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In my mind, a foodie is someone who likes to eat out more than cook, likes to talk about food more than read or write about it, and who, often despite travel and personal wealth, has retained a rather narrow gastronomic perspective and a firmly held set of expectations about food, especially in restaurants. A true dilettante, a bookish gastronome or a Dionysian sensualist usually has better judgment and taste than a foodie, who is irretrievably an inhabitant of the mainstream in his strenuous and self-conscious effort to swim outside it. I imagine most chefs patiently coddle foodies thus defined, but probably don't find them very interesting.

This is an empirical statement. One just need to poll folk who self describe themselves as foodies. In my experience, this captures but a small portion of the folk I meet who self describe as foodie.

Foodies to me tend to just be food obsessed. And just as the politically obsessed and the opera obsessed rage from the erudite {ie those who agree with me} to the unfortunately uninformed {ie those who disagree with me} to the actively misguided {those sad souls who actually love Mozart's operas for example :(}. It is not the label that makes the person.

And like a lot of labels, the use of it by members of the club is different than the use of it by outsiders. THis is true from racial/religious epithets to words like foodie. While I may not object to being called a "Landsman" by other Jews, the term has been use to me in many a derogatory way by non members of the tribe.

Many use foodie derisively to describe shallow diners as you define it, while many self defined foodies use it in an entirely different manner.

Again, the label is not what counts. To me it is the person and the experience they are looking for. And to me, the most satisfying customer service experiences are when we get someone who is not in to our style and what we are doing and we are able to get turn them around and they become big fans. I can think of more than a small number of people who are now regulars and big boosters of Dino who at one time were just not into us and major complainers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, Pat. This thread really was not meant to be a discussion of semantics. :(

Perhaps not, but I think we've already determined that people do not share a common definition of 'foodie', which makes the original question difficult to address as phrased. You might as well ask how musicians feel about concertgoers: are we talking about Brahms, Buffett, or Blur? People love food and food issues for a broad spectrum of reasons.

How about rephrasing the question in terms of specific behaviors? Carry on, people!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Perhaps not, but I think we've already determined that people do not share a common definition of 'foodie', which makes the original question difficult to address as phrased. You might as well ask how musicians feel about concertgoers: are we talking about Brahms, Buffett, or Blur? People love food and food issues for a broad spectrum of reasons.

How about rephrasing the question in terms of specific behaviors? Carry on, people!

Fine. What do chefs think of people who post on this board?

Or, what do chefs think of people who aren't in the biz, but have a strong interest in talking about food?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...