Top chefs reveal the worst things diners do in restaurants

From taking photos of your food to drowning a dish in hot sauce 

Kashmira Gander
Tuesday 26 September 2017 12:23 BST
(iStock )

If you lie about being gluten intolerant, won’t let fellow diners tuck into their food until you’ve photographed it from every angle, and douse your painstakingly made meal in seasoning before it’s even touched your tongue, then beware – you’re upsetting a lot of chefs with sharp knives in kitchens.

They say the customer is always right – but to the top chefs below who spend countless hours curating menus using the finest ingredients and slaving away at the stove, all to tickle your tastebuds, that’s not quite always the case.

Helena Puolakka is the executive chef at London’s Nordic-French restaurant Aster

Ask for Tabasco in a fine dining restaurant. It’s just blasphemy.

Richard Bainbridge, chef and proprietor of British restaurant Benedicts in Norwich

The worst thing a diner can do is put salt and pepper on their food before they have even tried it. Seasoning is individual to palate but they could at least give it a go first. Taking photos of food is also a new dining trend that needs to disappear, just enjoy your meal!

Lee Skeet runs a self-titled pop-up restaurant; he is based in Cornwall

Lee Skeet (left) and friend Dan Harding at a pop-up at The Shop in Kensal Rise, London.
Lee Skeet (left) and friend Dan Harding at a pop-up at The Shop in Kensal Rise, London.

The worst thing a customer has done with us is to be dishonest or rude. All our meals are ticketed, and are a set tasting menu. We don’t really cater to dietary requirements unless it’s prearranged at the time of booking. We had a guest who turned up on the night and told us they were gluten free and couldn’t eat three of the six set courses so wanted substitutions, which we didn’t have. The menu was published months ahead and the guest had booked based on the menu.

When our manager discussed the issue the guest told us they had selected a gluten free menu when booking online, which was a lie, and in fact we have never offered any such option. They also told the manager to go to a shop and get something. We try to be understanding and fair to everybody, and are extremely grateful for all of our guests, but when somebody is lying to your face repeatedly and you know it, it’s incredibly arrogant and patronising!

The guest went on to eat all of the tasting menu, including the dishes containing gluten, but added insult by requesting that we go out and get cracked black pepper for them and then covering every course in it.

Ani Arora, the head chef at Nirvana Kitchen, an Asian fusion restaurant in Marylebone, London

Arriving really late for the reservation is annoying. As is making up your mind then placing your order and sending back a dish you don’t like but have eaten more than half of! And being rude to the server.

Paul Wedgwood is head chef and co-owner of Wedgwood in Edinburgh, which specialises in Scottish produce with occasional Asian touches

I really hate it when someone books in advance and mentions they have severe life-threatening food allergies, only for the diner to get to the desserts and order the sticky toffee pudding because a “little bit won’t hurt”.

We make sure when this happens we have as much of the full menu as possible available, all made without dairy or nuts or gluten and so on, and it is prepared in strict conditions where cross-contamination could not occur – usually one chef will stay on after the previous night’s service to cook alone through the night. Please just be honest with us.

Daniel Fletcher, head chef at Fenchurch Restaurant, in Sky Garden, London

Be rude to the staff. I have so much respect for my colleagues, and find it hard when they have to handle this kind of behaviour.

Eric Guignard, head chef at The French Table in Surbiton, London

The worst thing would have to be if a diner asked me to prepare a dish with no salt.

Andrew Dargue, head chef of vegetarian restaurant Vanilla Black in London

(Vanilla Black)

Without prior notice, turning up with a list of things they can’t eat and assuming that it can be done for them in the middle of service. Then when it comes to dessert, ordering something which contains one of their problem foods and starting to eat it.

Daniel Petitia, head chef at London’s The Library private members’ club

Send a lime cream back because they think the acid flavour means it’s off!

Simon Rogan is chef and owner of L’Enclume and Rogan & Co in Cumbria

Please do not go to the toilet when you know your food is coming.

Hari Ghotra is an Indian chef who works at Tamarind of Mayfair, London

Eat and pay for food that they are not entirely happy with. Speak to the the staff, they will help. No chef wants to serve food that is not enjoyed.

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