Do you like to eat delicious food prepared by inspired craftsman? Let me share a technique that can transform your next meal into the experience of a lifetime. Think this sounds an absurdly grand promise? Tune in.
Next time you are at a good or great restaurant, a place where you know there are proud talented chefs, try the following social gambit: When the waiter comes, tell him to put the menu away. Inform the waiter instead of how hungry you are and how many courses you would like. Say, “Hi. I know this restaurant. I know your guys cook their asses off. I’d like a three course meal, with an appetizer, a main course and dessert. Tell the chef I trust him/her, and to simply provide me whatever s/he feels is freshest, highest quality and most interesting. I am an adventurous eater. I place myself in your hands. Oh, and I’ll take whichever cocktails, beer or wine you think is best. Whatever. You’re great at your jobs. You decide.”
I’ve done this five or six times in places where I know that people have pride in their work, and it has never been less than amazing. Every single time I have done this, the meal includes special amuse-bouches, dishes not on the menu, cuisine of higher sophistication than normally at the restaurant, and about the same price as a regular three course meal. Almost always, the chef comes out personally to ask about the experience, and to meet the people who made such an unusual and inspiring request.
This won’t work at a chain, generally, but at a place where people are free to exercise their craft. Chefs and other artisans take enormous pride in their work. When you say, “Who am I to tell you what to cook? Go to town,” you honor that pride and allow it to become fresh inspiration. This is the soul of civilization, of human endeavor.
At this point in my life, I don’t want consumption, I want relationships with people who take as much pride in their work as I do.