The Chef in the Eyes of the Customer
Think carefully my friends. Many of you no doubt are thinking about or even currently attending culinary school. Otherwise I am not sure why you would be reading this website so frequently. Anyways, I am asking you to carefully think about being a chef, more so, about how the customers will see you as a chef. As the head of the kitchen and ruler of the restaurant, your mere presence will affect the customer in a way that cannot be measured. The various interactions you have with your patrons can alter or even destroy the relationship they may have with your food.
Will you simply be a name on the menu? Posted on the bottom of the list just underneath the wines it will just say your name in a very interesting and unique font. Never venturing forth from the kitchen that is closed off to the patrons of your fine establishment, you send out dishes that carry forth only a name, judged solely on their expertise.
Will you have an open kitchen? It's quite the rage right now. With your line carefully out of view, customers can only see you and your cooks, working diligently and quietly in the weeds while your customers sneak the occasional glance at you. If this is your kitchen, you are almost like a glorified deity. The customer can feel your omnipresence, your food is an extension of yourself to them. Still, unable to actually hold a conversation with everyone that comes in, you will be a pleasant sight for the patrons who can feel somewhat connected to the process of their food being made.
Will you be the kind of Chef that frequently ventures out into dining area? Shaking hands with guests, thanking people for their accolades, you are more than just a body in the back at this point. You have given yourself a persona. Like it or not, you now share aspects with Emeril, Bobby Flay, and Paula Deen, you are no longer just about the food. The customer's experience now hinges not just on what their plate of food tasted like or what it accomplished in their minds, but how they "personally met the chef".
However you choose to display yourself as a chef, know that there are repercussions. The amount yourself you decide to share with the customer has both personal and philosophical ramifications in terms of your food. Whatever manner you choose to impart upon the people you serve, always remember that what they really care about is the food and the experience of your restaurant.