Welcome back to Behind Closed Ovens, where we take a look at the best and strangest stories from inside the food industry. This week, we bring you patently absurd customer requests, from squeezed coleslaw to the murder of steaks. As always, these are real e-mails from real readers.
"One of the weirdest customers I have ever had was a regular at a steakhouse I worked in for a little while. He came in about twice per month, sometimes alone, sometimes with a dining companion. He always ordered the exact same thing and he was VERY specific.
His order went as follows: bottle of cheapest red wine with a glass full of ice only on the side. No water, just ice. He wouldn't let us pour the wine until he had filled up his wine glass with ice. His dinner order was always the same, too - our 10 oz. filet Mignon, cooked "Extra, extra, EXTRA well-done and a side of blue cheese."
This is how he would order the cheese: "And I don't want just a little dressing cup of blue cheese! I want a BOWL of blue cheese. WITH my steak order NOT with my salad!" You had to bring him a soup bowl filled with blue cheese or he would freak out. The first time I served him, I messed up and brought it out in a soup CUP and he freaked out and yelled at me.
He was so particular about his steak being extra extra extra well done, that our chef would sometimes just drop it in the fryer. He was basically obliterating a $40 piece of steak. I once suggested that he might like the sirloin or even hamburger better, and he yelled at me and complained to the manager. The cheese thing was also bizarre, and our manager charged him $20 for it every single time, but he kept ordering it.
I thought at first that he must put the cheese on each bite of steak, but no. He would eat a bite of steak, then eat a fork full of blue cheese, then a french fry. I am a huge fan of cheese, especially blue cheese, and the thought of eating like that makes my stomach churn."
Kinja user Everything is Shiny:
"We get lots of tourists in my family's coffee shop (read: people who have never been in there or probably any other independent coffee shop before and are utterly thrown off when you tell them you can't make a frappuccino). One day, this guy comes in and asks for a coffee, "regular." In Massachusetts, that tends to mean cream and sugar. I get him his coffee and tell him that the cream and sugar is behind him at the creamer station.
He stops and stares at me. "But how am I supposed to know how much to put in?"
"Put in some, and when it looks like what you like, or tastes like what you like, stop," I responded.
"No, but you don't understand, I don't know how much to put in. You're supposed to do that for me. It's what you're paid for."
I calmly explain to him that no, we do not put the cream and sugar in for him, there is a line behind him of people (who all know how much fucking cream to put in their own coffee) and he can go over to the creamer station and make up his coffee. If he puts too much cream or sugar in and can't drink it, I'll get him another coffee. "Well, come over and do it for me."
I tried to explain to him that I will have no idea how much he wants me to put in, because I don't know how he takes his coffee. He gets quite exasperated at this point. "JUST PUT IN AS MUCH AS THE OTHER COFFEE SHOPS!"
I tell him that I don't train at "other coffee shops" just so I can know how much cream and sugar people like him (by which I secretly mean dumbasses) like in their coffee, I just work at this one, and he needs to leave the counter now.
I should point out, this man was about 50. He has lasted 50 years on this planet with no idea how much cream and sugar he should put in his coffee."
"This place I used to work, we had this one customer dubbed "Coleslaw Guy" (alternatively, Pain in the Ass). He came in maybe 2-3 days a week for lunch, explaining loudly that he was a personal fitness guru and lifestyle coach.
The restaurant, I should explain, was an old American restaurant situation in downtown Pittsburgh — a place where you need to explicitly ask for french fries NOT to be on your salad (Editor's Note: Goddamit, Pittsburgh, you're embarrassing yourself). We catered mostly to lawyers and judges — it was very 'boys club' and I feel most of our clientele ate there for lunch because they didn't know how to make themselves lunch. Not exactly a haven for health nuts.
So our coleslaw was made with about 5% cabbage and 95% slaw aka mayo and other junk. It was goopy, delicious mayo-y goodness, and except for this guy, it was exactly what our clientele wanted. Instead of just ordering a salad without fries and toppings, though, Coleslaw Guy would order slaw and make whatever server he had squeeze it out until it was completely dry, because he "didn't want that much fattening mayo." We tried to give him just chopped up cabbage, but he wouldn't go for it. Lightly-dressed chopped up cabbage — no dice. He specifically wanted us to hand-squeeze all the mayo out of the prepared coleslaw. He would often send it back 2-5 times until it was squeezed well enough. Sometimes we would try to plan for when he was coming, or ask if he was coming the next day, only for him to say, "no, I won't tell you, because I want my coleslaw freshly-squeezed."
He tipped well, but we all HATED him."
Do you have a crazy restaurant story you'd like to see appear in Behind Closed Ovens? Please e-mail WilyUbertrout@gmail.com with "Behind Closed Ovens" in the subject line (or you can find me on Twitter @EyePatchGuy). Submissions are always welcome! In particular, if anyone has any colorful Chef stories, awesome customer stories, ridiculous co-worker stories, or just bizarre moments of food service zen, please, please send them in.
Image via jreika/Shutterstock.