Passive aggressive chef gets a master class in passive aggression
TL;DR: Chef is rude after I politely inform his staff about a bad scallop. Chef loses a sweet contract to host my father’s holiday party.
I posted about this incident recently in a completely different sub, and realized I had a great revenge story!
During grad school, I very occasionally treated myself to a nice meal out. I was at the smallest of the Big 10 schools, and the restaurant scene was surprisingly decent. My favorite local spot was tiny, open kitchen, terrific food. On my third visit, I had a beautiful plate of shrimp and scallops. It was perfect, until I got to the last scallop. Bit into it, and sheer force of will was the only thing that kept me from spewing my dinner all over the table. I’d never had bad shellfish before, and I never hope to have it again.
As I’d really enjoyed my meal, and every other meal I’d had there, I wasn’t going to make a fuss. It happens, I get it. But I did want to give the chef a heads up so he could be on the lookout for more bad shellfish. When our server came over, I told her politely that my dinner was terrific, but heads up to the chef that the last scallop was off.
She brought the plate back to the chef, who is standing directly in my line of sight about 20 feet from me. She smells the scallop, rolls her eyes, he does the same. Then the chef proceeds to visit every table in this small restaurant except ours, dropping dessert tasting plates at the tables who were done. Between tables, he takes time to glare in our direction.
The server brings us our check without a word. Doesn’t ask if we want dessert. I pay, and I briefly considered dropping a business card on the table atop the cash as my parting shot. (I worked for the local health department.) On reflection, I realized that could come back to bite me, so I left quietly.
My parents lived about 30 minutes away, and I brought them to the restaurant on a previous visit. Dad was so impressed, he had decided to hold his office holiday party there. His assistant had done all the legwork, and as it turned out, had an appointment the following week to finalize the menu and drop off the deposit. This was in the days when holiday parties were quite the do and the restaurant was going to get a check approaching 5 figures for a night when the restaurant was closed.
Dad took that meeting for his assistant. By his report, he sat down with the chef and the front of the house manager and a server started bringing out a tasting menu. Dad mentioned the conversation he’d had with me after my last meal there, told them he had no intention of spending another cent at a restaurant where his daughter was treated so rudely.
The chef blustered something about food cost, people trying to scam him out of free food, and what was he supposed to think. I’d eaten everything else on the plate, what were the chances that the last thing on my plate was bad.
The chef offered to discount the price of the party significantly, offered free meals, but dad wasn’t having it. “This is a small town. Word gets around. And FYI, my daughter works at the health department.” The restaurant closed up shop within the following year.