I was having brunch the other week and overheard an odd request from one diner: “I’ll have the burger, but I want one half of the patty medium rare, the other half well done.”
This goes beyond love messages drawn on food or wedding rings in champagne glasses.
How would the kitchen handle that order? Do they cut the patty in half, cook one part medium rare, the other well done, stack it, and then cut it again? Perhaps it would be easier inviting the diner into the kitchen to make his or her own.
It was inspiring. And so, I asked chefs to answer:
What the craziest/strangest request you’ve had from diners?
Egg white omelette with Hollandaise.
(Editor’s note: Hollandaise is like 99% egg yolk.)
Customer asked if they could bring their own food.
I have 3 kids under 6 years old. Can they come eat for free?
Can I have a Milanesa medium rare?
Could you please cook the Ibérico ham?
(Ed’s note: This one came up multiple times.)
Chef: I’ve had guests bring in their own meat and fish and asked them to be cooked.
Me: Did you do it?
Chef: Depends who they are and if they ask nicely.
We don’t get crazy requests. Only the normal shit. Some time ago, we had guests who brought their own pre-sliced Iberico ham and asked us to unpack, plate, and serve it for them. I told them to fuck off.
Not sure about crazy, but had customer ask for our sliders to be cut into quarters. I said we could cut them into half, which was also BS, and made a messy looking plate.
Ordering a burger without meat. I asked the staff to double-check the order. Confirmed: a burger but with everything but the patty, and charge for the original price.
Sparkling water but without gas.
Wagyu sirloin cooked well done.
(Ed’s note: That’s a waste of wagyu.)
I run a traditional Italian restaurant. A bunch of Americans came in and said, “We love Italian food, but you don’t have spaghetti meatballs, al fredo sauce, or chicken parmigiana on the menu. Is it possible to have it?”
A guy asked for a private room for him alone, then proceeded to order a damn expansive bottle of wine (over 10k selling price). He didn’t want any food but asked someone to get him some skewers from the street. He then ordered another bottle and asks another round of skewers.
It’s not the craziest but it’s annoying. Steak: half medium rare, the other half medium. Stop being a cheap ass and order two steaks.
When I was working in the US at a 5-star restaurant, we had a guest bring in the French Laundry cookbook and asked us to cook him a recipe out of the book. We refused, and he responded by saying, “What, you guys don’t think you’re skilled enough to cook the recipe?”
I did seven courses of steamed vegetables for New Year’s dinner with no salt, no pepper, and no olive oil. I have also been asked to make gazpacho hot, like, a thousand times. Someone bought three live lobsters, not for paella, but to free them into the Huangpu River. I’ve also been asked to put a wedding ring in a steak!
Order: one beef carpaccio. The plate comes back right after with the request for it to be “cooked”. Similarly, at a raw oyster buffet station, “Can you cook these with garlic and rice noodles?”
I had a customer ask me if I can serve any beef from a cow that did not die for him—he basically said he couldn’t eat anything that died for him.
And then, there’s this:
I’ll have a chicken soup, but no chicken.