Did you know that it's best not to order fish on a Monday? I've been listening to top chef Anthony Bourdain's book 'Kitchen Confidential' and found some of his insider tips very interesting...
Here's Bourdain's somewhat controversial advice to keep in mind when you're dining out:
1) Don't Order Fish on a Monday
Chefs receive their seafood order on Friday mornings so there's a good chance that whatever the 'Seafood Special' is on Monday has been kicking around in the kitchen all weekend. Unless you're in an actual seafood restaurant of course.
2) Don't Eat Out at Weekends
Chefs prefer cooking for locals than tourists and revellers, and locals are more likely to eat out during the week. The optimum day to eat out is Tuesday because the kitchen staff members are in good spirits and have plenty of fresh produce.
3) Don't Let On That You're Veggie
According to Bourdain, chefs have a 'naked contempt' for vegetarians, let alone vegans, so it's best to just order the appropriate menu choices without making your ethical status apparent.
Note: I know for sure that Clive at Marinades of Cheltenham takes particular pride in catering for all dietary requirements and has full respect for everyone's choices. I also know that some of our recommended caterers will ONLY serve vegetarian or vegan food, so don't be alarmed by reading this article... just be choosy where you eat.
4) Don't Order Meat Well Done
Chefs (in Bourdain's opinion) believe that rare or medium rare is always the way to go with meat, so anyone with a preference for well done is going to get cuts of particularly tough or old meat that would otherwise be trashed or served to staff. These kinds of cuts are what chefs call 'save for well done'. Bourdain says that you're effectively 'paying for the privilege of eating our garbage'. Bet knowing that will make you think twice?!
5) Chicken Is Boring
Chicken 'bores the hell out of chefs', goes bad quickly and spreads salmonella when handled carelessly. 'Chicken is for customers who don't know what they want to eat.'
'What do you mean I'm boring?'
6) I Can't Believe It's Got Butter
The reason restaurant cooking tastes so much more decadent than a home cooked meal is that it's oozing with butter. In most restaurants worth their salt, sauces are enriched with mellowing, emulsifying butter. Butter is not going away any time soon.
7) Old Bread Doing the Rounds
The bread served shortly after you sit down in a restaurant is often culled from the uneaten leftovers of the sticky-fingered children with unruly behaviour a few tables away. The re-use of bread is an open secret in the catering industry and fairly standard practice for years. Baskets of seemingly untouched bread would often be re-used during peak hours. (I recognise these kind of practices having worked in a nightclub restaurant myself three decades ago.) However Bourdain reckons that if the idea of germs upsets you then 'you might just as well avoid air travel or subways, equally dodgy environments for airborne transmission of disease. Eat the bread.'
8) Hold the Hollandaise
'It's likely that most restaurant Hollandaise was made hours ago and held on station'.
Best avoided, according to Bourdain.
9) Avoid Mussels Unless You Really Trust The Restaurant
In Bourdain's long-reaching experience in kitchens all over the world, careful handling of mussels is a rarity. 'More often than not, mussels are allowed to wallow in their own foul-smelling piss in the bottom of a reach-in' he reveals in Kitchen Confidential. Each one should be picked through and checked for being alive and healthy before being swiftly cooked in a pot and served. If you're going to order them, make sure you give them a good once-over before eating. Go somewhere you know. (I've always had excellent mussels at Flynn's.)
10) Don't Annoy Your Waiter
As well as being the polite thing to do, being nice to your waiter tends to encourage better service and is of key importance - you don't want your soup spat in. (Much of Bourdain's career was spent in America but he also had experience of working in kitchens all over the world.) Waiters know the secrets of what's going on behind closed kitchen doors and might be just the ones to tip you off on what not to order, as well as also being the ones capable of letting the chefs know if you are a pain in the arse customer. 'If he likes you, maybe he'll stop you from ordering a piece of fish he knows is going to hurt you.' If you're going to make any sort of negative comment or complaint, wait until everyone in your party has finished their food.
That's the end of the list of 10 of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain's tips for eating out.
This piece is written about the restaurants that Bourdain has had experience in worldwide, however if you go to a local eatery with a good reputation you're going to have food that's fresh, hygienic and cooked with love every time. All the establishments and caterers on my Food & Drink page are people you can trust and whose food you can trust. My family and I eat or order from these places regularly and can highly recommend them.
Anthony Bourdain's TV show Parts Unknown and book Kitchen Confidential are a must-watch / must-read if you're a foodie or even slightly interested in what you eat. Very sadly, Anthony took his life in 2018.
Rest in Peace, Anthony, you are an inspiration. 1956-2018.