I had an amazing opportunity today to join Chefs Eric Ripert and Michael White in a Google+ Hangout as part of Tasting Table’s Table for Two. Five foodies were invited to “hangout” and ask the chefs questions as they discussed their experiences as successful restaurant owners and world-renowned chefs.
I had the chance to ask one question, “What makes a great dining experience?” Their responses made me look at dining out from a whole new perspective.
“In restaurants, every night we see an entire dining room of people looking for the right experience, and what you are looking for may be different than the next table,” said Ripert, chef for Le Bernardin in New York City. “Some people come for an anniversary, birthday, a celebration. Some people are in business and what they are focused on is signing a deal at the end of the dinner. Many clients come to enjoy the food. Some of the people come for the holistic experience that is the service, the food and the décor.
“It’s our role in a sense through our waiters, who are reading basically the mind of the client, to adapt and deliver that experience that you potentially are looking for,” he added.
White, chef for Marea in New York City, said: “It’s the people. It’s our employees. It’s multi-faceted in a sense that we’re both so focused on the details. It’s hard to arrive at perfection, but details are what we’re after. The music and the lighting, there’s so many, the question that you ask, we could talk for hours about. It’s a great question.”
What the chefs said is so true. In addition to looking for the perfect plate of food, my best experiences are when waiters are just attentive enough. You don’t want them ignoring your empty glass, but you also don’t want them interrupting a pleasant flow of conversation.
Ripert, who has appeared as a guest judge on Bravo TV’s Top Chef said he trains his staff to share his passion and vision.
“The team, if they are loyal and stay with us…suddenly, we are thinking the same, and it’s all about the client, what they’re looking for. Not necessarily pleasing them with steak well done at Le Bernardin. That’s not what I’m talking about. But pleasing them in a sense that they have to read again the mind of the client and see what they are looking for and then help us and as an entire team, creating an experience for that person,” he said.
White, owner of numerous restaurants around the world, agreed.
“It’s all about the client. We do not build restaurants for any other purpose than for our clients because the client is who comes to your restaurant and frequents the restaurant,” he said, adding that even the body language of the server is important.
I recommend you watch the full hangout at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1E4TR82ETE to learn even more from these great food minds.
If you’d like an opportunity to participate in an upcoming Tasting Table, tweet using hashtag #2xEverywhere