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Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.

Culinary no-no #212

Culinary no-no's




When I first started courting my wife, Jennifer, we’d dine at that old classic, Boulevard Inn (now Bacchus).

There we met a gentleman from Jordan named Joliat (pronounced Jo-lee-ayyy).  A civil engineer by trade, Joliat was our server, and an outstanding one. We followed Joliat over to Franklin’s Casa di Giorgio. Now he’s serving tables at Trattoria di Carlo’s in Oak Creek.

When choosing a dining destination, important factors are the food, of course, décor, ambience, and service. Joliat has always been friendly and knowledgeable and is not just a favorite waiter. He’s a very good friend who has been terrific to our entire family.

We trust Joliat. But the relationship we have with our good friend is simply not possible at every restaurant we patronize. Dating back to Culinary no-no #18, I’ve written that you should not disrespect your server. Wait staff have hard, difficult, thankless jobs. They do not deserve rudeness and condescension tossed their way.

On the other hand, restaurant patrons should be able to trust their servers.  I’m not referring to identity theft, though that is a possibility any time you hand over your credit card and it’s out of sight for a period of time.

The inspiration for this week’s entry comes from the New York Post that found servers, albeit anonymous ones, to reveal their trade secrets of how they get patrons to spend more.

Here’s one that I just overheard within the past few weeks. I call it the naïve diver.

A woman was asking her server about an entrée. Let’s just say it was the shrimp scampi.

“Tell me, what is the shrimp scampi like? Is it good?”

Trust me. My friend, Joliat would be extremely honest.

Now let’s just stop and think for a moment. How is the typical server going to answer?

It’s like those cooking shows on TV. The host chef gives a just prepared food sample to a member of the studio audience.  Never, ever, ever has anyone said, “Man this stuff is awful.”

The chef him/herself also always, always, always swoons over his/her own work.

How’s the shrimp scampi, you ask your server?

C’mon. Is the server going to tell you it’s horrible and steer you to another, cheaper entrée?

Suppose your server says he/she has actually tried the shrimp scampi. How do you know he/she is telling the truth? You don’t.

Then there’s the customer who plays multiple choice.

“Should I have the shrimp scampi or the prime rib?”

The server knows the smallest cut of prime rib is $7 more than the shrimp scampi.

“Do you like prime rib?” the server responds. “Because if you do, ours is the best.”

The patron closes his menu. Sold. Ka-ching sings the server.

From the New York Post:

“Honestly, we are actors,” says “Jane,” a 30-year-old server at a popular Williamsburg restaurant, who asked that her real name not be used. “Our job is to make everything sound delicious. You should hear me sell a filet mignon. I was once told it came very close to phone sex.”

The restaurant Jane works at has a daily meeting where employees sample the specials and a manager instructs them on “what we need to push.”

But some restaurants don’t even bother to let servers taste the dish they’re supposed to sell.

Other ploys: lying about the wine that the server has never sipped, neglecting (intentionally) to inform about prices of specials, pushing wine and drinks, and encouraging more food than you need.

There is also the famous tactic of steering you toward the bar because your table just isn’t quite ready. But order some cocktails and voila! Suddenly, a table just opened up.

This is New York we’re talking about. Could it happen here?


I still subscribe to the theory that I will always be nice to my server because then, I trust, he/she will be nice to me. His/her tip, after all, is on the line.

Just be aware of the tricks. And don’t be swindled. Order with confidence, and order what you want and like.

Because not every waiter is a Joliat.

To get much more, read the New York Post.


And this one's very important.

What will food cost in four years?


Boys will be boys.


Why would you serve this (sorry, Mom) crap!


They call it an experiment? I call it stupid.

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