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Friday, September 16, 2005 | Fall is a busy time in the hospitality business. Seems as if I have been out and about dining more, attending more events and just generally been busy with the food business. I realized that I’m being bothered by several issues that never seem to go away no matter how hard many of us try to make them. So, here is my list:
1. Chefs and restaurants are being asked more and more to contribute their time and product for charities and fundraising events. I went to one with a chef recently in La Jolla. We arrived at the event with a car loaded with food and equipment. We were allowed to unload and then told, “Find your own parking space.” Well, there aren’t any parking spaces at La Jolla Cove. It seems to me that when restaurants and their staffs are willing to give up time and product, the event planners owe it to them to, at the very least, have places for them to park. And they also should provide paper goods. Asking the chefs to provide that as well is beyond reasonable.
2. I am not a guy. I am actually a well past middle-aged woman. I am so tired of wait staff referring to me, and whoever else might be dining with me, as “you guys.” I don’t care if it is the jargon of the day; it is impolite and very poor use of the English language.
3. Why can’t we get some real restaurant reviews in this town? Our culinary scene gets better every day, but we still have print media that won’t allow a bad review. And even worse, so much of the print media thinks that just having a name writing the review makes it credible. You can’t write a good restaurant review if you don’t know about food and how it works and tastes and what is involved in fine service.
4. Although by nature, restaurants are competitive when it comes to customers, chefs in other cities know each other, frequent other restaurants, get together to hash out problems that affect them all. Chefs don’t do that here. Our culinary community would be much the better with a bit more cooperative effort rather than so much competition. We need to spend more time praising each other’s successes and offering help and support with difficulties and failures. Imagine the food scene in town with that kind of atmosphere. As they say in “My Fair Lady,” “wouldn’t it be loverly?”
Pamela J. Wischkaemper is a local food consultant and is the founder of San Diego Gastronomically Correct, a group that goes on the road twice a year to promote the San Diego restaurant industry. The only criterion for membership is having cooked at the James Beard House in New York. Nineteen chefs in San Diego are members.