After seeing the fun AMA's with other industry workers, I thought I'd try an AMA about the opposite and less accessible end of the industry. I spend my days and weekends working in a restaurant that tends to attract celebrities, politicians and the outrageously wealthy.

There are plenty of misconceptions, prejudice and simple misinformation about restaurants, from Michelin stars, to celebrity treatment to pricing.

I've met countless celebrities, been yelled at by a few. I've had food thrown at me, been cursed at, been walked out on.

On the flip side, I've had the pleasure of meeting some of the nicest people, trying some of the most unique foods, rarest wines and otherwise made a living in a career that certainly isn't considered glamorous.

Ask away!

Note: Proof was submitted to mods privately, as my restaurant has a lot of active Redditors and I'm not trying to represent my place of work here when I give truthful answers.

Edit: I've made it my goal to answer every single question so just be patient as I get to yours.

Edit 2: Jesus christ this is exhausting, no wonder actual celebrities give one word answers.

Edit 3: Okay guys, I told myself whenever I got my queue empty after a refresh, I'd call it a night. I just hit that milestone, so I'm gonna wrap it up. Sorry for any questions I missed, I tried my best.

It was great, hope it was a good read.

Edit:

Well I'm back and things are still going. Fuck it, let's do it live again.

1:30 PM EST, working my way through the 409 messages in my inbox.

Comments: 4233 • Responses: 92  • Date: 

IAMATiger-AMA3489 karma

Who the fuck do you think you are claiming that Waffle House isn't a fine dining establishment?

talkersmakemethirsty5226 karma

My bad, I know they're rated 3 Michigan Stars.

Nethervex1558 karma

I like Red wine, I like French wine, can you recommend a good French red pairing with pizza bagels?

talkersmakemethirsty1723 karma

Gimme a price range here. Are we talking "I just want a nice bottle of wine, the food is irrelevant" or are we talking "I want to pair my French red to my pizza bagel in every way possible, including price."

waterbuffalo7501534 karma

So Boone's Farm, then?

talkersmakemethirsty1736 karma

Yes.

DSleep364 karma

Could we have both suggestions, if they may differ?

talkersmakemethirsty1339 karma

For a real suggestion anything Sicilian, Frappato especially. Light, dirty, bright raspberries... so good. And it's kind of meant to go with the flavors that make up pizza.... even pizza bagels. Occhipinti is one of the largest producers along with COS. Both delicious and reasonably affordable.

For the bottom end though, I've said it elsewhere here... Bota Box Red has a place in the world.

nevetsretlaw172 karma

Also this. From the Tank (fancy-ish box wine) does a killer Cote du Rhone that you can usually find at Whole Foods.

talkersmakemethirsty286 karma

I almost suggested From The Tank, but when they originally started distributing they were restaurant only? I suppose that changed now!

gogojack1092 karma

Obviously you can't say which celebs who've yelled at you, but can you dish on the nice ones?

talkersmakemethirsty4072 karma

The fuck I can't. Throwaway and anonymous proof for a reason.

Jared Leto is either a piece of shit or were in a really bad mood from being starved while filming Dallas Buyers Club. Either way, fuck you Jared, I know that salad's lettuce wasn't super perfect looking, I can't argue with my boss when he sends it out.

As for nice ones..... Gordon Ramsay was incredibly nice, Seth Rogen and Johnny Depp are both laid back, easy going. Almost every celebrity I have met has actually been incredibly nice. Rupert Gint is a lot stockier than you realize. I think of a tall gangly redhead, not a short stocky guy. Ron Howard is really down to earth, good sense of humor. Michael Johnson (worlds fastest man) is an incredibly good tipper.

waterbuffalo750981 karma

I feel like it'd be terribly intimidating to serve Gordon Ramsey.

talkersmakemethirsty1236 karma

He really was laid back right from the start.

talkersmakemethirsty209 karma

Thanks for that link, it's perfect.

biggieprice1075 karma

Why do so many celebrity chefs come off as abusive and constantly angry? I could name a few, but I'm sure everyone has some in mind. I would think that kind of attitude would be entirely negative for the working environment, especially a high-price kitchen.

Are the people you work with/for anything like this? Or is that mainly a television thing?

talkersmakemethirsty2248 karma

Almost all of my chefs can tell you horror stories of their previous bosses. From verbal to physical abuse (intentional burning for example), belittlement and just otherwise atrocious work conditions.

The kitchen has always been a rough and tumble place, though that is changing slowly. The higher echelons have no room for error. Every plate is the only plate you get to present that guest. That kind of intensity tends to come out in rough ways. Plus, it's a hard job. My chef easily works 14 hour days 6 days a week with little respite or acknowledgement. They chain smoke, drink coffee like crazy, get shit faced every night and come back to do it all the next day. Needless to say..... that doesn't lead to an even keel.

Ultimately though, that portrayal that is a byproduct of TV. The day-to-days of the kitchen will involve a lot of swearing and cursing, but mercurial explosions of a diva tend to be a problem that isn't tolerated (unless they own the place, which is a whole other discussion).

As far as the WHY on TV, well it sells. People like drama and "reality" TV that is anything but real.

Edited few words and format.

Chumpcinco1050 karma

Has there ever been an incident in your restaurant similar to one you'd expect at a Waffle House and if so how'd that go?

talkersmakemethirsty2835 karma

Guest rolled up in his wheel chair to a table, pulled out his two pistols, set them on the table and proceeded to order an iced tea. He wasn't threatening, he wasn't doing anything but pretending putting two guns on a table on a Friday night was a totally normal thing.

It was surreal.

Also had a lady very clearly throw up into her purse next to her, close the purse and proceed with her meal like she didn't just do exactly that.

serend1pity817 karma

What are some of your most memorable celebrity experiences from work?

talkersmakemethirsty2641 karma

The time I almost waited on Al Pacino. I didn't. He didn't come in. It was heart breaking..... but I was kind of relieved. I mean.... it's not Tom Hanks where I'd feel comfortable. It's Al Pacino, that is oddly terrifying.

More substantially though, I once had an 8 top I took care of. They were chatting about TV shows and were clearly in the entertainment industry, though I didn't recognize any of them. I sent out complimentary desserts because they were very enjoyable people and I made the joke "I know you guys are in the industry, so if any of you have the power to make Deadwood come back, I brought you free desserts......" And one of the guys who I didn't really recgonize started profusely thanking me. Turns out he was the actor who played Dan Dorety(sp?), Al Swearingen's henchman in Deadwood. Incredibly nice guy and it was awesome meet him. He's not as big in person though.

TheGreatMow752 karma

What role do you see craft beer and the position of cicerone playing in the future of fine dining?

talkersmakemethirsty912 karma

Probably the best question so far. So cicerone is interesting. A lot of people thought sommelier certification was bunk 10 years ago, now it's very clearly not. I think cicerone is in that place too. Craft beer's explosion into the market has led to a lot of specialization...... That includes the sales side of things.

Beer pairings are a lot of fun and I think as time moves forward and people become more and more engaged with what beer can do in, and with, a meal other than just "having one", they'll start seeking out more in-depth uses for it. Cicerone knowledge will certainly help there.

tellurianmonkey704 karma

I assume you get very good tips if you are fine dining. How are they distributed?

talkersmakemethirsty1323 karma

It really depends. At the higher levels, tip pool is most common. As I worked my way up, I hated that idea. It was counter to me. I built regulars, I built clientele who came to see me, who knew my name and I knew their preferences. It was their money for me, I earned it why should I share it with coworkers I didn't feel were as good at their job? The reality is though, that breeds obviously selfish thinking. After settling in at a place that does tip pool, I love it. It makes it a much more communal work environment and since the industry kind of sticks together, it just reinforces those bonds. The only downside is the potential for abuse from money distribution.

As far as that is concerned, there are many ways to do it. The most common is divided by hours worked, but that isn't always fair. The best I've seen is distributed amount is weighted by what position you work and how much you get is determined by the length of your shift. Less than 2 hours, cut early: 0%. 2-4 hours, early night: 50%. 4+ hours, considered a full shift so full tipshare.

I believe Danny Meyer in New York is experimenting with averaging out the hours across the week so everyone makes the same regardless of shift. I don't like that or the policies he is pushing though.

Edited in a sentence for clarification.

PM_ME_XBOX_MONEYCODE401 karma

What is the most insightful tip you've received from a customer?

talkersmakemethirsty1851 karma

"Do you have a wife? No? Well when you do... don't cheat. I'm learning that now." As he drank a bottle of wine after his other two guests left... turned out they were his ex-wife and divorce lawyer.

Was very awkward to finish that table up.

waterbuffalo75057 karma

Tip pool sounds horrible. I used to be a server and we always had each others backs, to the point that I don't feel sharing tips could make it any better.

talkersmakemethirsty225 karma

I understand. I really do. It's honestly not horrible though.

They make the money very very stable. You know what your weekly take is going to be, you don't sweat a bad night or a bad section. You just want to do a good job for your peers and you tend to force others to be accountable to you since they affect your money too.

tralphaz43-5 karma

The food is what brings people back I could give a rats ass about the waiter

talkersmakemethirsty10 karma

I'm actually the same way, but not everyone feels that way. I have guests that won't come in if I'm not working and will text me to ask my schedule for their events.

missleavenworth628 karma

The idea of going to an expensive restaurant is intimidating, yet still an experience my husband and I would like to have some time. We both grew up middle class and now, even though we are academics, we are upper middle class. We live modestly, and dress modestly, and spend our extra money on new experiences. Is there any advice you could give us on how to conduct ourselves (dress, mannerisms, basically just how to navigate this minefield)?

talkersmakemethirsty1651 karma

Remember it's not a minefield. That hostess? Banging the valet. That bartender? Builds motorcycles in his spare time and has a roommate for his duplex. That server? Is a personal trainer as his other job.

We make good money, but we're not wealthy. We're literally middle class. We're the exact person you are... the only difference is, we go to work at 5 pm.

Despite dealing with the obscenely rich, our most regular guests are people celebrating birthdays, anniversary dinners, etc, that won't be back for another year. Nothing is expected of them except trying to have a good time and understand we're trying to do the same.

Redhater622 karma

What is the "contribution" required to get a table at 8:30pm on a busy Saturday?

talkersmakemethirsty1160 karma

Depends how nice the restaurant is, honestly.

99% of the time for 99% of restaurants, if there is a table available you'll get it. That 80's America Psycho-esque way of projecting importance from restaurants is gone. Dollars count, butts in seats put dollars in pockets.

That being said though, higher end places that do tickets (Alinea) or fixed menus, often can't accommodate late reservations/walk ins because their menus are composed with limited ingredients and specific prep. Basically, they have no more food to give than what they've scheduled for.

For high end places that are more traditional à la carte dining, there may be a manager hold on one or two tables on popular nights if some a regular face walks in, but most of the time that is used on late reservations as well.

Bourgi592 karma

So glad you mentioned Alinea. I'm going there by myself next month and it is the first Michelin star restaurant I'll be going to. Any tips for a lone diner at these types of venues? I'm so scared my palate isn't good enough.

Edit: Palate, pallet. I don't know how to homonym.

talkersmakemethirsty1205 karma

They loveeeeeee solo diners. Seriously. It's so much fun to have one person who wants to dork out on food. Don't be hesitant, it'll be fun. Even if you don't get what you think are all the nuances of their product, doesn't mean you can't enjoy the experience.

donetherebeenthat483 karma

At restaurants like that, is it better to pretend you know how to eat the food or to ask a lot of questions about how to eat the food? Does everyone else there know how to eat that food?

talkersmakemethirsty734 karma

Ask! And no, most people are debating the same thing you are.

0utlander48 karma

Could you explain more of what you mean by 80's American Psycho way of projecting importance?

talkersmakemethirsty176 karma

The idea that restaurants want to create an air of self importance, that they should dictate the guests actions. Self importance where you have a private number to call to actually get a reservation (Archer makes this reference). That isn't feasible, financially, for a business.

valehntyn467 karma

I guess this is kind of a two part question. What in your experience has been the biggest cross-restaurant issue, and what do you think would be the easiest/most effective way to deal with?

talkersmakemethirsty1271 karma

Getting guests to understand what happens at one place doesn't happen at another and each establishment is a business.

This applies to food, drinks, procedures, etc. Every place tries to find and maintain it's own identity. This makes it tough to put your foot down for requests that compromise that. Even simple ones, it is less about the request and more about the precedent it sets.

Dress code is an example that pops to mind. We don't have one where I work and it often surprises people. We try not to be stuffy or formal and we feel enforcing a dress code would come off that way. However, it is awkward when you have someone who saved for a while, is celebrating their 25 anniversary, put on their suit and dresses to come have a nice night and a nice meal... and they're seated next to a tech entrepreneur who is wearing sandals and a t-shirt. Both of them are completely in the right in their own way... and both have the possibility to affect the mood for each others night in their own way. Which side do you choose when you make these decisions?

energybending258 karma

David Chang's Momofuku restaurants have no dress code for their waitstaff. It's refreshing, personally.

talkersmakemethirsty296 karma

His restaurants are super unique too, in a lot of ways. There is a reason his name rings out.

Robert_Goulet461 karma

I've been serving for about a decade now, working my way up from casual to fine dining restaurants. If I were to look to get into a really fine dining place, what advice would you give me that could help land at a position serving at a top end restaurant?

talkersmakemethirsty714 karma

Know someone or expect to not serve immediately. That isn't uncommon. It is easier to teach people properly than correct old bad habits. I know people with NO experience that were hired into support positions at places like The French Laundry.

Otherwise, knowing people helps. Or make it clear you want to learn how they do it and will start in a support position to establish yourself.

RedditMayne412 karma

Is it true that every top-notch sommelier/chef has a guilty gustatory pleasure? (Example: Mountain Dew for a sommelier or Fritos for a chef.)

talkersmakemethirsty674 karma

Every one I met has. When an associate of mine got their MS certification, I bought them a bunch of Pabst.

heyyouknowmeto405 karma

So who the biggest asshole you've dealt with?

talkersmakemethirsty1183 karma

For celebrities? Jared Leto.

Otherwise? The guy who wanted a discount on a $900 bottle of wine because "thats just what nice restaurants do you, you asshole"

SenatorCentaur308 karma

Did you serve Jared Leto while he was in his Joker phase? I can only imagine what that would have been like.

talkersmakemethirsty747 karma

nah, he was annoying enough in his starving phase.

Hepcatoy390 karma

Thanks for doing this ama! I've worked my way from hostess to foh manager, and I love everything about my job.

What's one of your most memorable guests/ services?

talkersmakemethirsty1159 karma

I had a couple once celebrate their 30th anniversary in my section, apparently she had been denied a liver transplant and that was likely to be their last anniversary together.

Really drove home how much you can affect important memories for people.

TheBroodyCalibrator367 karma

Oh no... I'm waiting to be put on the liver transplant list and this broke my heart.

talkersmakemethirsty934 karma

You'll be fine if I'm never your server.

Good luck though.

ironman82390 karma

Do you get comission on pricey wine sales?

talkersmakemethirsty761 karma

No. Some places do, but I've never worked at one. Many states don't allow that (legal/tax issues), it can be a nightmare for the restaurant and ends up being pushy.

If I'm recommending a more expensive bottle I either really like it or think it is super cool. I want the guest happy, nothing changes that quicker than pushy service and overpriced wine.

heyyouknowmeto343 karma

What's your go to dish?

talkersmakemethirsty1154 karma

Toast, avocado, olive oil, sea salt for a snack.

Skinny_Canadian323 karma

What's the hardest, yet most rewarding, part of your job?

talkersmakemethirsty768 karma

Remembering that people are choosing to spend their money... and most importantly, time, in a place that I basically control.

As I said, it's not a glamorous job but Americans celebrate at restaurants. It is what they do. Birthdays, weddings, promotions, house buying, moving to, moving away, etc.

It's hard to keep that perspective, but it really does mean a lot when someone goes out of their way to thank me for helping them have a memorable night.

TubaKid44309 karma

Hey, thanks for doing this. My family chooses not to drink alcohol. Is it weird or considered odd when someone comes to a high end restaurant and just orders Coke?

talkersmakemethirsty619 karma

Sort of. I won't lie, I notice it. Not because of the choice, but because I spend all night talking to people who do want to drink and it's such a glaring difference when someone (or a group of someones) don't drink.

That said, that is more just the rhythm of the job than the actual care. I assume you're pregnant, in recovery or just not a big drinker. I don't give it much thought. Half my non-drinking guests ask if we even have coke, as if we wouldn't do such a thing. Which is funny because we drink sodas just like anyone else.

scansinboy279 karma

Employee turnover has to decrease as the dining experience gets finer and finer... How long does the average employee last where you're at now, how long has the most tenured employee been there? The newest?

talkersmakemethirsty400 karma

I'm the most tenured employee. Now I'd say the average departure from my position is every year or two. Newest is about 8 months. We had some management transitions, but now they have stabilized in a very positive way and turnover is dramatically dropping.

bibleseatbabies266 karma

I saw in one of your answers you worked your way up to your position. Did you have to pass a test of some sort to be a sommelier?

Have you ever seduced a famousish customer?

talkersmakemethirsty583 karma

No, I was hired into my position. I basically just worked as a server at a crappy restaurant, then at a nicer restaurant, then at a nicer restaurant and so on.

Carla Gugino knows my name, I'd like to think she has a crush on me.

ChorpadilNexrad249 karma

What is the best way to get a good girlfriend?

talkersmakemethirsty886 karma

Have interests, have hobbies, learn to respect yourself for what you are.

forgiveangel221 karma

As a captain of the floor, are there any nautical terms that you use? Are most people super into having to know every aspect of why their food is amazing, or are people just "humm... yum... taste good?

talkersmakemethirsty336 karma

I'd say 75% is "yum it is amazing" and 25% is super into knowing every detail.

Also, I don't use nautical terms but I really should. Suggestions?

vonbauernfeind327 karma

Always be familiar with the term "head" since it means bathroom.

Port is left, starboard is right.

Stern is to the rear of the ship, bow to the front.

Three sheets to the wind means a person who's so drunk they're wavering like sails with no wind in them. Drunk as fuck in other words. CO is your boss, the restaurant manager, you're the XO as executive officer of the servers/floor.

talkersmakemethirsty266 karma

Three sheets to wind will be used more frequently now, thank you.

porh219 karma

I have absolutely no idea about ordering wine. When I go to a restaurant with an extensive wine list, I feel embarrassed to ask the server about recommendations since anything he says would fly over my head. In the end I would usually get the house red or white. Any tips on how to order wine? Or at least how to ask for recommendations?

talkersmakemethirsty514 karma

Ask! Give a price range, be honest and blunt.

"I don't know a ton about wine, but I want to explore a little in the $75-100 range. Do you have any recommendations or something different you'd steer me towards?"

Boom. Done.

sapereaud33204 karma

What's the biggest large format bottle you've poured from?

talkersmakemethirsty269 karma

Salmanazar, but it wasn't anything special. Just a giant format for a large catering.

rl4brains204 karma

Any recommendations for a wedding cocktail or two? We're getting married in the fall, and I'm Chinese, so we're looking for drinks related to one or both of those with minimal ingredients so we don't have to stock too much.

The caterer suggested a vodka-cranberry + lychee, which sounds fine if maybe a bit boring and sweet. I do realize my minimal ingredients stipulation makes it hard to be too exciting. Do you have any better ideas? I thought it would be nice to have a brown liquor cocktail as well.

talkersmakemethirsty463 karma

Yes! I'll PM you tomorrow after all this is done so I can answer more thoroughly.

ihapa54 karma

Can you post your recommendation on the ama as well? I'm quite curious on your recommendation as well!

talkersmakemethirsty52 karma

Okay, I'll try to remember.

spience10188 karma

What was your 7th grade homeroom teachers name?

talkersmakemethirsty271 karma

Mrs. O'Connor.

matterofprinciple181 karma

Are you a sabrage too/ do you know any? If so have you ever seen any brutal accidents?

talkersmakemethirsty235 karma

I've done it and I've never seen any brutal accidents though it is scary as shit to do, even after practicing.

Bustin_Chiffarobe162 karma

(Serious question) in your opinion what is the best cheap box wine?

talkersmakemethirsty512 karma

...Is this a question? Seriously?

It's obviously Bota Box.

dicksmokinfucktoilet158 karma

I'm not much of a wine guy, but I have a few "regular bottles" that I'll have on hand for when people come over and they want a glass of something. My personal favorite is Wild Horse Pinot Noir. Out of curiosity, have you had this wine and what do you think of it for a ~$15 bottle? I have 3 bottles of 2014 in the cupboard. Also, have you ever had Fighter Pilot Red? It's another personal favorite.

What other bottles should I try in this price range? Wine sections intimidate me so I just kinda buy the same stuff.

talkersmakemethirsty551 karma

My personal favorite is Wild Horse Pinot Noir. Out of curiosity, have you had this wine and what do you think of it for a ~$15 bottle?

I've worked in places that sold it and I think it's the perfect wine for what it is. It's good, simple Central Coast pinot noir. It's not meant to be aged, it's meant to be opened and drank. No ceremony, no complication. It's hard to keep context on wine. One wines strong point isn't always a person's need. Sometimes you just want to open a wine and like it without giving it much thought.

I haven't thought about Wild Horse in years though.

I don't have any recommendations but I'm a list person. You put me in a section, I'll have plenty. You give me a blank board to write stuff down and I draw blanks. Responsive memory I suppose?

Regardless, don't be intimidated, what is the worst that happens? You grab a bottle you know nothing about, buy it with a cashier who has no clue you know nothing about, you go home and open it without anyone ever having a clue and you drink and hate it without anyone being around? It's a win-only game. You buy wine, you find something new you like. If you don't like it, well at least you get to get drunk.

grizzburger297 karma

It's a win-only game. You buy wine, you find something new you like. If you don't like it, well at least you get to get drunk.

Seriously, stop being so damn quotable, it's making me jealous.

talkersmakemethirsty266 karma

It's easy to sound quotable when you have time to answer.

scansinboy137 karma

What's the most outrageous request you've been able to accommodate, by either a celebrity or an everyman?

talkersmakemethirsty280 karma

I've had this sitting on my queue for a while... I'm sorry to say I can't think of a great example for you. Celebrities never have weird requests, they just want private tables.

WeAreThe15Percent136 karma

What sort of restaurant do you want to open? Upper-echelon like the one you work for currently, or something different?

talkersmakemethirsty487 karma

Around $45 per person average, not anything like I'm doing right now. This would be fun to revisit down the road, but to quote Bourdain... if you want to open up a restaurant, burn a pile of money in a driveway.

RealFemale135 karma

I once ate at an insanely expensive steak place in Las Vegas where we basically had a private waiter wearing white gloves, carefully watching from a respectful distance, then almost telepathically swooping in when we needed something, yet, never making anyone feel watched or crowded. It was an amazing performance. Is this what you do?

talkersmakemethirsty486 karma

Yes. Without the gloves and the depression that comes with living in Las Vegas.

Oldagg003115 karma

So, how often do you eat at Waffle House?

talkersmakemethirsty360 karma

At this rate, once a decade. Somehow both too much and not enough.

FappedInChurch114 karma

What is your thought on the split between FoH and BoH? I'm a cook/chef and experiencing some of the ire between the two was never something I really took part in, I'm curious as to how you feel about the disparity.

talkersmakemethirsty278 karma

I hate it. I don't use the terms Front and Back. It's Dining Room and Kitchen. We all have the same goal, the same team to work with and the same hope: to survive each shift with our sanity and enough happiness to make us come back to our next shift.

I've never understood it. Almost any BOH admits they are there because they don't want to deal with people.... but then plenty of them spend their time shitting on servers because they perceived the job easy. Each job sucks and rocks in a unique way, no reason to add in-house animosity.

FappedInChurch94 karma

What are your thoughts on the divide that exists in regards to pay? I've seen servers walk away with what I make in a 55 hour week in one night. It bothered me but I'm in the kitchen because I enjoy it, it's a little disheartening to say the least.

talkersmakemethirsty308 karma

It's unfair. There is no way around it.

There are flip sides to though, in the context of servers.

A lot of kitchen guys are building a craft, a trade skill they can hopefully turn into their own place or food truck or whatever. They work 10 years in 10 different jobs, they expand their skill set. A server works 10 years in 10 different jobs, they learned how to operated in 10 different places.

No one opens a restaurant because they were a very talented server.

Either way though, the wage divide is a tough reality and certainly not fair. However, kitchen staff chose to be there. Nothing ever stops them from coming up front.

jauntygoat100 karma

Are there any good wines under $15?

talkersmakemethirsty314 karma

Tons. Too many to name.

One thing I've learned is I never sneer at people's preferences as long as they aren't based in ignorance.

Price can determine perceived quality. Price can also be the result of actual quality. Price, however, does not determine taste.

One of the best wines I ever had was when I was younger and didn't really know much about wine. My colleagues would chuckle at it when I mention it, as it's a wine based on style and marketing (Prisoner, previously of Orin Swift. Note: I'm not referring to this as a wine under $15, just as a wine that doesn't have a strong repute with somms)... but fact is my dad really liked the wine and I remember having a very awesome meal with him and my girlfriend at the time and drinking that. It's not so much about the wine, but the memories I associate with it.

When and if you develop a palate, it's easy to move on from the basics. The simple stuff that people like, it's easy forget why they like it. Sometimes the cheap price is the attraction, sometimes it's the memories.

I have a box of wine in my fridge right now because... guess what? After 3 glasses my palate is shot, I'm feeling good and I don't want to remember to cork up a bottle and have to drink it in the next 3 or 4 days.

goninzo99 karma

I'm surprised you're getting so few questions about food. So two questions from a foodie.

I want your best dish, what is the easiest way to ask your server for it? I'll eat anything that is great. All I tend to get is 'What are you thinking about?', getting the specials reeled off to me again, or 'This basic dish is the most popular.'

What is the best thing that a restaurant has served you?

talkersmakemethirsty213 karma

"So I'm open to anything, I don't want the special and I don't want your most popular dish. I want what you would get if you were sitting in my shoes and having a meal". You'll probably get an honest answer. If they stick to script, well they are a shit server anyways.

I'm honestly not sure about a particular dish that stands out.

Macrologia83 karma

How much does wine get marked up at your restaurant? How does that compare to the food?

talkersmakemethirsty173 karma

Restaurants make their money off alcohol. Spirits are usually your highest mark up. Wine follows a pretty simple idea, around 250-350% depending on price, availability, demand and overall structure. That markup tapers off after $200 a bottle though, because you still need to move a product.

co_alpine80 karma

Can you name Top 5 wines we don't know about but should?

talkersmakemethirsty303 karma

Probably not. It has little to do with the actual question and more what defines "know about" and what people like.

I'll name my Top 5, regardless of popularity, how about that?

Piedrasassi Syrah from Santa Barbera

"Vecchia Modena" Lambrusco di Modena (Sparkling Lambrusco)

Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d'Abruzzo

Barboursville Cabernet Franc (Virginia Winery)

Massican "Gemina" Vineyard White Blend.

Also, if you want a winery you should keep an eye out for: Ryme from California. They do really cool stuff with fun grape varietals. They've started to get some good presence, so they aren't some huge secret but definitely not widely known yet.

armchairvegan69 karma

Did you take or do you know anyone who took the Master Sommelier exam? Is it as hard as it is portrayed to be in the Somm documentary?

talkersmakemethirsty104 karma

No I didn't take it, but I know several who have and yes it is that difficult. Harder in some ways.

TheGeraffe61 karma

As a captain and a Somalian, has your vessel ever been attacked by pirates? Alternatively, how has piracy near Somalia affected your life?

talkersmakemethirsty56 karma

Well piracy really negatively impacted the Somalian wine export market.

cmbyrd60 karma

How long ya been doing the FOH thing?

Involved in NASA/have your pin(s)? How hard were they to actually get?

talkersmakemethirsty113 karma

10 years FOH. A little BOH sprinkled in here and there.

I'm not involved with any formal wine education in terms of certification. Fortunately, that isn't a necessity in the industry. I would be, if I was pursuing a wine only career moving forward, but I'm actually opening my own restaurant. Wine is a bit of a side effect of my career, not really my passion. I'm actually much more passionate about cocktails, spirits and generally how restaurants operate.

LonePaladin42 karma

I'm poor. Like, poverty-level poor. If I'm careful with my money, I can manage the occasional minor indulgence, comparatively speaking. Is there any way I could experience dining at a restaurant of your caliber and keep the price reasonable?

talkersmakemethirsty116 karma

Honestly, if you're that poor, probably not. Even if you could, I'd tell you not to. Why not go somewhere a little less fancy and ball out a little more? That is way more fun for me. I'd have less fun worrying about the total bill at my place than I would somewhere less expensive but not being as concerned.

That said, for being reasonable, if you don't drink wine and share with your date you could keep the cost approachable.

chairhats35 karma

How do you "get into" wine? I've tried drinking it on numerous occasions. I've researched wines that I might like, experimented, switched from beer completely, etc., but I always end up drinking beer again. I was raised drinking beer from a German background, is it just something I'm stuck with? Thanks.

talkersmakemethirsty71 karma

I've said in other replies, but I'm not particularly passionate about wine. It's a byproduct of my job. I wanted to work at nice restaurants, which means you need to know wine usually. I'm actually really into cocktails, spirits and food particularly.

That said, it really just takes time. Germany has a very rich wine history, so don't pigeonhole yourself... but what you may like may not be what you're exposing yourself to. Keep adventuring out. If it never sticks, well at least you tried

KayJay145229 karma

What led you to this career path? And how'd you know you wanted to be a sommelier?

talkersmakemethirsty79 karma

Accident and I still don't want to be one.

I was 18, fucking off around lower end restaurants when I realized you made more money with less work at nicer places.... so I started trying to constantly advance. Somewhere along the way, I realized I really liked what I did and decided to stick with it for a career.

As for the sommelier part, it's more the end result of my job progression than anything I sought out.

klafka25 karma

How do you feel when people ask for vegetarian dishes or vegetarian tasting menus ? I went to a vegan fine dining restaurant - millennium that was awesome but I'm always wondering when I see other fine dining places if it's fine to ask if they have a vegetarian option.

talkersmakemethirsty93 karma

Totally fine. Chefs love playing with seasonality and that fucking Home Grown, Natural, Never Had A Bad Word Spoken To It, Small Farm, Tomato they spent last week sourcing... well it won't be lost on a vegan.

ljorash425 karma

omlette du fromage?

talkersmakemethirsty73 karma

The only French I ever needed to know... thanks Dexter's Lab.

plimbaugh22 karma

Is it true that the 2nd cheapest wine on the list is most often times the cheapest wine for the restaurant?

talkersmakemethirsty32 karma

Wouldn't surprise me. It's really by the glass wines where you strive to hit wider margins.

NISCBTFM22 karma

I was a food runner for a couple weeks at an establishment I'm guessing is very similar to yours. Fine dining, celebrities, etc. I ended up quitting because I absolutely abhorred the way the upper management treated their high profile customers. I watched many times as "normal" people's food got pushed aside to get cold because the chef had a VIP table's food coming up right then. Do these scenarios ever take place at your restaurant? It drove me nuts to see these people who might have saved for months receive inferior service and food, just because the CEO of E! television or some celebrity happened to be dining in the restaurant at the same time as them.

Also, I couldn't stand the political aspect of this restaurant. I had to practically drag some of the servers over to help run food at times(only two plates per server, placed at the same time, etc.). But all of a sudden when the executive chef shows up, I've got one of them there every 2 minutes asking if I need anything. They ran quite a few restaurants and paid managers really really well so the servers wanted their face time. I guess I just really couldn't handle the "political" aspects of the restaurant.

talkersmakemethirsty53 karma

Sounds more like a problem with the management culture there. Shit rolls downhill.

My kitchen knows when and where VIPs are... in a general sense. They rarely notice if the particular dish they are plating is going to a certain VIP. What is the point? If you set your standard to be good ALWAYS, why would you worry about one plate over another?

Servers are lazy. I've been lazy. People are lazy. Sometimes coworkers suck, sometimes they don't.

Regardless, sounds like you made a good move, moving on. Fitting into a job goes both ways.

glenfuerte19 karma

A girl friend of mine is having a group project in their class (Hotel and Room Management) and their topic is fine dining so they will have a mock restaurant running for a week in their university. What advice can you give to her in managing their project to make it like a legit fine dining experience?..

Last year they went chinese resto so it's like fine dining also but chinese cuisine..

talkersmakemethirsty23 karma

Well a lot of things separate casual dining from nicer restaurants. Without knowing what you do or don't have, I can't really offer any specific advice? I'm more than happy to help though.

SplendidNokia18 karma

After a long day of serving high end food what type of restaurants do you go to for food and relaxing?

talkersmakemethirsty47 karma

I cook everything I eat, just as a health and cost thing. I usually snack light at home, stir fry is my usual prepped meal. Love me a PB&J sandwich too though.

_Khaleesiii_8 karma

With all your experience and connections in the industry by this point, do you have an "in" to get a table at Rao's in NYC? If so, how can I get in on that connection? It's a life goal of mine.

talkersmakemethirsty12 karma

Shoot me a PM tomorrow after this dies down.

dragula158 karma

Any Australian/South Australian wines you're into?

talkersmakemethirsty11 karma

Oh hell yea, Australia has some amazing stuff. Same with New Zealand. Did you know Sam Neill makes wine in NZ? It's called Two Paddocks. Jurassic Park Wine should have been the name though.

Obviously Penfolds is the big name in town with Australian wine, but wineries like Giant Steps and stuff coming from the Yarra Valley are doing really awesome things as well. It's really not a secret, just fun stuff.

NoMoBluepill7 karma

What level certification do you hold in the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS)?

talkersmakemethirsty18 karma

Zero. I'm not ashamed to say it, because it's an industry that certification still isn't that necessary in. I mentioned it in another reply, but if I was pursuing a life in wine, I'd definitely get it. I'm not, opening my own restaurant instead, so it's an expense I can avoid for now.

I work with multiple Advanced (Levle 3) Somms and a Master. I'd put myself on par with Advanced, from just how things feel at work. I actually have a pretty weak palate and nose, but I'm good with facts and details to balance it out.

linz166 karma

I've worked in a lot of restaurants where there is a BOF vs. FOH mentality. Do all BOH workers hate their FOH coworkers or is there an element of jealousy or what?

talkersmakemethirsty7 karma

Even at the high end levels it stays.... it's more muted though and generally, as I said in another reply, a lot of the BOH guys are working to develop their skill to be chefs of their own one day. They don't care as much about the short gains a server makes that night.

akiva232 karma

What is the best drink to pair with my morning waffle?

talkersmakemethirsty2 karma

Mill-king Milk.

heyleese1 karma

I like beer and I can pick from a beer menu one that has qualities that appeal to me, i.e. Ambers, stouts. I do really enjoy wine but I have a hard time looking at menu and figuring out what I'll like. At home I drink mostly Malbecs and getting back into Cabs, but have had bad luck with Pinot noir and Merlot. How do I go about educating myself about the endless options so that I can say to my server well these are things I like and get a recommendation?

talkersmakemethirsty1 karma

Well just what you said sounds like you like meatier stuff. Heavier beers, heavier wines. Just pass that along. You like weight and "umphf' to your drinking. That is enough to get you in the ballpark anywhere.