This chef clearly doesn’t believe that the customer is always right.
When a potential diner with “intolerances” to “just about every item” on the menu emailed a restaurant in Sydney, Australia, to request a special dinner made just for them, they did not get the response they were expecting. It seems that the chef took umbrage not just with the request for a special, non-menu item, but also that they not be charged full price for the meal.
The email conversation between the potential customer and chef Attila Yilmaz was shared on the Facebook page for PAZAR Food Collective. After emailing the restaurant and explaining that they have an “incredibly restricted diet,” the unnamed diner asked if it would be OK if they just sat at the table and drank while their friends ate.
When the restaurant responded that their liquor license only covers them for “dining customers,” the unnamed person responded, “I think we will go elsewhere unless you can provide a lean steak and sweet potato with leaf and sheep’s milk feta or goat’s cheese salad and charge appropriately, not a feast $68 price. I have an intolerance to just about every item on your menu.”
At this point, the conversation apparently caught chef Attila Yilmaz’s attention, as he responded, “Apologies, just so I’m clear on this, you want to come to our restaurant, don’t like our menu and hence want to create your own menu and want us to cook that for you at a price you determine is fair? Could you please tell me what cut of meat you would like and what price you would like to pay for your dinner?”
When the potential customer responded by calling out Yilmaz for his “sarcasm,” the chef explained, “Question, if I may? If you and seven of your friends were going to a concert and you were the only one who didn’t like the band or their songs, are sensitive to offensive language and had intolerance to loud noise, would you contact the band and ask them to tone it down, lower the volume and edit their playlist and songs so it is more to your taste? Would you then ask for a discounted price when they do this because, well, it’s just not reasonable?”
He then went on to explain that the diner’s requested meal was made up of ingredients that the restaurant doesn’t use and ended the email with, “We look forward to not feeding you.”
The no-longer-potential customer responded, “Nice. It’s very nice considering I work for a caterer and we accommodate people’s food intolerances every day.”
Not to be deterred, Yilmaz once again responded, this time taking a different approach. “You work for a caterer,” he asked. “That’s great! What’s your minimum spend? Can I book you to cater for one person? Me? How much for a piece of lean meat, leaf, sheep’s feta and a sweet potato? Can you give me a quote, please? Make sure it’s reasonable… I’m happy with $68 or less. I will require you to supply a cook, tableware, water, cloth napkins, a waiter, a venue with a chair, table, music, air-conditioning or heating depending on the weather. I will require this for at least a two hour sitting on a Saturday night at 8 p.m. I will need proof that you pay your staff the award rate at 125% for a Saturday and proof of superannuation, workers compensation insurance, et cetera. Please email your quote ASAP.”
According to the Daily Telegraph, Yilmaz explained that while he tries to accommodate requests for people with food allergies, “when you have someone saying they are on a diet and there is nothing on the menu that they can eat… you have to say to them, “Well, maybe this isn’t the restaurant for you.”
In a statement obtained by Fox News, Yilmaz explained further.
"The dialogue between the interested party and I is exactly how you see it posted. It has not been edited. No [dietary restrictions] were listed, only a request to initially not dine at all and just drink, and following that, another email with a threat that 'UNLESS' we supply a specific meal (that we don't serve) and price it 'REASONABLY' instead of the $68-per-head set menu feast which her fellow guests are paying and which is mandatory for all large groups of seven or more."
He continued on to clarify that his restaurant does regularly deal with dietary restrictions and are usually able to accommodate guests. "We receive dietary requests all the time and I can only remember maybe three occasions in where we have been unable to accommodate the needs of the person," Yilmaz explained. "It’s when we have no notice for something obscure that we might struggle. We had one occasion where the organizer of a large group had a guest with a whole page of dietary issues attending. With notice, we were happily able to create four personal dishes for the lady."
Yilmaz went on to claim that vegetarians and vegans make up "a large percentage" of his clientele.
"We feel it was never about diet but more about the price," he explained. "It would hardly be fair to that person's fellow diners if their meal cost less and they were forced to pay more simply because. You don't get a discount on a plane trip, train or cinema ticket just because you have dietary concerns and can't eat the food. Large groups are as much about the food as it is the occasion, company and space required to host a large group."