BN Cuisine With Chef Fregz: Jumping Off the Menu Wagon

The other day I went to support my awesome friend, singer & songwriter Ese Peters at his Taruwa gig at Bogobiri. My friends were all there eating away so they offered me food. Meanwhile, I was very thirsty so I hailed the waiter and said  “Sir please do you have freshly squeezed juice?”

“We Do!” the waiter calmly replied

“Oh ok what juices do you have available?” with a confused look he replied “Pineapple Juice and Watermelon” . I was upset that they didn’t have Orange juice but I decided to have a fruit cocktail so I ask them to mix me a cocktail “with a bit of ginger and a squeeze of Lemon or Lime” My friends were already asking why I was being difficult, especially with the look the waiter had on his face like I was punishing him. Then, he said they had no ginger. “You don’t have ginger? Don’t you have kitchen?”
My juice arrived a few minutes later with no hint whatsoever of lime or lemon and was as lukewarm as Ikogosi water spring meeting point.

So what’s the point of my story? It is perfectly normal to ask for “strange and seeming difficult” favours at a restaurant for a few of these reasons

1. You’re paying customer.
When you go to restaurant you’re not at the mercy of the waiter or even chef. I know as kitchen people we grumble and complain when we get strange orders “Please can I have my steak extra well done?” “May I have just greens beans with Salmon instead of the Prawns” Yes we hate it but again we remember they are cashing out. They our business and pay for the month and hopefully year as often as they keep coming.

With all being said and done. I’m not signing a bill that empowers you to be an obnoxious villain and at your next restaurant visit. However, if you’ve been to a restaurant you love time after time and you just want a change or you’re on this diet or something just ask for something slightly different around what they already have on the menu.
For example when I go to orchid Bistro in Ikeja and I always have my mix of Orange, Carrot Grapefruit Lime and Ginger Juice. It’s not on their menu but I asked if I could mix all the individual ones I saw on the menu and they agreed. The only problem now is that every time I go there, even if it’s to say “Hi!” they’re making it for me.
Remember, you’re a paying customer and you have the power; but be ready to pay for the extra at all times if it costs a bit more and you don’t look silly.

2. You may inspire the chef.
Many dishes have been invented because customers ask for something different. You can never tell, your idea may sit well with the chef and he scores a home run and a dish is named right after you.

3. They have it in their restaurant so why not?
When I go to GET arena for a quick lunch there have been times I’ve ordered the shrimp that normally comes with the noodles. I ask for it to be served with Jollof rice or with a salad on the days I’m in my “No Carbs” zone. The idea is they have it on their menu and in the kitchen so why not? The restaurant just needs to bill me.

If i ordered Garlic bread at a restaurant I’d probably ask for some olive and balsamic vinegar and rock salt to mix to dip my bread into

Why not make a different salad for yourself? “Please can I have rocket leaves with a chicken breast grilled and sliced over with a chilli balsamic dressing and fresh cracked black pepper Thank you *insert smile*

The above should be such a hustle because all these items are on their salad menu so why not?

The issue here is the “Nigerian Factor” You find people saying “Oga why are you stressing me jo?” “This your ovesabi too much”

However, in a regular restaurant they would be bending back over to make sure your satisfied. I mean you’r e not going to do it every time. It’s really a matter of asking firmly and being polite,

Drinks here aren’t left out. In fact I do this for drinks more than food. Ask the bartender “Hello please what’s that new recipe that has given you sleepless nights that you’ve been waiting to try I want to do something new tonight” or “Hi, can I have Malibu in my pineapple sour?” “Please can we mix this liquor with that spirit and top with soda?” and of course please charge me accordingly

That is what I usually do and guess what? I get it every time and the bartenders are usually grateful for a new recipe.

So I wrote this for people who think they cannot ask for food/service outside the menu. You may look difficult but as a chef and food provider I’d want your satisfaction over whatever money you’re paying because that would guarantee your long term patronage.

I hope I’ve shared something awesome with everyone today.

Guys! Remember that December (and Christmas) is upon us so if you have any suggestions on what you’d like to read on BN Cuisine With Chef Fregz please leave a comment or send an email to features(at)bellanaija(dot)com

Have a flavour filled weekend!
A Bientôt!
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Chef Fregz loves to cook! He is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Paris Culinary Arts School in France and hosts monthly “Chef Fregz Specials” where he whips up a yummy menu with a different theme each time then everyone enjoys a taste.He also caters special events and private dinners. To find out more, visit theskinnychefthatcould.com

7 Comments on BN Cuisine With Chef Fregz: Jumping Off the Menu Wagon
  • Miss-I-No-Do-Kele-Kele November 30, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    God bless you Fregz!! I keep telling people when you’re a paying customer you should expect to get what you want and actually GET IT!!

  • impervious November 30, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Customer service barely exists in this country Fregz… and I miss it sorely… the customer is NOT king. Like you said, they assume one is just being difficult…. I personally have given up on ordering take away in lagos… waiting 3 hours at lunch time and having to pay for delivery is not service.
    welluninsipired.blogspot.com

  • Goodnessme! November 30, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    Heeey Chef Fregz! Loving the post, You are so right if they have it on the menu why not swap and change all they need to do is bill me. I do this alot when i buy Chinese they have their staple set menus for 2 or 3 and so forth but the mix never seems to go well with me so i do ask them to change dishes for example instead of egg fried rice i would ask for Sinagpore instead and it just might cost £0.30p -£0.50p Extra. Also especially with all these cocktail bars you may have had a particular Cocktail somehere and i ask them to recreate it once all the ingredients are there why not. And you know with some of these Bartenders and quick flash of your pearly whites they wont even charge you extra also alot of them are show offs anyway and want to show you all there mixology skills. Heheee….Nigeria has ZERO CUSTOMER SERVICE BIG FAT ZERO. Once again a very lovely and informative post. Be sure i will be back with suggestions on what i would love to read here. On the other post one lady did say doing a post with Nigerian/west African inspired Christmas Hors d’oeuvre’s. Now that would be delic! Chef Fregz i would love to have a cook off with you! Finally a Nigerin Chef that does inspire! Keep it up.

  • Mr Protcol November 30, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    Thanks for sharing Chef. I’m ‘armed’ and ready for my next restaurant visit…

  • iamfascinating November 30, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    soo true,

  • nems November 30, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    Cool Article, I am too scared to order something outside the menu, the chef could be inspired or pissed off and I don’t want a waiter spitting in my food.
    http://www.anemistyle.blogspot.com

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