Jenn Louis Chef-splains Restaurant Substitution Policies in Generous Op-Ed
If you’re a chef, you probably despise substitution requests from delusionally gluten-sensitive folks. If you’re an experienced diner, you know better than to ask for substitutions, because a substitution bastardizes the intentions the chef had when creating the dish, and that makes you look like 1) an ungrateful eater, and 2) an unworldly asshat. If you’re a diner with a nut allergy, No Substitutions policies probably make you feel like the world is against you and no one wants you to have delicious things.
Luckily for all of you, Top Chef Masters alum Jenn Louis of Portland’s Lincoln and Sunshine Tavern penned an op-ed for Huffington Post that caters to all and generously explains substitution drama to eaters of all stripes. Writes Louis in part:
“I battle with some requests, but ultimately, I want to practice hospitality in the kitchen. I want to be a role model for my cooks so they practice hospitality in the kitchen too, and so they always remember what industry we work in. We’re in the people-pleasing business, and I want my guests to feel cared for in my restaurants. But, I cannot alter everything, and I cannot bend to every whim. There just has to be limits.
As a chef, I do have intention when creating dishes and pairing ingredients together. There is always a method and reason for what ends up on the plate. My choices are careful and deliberate, and I want my guests to experience the dishes as I intend them to taste. Now, I will leave nuts out of a salad to accommodate a nut allergy, but I draw the line at substituting another dressing that was not intended for the flavor profile of a specific salad. My general rule of thumb is that I will leave an ingredient out, but will not substitute or add ingredients that are not intended for a specific dish.”
You can read her piece in its entirety here.