Holidays are meant to calm you down and relax you before you are ready to face the daily grind again. And as many people in high stress positions know, that feeling of relaxation can immediately turn sour on return to work. Chef Nick Bril, one of the top European chefs who runs The Jane in Antwerp faced just that last weekend after he returned back to work from a deserved holiday.
He went on to Instagram Stories to say that it was impossible to work properly because over a given service, there were 38 out of 80 customers who asked for something different because of allergies, a fashion diet or just because they did not like a given ingredient.
The chef of the restaurant, considered to be one of the most beautiful in the world, operates on a fixed menu given that it caters for over 80 covers at a time.
Nick Bril, who co-owns The Jane with Sergio Herman, then went on Instagram to explain himself on the trend of allergies, intolerances or simply not liking particular ingredients has been growing for the past years after he made it to the mainstream media.
“Some people have wished me or a loved one an intolerance or allergy and have started to hate me for saying this,” he said.
“People who have an issue will respectfully tell us in advance and we are able to adjust our menu. “We can host gluten and lactose allergies and also take peanuts out of the menu. But there is a fine line between those who suffer and those who use these issues because they don’t like to eat certain flavours or think they will not enjoy it when it is prepared by chefs who want to take amazing and expensive produce to the next level,” Nick said.
The chef of the Antwerp restaurant said that people who misuse such requests end up creating extra stress to employees and also costs in terms of loss of produce and meat that would go to waste. “People want to go and dine in a fine dining restaurant but don’t want to dine with finesse. That’s a big difference,” he said.
Nick said that fine dining is meant for people who love gastronomy, who love to explore new flavours that the restaurant industry has to offer. “But piling a collection of requests of things that you prefer not to eat but at the same time still wanting a 15 course menu that needs to be entertaining, flavourful, packed with texture, sexy and exciting, one course after another is like walking on water,” he said.
He said those who thought he was an ‘asshole’ for speaking openly about this should understand that he and his colleagues respect their demands. “But people who use intolerance and allergies as an excuse to stay in their comfort zone should maybe open up to chefs who invest their lives to present food in a unique way.”
Many chefs came to his support thanking him for saying it as it is and for making an issue that is very present in the food world public.
Chefs have often complained to Food and Wine Gazette particularly when guests were repeatedly asked before their visit to the restaurant if they had allergies or intolerances and would say no only to arrive at the restaurant and insist that they could not eat many things.
Today I hit the newspapers, with my insta stories about a trend which has been growing for a few years now. A lot of support from people who know how difficult it is , but also a lot of bad reactions from people who started hating me, even wishing me or a beloved one , an intolerance or allergy. ( really?) People who have an issue, will respectfully tell us in advance, and we are able to adjust this. Yes we can host gluten and lactose allergies. Yes we can take peanuts out of the menu. Yes we can adjust the issues. And we will! But in this matter there is a very fine line between those who suffer, and those who use these issues, because the don’t like to eat certain flavors or think they will not enjoy it, prepared by chefs who want to take amazing and expensive produce to a next level. Or they just want to look nice in their beach clothes during summer. We had all miss- uses of these requests. The extra labor cost, the extra stress in terms of routing, workflow and failures made by our team that creates extra stress with employees.The costs of loss of these products, animals and things that have died , for us to enjoy, just because people want to go to a fine dining restaurant, but just don’t want to dine with finesse. That’s a big difference. Fine dining is ment for people who love gastronomy, who love to explore new flavors, who love to enjoy the richness that our industry offers. But piling up a collection of things that you preferably don’t like to eat, but still want to have a 15 coarse exiting menu, that 15 times needs to be entertaining, flavorful, packed with texture, and sexy and exiting , coarse after coarse is the same like walking on water? Dear followers, fans or people who think i am an asshole speaking openly about this. I hope with this post that the people with issues, understand that me and all my colleagues with respect your demands. And the people who use these intolerance and allergies just to stay in their comfortzone, maybe open up for chefs who invest their lives to prepare en present food in a unique way. With their hearts and soul. Me and my fellow cheffriends are thankfull for making us enjoy our passion again 🙏🏻