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When Things Go Corporate, Everyone Gets A Raw Deal

, , , , , , | Working | March 25, 2023

A great restauranteur opened a chain of cafés/relaxed dining restaurants. They were great. They served Italian cuisine — very simple, quality ingredients, shown at their best with simple presentation. It was a favourite of ours.

At some point, the chain was taken over by a ginormous global food conglomerate. This story takes place sometime after that, but we had many good meals there after the takeover.

This time, I order beef carpaccio as a starter: a simple dish of thinly-sliced raw beef with parmesan, olive oil, and some salad leaves. The dish arrives, and the beef is brown. It’s raw beef, and it’s brown. It is clear to me that it has been exposed to the air for hours and oxidised.

Me: “This shouldn’t be brown. Something is wrong.”

Waitress: *Picking up my plate* “I will ask the kitchen.”

A few minutes later, a manager comes to our table

Manager: “What’s the problem?”

Me: “The beef carpaccio had oxidised; it was brown.”

A few minutes later, he comes out, triumphant!

Manager: “Yes, you are right. It shouldn’t be brown!” 

I was a little stunned. He definitely seemed to think I should be pleased that he had validated my complaint. Was I the only person on the premises who knew that beef carpaccio was raw and that raw beef was red?

It was obvious to me that the dish had been prepared hours before and (presumably) inadequately covered in cling film. The waitress didn’t know the dish, which she should have; the menu wasn’t that long. But more worryingly, either there was no one in charge of the kitchen, or that person wasn’t watching the dishes leave, or they didn’t know what beef carpaccio looked like, or they didn’t care. None of the options filled us with confidence. We paid for our drinks and found somewhere else to eat.

The restaurant has been purchased by yet another corporation and is still trading ten years later. I haven’t bothered going back.

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