October 3, 2021

The Socialite and the Sous Chef

Got an appetite for fine dining? An exquisite restaurant that tantalises the taste buds will usually ask us to put our money where our mouth is – read our scenario below as food for thought…

“You’re the famous Sous Chef of Excelsior, why don’t your order us four some food,” Jonathon said boorishly as he thrusted the Tavern’s menu into Zach’s hands.

Penny took in a deep breath. Jonathon James was not as she remembered at all. She’d always had a soft spot for Jasmine’s brother, but these days he was more oaf than object of desire.

Jonathon had brought his friend Zach along to Jasmine’s birthday celebration, perhaps as a gift for his budding socialite sister.

“Oooh I love Excelsior,” Jasmine’s bubbly champagne voice exclaimed, and she nuzzled in closer to her brother’s friend on the couch. “It’s so prestigious and you absolutely have to be a celebrity to get in there,” she winked at Zach and Penny picked up on his apprehension as he nodded politely.

A little intoxicated with her own voice, Jasmine informed anyone in earshot that her favourite restaurant is Melting Pot, the fusion experience where you can sample the culinary excellence of world-renowned chef, Michael Mansour.

“He worked there before Excelsior,” Jonathon interrupted, with any charm Penny once saw in him rapidly evaporating like the beer foam on his chin.

Jasmine pawed at Zach’s shoulder, and suggested, “you know, the four of us should go on a double date, next Saturday night.”

Penny sighed, it was so convenient for Jasmine to pair her up with Jonathon so that she’d be paired up with Zach.

“I’m sorry Jasmine, I have plans for next Saturday night,” Penny said curtly, not at all interested in a date with Jonathon James’ scampering hands. An evening with Zach though, that was enticing.

Jonathon ignored all the talk about double dates suggested another restaurant.

“What about Pirate’s Plate – it’s on the beachfront.”

Jasmine rolled her big mascara clad eyes at her unwittingly ‘out-of-touch’ brother. “It’s actually called Buccaneer’s Bowl, or even Bucky’s” she says drawing a laugh from anyone nearby at her brother’s mistake.

As Jonathon walked away to escape the jeers, Jasmine regaled her disdain for Bucky’s, “It’s very cheap in comparison, the food just isn’t as good, I always feel a little off after eating there,” and she slinked across the room to find a conversation with a topic that made her feel less queasy.

With Jasmine on the other side of the room, Zach moved around the table closer to Penny.

“So,” he offered, “do you have any definitive restaurant preferences?”

Hell, anywhere he was on the menu would do just fine.

Penny hid a laugh at her own thoughts behind her wine glass and gently shook her head. Zach beamed a smile at her. “You know, I didn’t have the heart to tell Jasmine, but” his words trailed off as he lent in closer to Penny.

He revealed that Melting Pot and Buccaneer’s Bowl share the same kitchen, that the way the building is set up, the kitchen is on a split level between the two restaurants, and it serves both of them.

He explained further that Melting Pot generally only has around ten or so ‘experiences’ for patrons to enjoy, signature dishes from Chef Mansour, however he trials some of his new recipes at Bucky’s to see what people favour – because Bucky’s always has around twenty different options for guests at any one time.

Penny’s eyes widened, and Zach softly declared, “Socialite Jasmine James pretty much publicly stated that Chef Mansour’s recipe trials are making her feel unwell, not sure she’s going to post that on her socials?”

Penny and Zach shared a laugh and as that waned, a longing look into each other’s eyes. They continued their conversation.

Zach mentioned that the price point has more to do with atmosphere than anything else – Excelsior trades on being a celebrity haunt, Melting Pot is linked to Mansour, and Bucky’s caters to a more casual market. He said people consume about the same from both restaurants on any given evening.

Zach asked Penny with a glint of cheek in his eye, “So, do you really have plans next Saturday night?”

Slightly flushed in the face, Penny shook her head gently. “Ah”, Zach said with a nod, “well, here’s the thing – what Jasmine didn’t say about Bucky’s, is the terrace balcony is furnished with secluded table-for-two’s – a delightful place to get to know someone.”

Penny smiled and said, “and we know we won’t be interrupted by Jasmine”.

Zach and Penny shared a knowing look.

Penny looked forward to seeing what she and the Sous Chef could cook up next Saturday night.

Unlearn Principle

Jasmine has allowed her Desire of all things expensive, chic and popular cloud her judgement on the quality of the food at the restaurants between Melting Pot and Buccaneer’s Bowl. A higher price doesn’t always indicate a better-quality product or superior experience.

A 2014 psychological study found that participants who paid a higher price to attend a buffet felt more satisfaction for their meal, than people who ate at a less expensive buffet. However, both groups attended the same buffet. People who ate at the ‘cheap’ buffer felt they had overeaten, yet both groups ate in total, a similar amount of food.

[Reference]

Just, D et al (2014) Lower buffet Prices Lead to Less Taste Satisfaction. Journal of Sensory Studies, 29(5), 3562-370.

As referenced in “Mind Over Money”, Hammond, 2016

Until next time,

Vanessa

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