It’s the latest workplace hobby. Come Monday morning, colleagues synchronise cell phones, sprint to the watercooler and play “who was served the worst”.
Personally, my interest was piqued a few months back, where over dessert at a Stortford Lodge restaurant, our table overheard the chef explaining to a kitchen-hand the intricacies of shaving one’s arse.
I’ve been hooked ever since, (on the hobby, not shaving).
It seems when talking Bay hospitality, one can’t say “restaurant” and “service” in the same sentence without a collective sigh of derision.
“There are too many collapsed pavlovas on the Hawke’s Bay dining table,” claims Yvonne Lorkin, our foremost wine writer and all-round foodie chick. “With the exception of a couple of winery restaurants, Provedore and Pipi, we’re becoming a laughing stock.”
We also spoke to the silverback of the Bay’s culinary scene (and Burnt Hills’ chef), Kent Baddeley, who said the core reason for bad service is the many Bay restaurants that are owned and operated by people without hospitality experience. “I also believe the bigger the building, the bigger the ego – ‘we’re a winery and you are a…I’ll get to you when I feel like it,” Mr Baddeley said. “Restaurants need to adopt a “culture” of service before standards improve.
“The irony is there’s an abundance of food-associated groups in the region, groups like Food Hawke’s Bay, Wine Country and The Food Group who’ve dropped the ball on real issues. Stop sucking up to the rich guys and spread some real training around the small operations.”
Look out for future posts, where in an effort to tip the serious disequilibrium between the province’s lauded food – and its lagging service, we’ll be featuring many free and frank restaurant and café reviews. Unlike today’s post, no establishment names will be spared.