Secret to Success in a Restaurant
One day, I went to a French restaurant for lunch. Located in Bogota, the capital of Colombia, this very special and charming restaurant was only open from 11 am to 4 pm, six days a week.
Eric, the owner of the restaurant, who knew the psychology of the customers quite well, created his own menus and dishes and cooked them carefully. You can sit at the counter and enjoy the food while chatting with him freely. Eric said, “We all know that writing, painting, music, and dance are parts of the arts. In fact, cooking is a more comprehensive art, a mixture of vision, taste, smell, and touch. Serving a dish is like presenting a piece of fine art. How can a chef take it lightly?”
A small blackboard hanging at the counter lists the menu from Monday to Saturday. The restaurant only provides three different dishes per day, and the menu is changed once a week. There is no identical menu in a 6-month period.
Eric said with confidence, “We only provide a few dishes each day, so that the chefs can make them perfect. What we are trying to achieve is to make our cuisine
unforgettable even if customers only have it once.”
It was Wednesday, and there were four dishes on the blackboard: “Pumpkin soup, braised pork, sausage with sauerkraut, grilled salmon.”
Eric said with a smile, “Other restaurants mostly take beef and chicken as the main ingredients. We choose pork and fish instead, and create thousands of different dishes.”
We ordered the three dishes and one soup. Unexpectedly, Eric shook his head and said to us earnestly, “That’s too much for you two. Each of you just needs to order one dish.”
When the chef handed the braised pork to Eric, he stopped talking, and concentrated on decorating the dish. He carefully placed the braised pork on the golden mashed potatoes, and then added purple eggplant, orange carrot, green long beans, and light brown mushrooms. The dish turned colorful, like a garden filled with the brightness of spring. The light aroma was like a mist, lingering around my nose. I suddenly felt extremely hungry. The seemingly common braised pork was quite delicious. The soft fat seemed to be melting, and the lean meat was smooth, delicate, and chewy. It was amazing that such a small piece of meat had such a rich taste.
Sausage with sauerkraut was another wonderful dish. The cabbage had been sealed in a jar for three weeks before it was taken out. The sour taste was just right. The sauerkraut was simmered with a first-class white wine. The mellow wine flavor mingled with the mild sourness, creating a remarkable taste. The dish combining the sauerkraut with the well- seasoned sausage was just unbelievable!
Why was the restaurant providing such tempting cuisine only open for lunch?
Eric told us, “Whatever business you are in, you need to balance work and rest. If the chef gets tired, he will probably fail to keep making satisfactory dishes. Our team also needs time to develop new cuisine.”
Although Eric’s restaurant is a small one, his philosophy of business and life is thoughtprovoking. The secret to his success is actually simple: sincerity.
(From The Forgotten Paradise, Haitian Publishing House. Translation: Chen Jiani)