Am I a Food Elitist?

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: restaurants , lunch

A recent post entitled "How Restaurants Lose Customers," here, generated the most number of page views and comments so far on the new SuperSite Fiery Front Page launched last September.  In one of the comments, John Marks criticizes the post, which of course is his right to do.  But I'm going to briefly discuss his objections.

"What's the problem? Restaurants can serve soup from a can, a bag, powder, or made from scratch." I guess this is true if you like to eat at McDonalds.  I don't, and expect that a restaurant calling itself a "bistro" and offering a soup they call a "St. Clair signature" would make it from scratch.

"Just because you happen to know the brand they are supposed to give you the soup for free?" John misses the point.  I didn't want free soup, I wanted them to address why they were serving me canned soup.

"Here's a clue: restaurants charge more for what they sell than it costs them. It's called capitalism." Thanks for telling me something I never knew before:  that restaurant owners want to make a profit.

"Sure, you can buy the VERY SAME soup at the store, and so what? You are paying for the fuel to heat the soup, the dishwasher, the manager, the atmosphere, the waiter, and all the other things you can't get at home for your $1." Again, John misses the point.  I know all this and I have no objection to restaurants marking things up to make a profit.  But please, mark up the raw ingredients and the chef's time, not a processed soup from a can.

"What they did was neither illegal or unhealthy. You are just being a food elitist with a big ego." I've been called a foodie and a food expert, but never a food elitist.  Am I one, and if so, is this a bad thing?  One definition of elitism holds: "Elitism is the belief or attitude that some individuals are members of the elite—a select group of people with outstanding personal abilities, intellect, wealth, specialized training or experience, or other distinctive attributes."  Well, then, I guess I am a food elitist rather than a food populist who eats at Burger Doodle.  Jeez, I'm a sinner with a big ego too.  So sue me.

Comments (6)

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There used to be, but none that I can find, some great restaurants anywhere in New Mexico. They came and went a long time ago. The type that used season fresh ingredients, or artisan cheeses, and a Master Chef created the menu-like most of the restaurants in Italy and France, even the bad ones. Unfortunately, our restaurants ship in frozen pre-cooked entrees and appetizers, canned vegetables canned fruits. We don't have large greengrowers markets, even in small towns, like the European countries. New Mexico does not have a large variety of chiles to sell other that Big Jims shipped from Deming-where are the Chimayos, the Barkers, the Velarde, the Espanola, the Ahi, etc. My point is that St. Claire's is selling wine-the restaurant is like every other restaurant in New Mexico.
Perry Abernethy , August 10, 2009
What kind of restaurant would serve soup out of a can? Not the kind of restaurant
I want to go to.
Wayne Scheiner , August 05, 2009
I agree with what you say, Dave. I think it really boils down to is how this bistro presents their soups. I've been to many a restaurant or diner where I know for a fact that they've used canned, jarred or prepackaged ingredients for everything from sauces and gravies to dishes like chili. There's absolutely nothing wrong with any of that. But in those cases they never boast on their menus, "Try our Signature Chili!" - it's only listed generically as "Chili" and may come to your table garnished with a bit of shredded cheese (the only "modification"). Yet I know it's really x brand of chili you can purchase at a store. If they mislead their customers in any way that it would be their own, that's outright dishonesty, and they should be called on it and the restaurant should not be patronized. Certainly St. Clair's doesn't owe you anything for your visit. But in the interest of avoiding bad publicity, they should come clean with their little fib and remove the item from their menu until they can come up with an original recipe of their own.

Scott Roberts
Scott Roberts , August 04, 2009
Someone's decision to eat in a "Bistro" where Chef is opening cans back there and calling it a house specialty item is, of course, their business. But it would be a disappointment to me , to the point of divorce. In my opinion, not comping the item was just dumb on the manager's part. Standing behind house policy is one thing, but risking losing a good customer over something that is clearly making them unhappy is another. I need to go back and see whether Dr. Dave actually finished his soup. Did you Dave? haha
Emory Joseph , August 04, 2009
For me, it is a matter of preference. If someone would choose to eat in a restaurant that would serve a re-heated product form the grocery shelf - at whatever price point, it is their business. But I'm with Dave on the two major points I got out of his piece: One - I would be disappointed, to the point of divorce, to learn that "Chef is opening cans back there", and Two (the big one for me), while I believe the house should stand by their beliefs - I would have comp'd the soup at the first sign that a loyal customer had a problem with it and lived to see another day with them. Elitist? I think surely not.
E. J. , August 04, 2009
good answers. smilies/smiley.gif

It is important to know, what you eat. in my eyes, a restaurant should not be "great" only in style, design, music. In a restaurant, I want to eat, because the cook is better than me and the food is "more special". smilies/grin.gif
Emanuel , August 04, 2009

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