Saturday, September 24 2022

Image of the article titled Ask The Salty Waitress: How To Ask For A Restaurant Recipe?

Graphic: Nicole Antonuccio | Photo: Teri Dixon / Getty Images

Hi Salty,

There were very few restaurants open after our church went out on Sunday night so we went to this place nearby and had their grilled margherita cheese with roasted tomato soup. I loved their soup but wanted to change it. I felt it could be even better.

Is it rude to ask my server for the recipe? Are they allowed to disclose such inside information? I would be uncomfortable asking for something that is not easily given.

Thank you,

Dear André,

You devotees are so polite. It’s really refreshing! I mean, of all the wacky things customers do, asking for a recipe ranks pretty far down the list.

“The only stupid questions are the ones you don’t ask” is a cliché, but I think it’s true here. What’s the worst the restaurant can say? “Sorry, it’s a ‘secret’ [wink wink]. “I guess if they just empty the soup out of a plastic Aramark pot, they might not want to tell you.

I definitely wouldn’t mention that you want to improve on their recipe, it could be a bit rude. Instead, lie! (I know God will forgive you this time.) Tell the waiter that you liked the soup and want to make it at home so you can get your fix when the restaurant is closed. Who knows? The restaurant may have already published a cookbook that they could point out to you. Or maybe they have a website with some of their recipes on it. Or maybe they’d just give it to you on a piece of paper. Even if he doesn’t give you the exact recipe, the waiter may be able to tell you what the determining ingredient is: “Oh, the kitchen uses a ton of peppers in there” or “Heavy cream really does.” or something.

I don’t think the restaurant would be offended by your question. Even if they don’t give out the recipe, I guess the kitchen would be flattered to know you asked. If you really can’t stop thinking about this soup recipe, you can always try asking this fancy magazine for it. enjoy your foodRSVP column.

Do you have a question about restaurant etiquette? Or are you a waiter / bartender with a horror story the world needs to hear? Send us an email: salé


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