Saturday, 16 June 2012

Having a high SiQ isn't all it's cracked up to be

I’d like to dedicate this to the few, the proud, the commercial kitchen cooks, and more specifically, to the sprinters of the kitchen world, the steely breakfast-cooks. But more critically, I’d like to direct this to anyone who ever plans to go out in public, enter some form of restaurant, sit down, and order a meal. Note here: I simply want to make everyone’s dining experience more enjoyable.

You see cooking breakfast and lunches for people is a big part of what I do for a living, and I like my job very much, well, mostly. ‘Mostly’ because unlike dinner menu items, breakfasts are timed in seconds, not minutes. Oh I’ve had meals out in under 4 minutes, 3 min 53 sec to be exact, but that was under near-scientifically perfect conditions of course. And even though timing is everything –after prepping- ordering is, unfortunately, THE critical factor in order synthesis.

And so to help everyone understand the complexity of orders and ordering food, based on longstanding culinary axioms, I have painstakingly developed my own theorem which, through intense mathematical gymnastics, ultimately assigns a number, a quotient, which represents an orders’ ‘complexity,’ and that quotient, named after me, is the Simon Quotient, or SiQ. Afterall, it’s my theorem.

And this is how it works: Each item within the order is designated as a base 2, and then thenumber of items are then multiplied together. So: Eggs and toast: 2x2= SiQ of 4. The ‘Standard breakfast’ of bacon, eggs, toast & homefries: 2x2x2x2= SiQ of 16. It’s very simple, but does genuinely reflect an orders’ complexity when you start combining items within orders.

Note: Central to the SiQ theorem: Similar items within orders are not multiplied together, differing items are.

One order, two people: Both want poached eggs & toast: 2x2, SiQ=4. But if one person wants eggs over-easy, differing the egg variable, that adds an item, and so the order is now 2x2x2, SiQ=8.

The Standard Breakfast SiQ=16. Two standard breakfasts are still SiQ=16, but if one has eggs-over-easy and bacon, and the other has eggs scrambled and sausage, then: 16x2x2, SiQ=64. Get it? Each variant item within the order adds a multiplier of 2. You throw a grilled tomato onto one of those breakfasts and the overall order SiQ is now 128.

Take note: When breakfast items are paired with lunch items the SiQ’s escalate very quickly as the overall complexity of the order accelerates towards a critical mass. This, is just like it sounds. Ask any professional cooker.

Last week we had a table of eight come in at a busy time. Blech. I admit, I was nervous. But thank my lucky stars all eight people ordered exactly the same thing! A total SiQ=16. I couldn’t believe it. I thought: There’s your Food-God in action. Praise cheeses. Now in contrast: The week before that a pleasant young family of four came in and unleashed an order with a crippling SiQ of 8,192. I know, seems impossible, but it ain’t. I know: I lived through it, well barely.

And so to all the would-be diners-out, who likely want the best experience possible, by taking SiQ into consideration when ordering, you increase your probability of: a) faster hotter food, with b) fewer ‘oversight’s’ and c) receiving props from the kitchen. And to my comrades I openly encourage you to join the SiQ Revolution and tailor this theorem to your own commercial kitchen needs.

So there you have it, take it for what it’s worth. If nothing else it allows me to quantify my bitching. And if you don’t agree with my theorem, that’s okay, but just remember: I’ve got your number.

Saturday, 2 June 2012


It’s always been the hardest part of the business for me,I’ve always taken it so personally when a punter is not happy, but sometimes,no matter how hard you try, you just cannot please. 

It would bother me enough for me to lose sleep over, every customer counts, can’t lost a single one.  What could we have done differently, are we really on the right track?  I should have said the hot sauce is hot, and that our sausage is a handmade flat sausage from a secret Scottish recipe. 

But, as time marches on at The Regal, I’ve gained a new confidence, one that unexpectedly flowed from my mouth today. 

You’ve heard me say it before, some days are rocks, and some days are diamonds, turns out yesterday was a rock, a really hard one, so I woke up this morning determined today would be a diamond. 

First of the day, a really big birthday guy and his breast cancer beating gal, she was so pleasant, but didn’t like the cold day, hot coffee for you I say. 
No need for a menu a special order for her, but wait, there’s another on the way. 

In struts the brother and immediately the mood changed.  A grump from the start.  “man, this place is more expensive than The Flying Saucer, Dan lied to me.”, “our food is a little bit different here, higher quality, all made by us.”, “gimme two scrambled eggs,that’s it, no toast, no nothin’.”

So, as you know by now Simon is, how shall we say it?....anal.  And you know we make our own, sausage, bread, jam, hot sauce, etc., and if you don’t see it on the menu,we will try to make it……So, we all know that the food I brought out was good quality, fresh, and prepared by people who care.  I was then, and still am confident of that.  When I checked back, no complaints,just a request for more jam.

Then as more customers are coming in the brother starts piping up, this bread is stale, this isn’t sausage, it’s meatloaf and even the baby won’t eat it, these potatoes are crap, this place is so fuckingsmall. 

I couldn’t take it, we work so hard, so many hours, handmade, home-made call it what you will. 

For the first time ever I approached a customer, who’d only ordered scrambled eggs, by the way, and said to him, if you don’t like our food, just leave, because this is my restaurant and I don’t need to listen to this bullshit when we work so hard to serve people good food. My heart was pounding, and I wasn't sure what would happen next.

Then of course, my Knight-in-Shining-Armour burst through the kitchen door to save me, and – with words (and a few hand gestures) - ushered them on their way.

...and on with our day we went.