Culinary no-no #622


Brunch. Buffets.

Some folks are such big fans they make this excursion a weekly, yes weekly ritual.

One of the best is here.

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The Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. The restaurant’s name is simply…

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Not everyone is enamored with the all-you-can eat concept. I recently stumbled onto a list of items you should ignore at the buffet table including breads, sushi, and fresh fruit.

And the insights of chefs are quite interesting. They offer buffet options you should definitely skip. See what you think.




What if they’re not cooked right?


Many chefs don’t know how to prepare






Too old?


Glorified leftovers

For more detailed explanations from the chefs read this.

ALSO, found on

I’m An owner operator for a large independent (non-Chinese) all you can eat concept in the US. Ask me anything, from how the business works, stories that may or may not be true…

What is one item you would advise people to stay away from at an all you can eat buffet?

Crab legs. I’m being serious. I have seen Chinese buffets at the fish market going and buying bottom of the barrel seafood including crab legs past their prime. And then they don’t steam them properly either to save on volume.

The sushi on the other hand, a common misconception, is relatively safe to eat IN A BUSY PLACE, as the health code standards in the region of raw food is very strict, and you cannot skimp out on prices of salmon and tuna fillet.

What is the largest amount of food you have seen/heard about someone eating at one sitting?

Personally I had seen one man pile 9 plates of Chinese food (mostly cheap noodles and chicken). When they eat by themselves, I think they eat a lot more. When they are with friends, the social pressure keeps them from gorging too much. My waiters had said a larger number, but they might be overestimating. No one can really eat more than 2 pounds.

The oysters always sketched me out.

Oysters are also to be avoided as they source them, especially in the midwest, from groceries and fisheries past their prime. Sometimes on the coasts they are imported from China and South America, but are decent quality while they are fresh.

How do you feel about patrons who dine-in and then ask to take a box home?

For the customers who want to take their food home, it’s usually a small amount left on their plate and they just want to limit wastage. In most cases they ask to pay for the box themselves, but we let it go if it’s a small quantity, as it will be wasted anyway.

If people constantly get multiple plates of the most expensive foods, do you lose money?

Yes, but only a small amount. You see, not many people can eat 1 1/2 day’s worth of protein or seafood in one sitting.

Fortunately that does not happen often, but when it does, we lost at most the price of the buffet. They will not cover the cost of labor, rent, and utilities, but I’m pretty sure no one will pack several pounds of heavy-protein food, so it’s less than the buffet price. They also bring their friends along, so if there is one glutton in the group, they convince the rest of them to go to our place, while we make money on the glutton’s friends.

Why do the deserts always look so delicious but taste like stale cardboard covered in colored sugar?

That’s what they are. They all come from the same factory in one of the major cities for Chinese immigrants in the US. The ingredients used are not half bad, but they lack preservatives to help it taste fresh. Some customers do say they get hard after some time on the trays. But I doubt these factories hire any food scientist to prevent them from turning into cardboard.

The deserts are full of sand. Of course they’re going to taste awful.

Deserts vs Desserts – the easy way to remember the difference: Dessert is so good, you want to go back for seconds (hence, two ‘s’ letters). No one wants to go back to the desert.

There’s a buffet near me that charges people for any food left on their plate. What do you think about that kind of policy? Do you think it’s sensible, or risks driving customers away? Is wasted food a serious enough problem to necessitate such strict measures?

I would imagine if we implemented that policy we would lose some of our new customers. In practice, it is sensible, as running this place is very low margin, and any food wasted lowers that. But driving customers away ultimately results in fewer customers, which is more devastating than a bit more wastage.

I guess there are all types of people out there.. but whenever I don’t eat something at a buffet it’s because I tried it and it’s disgusting.

What is the exact number of shrimp that you would cut someone off at ?

Depends, what size. I have the ability to buy shrimps from 200 to a pound size to jumbo 4 ounce shrimps.

But really, we just would change out the type of shrimp for another type of shrimp with a different sauce/cooking method. The customer won’t come again, but if they are losing us money, we cannot let them take advantage of us. They are already getting their meal at a fraction of a la carte price, but the abuse cannot happen, as it is unsustainable. Before you know it we have to raise prices because of a group of people who become too greedy and just want to make us lose the most.

Why are you always running out of chicken wings?

Chicken wings are hard to make in a busy kitchen. Each wing has to be spun and dipped by hand in sauce, which increases time. Chicken wings also come in smaller cases from restaurant wholesalers now for some reason, and the price increased.

  1. Do you ever have to ban someone from returning because they ate too much or wasted too much food?
  2. How profitable are buffets in general?
  3. How long does it take to prep and cook everything before the store opens?
  4. With so much food, are roaches and rodents a problem? How do you keep it under control?
  5. Are sushi made from a factory? Or made in-house? The’re usually pretty bland.
  1. Wasted: No. If they are kids their parents control them.
  2. Very low margins, but good if high volume. Low labor cost. Food cost is slightly higher.
  3. 2-3 hours before we open is how long it takes, with a complete team. Most prep work is done the night before, so it isn’t that unreasonable.
  4. We never had roaches or rodents in our place, so I cannot vouch for that. Probably because of a newer building. A decent pest control should always prevent the problem from occurring in the first place. Food is sorted and rotated frequently, and never on floors. From a business perceptive, keeping this standard is great as it lowers wastage.
  5. Sushi are not made from a factory. They are made in house, but not from the finest fisheries or filling. They are made with pretty safe treated fish, but we have to tone down the flavor since it’s a wide crowd we are appealing to.

What do you do with the food which is left after end of service? Serve it up again the next day? Have always wanted to know about how such places do with the large quantities of food left after a days end.

Half of the stuff at the end of the day is reprocessed much like other restaurants, even MCD and Panera Bread. You can turn so much stuff into soup, and will still taste fresh. We mark all our food to make sure that the day old soup, while it would normally last 2 days with fresh ingredients, we would only put out for a day. In almost all cases, the food is eaten and turned over within the next 12 hours by the morning. Stuff like fried food however and mushrooms, have to be thrown away.

I worked at Panera for several years and nothing we served was reprocessed. Of course whatever was unused on the line that had a specific expiration date wouldn’t be thrown out until that date, but any pre-made paninis, pastries, souffles, etc. were either donated, taken home by employees, or thrown out.

Do you have to deal with lower tip percentages based on being a buffet? Ive heard people over the years complain about tipping at buffets because they get up and get their own meal.

Our waiters deal with that, but it turns out to be okay most of the time, as $1pp is on the low end. 1 can handle 10+ tables easy

I hated my short time working in the food industry. So many people were demanding, wanted everything for free, and overall just nasty and gross. I always thought the buffett crowd would be extra bad. What is the buffett crowd really like to deal with? Extra points if you throw in your worst and best customer experience in the reply 🙂

Some customers will bitch at you and purposely spoil the food in order to get their food for free. Some customers leave out their food at their table for 10 minutes and say it is cold, AFTER THEIR MEAL, and demanding it should be free.

The worst experience was when a customer wanted a take out box from the buffet, which was by weight. He got two huge boxes, and the bill turned out to be higher than the price of the buffet. He argued and started yelling in the whole restaurant that it was a rip off that he took 5 pounds of food (verified on the scale) and should pay more than the buffet price. He said that he could eat more than the amount in the boxes, but it was 5 POUNDS of food! After arguing and initially lowering the price a bit, he threw a fit and wanted the whole 5 pounds of food for free. Regardless, we have a price policy in place, but some just don’t want to pay it. If you are going to take your food home, we cannot charge you the buffet price. This was well known before even walking in. Not to throw a fit and bother other customers.

Did a client ever abused a lot of the system?

Unfortunately, quite often. Food cost is not that low, and plenty of people stack their plates and end up wasting it all. Fortunately, most of the time, the food wasted is of low value. The people who take the expensive stuff like seafood and meat actually eat most of it. Big eyes, but small stomach.

how many fat people do you clock in one day?

I would say about 30% of our customers are obese, surprising enough that is around the same percentage as the general population in the area. Maybe we don’t put enough fat in our food to attract them?


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And ICYMI, Culinary no-no #621



2 thoughts on “Culinary no-no #622

  1. Pingback: Culinary no-no #623 | This Just In… From Franklin, WI

  2. Pingback: UPDATE: Culinary no-no #622 | This Just In… From Franklin, WI

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