As someone who personally spent many years battling on the front lines of the brutal restaurant industry, when I go out to eat, I try to be the least stressful customer possible. If there's anything I can do to keep my server from having a traumatic shift — I'll do it. If I could help with side work, I would. Just throw me some non-slip shoes and an apron, and let's break down the beverage station together.
To try and support the servers and cooks who are still out there fighting the good fight, I asked current and former restaurant employees to share the dish they hate making most so I could abolish it from my future orders. Here are some of the responses I received:
1."Well done steak. I always had to explain this takes much longer. The customers were always displeased and left a bad tip for the server. It was always a cycle."
2."Sampler platters. Burgers, fried foods, dips, and basically all items on these platters come from separate parts of the kitchen. When it’s busy, it’s a pain having everyone get it all together to send it out."
3."Tortilla chips. Making enough of them to keep the restaurant stocked took FOREVER. Salt everywhere, every single one of my pores was clogged with oil, and I got multiple burns on my hands and arms. God. Such a pain."
4."I worked in a breakfast joint. Poached eggs were the bane of my existence. If you've ever attempted flipping an egg in a pan of boiling water, you know it's not as easy as it looks."
5."Tacos! One of my first jobs was at Taco Bell. Just like any fast food, we were pressured to make orders as quickly as possible. Rushing to make hard tacos meant you frequently broke the shell and you’d have to do it over. I knew if some Karen got a broken taco, she was going to raise hell."
6."Coffee. If I worked at a breakfast place, then that'd be one thing. But as someone who worked in sports bars, coffee is a HUGE pain in the butt to make. We don't keep it brewed, so if you order it, I'd have to hunt down a pot, brew a batch, try to find a clean mug/spoon/creamer dispenser, then search for milk and a sugar caddy. I have to run around the entire kitchen collecting everything. Not to mention, sports bars don't even have good coffee so the person never even finishes it. It's just a lot of extra work for something that they won't even enjoy."
7."I hated serving sizzling fajitas! Absolutely burned my neck a few times. 😡"
8."I worked at Red Lobster for several years, and the endless shrimp special was always a nightmare. People stayed for hours at a time and tipped next to nothing. Severs lost money during the special."
9."Mojitos. If the bar is busy — PLEASE DON'T ORDER ONE! It takes forever to make and slows down service for everyone else in the bar."
10."Huevos rancheros. There are so many components to it, and it really slows you down when you’re busy. You have to press the tortilla to order and then add six layers on top of that tortilla. You just breathe a heavy sigh when someone orders it."
11."I worked in a chain Mexican restaurant, and we had two options for guacamole as an appetizer. Option one was regular guacamole that was made in the kitchen and had time for the flavors to marry. Option two was made at the table. The table-side guac took forever, the avocados were always rock hard, it didn’t taste as good, and it cost more."
12."Hot tea! It seems so simple, but it was a whole production. I had to pour boiling hot water into a small metal teapot, make a small plate with lemons, honey, and a stirring spoon, fill a coffee mug with more boiling hot water, balance all items onto a serving tray in one hand while also balancing a large wooden box filled with a variety of tea bags in the other, walk all the way out to my table to awkwardly try to set the tray of boiling hot water down without spilling it, then open the tea box in a dramatic fashion and ask, 'Which flavor would you like?' I hated it every time!"
13."Barista here! I can’t look at Frappuccino-style frozen espresso beverages without cringing! I work at a small coffee shop inside of a grocery store, and we have only one blender. When we have multiple back-to-back frozen drinks, I struggle to knock them out quickly."
14."French onion soup was my nemesis. Servers had to make their own soup and salads, and it was a huge time suck. You had to freshly grate the cheese because it would clump if you stored it in the walk-in pre-grated. It took forever to heat it up because you had to do it low and long to get an even melt. And of course, the kind of person who wants that soup is usually an impatient and cranky elderly person who will complain that it's cold if the soup is anything less than lava."
15."I worked at Starbucks during the debut of the unicorn Frappuccino. It was hell. They took so long to make and completely held up the line especially during the morning rushes. I have unicorn Frappuccino trauma."
16."I hated making blooming onions because they were so tedious, time consuming, and the worst thing to order during a dinner rush. One sets the fry-cook back by almost 15 minutes."
17."As a server for many years at many restaurants that all offered free bread...I make it a point to never ask for more bread."
18."BJ's pizookies. Never again."
19."I worked in an Italian restaurant, and scooping the spumoni was HORRIBLE because it was always rock solid and came off in little chips."
20."Club sandwiches. When one person would order a club sandwich, it was like a tsunami of club sandwiches. Diners would see the sandwich being delivered, and then they just had to have one, too. During one such occasion, I must have made 15 of those triple decker devil sandwiches."
21.And finally, "Anything after we closed and asked you to leave!"