What Do You Want For Dinner?

June 2018 · Chef John Reed, CEC, CCA

How many times can you ask the same question and get the same answer? “You’re the chef, you choose.” It frustrates me, as it always falls on me to figure something out. Dinner in, dinner out, delivery, pick up, or “you order for the table”; you know the routine! I think they are cautious about making a decision thinking that I am going to be disappointed in their choice.

I have always tried to accommodate those at the table! I try to process the situation at hand; timing, weather, other activities, what’s in the fridge and a slew of other things going through my mind. I want to make sure that I can satisfy all of their needs and cook something or choose a restaurant to please their palates at that particular moment. I don’t mail it in. I want to make sure we sit at a table as family and eat off the appropriate serviceware, and god forbid if the beer is not served in the correct glass. I can eat a nice meal off a paper plate, but a beer in a red plastic cup is sacrilege! For me going out, it is sometimes a painful process.

Living in such a great food city as Chicago, you get spoiled with all the choices. There are so many great options and cuisines to choose from. It’s hard to try and keep a mental listing of all the great places stored away in your brain like a little personal restaurant guide.

However, as you begin to work your way through all of the restaurants and offerings, things start to happen. The decision-making gets harder. Restaurants come and go, and you get burned out, especially at places within five miles of your house. “Been there done that” syndrome! The other night, we were trying to figure out what to do with the family. I knew cooking dinner was off the table. So, the process to select a restaurant started. This is what goes through my brain:

  • What time is it?
  • How long will it take us to get our shit together to get ready?
  • How much do I want to spend?
  • Have we eaten there before?
  • How hungry are we?
  • Do they have a good beer list?
  • Do we want to have an experience or just put food in our mouths?
  • How far do we want to go?
  • And a whole bunch of other selfish chaotic criteria.

After coming out of my deep thought state 45 minutes later, there was a choice. It was a choice based on a need to compare and contrast. It was to find out whether or not a local sushi place was an option. I was bored with all the other local choices and didn’t want to drive back downtown again. By the way, it was a “one time and done” experience.

This is the current dilemma in our world-how do you know what is or is not a good choice? You can’t, but you can keep trying! The best advice I can give is to relax and not overthink it! Make simple choices and see where it takes you. You never know; that next great experience is probably right down the road at the place you always crossed off the list for all the wrong reasons. Life shouldn’t be that stressful-it’s only a restaurant choice.

Beer Glasses

Here are a couple of my favorite beer glasses

The Spiegelau IPA Glass

The Spiegelau IPA GlassIt was specifically designed to accentuate the hop aromas in American IPAs from White to Black. The shape of the stem fits perfectly in your hand!

The Teku Beer Glass

The Teku Beer Glass
This was designed by the Rastal Company of Germany. This glass is elegant and dramatic. It elevates the beer drinking experience to a sophisticated level. A far cry from the plastic cup or longneck!

Download June Newsletter

John Reed
Chef John Reed, CEC, CCA
John Reed is a professional chef with over 30 years experience. John has extensive knowledge of culinary techniques, ethnic cuisines, food history and more!

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