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The Salty WaitressSalty Waitress is The Takeoutā€™s advice column from a real-life waitress that will teach you how not to behave like a garbage person while dining outā€”and maybe in real life.  

Hi Salty,

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

Is it uncouth to ask my server for the recipe? Are they allowed to give out such privileged information? Iā€™d be ill-at-ease asking for something that isnā€™t readily given.


Dear Andrew,

You church-goers are so polite. Itā€™s really refreshing! I mean, of all the bat-shit wacko things customers do, asking for a recipe ranks pretty far down the list.

ā€œThe only dumb questions are the ones you donā€™t askā€ is a clichĆ©, but I think itā€™s true here. Whatā€™s the worst the restaurant can say? ā€œSorry, thatā€™s a ā€˜secretā€™ [wink wink].ā€ I guess if they just dump the soup out of a plastic tub from Aramark, they might not want to tell you.

I definitely wouldnā€™t mention that you want to make their recipe betterā€”that might be a bit rude. Instead, lie! (I know, God will forgive you this time though.) Tell the server you loved the soup and want to make it at home so you can get your fix when the restaurantā€™s closed. Who knows? The restaurant might have published a cookbook already that they could point you to. Or maybe they have a website with some of their recipes on it. Or maybe theyā€™d just hand it to you on a slip of paper. Even if they donā€™t give you the exact recipe, the server might be able to tell you what the defining ingredient is: ā€œOh, the kitchen uses a ton of bell peppers in thereā€ or ā€œThe heavy cream really makes itā€ or something.

I donā€™t think the restaurant would at all be offended by your question. Even if they donā€™t give out the recipe, I assume the kitchen would be flattered to know you asked. If you really canā€™t stop thinking about that soup recipe, you could always try requesting it from that fancy-pants magazine Bon Appetitā€™s RSVP column.


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