Top chef Attila Yilmaz, of Pazar Food Collective in Sydney’s southwest, has hit back at a customer over their ‘extreme’ request.
Top chef Attila Yilmaz, of Pazar Food Collective in Sydney’s southwest, has hit back at a customer over their ‘extreme’ request.

Chef’s email spat over food ‘intolerance’

A chef from a popular Sydney restaurant has exposed a diner's request to have a dish tailored just for them - including the amount they should be charged.

Attila Yilmaz, the chef from Pazar Food Collective, located in Sydney's southwest, goes above and beyond to satisfy customers' dietary requests, but he said when one person emailed with their "incredibly restricted diet", he had to respond.

Top chef Attila Yilmaz, of Pazar Food Collective in Sydney’s southwest, has hit back at a customer over their ‘extreme’ request. Picture: Bob Barker
Top chef Attila Yilmaz, of Pazar Food Collective in Sydney’s southwest, has hit back at a customer over their ‘extreme’ request. Picture: Bob Barker

The email exchange between him and a potential customer, which was posted to the restaurant's social media page, begins with the person asking if it would be OK if they just sat at the table and drank while their friends ate due to an "incredibly restricted diet".

The diner had planned to book a table with a group of eight friends, asking if they could also be exempt from the set menu price.

When Mr Yilmaz responded that the restaurant's liquor licence only covered them for "dining customers", the unnamed person responded, "I think we will go elsewhere unless you can provide a lean steak and sweet potato with leaf and sheep's milk feta or goat's cheese salad and charge appropriately, not a feast $68 price. I have an intolerance to just about every item on your menu."

 

The email began with the diner asking if they could just sit at the table with their mates and drink as nothing on the menu was suitable for them. Picture: Facebook/PazarFoodCollective
The email began with the diner asking if they could just sit at the table with their mates and drink as nothing on the menu was suitable for them. Picture: Facebook/PazarFoodCollective

 

 

Mr Yilmaz said he could accommodate most needs but couldn’t come up with eight courses with such specific needs. Picture: Facebook/PazarFoodCollective
Mr Yilmaz said he could accommodate most needs but couldn’t come up with eight courses with such specific needs. Picture: Facebook/PazarFoodCollective

Mr Yilmaz told news.com.au it was the person's tone and demanding attitude that caught him off guard, to which he responded: "Apologies, just so I'm clear on this, you want to come to our restaurant, don't like our menu and hence want to create your own menu and want us to cook that for you at a price you determine is fair? Could you please tell me what cut of meat you would like and what price you would like to pay for your dinner?"

When the potential customer responded by calling out Mr Yilmaz for his "sarcasm," the chef explained, "Question, if I may? If you and seven of your friends were going to a concert and you were the only one who didn't like the band or their songs, are sensitive to offensive language and had intolerance to loud noise, would you contact the band and ask them to tone it down, lower the volume and edit their playlist and songs so it is more to your taste? Would you then ask for a discounted price when they do this because, well, it's just not reasonable?"

 

The person said they would go elsewhere unless Mr Yilmaz catered for their very specific dish, with some ingredients the restaurant didn’t have, and was charged less. Picture: Facebook/PazarFoodCollective
The person said they would go elsewhere unless Mr Yilmaz catered for their very specific dish, with some ingredients the restaurant didn’t have, and was charged less. Picture: Facebook/PazarFoodCollective

He then went on to explain the diner's "extreme" requested meal was made up of ingredients the restaurant didn't use, and had they also offered a reasonable price, he would have considered it.

Mr Yilmaz ended the email with, "We look forward to not feeding you."

When the diner then wrote that they worked in catering and therefore was well versed in accommodating dietary requests, Mr Yilmaz hit back.

"You work for a caterer? That's great! Can I book you to cater for one person? Me?

"I will require you to supply a cook, tableware, water, cloth napkins, a waiter, a venue with a chair, table, music, aircon or heating dependent on the weather. Please email me your quote ASAP," he wrote,

Mr Yilmaz told news.com.au he was shocked to learn the person worked in the catering industry, saying they really "have no idea".

 

Mr Yilmaz hit back with a sarcastic comment. Picture: Facebook/PazarFoodCollective
Mr Yilmaz hit back with a sarcastic comment. Picture: Facebook/PazarFoodCollective

Mr Yilmaz said it was normal for the restaurant to receive dietary requests, and he even took the time to sit with customers to ensure their requests were met - but he could tell the person's issue wasn't just about the diet but the set-menu price of $68.

"There's a misconception in hospitality that we are just selling food. But we are selling seats and an experience. We have a very small window of opportunity to make money from our seating times and that's four hours on a Saturday night to make 70 per cent of revenue for our week," he said.

 

The diner’s response when Mr Yilmaz called them up on their demands. Picture: Facebook/PazarFoodCollective
The diner’s response when Mr Yilmaz called them up on their demands. Picture: Facebook/PazarFoodCollective

 

Mr Yilmaz said he received mostly supportive feedback when he shared the ­exchange in a bid to "educate" diners about the harsh realities of the business.

"I think in hospitality and other industries we can be bullied into submission of fear of negative press," Mr Yilmaz said.

His email exchange has attracted nearly 300 comments and more than 90 shares on Facebook since it was posted on Sunday.

"Excellent, I applaud your ability to "advise " this individual how far they had their head was up their a**e," one comment read.

"You are my star … If I am ever in Oz I will find you and dine at your resto … never spare a kick to a DEMANDING A**," said another.

"Perfect response by the chef! Just no words for the "very picky, intolerant almost" customer," a third said.

 

 

Another person with a "life-threatening food allergy to fish and shellfish" thanked the restaurant for sharing the post.

"I certainly appreciate the fact that some people have restricted diets. However, this person's request for specific dietary accommodations and shameless sense of entitlement is outrageous!," the woman wrote, adding: "I agree with comments above that people like this make it incredibly difficult for people like me who have legitimate concerns about dining in a restaurant."

Others have called Mr Yilmaz a "bully" for his response, which he said was not the case, shedding light to customers who can openly leave reviews, good or bad, online.

Earlier this year, Mr Yilmaz hit the headlines for banning iPads and colouring-in books for children in his award-winning Middle Eastern restaurant Pazar.



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