Tim Ferriss - How to Become a VIP (and Other Tips)

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There is always one person who rolls up to the hottest joint in town and immediately gets a table, a handshake from the maître d, and the fastest service. But how?

Unless youre a celebrity, and sometimes even then, youll need to earn it. Thats why this is called “How to Become a VIP” and not “How to Be Treated Like a VIP.” In fact, I dislike the term VIP altogether and suggest a more accurate replacement: most-favored customer (MFC).

Rest a**ured, there are shortcuts to reaching this coveted status. Below are tips from chefs and restaurant managers in NYC, as well as lessons I learned during my own research. If youre going to eat out, you might as well do it right.

Pick and choose as you like: THE TO-DO LIST: - Go from Tuesday to Thursday. Thats when restaurants cater to the food- ies and experiment with their menus. For the money-making days (Friday to Sunday), they stick to the majority- pleasing safe bets.

- Focus on density. For you to become an MFC, restaurants have to first remember your name, so help em out. If possible, go for both lunch and dinner two or three nights in a row. Try everything on the menu. That will get attention. Becoming a lunch regular is a good investment and one of the shortcuts to MFC.

- Use industry lingo. If they ask “Table for two?” or “Table for four?” you can respond with “Yep. Any two top [two- seater] is fine” or “You got it. Do you have a four top [table for four] toward the back?”

- Order two dishes at your first visit. Will Schwalbe, while editor in chief of Hyperion Books, edited many of the biggest names in chefdom. Hes now founder of cookstr.com and still follows advice he received long ago. In his words: “Ask your server to ask the chef two questions: first, ‘What does everyone order? and second, ‘What does almost no one order that you think everyone should? Then order both. Chefs want to show off their popular dishes but often have an item on the menu theyre really proud of, and really want people to try. I first did this at the Slanted Door in San Francisco. A cook actually came out to say hello because he thought it was so unusual.”

- For your first two or three visits, sit at the bar, if possible. The bartender is your best friend and is beloved by all staff (can you say after-hours “shift drinks”?). If the restaurant isnt slammed, and after youve had a bunch of dishes, ask the bartender if you can thank the GM (general manager), chef, or owner, indicating that you dont want to interrupt them if theyre too busy. Keep it short, big fella. Also, IMPORTANT: leave a cash tip for your bartender, even if you transfer the bill to a table.



- For dinners, ask if you can be seated at or near “the pa**,” where the final plating is done before dishes go to tables. This might also take the form of a “chefs window/table/bar,” so feel free to ask for it. Dont interrupt the chef, but go ahead and ask smart questions about the preparation of your dishes if a cook starts the conversation.

- If youve built rapport, politely ask your server if you can get a quick tour of the kitchen or a peek behind the scenes after dinner. Say that you admire the work of cooks and would love to see what theyre able to accomplish in their kitchen.

- Ask your server smart questions about the food. He or she may think youre a fellow server (which earns bonus points) or a reviewer (ditto). Doing work on a notepad during your meal, especially if youre at a fancier place, also raises eyebrows. When you start to get asked, “Are you in the industry?” your service will take a quantum leap, and you might eventually get labeled “super soigné” (pronounced “swan-yay”), or VIP, in the restaurant booking system.

- Dont tip dumbly. While undertipping is a no-no, the value of overtipping is overestimated. Tipping 40% once every few weeks wont make you an MFC. Cmon, you wouldnt be that easily bought, and neither will they. Tip at least 20% at all times. If the service s**s and you feel 20% is too much, why the hell do you want to eat there in the first place? Last, if you have an outstanding experience, tip the maître d or host/ hostess. In most places, a discreet $20 in the hand for a parting handshake will go miles. DO NOT do this on the way in, young gun. Thats a novice flub.

- If you become a regular and get to know more about the chef, consider bringing him or her a small gift relevant to his or her interests. Im not kidding. It works for most humans, and its a nice gesture to the person making your food. This stuff isnt rocket surgery, folks. THE NOT-TO-DO LIST: - Dont eat Sunday buffets, which are sometimes used to get rid of food that hasnt sold during the week.

- Dont order just before closing time. The kitchen staff doesnt like this any more than youd like 60 minutes of surprise overtime.

- Do not roll up with a “Do you know who I am?” vibe. Thats for DBs, which doesnt stand for databases. Asking if so-and-so is working tonight is as far as namedropping should go.

- Do not treat servers like lackeys if you want to be treated like a VIP. If you want to be treated like a VIP, treat all staff like theyre VIPs.

Date of text publication: 17.01.2021 at 18:12