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Thursday, March 10, 2011

interesting reasons people do not want to pay for dinner/concerts

Do not get me wrong! We receive tons of praise, numerous regular attendees and rave reviews.
 However, I decided to share with you, some of the rather “interesting” responses from people who want to come to the dinner/concert series but do not want to pay for various reasons or have other "suggestions".

My wife and i are not vegetarian, let alone vegan, so do not feel the need to be forced to eat a vegan meal just to so we can hear a musician we adore. So we will bring our own food. Save us 2 seats and please, right next to the performers. Do not worry, we will still throw a few bucks at the musician

Why do you charge so much for these?
me: i do not!

But the price is high
me: but the cost of producing these events is very high. I pay the musicians a nice fee, though far lower than they deserve”

(cutting me off) why do you pay the musicians? You can find musicians to pay for free
me: that is not very respectful to ask someone to work for free, especially an artist who has dedicated a lifetime to developing their skills. Besides i bring in musicians with global reputations, many on tour from Europe or Asia or elsewhere in the US! What i am paying them is already far less than they deserve or get in many other venues.

(cutting me off) my cousin has played guitar and sang for well over 2 years, she would do it for free
me: No thanks. besides i pay my 2 assistants a living wage since it is quite expensive to live out here and i hire talented assistants who earn their pay.

You can easily cut costs by paying them less.
me: no i cannot!! As that would be treatting my workers with total disregard for their abilities, skills and what they deserve.  i do not pay minimum wage.  And the cost of ingredients, especially high quality, organic ingredients, is not inexpensive.

you should use cheaper ingredients, then you can charge less. and get volunteers to help you and not have to pay workers.
me: Perhaps you are really missing the point of what i am class musicians paired with gourmet, hand crafted cuisine in a very intimate setting. I need talented assitants to help me produce these not so simple dishes and besides since i work all day and the day before to make these happen, i expect to make a small profit, too.

Well, there is another problem, you do something you love, isnt that enough reward.
me: what do you do for a living?

i am a receptionist
me: love your job?

hate it actually
me: so i should be penalized for having a career that i love? i need to go. take care

i really want to come and hear x but am not sure i can make it. Save me 2 seats and give me your number and i will call you the afternoon of the dinner to let you know if we can make it

i hear you are hosting x on x date.
me: true,  very much looking forward to this and a few seats are open. are you interested in making a reservation
yes, but i do not want to pay so much. So i will bring a salad and share it with a couple of others, ok. save me 3 seats
me: this is not a potluck, we are serving 5 courses
yeah, but i want to bring a salad instead and as i said i will make enough to share with a couple of others, why is that a problem?
Me: never responded to that last email....

Why are these dinner/concerts so expensive?
Me; They are not!

But 55 dollars is a lot of money.
Me; For a concert by a world famous musician and a 5 course gourmet meal made from the highest quality ingredients, we are charging far less than we should and making a joke of a profit for the amount of time and effort in producing these events.

Well, why not get lesser known musicians and just put out a simple buffet of simple dishes or make it a pot luck and then we can simply donate what we want to the musician.
Me: Please feel free to start your own series based on your own standards of cuisine and art and charge what you feel is adequate and treat your musicians with as little respect as you desire. 

why do you host so many avant garde musicians. Who would want to hear that kind of stuff?
me: i host brilliant musicians of many genres from many countries. We have hosted traditional music from Japan, Ireland, China and elsewhere along with some of today’s cutting edge composers and performers.  Of course, not everyone will be to all these musicians styles. From the full houses, apparently quite a lot of people want to hear that avant garde “stuff” as well as more traditional forms and many of the performers on the series are engaged in both approaches.

why do you cook so many dishes with tempeh, miso  and tofu. Don’t you know how bad soy is for people?
me: Sorry but i am not a believer that soy is bad for you. Please do more research and examine who is funding the studies. Look at the societies in Asia that traditionally eat a fair amount of traditional soy foods (tempeh, tofu, natto, miso for examples) and you will notice they do not have the problems you are being warned about by research funded by the dairy and meat industry and supported through institutions such as weston price.
But soy is bad for you!
me: Believe what you want but please do the research!  if you look at the studies you are getting this from, there is no distinction between traditional foods such as tempeh, miso, natto and modern industrialized processed soy such as tvp and other things that never exist in my kitchen nor in any pre-indstrialized kitchens.  Of course, highly processed foods made from soy are bad for you.

But all soy is GMO
Me; i use only organic, non gmo soybeans to make my own tempeh and tofu and miso and i only purchase miso  or tofu made from non gmo, organic soybeans. I never purchase tempeh as there is no need to have packaged, pasteurised, frozen shipped tempeh in my kitchen when i can easily make it myself.

But they are cutting down the rain forests to grow soy.
Me; True! that soy is then used for manufacturing purposes including the manufacturing of animals for slaughter. The soy i use comes from the US so no forests are destroyed for my tempeh making.

But soy is bad for you.
me: You keep saying that like a mantra. Perhaps you should ask who planted that mantra in your head? :) please keep researching, you may be surprised at what you find out.

i love 2 of the dishes for the next dinner but am not so sure of the other 3. So while you are making those for everyone else, perhaps i can request you to prepare the following for me and then sends me page numbers from one of Isa Moskowitz’s books.
me:  Thank you for your interest but the menus are set for that night.  For these events we offer a fixed price menu. For some dishes, i can omit something from a dish for someone, if necessary.  I am open to suggestions for dishes to make in the future but to be honest, those recipes that you requested are far below the standard of what we present on this series.

i cant stand pumpkins, why do you always have a pumpkin menu in the fall.
me: obviously i and many others love pumpkins. and i mean i LOVE Pumpkins. Not everyone loves peaches but every summer, i will present peach menus (thank you Mas Masumoto and your awesome family peach farm!!). Offering an asparagus menu later this month and realize not everyone loves asparagus and assume they will not be showing up that evening.

How do i know the food is really vegan?
me: Not really sure how to answer that. I have been vegetarian since i was 17 and vegan the past 7 years. Everything i create in my kitchen is vegan.

How do i know all your ingredients are vegan”
me: (laughing) want to look through my pantry and fridge?

Are all your workers vegan.
me: no! That is not a pre-requisite for working for me. Some of my workers, including my sous chef, are though most are not. What matters to me is they are great at what they do and take pride in what we are creating and serving.

But if they are not vegan, we vegans cannot trust them as they will be bringing non vegan ingredients to your kitchen.
me: This is not exactly a problem since i do all the purchasing of ingredients and noone shows up with a piece of meat asking to cook it here.

So you have that problem in the past?
me: no, of course not. i hire people who respect what i do, whether they are vegan or not. it is not a problem to me, nor should it be to you. I realize there are restaurants who say they are vegetarian and vegan but in reality use processed ingredients that contain animal and fish products in their dishes so i can see why some people ask these questions.

Why are you so adamant about cooking only things local and in season.
Me: This to me is a very odd question to answer.  Common sense is the real answer, actually. We are in one of the few places on the globe with 12 months of local harvest. And we have amazing farmers nearby supplying us with amazing, high quality, beautiful ingredients. To me it is a crime to ignore this and fight it. Why fly ingredients in from south america, waste all that energy and have an ingredient that is ultra low in quality since it was harvested early, shipped, gassed and who knows what else was done to it before finally arriving on a supermarket shelf. I prefer to go to local farmers markets and shops who recieve shipments from local farmers.
I prefer to wait till it is in season, support our wonderful local farming community and get the freshest possible ingredients.

Are you racist? What do you have against South America and their farmers?
me: Wow, that was an odd attack! South American farmers should supply their local communities with food. How is that racist?  And are these giant farms in South America actually owned locally? Of course not! These are multi national corporations engaged in the worst labor practices (thus the cheap price), the worst agricultural practices and producing very low quality ingredients and calling it "food" is sometimes a misconception. Due to the growing and shipping practices, the ingredients often arrive devoid of flavor and texture which means their nutritional content is dramatically reduced.

Well you said you wont support South American farmers, that sounds really racist to me.
Me; i think you are missing the point of why i use local ingredients and also what those farms actually are. Many of the California farmers we support are Japanese American, Mexican and other Latin American as well as hippy-back to the land Americans but i see no reason to further defend myself against this ludicrous attack and misconception.

I wish i could afford to come to this week’s dinner/concert but the economy is so bad, can you charge half the price?
Me; if i charged half the price, i would lose a lot of money on this event.  My own economy is rather bad too so i cannot subsidize these events.

But since the economy is bad you need to lower your prices.
Me; food prices are going up! energy prices are going up. My rent and my assistants rents and bills have gone up.  Please do not blame me for the economy as i did not support the politicians and corporations who bankrupted us. i am simply trying to get by in this absurd situation just like you and the rest of us. And of course, i know not everyone can afford these dinner/concerts. But many people still love going out to eat and listen and realize we are offering something unique and worthwhile.

Well if i wash my own dishes, can i pay half price.
Me; Sorry but my 2 assistants take care of the dishes.

Why are these dinners so expensive, it is not like you are serving fancy meats, it is all simple vegetable dishes.
Me; Thank you for your inquiry but have you seen the menus, photos and reviews? Simple is not exactly the word that often is used. Besides, have you noticed the rising costs of local, organic produce and other ingredients?

But vegetarian food should be cheaper than meat since meat is expensive.
Me: personally, i will be totally honest,  i have no clue as to the cost of various types of flesh since i never look at it in stores and do not consider those things to be food.   However i do know that the ingredients i use are not inexpensive, sadly. Labor costs are not cheaper because of a lack of a dead cow or dead pig or bird, etc. Nor are musician costs.

Pay your workers and musician less to keep the costs down.
Me: You are treating my skilled workers and the brilliant musicians, that i am fortunate to host with total disrespect.  All workers should be paid a living wage!


  1. Thanks for sharing these comments. Your food and concerts are amazing and worth every bit that you charge. I would very likely be there every month if I still had my day job. I admire that you don't cut corners to please people.

  2. WOW just WOW!!! I don't even have words to say how ridiculous people act sometimes! ~ Cori

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  4. Not your fault of course but wow was this depressing. Something about the guy offering to "throw a few dollars at the musicians" really...tired me out.

  5. yeah the way he worded "throw a few dollars to the musicians". Rather have 2 empty seats in the house :)

  6. *facepalm*

    I haven't been coming, even though you've had a few events that I would've loved to get to (and the upcoming Thai tempeh class sounds awesome), because, simply, I can't afford them right now. (Or, OK, more honestly, I can't afford both them and the other fine dining experiences I want to try. I can afford maybe one really good meal every 2-3 months, and I'm still trying new places, usually picking the place based on what's located conveniently to meet with friends.)

    If I had maybe another $10k in disposable income, I'd make a point to get to one of your events every 4-6 months. I think they're completely worth what they cost; I just don't have the cash-flow.

    It would never occur to me to suggest, that because my purchasing power is currently constrained, you should charge less for the same quality of service.

    Of course, from the perspective of YOUR cash-flow, just as with ANY business, if you're having trouble making ends meet, it is perfectly rational to ask whether there's something you could change in your cost and pricing structure. Maybe the answer is no, or at least not without compromising principles that are more important to you than cash.

    But man, some people don't even see it in those sorts of terms -- it's just pure "why don't you cater to my whims?" *whine whine*

  7. (Should amend that of course I can afford to eat quite well at home more often than every few months; I specifically dine out to try cuisine that is beyond my current abilities at home.)

  8. My... goodness.

    I happily paid every dollar you asked, and tipped some. You ask a very fair price considering the time, talent, and ingredients that go into your meals, not to mention the time and talent of the musicians! I wonder if I'll ever be able to afford it again, but I'd never dare to ask you to lower your price.


  9. I love your events but of course can't afford to come frequently enough. As someone who loves to cooki, I can appreciate the effort that goes into cooking gourmet dishes and the planning.

    This piece was an eye opener. I have heard people think like this. I have only met pleasant people at your events. I guess poeple with conversations above never made it.

    Because of cheap abundant food like commodities, not many people can appreciate real food. In my native language there is a idom which translates to: a donkey doesn't know how sugarcane tastes! Don't blame the donkey