Channel 4 doc promises ‘the ugly truth’ about dining out

TOTTchannel4This week the catering industry media was in a big flap about a new documentary series which is airing on Channel 4: Tricks of the Restaurant Trade. The first episode revealed the ‘shocking’ truth that restaurants give better tables to more attractive diners. Surely this is not really news? Beautiful people getting preferential treatment is certainly not curtailed to the restaurant trade.

What was actually interesting about this first part of a four part documentary series was the fact that less attractive customers – including actor Adam Pearson who has facial tumours caused by neurofibromatosis – were told that there were no tables available for them.

According to researchers, professional models posing as diners at three different London restaurants, were given prime spots while less attractive customers were given tables further back, by the toilets, or not seated at all.

We can think of a clever way around this. Admittedly it won’t always work because some London restaurants see it as an abhorrent practice, but… you could always book a table. Controversial.

The series is presented by celebrity chef and restaurant owner Simon Rimmer, along with Kate Quilton and Adam Pearson. The restaurants involved were not named, although Rimmer said that the seating practice was common, and that attractive people could encourage other diners to spend more.

But while it is important for customers to look like models, the reverse is apparently true for waiters. A new study from New York’s Cornell University found that diners ordered more food and drinks from overweight front-of-house staff. Researchers studied nearly 500 interactions between randomly selected diners and waiters at 50 restaurants in the US, France and Spain. They found that customers ordered significantly more from heavier staff. Read the full study here

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