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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Day

Don’t be a lemongrass douche

I used to run a corporate dining service in a financial firm, a place brimming with a colorful mix of cultures and backgrounds. Honestly, it was a blast. 

In the culinary world, it's easy to get stuck in a loop, churning out the same menu daily. Thankfully, our diverse clientele meant we could mix things up a bit. Chefs, after all, are at their best when they're playing with food and having fun.

Come winter, we decided to serve Pho, that delightful Vietnamese noodle soup with rich broth and tasty condiments. It's a personal favorite of mine, especially during the colder months. Melissa and I even have a tradition of grabbing Pho at the first sign of winter.

The broth is crucial to good Pho. It's a concoction of various ingredients, simmered for up to 24 hours to achieve that deep, layered flavor. We'd set up our stations and dish out this aromatic wonder to a good 30 to 50 people daily.

On a side note, nicknames are par for the course in our industry. Remembering everyone's names is a tall order, so nicknames help us keep track. 

There was this one customer we called 'the Vulture.' He had a flair for dramatic entrances and claimed to be a walking encyclopedia of food knowledge. If you've seen The Menu, you'll get the picture. It's an excellent movie, by the way.

So, on the day we're serving Pho – and mind you, Pho's recipe is versatile, with some ingredients being optional – we decided to skip the lemongrass. The Vulture, as usual, was full of questions. After getting his bowl, he sat down, alternating between eating, scrolling through his phone, and glancing at us. It became a little humorous watching him. 

Bowl of Japanese soup, Pho

He fancied himself a bit of a Chef and liked to give us his critique after every meal. This time, he was over the moon about the broth, particularly praising the 'essence of lemongrass' – the very ingredient we hadn't used.

That confirmed our suspicions. He looked up recipes online and tried to impress us with his 'expertise.' We really wondered if he did this at his job, too. Not too long after, he was let go from the company. So, probably. 

The takeaway? Enjoy your food when you're out. Talk to the Chefs if you like, but keep it real. Don't be a lemongrass douche. After all, you wouldn’t want to turn into a human S’more, would you? 

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