Where the Chef Becomes Your Server

Where the Chef Becomes Your Server

Food & Drink

Where the Chef Becomes Your Server


By Cari Martens

You’ve got to admire restaurants that are trying new things. Like The Linkery in San Diego, with its no tipping policy. Or ZED451 in Chicago, which is doing all it can to increase interaction between hosts and guests. Here’s what’s different about it:

  • The cuisine is upscale grilling, and guests are invited at any time throughout the experience to

help themselves to tables featuring seasonal soups, salads, artisan cheese and charcuterie (sausages, pâtés, and other processed meat foods). By selecting which foods to sample from the various offerings, when to sample them and how much, the guest is able to control the pace and portions of their dining experience.

  • There is a fixed price that is intended to inspire experimentation and discovery. ‘The beauty of our menu is that there is no risk,’ says Steve Byrne, Director of Culinary Operations. ‘You can try something new like antelope or wild boar sausage and if you like it, have more. If not, move on.’

  • Instead of servers and runners, dishes are delivered tableside by the chefs who created them.
  • The staff at ZED451 is trained to serve as a concierge by helping customers make reservations at other restaurants, lounges and bars following their meal.
  • ZED451 makes a shuttle available to pick up and return guests to their hotels or take them to their next destination.

The whole idea is to move interactivity among hosts and guests to the forefront, making it feel more like you are attending a party in someone’s home rather than dining in a restaurant (assuming you can ignore the check at the end!).

Personal interaction is a trend we see staying for the long haul. ZED451 must, too – they are investing in a new location in Boca Raton, in the Mizner Park Cultural Arts Center.

For more innovations and insights, check out CultureWaves. And, take a look at a few of our other Hot & Cool Trends from CultureWavesâ„¢.

Have you seen an innovative product that will make our food lives more fun in the future? Let us know at Editor.


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