Banning Ketchup: Chef Knows Best or Bad Foodie PR?

keep-calm-and-hate-ketchupIt was just another day at Mad Fresh Bistro in Fort Myers, Fla., when a nine-year-old kid decided to ask for ketchup on a burger. Suddenly, skillets went flying out of the kitchen — along with an impressive array of expletives.

You may ask: why all this hullabaloo over ketchup (aka catsup, ketsup, catchup, or however the hell they are spelling it these days)?

For some inexplicable reason, this story about a chef refusing to offer the fruit/vegetable to kids has sparked a national debate over the number two condiment in America. And Chef Owner Xavier Duclos is just fine with that because press.

After Yahoo Food broke the story, Chef Duclos’ “unapologetic disclaimer” still lives on the Mad Fresh Bistro website:

“We know, we know. People love their ketsup. But honestly, be ready. If you’re over 10 years old, ketsup will NOT be provided. Similarly, salt won’t be making an appearance next to your meal, either. We simply ask that you trust us. We know what we’re doing! Part of the MAD experience is to trust the chef, and not have preconceived notions of what your dish is going to need.”

no-ketchupSo, why the aversion to a child’s whimsical desire to blast a bun with ketchup?

“I had someone try and sneak ketchup in here and I kicked them out. I think my flavors work. You don’t walk into the museum and tell them to change the color of the painting.”

Apparently, this stance in the foodie community isn’t a novel one. Get this:

The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council is of a similar mindset. Like Team Mad Fresh, the council proposes an age limit: “Don’t…Use ketchup on your hot dog after the age of 18,” reads its etiquette guide for eating “America’s most sacred food.” However, “Mustard, relish, onions, cheese, and chili are acceptable.”

So, foodie PR peeps, this is for you: Would your clients care for this kind of PR or is it just a matter of elitist preference?

It all makes this Texas boy wonder what the chef would do if he came down here…and saw my lovely bride put cream gravy on her fries.