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Manchester: Customer requests a discount, and chef condemns her on social media. Controversy ensues.

Sveva Valeria Castegnaro
copertina simon wood

Simon Wood stirs up controversy online: In his Manchester restaurant, a customer asked for a "birthday discount," but the chef is unwilling to grant it. "Working for free to entertain guests? Wrong."

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An exaggerated reaction to a rather bizarre request is how the controversy that has unfolded on the web can be summarized, with Simon Wood, the winner of Masterchef UK in 2015 and owner of Wood Manchester restaurant since 2017, at the center of it. A few weeks ago, the chef received an email that read, "My husband and I are celebrating our first anniversary: could you reserve a table for us with a nice view and perhaps a complimentary dessert? I would like to surprise my partner," as reported by the Daily Mail.

simon wood chef2
wood manchester2

Upon reading the email, Wood didn't hesitate to post a screenshot of the conversation and respond directly on social media to what he deemed an entirely inappropriate request. "Unbelievable... Free food for celebrations, that's why we're here, after all...." he added, "Restaurants are not obliged to give anything away. Go to McDonald's and ask for a free cheeseburger, then see what happens. People need to stop trying to freeload off small businesses."

wood manchester

Needless to say, within moments, the web erupted with comments both in support and against Mr. Wood. "I really don't understand how people can be so out of line," "If you can't afford to eat at a restaurant, stay home." Some, however, criticized the public shaming initiated by Wood, commenting, "The email is a bit much, but you made a worse move by posting everything on Twitter"; "Publicly shaming a customer who asked for a free dessert on their special day is truly a ghettoizing gesture," and "He asked politely, with courtesy. The chef needs customer service training." Even in the face of these accusations, Wood didn't hesitate to counter, stating, "My business sells food. Have you forgotten that? Hospitality doesn't mean free."

simon wood chef

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