Customer Service and Reality Shows


Well, it had to happen.

After writing a scathing post a while back on how much I hated and how insipid and stupid reality TV shows were, I have to confess to you I have succumbed to temptation. See: Reality Check.

In the last month I have discovered and have fallen in love two new reality shows. Granted, they are both on the Food Network; so in my defense it is partly research for my blog.

1 A waiterWhat are these two dastardly reality shows I MUST see every week? Mystery Diners and Restaurant Stakeout.

If you have not seen them,  according to Food Network’s description Mystery Diners, “….are undercover operatives who go into restaurants, bars and food service establishments with hidden cameras to perform surveillance to find out what’s really going on when the boss isn’t around.” Charles Stiles is in charge of the Mystery Diners operation.

Restaurant Stakeout “……follows Willie Degel, known for running a tight ship, as he takes his practices to troubled restaurateurs looking to find and rectify the hidden problems that lie within their establishments.”

Even though I know laziness exists. Even though I know people steal. Even though I know that many people today do not give their best to an employer let alone to customers, I am still amazed at the number of people who do all this and so much more.

Every week these two reality shows expose the worst at poorly run restaurants:  from a sommelier taking kickbacks to push an inferior wine to a server mistreating customers to out right stealing

I was shocked in one episode of Mystery Diners when a restaurant employee hung up on a customer wanting to place a take-out order because he was asking too many questions about the menu.

It amazes me when someone who is caught on film stealing and when presented with the evidence still claims they were not stealing. Some people just do not live in reality.

It shocks and amazes me just how many brazen slackers and thief’s there really are. And the excuses and the rationalizations of their laziness and thievery are just unbelievable.

What I like most though is the listening to Charles Stiles and Willie Degel explain to the restaurant owners and the staff what needs to be done to turn the restaurant around. They are both no-nonsense organizational and efficiency/time management wizards.

Many times the problem is simply lack of training and/or clear expectations.

My first job after graduating high school was as a clerk in a grocery store. Before they put me behind a cash register and1 a cashier in front of customers I was required to take a full 40 hour week of PAID training.

All cashiers were trained in almost every aspect of the store and on how to treat customers, how to run a cash register, and more. We had practice sessions and were evaluated on how to greet customers as well as how to pack groceries. 

Once out in the stores our Formal Evaluations were based on what we had been trained on. The store used mystery shoppers – three every six months – for our evaluation. Ten wrongs on three consecutive evaluations was grounds for termination.

The management of that grocery store (now out of business) had enough respect for their customers that they made sure that their employees treated the customer well: a look in the eye, a smile, a friendly hello and ending with a sincere thank you for shopping with us.

They also had enough respect for their workers to train them on how to do a great job.

Treat me well I will spend more money!

I cannot tell you how many times I have spent more money than I wanted to or had intended to because I found someone at a store who really helped or was curteous to me or a waiter/waitress was extra nice to me.

Too many businesses today cut corners and invest little to nothing in order to maximize profits forgetting that happy customers spend more money.
Featured Recipe    Easy Weeknight Chicken Parmesan


You and your children will love this quick and easy and super yummy any night of the week dish.

What makes this dish so quick and easy is I use thinner cuts of chicken than most Chicken Parmesan recipes call for, plus I use store bought sauce.

Even though I use store bought jarred tomato sauce for a quick and easy and inexpensive week night dinner, you can use home made too. If you have any canned tomato sauce, by all means, use it up on this dish.

This recipe also makes a very impressive company’s coming or Sunday dinner too.

While is it a bit more expensive that I usually like to share here, it is worth it. Part of the cost today is simply the increase in groceries in general. This meal never used to cost THIS much. Just another sign of the bad economy.

This is what you will need for 3-4 people:

1 16 ounce box spaghetti

2 eggs

½ cup bread crumbs

½  cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon Italian seasoning

3-4 medium thin chicken breasts*

2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil

28 ounce jar tomato sauce

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Salt and pepper to taste


* If yours are too thick flatten then with a meat pounder or the back of a skillet.


Here is what you do:

Put up a pot of salted water and cook the spaghetti according to package directions.

NOTE: If the spaghetti is ready before the chicken just leave it in the colander you drained it in and place the colander in a pot with an inch or two of water over low heat to keep warm.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Salt and pepper the chicken breasts on both sides.

Mix bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder and Italian seasoning on plate. I like to use my finger to mix, or you can use a fork.


Whisk the eggs in bowl or flat pan large enough to lightly dredge, or dip and coat both sides of a chicken filet with the egg wash.


First dredge the chicken filets in the egg wash………………


………….and then coat evenly with the bread crumb mixture. Place on a plate.


Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat until it gets shiny.

Place chicken in the skillet and cook 3 to 4 or 5 minutes per side or until golden brown on both sides. Don’t crowd the chicken or they will not brown nicely. If necessary brown in two batches. Keep the cooked chicken warm by placing on a plate and tenting with foil.IMG_2503


While the chicken is browning spread enough tomato sauce over the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish  to coat the bottom of the pan. None of the pan bottom should show through, just enough to keep the chicken from sticking when you bake it.


Transfer the browned chicken to the pan. Spoon tomato sauce evenly over chicken. Reserve a little of the sauce to use on the spaghetti.


 Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese.


Bake 5 to 10 minutes or until heated through and the cheese is melted.


Hot right out of the oven. Serve with the cooked spaghetti covered in some of the tomato sauce and a salad or a vegetable.


Bon appétit!!!


1 16 ounce box spaghetti                  $0.99

2 eggs                                            $0.16

½ cup bread crumbs                        $0.76

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese        $1.98

½ teaspoon garlic powder                $0.04

½ teaspoon Italian seasoning           $0.14

3  medium thin chicken breasts         $6.29

2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil            $0.18

28 ounce jar tomato sauce                $1.79

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese    $2.49

Salt and pepper to taste

Total cost = $14.82
Cost per person = $4.94

Quote of the Day

Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth.

Franklin D. Roosevelt


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3 comments to Customer Service and Reality Shows

  • I’ve never seen these programs as they aren’t on in Australia (yet). I’m hoping the cameras are hidden or it would be pretty obvious what’s going on. 🙂

    I love chicken parmesan and it’s a family meal several times a year. Yours looks really good!

  • I love the Mystery Dinner programs! I have been craving good chicken parm for a long time! Anytime I get it in a restaurant it is way too salty. I can’t wait to try this since everything else I have made from your blog is divine! I especially love your Maple Syrup Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Pecans! Yum

  • I love the Mystery Dinner programs! I have been craving good chicken parm for a long time! Anytime I get it in a restaurant it is way too salty. I can’t wait to try this since everything else I have made from your blog is divine! I especially love your Maple Syrup Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Pecans! Yum! Cheers, Kate