So, there was me thinking we now live in a world of understated discretion. With the so-called recession, social-climbing, attention-seeking, name-dropping went out in the noughties, right?
Eating in Quo Vadis last night (which was brilliant by the way) with some friends in a somewhat half-full room, I couldn't help but overhear a large group near me introducing themselves to the restaurant manager, and explaining they were from (I presume, based on the "oh, got the night off?" reply) another restaurant.
I couldn't really think what the point of this was, were they expecting some kind of special service? Maybe they were friends of the chef. But if this were the case, why the need to tell the restaurant manager?
Ah - it was soon made clear, when the chef, Mr Jeremy Lee, came bounding in and welcomed them all to the restaurant. Obviously they were at least acquaintances.
Now, my eyes began to roll when I thought about this.
I know a lot of chefs, some quite successful, and every one of them would say the same thing. There is nothing more frustrating than having to leave the kitchen, mid-service, clean yourself up, wash the sweat of your face and go into the dining room to greet a bunch of customers.
Would I go to the theatre and expect my friend with the leading role to bound over mid-show and welcome my friends and me? Of course not.
Also, why is this practice limited to head chefs only? Why not other members of the kitchen? Would it be acceptable to introduce myself as a friend of say, the wash-up person and expect them to appear, dishcloth in hand, bowing to the room to a ripple of applause?
Somehow I don't think so. No, I'll tell you why: Because the only reason you do this is to draw attention to yourself, impress your party and massage your ego.
So naff. So out-of-date. So Eighties.
My advice is this. Your fellow diners don't care who you know. If you're friends with the chef and want them to know you're there, send him a text or something.
I'm now off to have my cringe marks removed.