Courtney Allan

Food & Wine

MasterChef’s Matt Preston shares 5 gripes about dining out in Australia

MasterChef’s Matt Preston shares 5 gripes about dining out in Australia

Matt Preston has been a judge on MasterChef for 11 years, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t immune to gripes about dining out. He shared his thoughts with Delicious and mentioned his top 5 pet peeves when he dines out for a meal.  

“I love eating out. Well, I just love eating – in, out, wherever,” Preston said. 

“But a few things occasionally bug me about cafés and restaurants. My sister gets narky about a beautiful Instagrammable breakfast loaded with flowers and pomegranate seeds, but the things that make me mad are far more infuriating.”

1. Designer restaurants

Preston maintains that design isn’t about a “picture in a magazine” but should focus solely on the experience of the diner.

“If the room is too dark to see the food and too noisy to hear what the other side of the table is saying, then the fit-out has failed. Well, unless you want to go with boring, ugly friends who you don’t want to see or hear,” he says with a laugh.

2. Edison bulbs

Edison bulbs look like the ones in the photo below.

It’s safe to say that Preston isn’t a fan of them at all. 

“Surely these are past their use-by date, along with their dangly cloth-wrapped cords. How about going back to LED downlights, wall conches, chandeliers or even candles for a change?”

3. Evaporating waiters

Due to his extensive experience within the hospitality industry, Preston has experienced a decent waiter or two in his time. 

“It’s not that hard. We’ve had our dessert and you’ve delivered the coffees. This means the meal is coming to an end; the final act of the evening is about to unfold,” Preston gripes.

“Isn’t it obvious we’ll want our bill? This is the good bit of the evening for the restaurant when the bill gets paid and the waitstaff discover whether you’re going to stiff them for the tip, so why do they seem to disappear at the end of the evening? Just bring the bill, take our money and we can all go home.”

4. Expensive food that isn’t delicious

This is something that Preston says he “shouldn’t have to get mad about”.

“Aren’t chefs always telling us they’re in the flavour biz-er-ness? Now, I love experimental cookery as much as the next pretentious food wanker, but if you want me to be your guinea pig, serve your prototypes on a cut-price menu like Ben Shewry used to do at Attica on Tuesday nights. 

“Every chef (apart from maybe a dozen trailblazers around the world like Central’s Virgilio Martinez, Noma’s René Redzepi or Massimo Bottura) should run every new dish through the same prism – if it’s not delicious it ain’t going on the menu.”

5. No reservations at a restaurant

Admittedly, this is a gripe that is felt amongst many.

“Is it really that hard to take some bookings for those who need to get a babysitter or have to travel to eat at your place?” Preston explained. 

“Surely you want to give those people reassurance they can eat at your place? Oh, and don’t try and sell it like it’s a benefit to us the customer – that is the height of hide.”