Author Topic: The Alternate Drop - aka Can I Demand the "Other" Meal?  (Read 18975 times)

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MsMarjorie

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Re: The Alternate Drop - aka Can I Demand the "Other" Meal?
« Reply #15 on: February 18, 2013, 11:34:34 PM »
I'm a West Aussie and I too have suffered the Alternate Drop.

I think that it was the sort of situation in which everyone suffered.  The people that asked their meals be swapped were borderline okay because they may have thought the kitchen had enough for everyone.  The waitstaff that swapped the meals were probably really anxious about doing the right thing - and didn't think it through to the detriment of the last tables. 

If anything your dad should rally the troops and let the organizers know that This Should Not Happen Again.

LifeOnPluto

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Re: The Alternate Drop - aka Can I Demand the "Other" Meal?
« Reply #16 on: February 19, 2013, 01:13:03 AM »


When they bought tickets for the banquet, how was the meal advertised?  Was it made clear that Alternate Drop would be involved, and that the meals would be so completely different?  Was it implied that BBQ meat would be served?  Or was there no info about the meal at all?



Apparently the meal was simply advertised as "Menu A or Menu B". My dad (and everyone else, it seemed) assumed that they'd get to choose which one they wanted. That is, they thought the waitstaff would take orders at the start of the evening.

I remember there was a discussion about one where the male guests were served beef and the female ones chicken.  I like chicken, but I would find that scenario offensive.

Can you tell I hate this, too?

Venus, that was also my thread! The wedding situation occurred because the guests were seated Male-Female-Male-Female, etc, and it worked out that the men got the beef and the women got the chicken. Ditto with dessert. Men got the Sticky Date Pudding, and the women got the Pear Tart. A very odd situation.


That said, it does sound as though the hosts seriously misjudged their audience when they chose the "options."

Yup. The demographic was definitely wrong for "mushroom quiche".

We do not have the Alternative Drop this side of the Tasman, although I have heard rumours that it was once experienced at a wedding and  has never been repeated.
I experienced the drop last year, when there was a table of Kiwi's at a very prestigious conference in Brisbane.  We sat and looked on in amazement at the Conference Dinner ( which had a very heft price tag) when there was half of us served fish and the other half beef.  Most of the fish people refused to accept their dish and the waitstaff were nonplussed. 
In the end to avoid an international incident we managed to come to an arrangement with empty plates provided and dividing portions in half. The Australians could not understand our concerns about the unfairness of the drop.  And let me not tell you about ire raised around the dessert.

The whole table  were all united in our determination to prevent this vile method from entering the country.

I don't blame the Kiwis for being surprised and upset. It definitely seems to be an Australian thing. The dividing the portions in half idea was a great solution.

blarg314

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Re: The Alternate Drop - aka Can I Demand the "Other" Meal?
« Reply #17 on: February 19, 2013, 01:31:54 AM »

Apparently the meal was simply advertised as "Menu A or Menu B". My dad (and everyone else, it seemed) assumed that they'd get to choose which one they wanted. That is, they thought the waitstaff would take orders at the start of the evening.


Given that, plus the fact that this was a paid event (not a hosted dinner like a wedding where you have to be polite and shut up) and I think the guests were fully justified in being angry, and asking for a refund if they got stuck with the inferior dish.

The alternate drop sounds bizarre to me in the first place - it's like you're taunting your guests with the fact that there are two different dishes, but whether or not they get the one they want is completely up to chance, or the generosity of the person sitting next to them. 

That aside, the two dinners presented were of vastly different desirability. Older Australian men, and a choice between a BBQ meat platter and a vegetarian quiche?  At $100 a head?  I'm not sure how the organizers could possibly have figured that would work out well.


StarFaerie

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Re: The Alternate Drop - aka Can I Demand the "Other" Meal?
« Reply #18 on: February 19, 2013, 01:55:07 AM »
I've been to lots of Alternate Swap dinners. They are very common at conferences and wedding. So much so that I would consider them the norm.

The men were terribly rude. The rule is you don't ask the wait staff for a swap, unless you cannot eat the meal for some reason. You swap within the table and that's it. If you can't swap or get stuck with something you don't like you put on your big boy/girl pants and get over it.

However, it was also a bad choice by the organisers and the caterers who should have been advising them on the meals. And in that case some refund may be in order.

sammycat

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Re: The Alternate Drop - aka Can I Demand the "Other" Meal?
« Reply #19 on: February 19, 2013, 02:15:06 AM »
I've been to lots of Alternate Swap dinners. They are very common at conferences and wedding. So much so that I would consider them the norm.

The men were terribly rude. The rule is you don't ask the wait staff for a swap, unless you cannot eat the meal for some reason. You swap within the table and that's it. If you can't swap or get stuck with something you don't like you put on your big boy/girl pants and get over it.

However, it was also a bad choice by the organisers and the caterers who should have been advising them on the meals. And in that case some refund may be in order.

This is my experience/opinion too.  At things like weddings or conferences where the guest isn't paying, and the meals are comparable (eg. meat/fish or pasta/quiche) then I don't have a problem.

However, the OP's situation (meat/quiche) was a definite fail, as was the catering staff giving into these people.  Also, if it was advertised as a choice between Menu A and Menu B then I can well understand why the men were annoyed, and feel they are owed refunds.

All of that aside, if I was paying $100 to attend (something I would never do anyway) I'd be expecting way more than quiche or a BBQ meat platter, regardless of method of delivery.  I'd be expecting a full a la carte menu.

cicero

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Re: The Alternate Drop - aka Can I Demand the "Other" Meal?
« Reply #20 on: February 19, 2013, 03:34:23 AM »
I agree that the organizers weren't thinking. I 'm not a chef, have never been to australia, but I would imagine that 50-80 year old australian men would want meat. especially if they *see* the meat being served to others.

so i'll start with the fact that the organizers didn't think this through.

the second thing is that, while the alternate drop is common in some areas in australia, it *isn't* done in the place where OP's dad lives, so I can't say that they were rude - they may not have really been aware of the "rules".


My dad lives in Western Australia (a state which until now, hasn't embraced the Alternate Drop).

I can totally understand the quiche people feeling gypped and wanting their money back. I would say that for the future they should (a) nix the AD concept or (b) make sure to have two comparable meals, apples vs. apples, not not filet mignon vs. salami.

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Iris

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Re: The Alternate Drop - aka Can I Demand the "Other" Meal?
« Reply #21 on: February 19, 2013, 03:38:22 AM »
I agree with StarFaerie and SammyCat. I've never had an alternate drop where I haven't been hosted, and I've never had such a wide disparity in the meals. At weddings etc they've never really bothered me. Occasionally I've ended up with my less preferred meal but since I wasn't paying and the difference wasn't that great it's just one of those things you deal with, like being seated next to Great Aunt Mildred and her amazing collection of cat stories. In that, more usual, scenario it would be horribly rude to ask to swap outside of the table. In fact the only time I ever heard someone ask to swap outside the table the wait staff told them that it wouldn't be possible.

A vegetarian quiche for $100 a head would make me *very* annoyed though. I don't know that I can actually blame the men at the earlier tables for complaining vehemently. The men at the later tables who had no choice would certainly be within their rights to ask for some money back.

I would be willing to bet that someone on the organising committee really wanted the bbq meat platter but that it was over the budget. Instead of going for two cheaper meals they chose to shaft half their guests so that they could get what they really wanted.
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Amava

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Re: The Alternate Drop - aka Can I Demand the "Other" Meal?
« Reply #22 on: February 19, 2013, 03:56:04 AM »
That quiche sounds lovely to me... as an appetiser.

Alternate drops are bad enough as it is, but if someone /must/ do it (though I can't fathom why - it seems like asking for trouble), they could at least make sure that the two dishes would be equally "wanted" in the target group.

Also, I can't imagine paying money for a meal without knowing what the food is going to be.

cross_patch

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Re: The Alternate Drop - aka Can I Demand the "Other" Meal?
« Reply #23 on: February 19, 2013, 06:45:56 AM »
I remember there was a discussion about one where the male guests were served beef and the female ones chicken.  I like chicken, but I would find that scenario offensive.

Can you tell I hate this, too?

But this is not at all the same- it is as simple as you start with one person and then alternate. There is no division down gender lines. It's a false analogy. There is nothing inherently offensive about alternate drop- it can be badly organised, and people end up with something they don't want but it is not designed to specifically discriminate.

redberry

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Re: The Alternate Drop - aka Can I Demand the "Other" Meal?
« Reply #24 on: February 19, 2013, 07:03:14 AM »
I am a Western Australian and the alternate drop is not really that rare on the West coast. I see two problems with the OPs scenario:
  • An alternate drop works best when two comparable meals are offered. I agree with PPs that a beef meal and a quiche meal are not comparable. So the first error was made by the caterers
  • Some switcheroos of plates is pretty normal WITHIN a table i.e. I've sometimes had a person who would prefer say a chicken meal to a beef, and I've been served the chicken...so I have offered to swap. Swapping is not mandatory and the wait staff should never get involved in it..

I have never attended this type of dinner where the menu is given in advance for an alternate drop - or even when alternate drop is not used to be honest. Usually a dinner of this type includes an option for people with specific dietary needs to raise it so it can be accommodated and everyone else receives one of two meal options. Apart from that the menu is what is offered on the night. As for price - when you go to a dinner event like this you are going for more than the specific value of the food...so I don't see where refunds for anyone on the basis of the two different meals are valid.

I think that all around mistakes were made and to just say the men attending were rude does not consider the whole picture - poor menu planning by caterer, incorrect actions by wait staff and confused rudeness from the guests who perhaps did not foresee the impact their request for a specific meal would ultimately have on the other tables.

Venus193

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Re: The Alternate Drop - aka Can I Demand the "Other" Meal?
« Reply #25 on: February 19, 2013, 07:13:59 AM »
The issue with the alternate drop at the wedding is that male-female alternate seating tends to be the norm on such occasions.  That's what made the alternate drop look so sexist at that event.  I was having GWTW flashbacks to the notion that females aren't supposed to have hearty appetites.

cabbageweevil

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Re: The Alternate Drop - aka Can I Demand the "Other" Meal?
« Reply #26 on: February 19, 2013, 07:14:22 AM »
Now, I'm not the biggest fan of the Alternate Drop either, but I think in this case, the guys were rude to demand the "other" meal. Unfortunately with the Alternate Drop, when you don't get your preferred meal and no one else at the table is willing to swap, the protocol is to suck it up and just eat what you've received. 

This is the first time I've ever heard of the Alternate Drop procedure. My feeling is that many excellent things come out of Australia, but this is not one of them !

Certainly, the function attended by the OP's father seems like an absolute train-wreck, especially in view of the demographic involved. One feels that those who organised it were, at best, utterly clueless -- the whole thing sounds as though it would make a grand sketch for an Aussie comedian...

I consider that whether those guys who were unlucky at this event were rude about it, or not -- their feeling unhappy about the matter is thoroughly understandable. Interesting that the OP and other posters opine -- sometimes strongly, as with StarFaerie in post #18 -- that the only polite thing is, if you can't swap your non-desired meal with someone else at the table, to resignedly put up with it. My sentiments are, that the world generally sees dining-out as supposed to be fun, and a pleasant experience. Unless all involved, have high-principled notions about character-building and occasional mortification of the flesh -- I don't see much sense in making the dining experience into a form of Russian roulette  :) .

Amava

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Re: The Alternate Drop - aka Can I Demand the "Other" Meal?
« Reply #27 on: February 19, 2013, 07:30:20 AM »
Certainly, the function attended by the OP's father seems like an absolute train-wreck, especially in view of the demographic involved. One feels that those who organised it were, at best, utterly clueless -- the whole thing sounds as though it would make a grand sketch for an Aussie comedian...
No kidding, I would have been looking around for the hidden camera if I had been there.

cicero

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Re: The Alternate Drop - aka Can I Demand the "Other" Meal?
« Reply #28 on: February 19, 2013, 07:32:55 AM »


Also, I can't imagine paying money for a meal without knowing what the food is going to be.
slightly off topic but really? Is it common to announce in advance what the meal will be at an annual dinner of this type? I'm assuming that the 100$ is not *just* to cover the meal but the dinner is some kind of fundraiser (at least, that's the type of dinner I'm used to) and social interaction

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Amava

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Re: The Alternate Drop - aka Can I Demand the "Other" Meal?
« Reply #29 on: February 19, 2013, 07:44:41 AM »


Also, I can't imagine paying money for a meal without knowing what the food is going to be.
slightly off topic but really? Is it common to announce in advance what the meal will be at an annual dinner of this type? I'm assuming that the 100$ is not *just* to cover the meal but the dinner is some kind of fundraiser (at least, that's the type of dinner I'm used to) and social interaction

Yes, really. If there is a plated dinner, it is definitely stated on the invitation.
Either that, or they do a buffet with a big variety of food where people get to choose what they want and don't want. No "drops". (But no panic: a classy, staffed buffet, not just some loaded abandoned tables where guests stick their fingers into the bowls or hog five portions of the same dish at once. ;) )

What can I say? We Belgians take our food (and especially: feeding guests) very seriously.  ;D In our culture, a gathering (for fundraiser, social interaction,...) really stands or falls with the food that is provided - as does the reputation of the group that is organising it.