Chef stabs customer with chicken skewer, goes to court for alleged “reckless wounding”

A Sydney chef is in court after allegedly stabbing a hungry patron with a metal chicken skewer after he complained about the long wait for food.

Chef Mati Rahman of Sydney’s Red Chilli restaurant in Lakemba is accused of stabbing customer Jamil Hossain, who complained after waiting more than an hour for his order.

Hossain said in a TV interview played in court yesterday that he and his friends had been hungry when they arrived at the restaurant and inquired about why their meals hadn’t arrived after waiting for an hour, according to AAP.

When asking about the wait, they were then allegedly told it would take another 30 to 45 minutes, to which one said “that’s too long”.

A fight then broke out when Rahman got angry and ordered the customers out of the restaurant.

“He said ‘get out or I’ll kill (you) one by one’,” Hossain says, as quoted by AAP.

Outside the restaurant, Hossain was allegedly protecting his friend from being stabbed in the stomach with the metal skewer when he was speared in his left hand.

The case first emerged in April last year after police were informed of the incident.

The skewer was said at the time to have pierced the palm of Hossain and exited the other side, causing him to require eight stitches.

Rahman was arrested and charged with reckless wounding.

The chef has pleaded not guilty to the charge and says he was the one who was set upon as he prepared curries near a tandoori oven.

Rahman says he repeatedly told the men to be patient, but he was approached by Hossain and another man while working alone in the kitchen and was then attacked with chairs and mops, according to AAP.

The chef says Hossain sustained the injury from a sharp edge of the mop.

Regardless of the outcome, the case demonstrates the need for good customer service skills in hospitality.

Customer service expert and public speaker Martin Grunstein told SmartCompany the key to customer service when dealing with an unhappy customer at a restaurant is to empathise and let them know their complaint is being actioned.

“The fundamentals to understand when people are complaining is they want to whinge, they want acknowledgment of their complaint and they want to know what you can and can’t do to fix the problem,” he says.

“What causes things to escalate is the frustration with the response or if the customer is made to feel humiliated.”

Grunstein says the customer isn’t necessarily always right, but they need to be made to feel as though they are.

“As long as the customer doesn’t break any rules, it’s the customer’s right to be a pain in the neck. They can be wrong, but we have to treat them with respect and dignity,” he says.

“In a situation where the customer complains about the steak being overdone or something like that, there is no point proving the customer wrong. It’s just going to make the customer angry.”

Grunstein says staff need to take the complaint with a smile on their face, or the customer won’t return.

“You need to manage the ego of the customer, rather than just solve the problem,” he says.

“Acknowledge the inconvenience to the customer and then the front line staff have to try and solve the problem without humiliating the customer and that’s a skill which is rare. The customer needs to be able to walk away with their ego intact.”

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