It's the menu note heard round the world.
Well, at least around the food world of yahoo.com.
"Chef reserves the right to refuse service of ketchup," has been printed, in some form, on the menus at Mad Fresh Bistro since the south Fort Myers restaurant opened in October 2012.
This week those nine words went a bit viral when Rachel Tepper, associate food editor for Yahoo! Food, included them in a piece about people's love-hate relationships with this red condiment. As of 3 p.m. the story had more than 1,800 comments.
In it she curated ketchup (and catsup and ketsup) opinions from the likes of famed chef Wylie Dufresne (pro-ketchup), and from late Chicago newspaperman Mike Royko, who said of those who put ketchup on hot dogs, "Sure, it would be disgusting and perverted, and they would be shaming themselves and their loved ones. But under our system of government, it is their right to be barbarians."
You can include Mad Fresh's chef-owner Xavier Duclos in Royko's camp – minus the part about rights.
"I had someone try and sneak ketchup in here and I kicked them out," said the persnickety, New York-born, French-raised chef. "I think my flavors work. You don't walk into the museum and tell them to change the color of the painting."
Duclos cooked at yacht and country clubs before opening Mad Fresh, where he makes thick burgers topped with bacon, brie, caramelized onions and Duclos' own tarragon sauce. Or with Manchego cheese, Serrano ham and house-made red-pepper aioli.
At his old gigs Duclos submitted to the whims of patrons. Let's just say he's happy those days are behind him.
"My burger has got a sauce on it already. There's no point in adding a sweet sauce on top of that," Duclos said, calling Heinz ketchup the worst of the ketchups. "I think ketchup is edible – on certain things. I'll give it that much. But it's just not part of my culinary agenda."
Duclos said he had no idea about the Yahoo! piece until a friend sent him a link shortly after it ran Wednesday. Since then, Duclos has heard a few mentions of it at Mad Fresh, but has seen no change in business.
"We're still slammed everyday," he said, "still doing great, without any ketchup."