The report of a tiny Canterbury village café and its owner operators persistent rudeness to her customers brought back fond memories from 30 years ago.

A middle-aged French women opened a French restaurant in Wellington’s Tinakori Road’s up-market restaurant row. She was an outstanding chef and deservedly drew customers for that reason but for most, the real attraction lay in her notorious and unrelenting rudeness and insults to her clientele. Her waitresses all bore stunned mullet looks as they also copped her unrelenting abuse. Needless to say there was a constant turnover in staff.

Once I saw her rocket out of the kitchen and roundly confront a 4-person table for insulting her by talking too much instead of getting on with their meals she had gone to such trouble to prepare.

On another occasion she aggressively confronted a table, seeking out the offender who had the effrontery to have not eaten everything on her plate after they’d been returned to the kitchen. When the culprit, a woman, tentatively tried to explain she was issued a life-time ban for her insulting behaviour.

Her reign of terror reputation grew and on more than one occasion, if hosting out-of-town guests, they’d ask to be taken there. She never failed to deliver. Diners spoke in hushed tones failing which she’d emerge to confront the culprits.

Finally, declaring she’d made sufficient to return to France and retire, she closed up and was accorded a lovely send-off in the Dominion for her memorable contribution to the city’s life and they weren’t referring to her cuisine.

A few years later the Dom’ recorded her demise and wrote an obit’ on her unforgettable stint in the capital.

On reflection, many famous people from all walks of life have gained notoriety for their insulting behaviour. If of exceptional talent in their pursuits, this conduct seems to add lustre to their fame.


When I read of the Canterbury cafe experience a couple of days ago I was reminded of your own account of your experiences in New York diners.

Most restaurants serve up food that is no better than what you could either cook yourself from a tin (anything with spaghetti being a prime example, noodles another). Hell in modern times even a dyslexic Green Party voter can prepare from “My food bag” so there’s only one reason to dine out and that’s for entertainment.

Or at the French Gite when the owner abused us for being in the wrong one, not the one we had booked – when she had actually put us there.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: