The usual comments about buffets - excessive, fattening, wasteful - though true, really don’t get to the heart of why buffets should be on their way out. They are mass produced troughs that, ironically, satisfy neither the consumer nor the producer. The consumer thinks, isn’t this great, I can choose whatever I want. Then, after a gorge, they realize that the food really didn’t satisfy and only succeeded in making him feel sick.
For the producers - the chefs, bakers, even the wait staff - they end up feeling they are more responsible for the volume of food rather than the quality. By making it for everyone, they make if for no one. A very lonely experience, I would think. Instead of making a steak cooked to someone’s preferred specifications, they are producing meat that is most likely to be palatable to the largest audience. And audience it is. People look at the options and simply choose based on a quick visual inspection.
Lastly, there is the waste. Every night in a city like Bangkok, where there are dozen of hotels offering full all-you-can-eat buffets, the excess on display is mind boggling. Rarely have I seen an item on the menu out of stock. On the contrary, there ALWAYS seems to be more. The only thing stopping the stream of food is not supply, but time. The restaurant closes, or the buffet hours end, and the food is hauled off, presumably, to the dump.
Waste is part of the ecological cycle. There are organisms that rely on the waste of other organisms to survive. But in the case of buffets, I fail to see how this deliberate display of excess can be beneficial to anyone other than those hungry teenage boys whose insatiable appetites would have them go out for pizza after 2+ hours at an all you can eat buffet.
I think we need to re-assess the need for this type of consumption. Who does the buffet really satisfy? Does quantity really have to be the metric we use to measure food? Is this just a reflection of a greater issue of conspicuous consumption?
Image credit - CC - Jeremy Brooks via Compfight