- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Florida restaurant owner is defending his decision to ban one of America’s favorite condiments from customers over the age of 10, arguing that his burgers are fine just the way they are.

Mad Fresh Bistro in Fort Myers, Florida, does not serve ketchup to anyone over 10, and it says so right on the menu.

“Chef reserves the right to refuse service of ketchup,” the menu says.

And an unapologetic disclosure on the Mad Fresh’s website explains: “No ketsup for you! We know, we know. People love their ketsup. But honestly, be ready. If you’re over 10 years old, ketsup will NOT be provided. Similarly, salt won’t be making an appearance next to your meal, either. We simply ask that you trust us. We know what we’re doing! Part of the MAD experience is to trust the chef, and not have preconceived notions of what your dish is going to need.”

The restaurant opened in October 2012, but the ban caught the attention of a Yahoo News food editor, whose story last month about Mad Fresh went viral with more than 1,700 comments.

The majority of comments appeared to be negative and many commenters believed that as paying customers they should reserve the right to deciding what goes into their mouths.

“I’m sorry but if I am paying for the food and I want Ketchup that is my business and it does not matter how old I am, I hate mustard so I should only eat dry hot dogs. My mom was a chef for 35 years and if she read this there would be a hole in my roof from where she went through it,” wrote “Angelina.”

“At what point did the service industry become a front for egotism?? I am all for offering new items, encouraging customers to branch out, etc, but the guests are the ones who keep us in business,” wrote “Sandie.”

Some commenters agreed with Mad Fresh that the chef has the right to prepare the food the way he wants and that those who don’t like it don’t have to eat there.

Chef Xavier Duclos, who owns Mad Fresh, defended the ban and said his restaurant hasn’t seen a drop in business since the word spread.

“I had someone try and sneak ketchup in here and I kicked them out,” the French-raised chef told the News-Press. “I think my flavors work. You don’t walk into the museum and tell them to change the color of the painting.”

“My burger has got a sauce on it already. There’s no point in adding a sweet sauce on top of that,” he added, calling Heinz ketchup the worst of all. “I think ketchup is edible — on certain things. I’ll give it that much. But it’s just not part of my culinary agenda.”

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