You vill remember: He’s a PROUD COOK but not a CLOWN

Those familiar with Seinfeld will know The Soup Nazi.

Inarguably one of Seinfeld's most notorious and amusing episodes, The Soup Nazi is the owner of a soup stand who dictates ordering procedures in militaristic fashion. One misstep and the customer's immediately banished to the tune of the Soup Nazi's quivering mustache and punitive directive of "neeeeext!"

The greater Seattle area has its Grouchy Chef. I've not been there; Seattle Times reviewer Nancy Leson has and here's her take:

I've met plenty of grouchy chefs in my day, but few are willing to own up to it, let alone advertise the fact. Then I met Takayuki Masumoto, though I didn't exactly introduce myself. Had the Grouchy Chef known what I did for a living, I'm certain he'd have chased me out the door with a 10-inch chef's knife …

I made the mistake of approaching his open kitchen to ask for more of his outstanding whole-grain mustard. … He gave it to me, grudgingly, and if ever there was a moment when I felt like Oliver Twist at the mercy of Mr. Bumble, you just read about it.

While this guy makes the Iron Chef look lighthearted, you've got to hand it to him. He's proud enough of his social defect to design his logo around it (tall toque, big frown), put his crotchety motto on his business card ("What you see is what you get!") and trumpet the grouch factor on bold red signage ("Grouchy Chef, Eat In or Take Out").

But lest you think he's the Shogun of Schtick, think again: Masumoto means business, and he's quick to point out that he doesn't need yours.

There's a secret to enjoying a meal here, and that secret is explained in simple terms: Don't and No. The barrage of negativity begins before you set foot in this self-service 20-seat cafe where patrons eat quickly, speak quietly and prefer takeout.

Pull up in front of the storefront and you'll find handwritten signs plastered on the door.

"Restrooms are for customers only (potential customers are not included!)."

"No Frills! No Substitutions! No Outside Food! No Outside Beverages!"

Step inside and you'll find the Grouchster at work, usually alone … You're meant to scan the menu, order up front and pay in advance. "What if we want dessert?" I whined. "Pay later!" he scolded.

Got kids? Go next door to Subway. Your kids might love a slice of Grouchy's double-chocolate mousse torte, but they'll find his spicy, garlicky penne arrabbiata overwhelming, and if they run around the room wailing about it, you, my friend, will know what it feels like to shrivel.

So, forewarned is forearmed. Carefully read the notes posted by the register and on the rear wall:

"If you don't like my style, please leave NOW. It's better for both you and myself."

"I am temperamental, a SERIOUS Japanese and PROUD COOK but not a CLOWN."

"If you find the food and soup I made is not good enough for you, please tell me so. I'll give you the money back, and please go somewhere else and ask someone else to make the food for you!"

# # #

The grouchy chef's a dude after my own heart!

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