But behind all the shiny silverware and fanciful entrees, a whole other world of culinary creativity exists to make restaurants visually and aesthetically appealing to customers.
Carolina Crossroads' chef Brian Stapleton said chefs play the largest role in restaurants' day-to-day attempts to establish consumer appeal. "Chefs are the focal point of a restaurant from a marketing point of view," Stapleton said. "From most guests' perspective, the success of a restaurant is equated with its chef."
A graduate of the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, Stapleton's background, like many chefs, includes professional training.
But John Tate, a pastry chef at Il Palio, said it isn't always necessary that chefs go to culinary school in order for them to do their jobs well.
In fact, Tate said he landed his job at Il Palio by coincidence.
"I became friends with a guy that used to be the sous chef, and one day he asked me if I wanted a job," Tate said. "Then one day the old pastry chef asked if I'd be wiling to take over. It's been a big learning experience."
Tate said a large part of his learning has come from watching other chefs in action. He said one instance in particular taught him what not to prepare for the restaurant.
"One time this guy did this bright green cream sauce for Saint Patrick's Day that looked like it came from the Caribbean," Tate said.
While Stapleton and Tate woo their guests with lavish entrees, chefs Dave Allworth of Four Eleven West and Patrick Cowden of Michael Jordan's Restaurant-23 said they prefer a more relaxed approach.