The popularity of cooking shows may have increased our interest in food, but hasn't increased our understanding of the strains of food service.
In Western Australia, where even Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi has called for better customer service, complaining about the quality and cost of restaurant service has become something of a state sport.
While MasterChef and My Kitchen Rules has taught people more about food, a disconnect between customers' expectations and restaurant realities remained, said Restaurant & Catering Industry Association CEO John Hart.
"Those cooking shows do great things for the industry, people were spending more in restaurants every time MasterChef went to air," Mr Hart said.
"The naysayers would suggest its teaching people to cook at home and they won't go out, but that wasn't the case; they'd look at what was on MasterChef, try to make it and throw their hands in the air because it was all too hard and they'd go out and order it in a restaurant.
"But I think the downside is it hasn't pushed an understanding of what it costs to service those products."
While it was important for businesses to adopt the policy of 'the customer is always right', customers don't realise that labour costs account for half the price they pay at the counter, said Mr Hart.
"When there are complaints like 'You can get a steak down the shops for $8.50, why is it costing me $30?' there's an absolutely clear explanation for that," Mr Hart said.
"When you pay $30 for a steak, $15 goes to the staff on that night."
Mr Hart said for each dollar a customer spent, 50 cents went to labour costs, 30 cents was spent on purchasing food, 9-12 cents went on rent and the remaining 8 cents had to allow for breakages, fit-outs and other unexpected costs.
"The average small business now makes a net loss," he said.
"The average business makes a 3.6 per cent turnover."
While customers often complain about the cost of food on review sites like Urbanspoon and restaurants' social media pages, described by Mr Hart as "word-of-mouth on steroids", in-house complaints tend to focus on waiting times, as was the case when a disgruntled customer posted his email chain with a Perth restaurant owner online.
Matilda Bay Restaurant director Warwick Lavis said the online environment made it even more important to respond to complaints quickly and positively.
"The thing is now everything is immediate; people can come in and take a photo and instantly it's uploaded or sent to their friends," he said.
"It's got to be immediate response and it's also got to be relevant.
"One of the issues is that you don't know whether they're a competitor or disgruntled, because you can't access who they are."
While the cost of eating out was "slightly higher" in WA, the service was no worse, Mr Hart said.
"But it is true to say there's a slow decay in the standard of service," he said.
"The reality is that's just all a part of what's happening in this country and it's driven by a whole range of things, most particularly in our business, the cost of labour."
"That is because of the underlying skill shortages problem."
Mr Lavis, who has been with Matilda Bay since 1984, said customers had to remember that restaurants faced the same high costs they did.
"Perth is one of the dearest cites to live in and our cost of product is high, our cost of labour is high and we've got minimal selection of people," he said.
"A chef de partie will average $10,000 to $15,000 more than in Melbourne and even for us to buy WA beef will cost us more, the abattoir fees are higher and the product is more expensive.
"Ultimately we live in probably one of the best places in the world and our labour rates are high."
While some attributed the labour shortage to people moving to fly-in, fly-out work, Mr Hart said that wasn't quite true.
"You don't get people leaving part-time and casual positions to work FIFO, you get full-timers doing that, so you do get an impact in the kitchen, but we aren't losing people front-of-house," he said.
"The problem is being driven by the huge growth and that's as attributable to the mining and resource sector as anything else; it's that growth, the amount of corporate business. People spending more and that's what puts pressure on the market and that's what's causing skill shortages and growing pains."