So You Want To Be A Waiter

The best book on waiting tables that you have never read – yet

Trust pt. 1

Obviously, trust is something that’s important in any business transaction,  human interaction, or relationship.

It’s especially important in the waiter/guest relationship. The guest is entrusting the waiter to provide them a great experience and the waiter is trusting the guest to pay them for their service in the generally accepted way. There’s an implied contract between the two and the best way to assure that both ends are taken care of is by the waiter establishing the trust of the diner.

There are several ways to do this. The one that we will discuss in this installment is the display of an aura of competence. This is done by being quick to answer food and beverage questions and to keep a professional bearing around the table. As I always say, you’ve got to know your menu and bar offerings. You’ve got be able to be proactive in guiding the guest when they need or request help. If you see a guest struggling over the wine list, jump in and start asking questions like, “What kind of wine are you looking for – white or red? Red? Good. Do you like a full-bodied chewy wine or would you like something softer and more approachable? What’s chewy, you ask? You know that sort of sandy feeling you get with some wines? That’s the tannins in the wine and that’s part of chewy. You don’t like that? Well, why don’t you try a good pinot noir. It’s lighter and softer Oh, you don’t like pinots? Would you like something fruity then? We have a nice merlot that’s pretty big but not harsh. It’s kind of bright and zingy”. Good, I’ll bring it right out”. This sort of exchange shows that you know your job. Here’s the thing though – there are some merlots that are done in a style similar to a cabernet, so if you bring one of them, you risk the carefully built image that you have constructed. So you have to know your product and know what you are recommending.

Another way to establish competence is by using culinary terms judiciously. When you talk about the fine brunoise of red pepper that laces the red pepper coulis, you sell yourself as someone who knows their stuff. That sounds better than saying that the chef has added cut up red peppers to the red pepper purée. Most people won’t even ask you what a brunoise is (a very small perfectly cut cube approximately 3mm on a side). However, they will ask you what a coulis is (and hopefully you’ve pronounced it as the chef did – cool-E) and you should have a ready answer tailored to your audience – if it’s a seemingly unsophisticated diner, you can put them at ease by saying, “It’s just a fancy term for a smooth sauce”. If the table is obviously somewhat well versed, you can leave out “a fancy term” and substitute purée for sauce.

Stay tuned for part two on trust.

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