So You Want To Be A Waiter

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

Daily Archives: June 6, 2009

New link posted – Girl In The Weeds

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Here’s a fairly new server site that you’re sure to enjoy. Heck, it’s even newer than mine!

She updates her blog only on Tuesdays. Currently, she’s discussing restaurant worker archetypes as exemplified by her co-workers.

While I disagree with her characterization of Steve, the guy who does Waiter Rant, I’m not going to tell her since she’s a Glock-wielding Mama.

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Anyway, welcome CJ to the fold, ya’ll.

Edited to remove the link to a potential security link since CJ has now been fired. I’ll be changing the blogroll link as soon as I’m sure that everything has been sorted out and I know where her “Girl In The Weeds site” is going to end up.

Cookbook of the day – Book of tarts – form, function and flavor at The City

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Book of tarts – form, function and flavor at The City

by Maury Rubin

  • Publisher: William Morrow and Co.; 1st edition (April 1995)
  • ISBN-10: 068812254X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688122546
  • This slender volume from the owner of The City, a bakery in New York City, will teach you the fine art of tart making. If you’ve never used a simple flan ring, he will show you how to use one. If you go overboard with tart decoration, he will show you a different way – the use of lines and dots and geometrics to make your tarts stand out from the mounds of whipped cream rococco presentations that you sometimes see. sometimes you wonder if a baker is in love with his pasty bag and it’s multiple tips.

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    He teaches that less is usually more and he will show you how to get all Frank Lloyd Wright with your piping. His master dough reciple is flawless and he’ll teach you how to handle the dough properly.

    And the recipes! With 40 well-photographed tarts, you’ll find every category of structured tart covered. You won’t find rustic, free-form tarts like tart tatin in the book. The book is restricted to round “single portion” tarts. I especially love the Chocolate Custard infused with Ethiopian Coffee Beans Tart – a sinful disk of contrasting darks – the shell being pitch black and the custard having a matte black appearance. And the taste? Gee, do I need to really tell you?

    He exhorts you to use flan rings as opposed to fluted tart pans. The flan ring is a simple ring of metal with no bottom and every kitchen should have a dozen of them stacked up on a wooden dowel (if only to impress which ever sex you’re trying to impress) . It takes a little practice to gain the skill to use these, but they give you a more refined product. You can use the tart pans with the removable bottoms with these recipes if you like, but you should at least give the flan ring a shot. It’s not that difficult to master and it’s a skill that you can show off to your friends.

    Rubin has done much to change the baking aesthetic and he should be applauded.

    By buying his book. Which doesn’t seem to be in print. But is still available if you look.

    And if you’re ever in NYC…

    Handling inconsistencies in the restaurant

    One thing about restaurants – it’s constantly changing. Most restaurants have an SOP (standard operating procedure), but it’s the nature of the business that doing things one way one day often don’t work in a different situation. And everyone has a bright idea about how things work better.

    Sometimes it’s a new manager who’s come in from a different system which had a “better” way, or sometimes it’s a lightbulb that goes on over the head of a server during preshift and they just have to share with the class. Sometimes it’s corporate which feels the need to justify their salary by “doing something”. And sometimes, it’s a guest or a co-worker that does something so outrageous that it justifies changing a policy.

    All a server can do is go with the flow. Even if you think it’s a stupid idea, you need to follow the new policy, directive or request. After all, guess what? You might be wrong. It might be a great idea after all. But more importantly, you don’t want management to give you an excuse for writing you up.

    There are times where you might need to stand up for your rights, i.e. in the case where they make a major change like paying the servers on a weekly check instead of letting them take home their tips, or changing the tipout structure, or deciding to charge you for the credit card fee. Just keep in mind that if you persist in challenging them on things like this, you should have an escape hatch, especially if you push it. If you threaten to quit, you should have a place to go. Even if you don’t, they can make you want to quit by shafting you on shifts or seating if you continue to vocalize your displeasure.

    The most maddening thing is when a policy changes and then 6 months later it changes back. Things like this often happen on the spur of the moment in a preshift when everyone thinks it’s a good idea but then someone in power who wasn’t at the meeting has to deal with the fallout 4 months later. Then, suddenly, even though you remember, you can’t get anyone to back you up because they’ve already forgotten about that meeting months ago. If that happens, just sigh and give in. Unless it was supported by something in writing, it’s unlikely that you will win the day.

    Which brings me to this – keep a folder. Why shouldn’t you – they keep one on you, right? You should keep anything that’s handed out to you, especially if it’s a directive from corporate. You’ll never know when it might come in handy. This happened to me a while back. We had a new manager (promoted from server) who was big on structure and order.  (S)he started doing monthly notes where (s)he consolidated directives from our corporate training office (which corporate seemed to be doing almost daily) and local house policies (which seemed to be evolving hourly) and gave us monthly “service notes” which specifically outlined things that we needed to do. One of them was something that our national corporate trainer had decreed – the giant wedges of cake that we served would now have a steak knife in the cake for presentation.

    About a month later, the chef saw me going out with the knife stuck in the top of the cake (I like to make a joke about “It was Col. Mustard…in the dining room…with a knife” to my tables and most of them find it funny, but only if they’ve played the game Clue in the past). He stopped me andasked me what in the hell I thought I was doing. You see, the new training directive only went to the front of the house because training of FOH and BOH is split between two people at the corporate level. We did the “I was told that this is what we were supposed to do” – “Who told you that” dance for a minute and I let it drop. I then went to my folder and produced the August “Service Notes”. I said, “Here it is in black and white”. I wouldn’t have had to do that if others had backed me up. But nobody seemed to know about this directive as it was one note out of about 40 on a 3 page outline of our “service policies”. It was buried among the “tablecloth seam sides down” and “black napkins will be folded during preshift and provided to the guest upon request” type entries. I guess I was the only one who noticed. 

    So, always keep anything that’s passed out to you in writing. Rarely do they give you something in writing when something changes on the fly. If you happened to be off that day, you might not “get the memo” on it. If you’ve got it in writing, at least you can say, “This is what we were told and here it is in writing – is there a handout that I didn’t get”? It’s like a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card.

    PS, most of the time, you’re not going to get something in writing. Most changes in restaurants happen almost on a whim.

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    Photo by doublewinky from Flickr. All rights reserved.