So You Want To Be A Waiter

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

Daily Archives: June 18, 2009

A milestone – 2000 hits

2,000 hits!  More than 1,300 this month alone already. It took me the first full month just to get over 700. Who’da thunk it? Sure, that’s a drop in the bucket for some blogs, but I’m pleased that folks are checking out the blog and are even coming back for more.

Or perhaps there’s one little guy with nothing to do all day who’s sitting in his basement hitting my blog between hitting the bong. Who knows?

Incidentally, for those who have asked, no, I haven’t been working on my book. However, I’m guessing that some of the posts here will end up in the book in one form or another. In a way, it’s been helpful to bring up issues that I hadn’t thought about including in the book. I’m still sitting at a very editable 17,000 words in the manuscript.

So, once again, I appreciate all of the interest and hope you tell your friends, link my blog or just plan check in everyday.

Wine topic of the day – German wine regions – The Mosel, final part

This month, we’ve concentrated on the Mosel region of Germany. I hope that the previous posts have given you a broad overview of he region and has inspired you to investigate further.  I avoided getting too specific about the high end “dessert wines” of Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese and Eiswine, mainly because I rarely get to drink them, since they’re way out of my price range. Let’s just say that they are highly concentrated, almost syrupy sugarbombs (in a good way). If  you’re interested in them, and your pocketbook allows, you can google and get some specific flavor profiles and recommendations.

Robert Parker has rated the Mosel vintages in this manner:

2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996 1995 1994 1993 1992 1991

Mosel 97T 93T 91 92T 95T 76I 86E 92T 88R 91T 90R 94R 91R 87C 88R

Key: Caution  Early maturity  Tannic or too young   Ready  Irregular

He ranked the key turn of the 90s vintages as:

1990 – 96R, 1989 – 91C and 1988 – 92R

Keep in mind that Parker will change his rankings up or down later if the wine hasn’t worked out the way it seemed initially, which happens occasionally. This is his most recent series of ratings:

THE WINE ADVOCATE VINTAGE GUIDE 1970-2008 Date:05/13/2009

Now, I’d like to finish with some key winemakers and bottlings of the region, courtesy of “The Wine Doctor” (in no particular order). This doesn’t imply that bottlers not listed shouldn’t be on the list, just an acknowledgement of space constraints.

J.J. Prum

jj prum

Fritz Haag


Dr. Loosen




Egon Müller\


Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt


Weingut von Hovel


Markus Molitor

markus molitor weissburgunder 2003

Jon. Jos. Christoffel Erben


New link added – Restaurant Gal

Posting from as far south as you can get in the United States (and formerly from the very cool state of Colorado), this Key West bartender has some great stories and trenchant insights on the behavior of Homo Barstoolis, that species of Homo Sapiens known for a dominant lizard brain,over-sized ego and poorly developed and alcohol-impared ability to summon common sense and decency. The part of the brain that controls social functions is also rather fractured in this showy member of the human genus and thus, it’s an infinitely fascinating species to watch in the wild, especially during its mating rituals.

Let’s all welcome R.G. to the fold with a hardyZum Wohl! Click the link under Waiter Stuff. Now.


Food ingredient of the day – galangal


What in the hell is galangal?

Don’t worry – it’s not as weird as you think, but if you like Thai food and wonder why your homemade Pad Thai never tastes exactly like the Pad Thai at your favorite restaurant, this could very well be the reason. You’re probably using regular ginger for your dish. While that’s acceptable, you might want to see if you can get ahold of galangal, which is “Thai ginger”. It looks a lot like ginger, but it’s quite pink.

On the left is young galangal and on the right is old galangal (the kind you’re likely to find in the store if you can even find it).


It’s a species of the genus Alpinia, which includes the more common types of ginger. However, it’s got quite a different taste than ginger. It’s milder, without that very sharp “hot” flavor of ginger. It’s got a more citrusey overtone and it’s a little sweeter. The Thai name for it is Kha. The famous Tom Kha Gai literally means “Soup with galangal and chicken”. If you see Kha in a Thai recipe title, it means that you’re supposed to use galangal. Of course, you can always substitute ginger; it just won’t be as authentic tasting.


It’s not easy to find in many communities. You can even get dried Kha, but it’s not as effective. You should try to get the root whenever possible. The unused root can be frozen and used for a year (it will lose a little of its flavor over time, even when frozen).

You might find yourself using galangal in place of ginger in other recipes as well.

Galangal is your friend. Invite it over for a cooking session. You won’t regret it.

10% a waiter can get behind

Many waiters, especially new ones, don’t think about the fact that most waiters will owe money on April 15th to the IRS. Those of us who do tend to block it out throughout the year.

Why do we owe money at tax time? Why is a refund out of the question for most waiters?

The only place that tax withholding can take place for most servers is through the hourly wage. If you’re in a state that allows restaurants to pay you $2.13 an hour, you not only get $0.00 paychecks, you might not realize that you’re in the hole for withholding. In fact, the more tips you make, the further in the hole you get because the less taxes get withheld for that amount of income. The other thing that works against you is that Medicare and Social Security get taken out first. Whatever is left over is earmarked for Federal Income Tax withholding.

Here’s an example from my most recent paycheck (covers a two week pay period):

Tips: $1321.30

Hours at $2.13/hr  51.53 hours  $109.76

Training hours $6.55/hr (we get paid for mandatory meetings) 2 hours $13.10

I had a total of $122.86 in hourly wages.

Medicare – $20.73

Social Security – $89.54

Federal – $12.59!

As you can see, I ran out of hourly money. I was only able to get about 1% of my income withheld. Since most of us are going to owe between 10% – 15% of our gross wages after all deductions, it’s no surprise that most of us are going to owe between $1000 – $4000 at tax time. 

So now we come to the 10% figure quoted in the subject header.

Let’s say you make a hundred bucks in a shift. You should take a $10 bill from your wad of cash (or 10 ones if you want, but I’d save those for tomorrow’s bank) and put it in an envelope. If you make $40, put $4 aside. If you’re one of the rare people who can put money aside and not touch it during lean times, you’ll find that at the end of the year, you’ll have pretty close to what you need to pay the government. However, if you’re like the rest of us, you’ll probably want to make estimated quarterly payments to the IRS. You can call their hotline or go on line to get all of the details. They even have a new system of on-line electronic payment called EFTPS. You can literally make payments every single day if you want. You can even assign payments to specific years, but be careful – sometimes it’s hard to keep track of where you’ve put your money. The worst thing you can do, other than doing nothing, is to co-mingle that money with the rest of your money. Sure…you’re going to make a payment to the IRS next week from your bank account. Sure…you’ll put 20% in next shift because you want to have drinking money tonight. Right. Been there, done that.

Which brings us to “pay me first”. If you take the money and segregate it immediately, you won’t miss it or blow it when you go out with your friends.

I haven’t addressed those who live in states that require actual minimum wage like Washington State, California and the like (or states in the middle that pay $4 an hour). Not being privy to the actual figures, I can’t speak to specifics, but I’d suspect that it would be handy for waiters in those states to at least put aside 5% for taxes.

I also can’t speak to the specifics of those waiters who get paid by paycheck instead of taking money home with them daily. I’d assume that your withholdings are covered, but you need to ask your management. Or, you could look on your paycheck and if you see figures in the withholding block like the ones I quoted from mine, you can probably assume that you’re also not getting enough withholding taken out.

Finally, this is one reason that I chuckle to myself when I, or anyone else says, “I made $100 last night”. Not really – you only made $90. You should start getting in the mindset of mentally subtracting 10% from what you think you make. It’ll save your ass at tax time.

Just ask me.  I’ll tell you what a bummer it is to be paying the IRS $75 a month for last year’s taxes and having to pay an extra couple of hundred bucks in fees and penalties above what i would have owed. Yep, even old guys sometimes don’t ever learn.