So You Want To Be A Waiter

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

Daily Archives: July 1, 2009

Food item of the day – ghee

I’m surprised that more American households don’t have ghee in their pantry.

What’s ghee, you ask?  Ghee is clarified butter that has had the milk solids and excess moisture removed through cooking. The milk solids sink to the bottom, the water rises to the top and the middle layer is removed and allowed to cool. Once cooled, it has the texture and body of a soft butter spread. If prepared properly, it can be stored in an airtight container and doesn’t have to be refrigerated.  It has a sweet, nutty flavor that goes well in a lot of cooking, plus, it has a much higher burning point than many oils, so it’s useful when frying. It’s also considered a little healthier than many poly-unsaturated oils. It’s a “saturated oil”, a non-trans fat. It’s basically the essense of butter.

I like it because it can be stored in the pantry and doesn’t have to go in the cooler. It’s always at room temperature (read spreadable) and I actually prefer the flavor to regular butter. It’s a staple of Indian cooking (the name ghee is derived from Sanskrit). Naan bread is best when made with ghee. Ghee is also a great substitute for oil when making rice. I like to use on bread and toast just as I would regular butter.

Ghee isn’t difficult to make at home but you have to use typical canning techniques to avoid contamination. I prefer to buy it. It’s a little expensive but it goes a long way because it’s more concentrated a flavor than butter is. This is the brand that I find most often, but there are other brands that you might see in international markets:


Stay away from “vegetable ghee”, which sounds healthier because of the name, but isn’t because it’s a trans fat, which we know isn’t very healthy at all. It’s actually less healthy and is used because it’s cheap. You can be sure that it’s real butter ghee if it has “cow” somewhere on the label. the Ziyad is made from butter, so it’s good to go.

Ghee – it’s something you should consider making a special place in your pantry for.

Cookbook of the day – How To Grill

How To Grill

How to Grill: The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques

by Steven Raichlen


  • Publisher: Workman Publishing Company; illustrated edition edition (May 1, 2001)
  • ISBN-10: 0761120149
  • ISBN-13: 978-0761120148

    Perhaps you’ve seen Steven Raichlen on his show Primal Grill. If you liked it, you’ll love this book. Lavishly photographed, with step-by-step photographs, you’ll learn by watching, almost as if he were over your shoulder. You’ll learn how to barbeque a whole pig, how to build different types of fires, how to judge the temperature of the grill using the hand technique (no, you don’t rest your hand on the grill!).  He covers pulled pork (one of my specialties), and does a reasonable job of covering the world’s different grilling techniques, from jerk to churrasco to yakitori. Even experienced grillmeisters can benefit from this colorful book. This isn’t an “artsy” book – the photographs are instructional in nature, not evocative, although there are some shots of grilled meats and veggies that are likely to get your pulse racing.

    It seems appropriate on July 1st to recommend that everyone pick up this book before their 4th of July festivities. You might find something “out-of-the-box” with which to dazzle your guests.


    How to make an extra thousand a year

    There’s one thing certain about most servers (yours truly included) – it’s really frustrating to get a table at 9pm, especially when your last table closed out 30 minutes ago but the management hasn’t cut sections yet. The tendency is to say “Gee, I have to stay an extra hour and a half for a deuce that might only pay me $10”. And that’s a reasonable thing to think, believe me. Sometimes, if we get the chance, we’ll dish the table off to a closer or someone who already still has some tables working.

    It’s hard to get out of this mindset, especially if you’re one of those people who likes to go out after your shift, or you have a turnaround lunch shift the next day. And I’m not saying that it’s unreasonable – that you should be glad to stay late and never think about dishing the table off.


    …you can shift your thinking a little and get a payoff by hanging in there. There are several ways that this can pay off. First, dishing off even a $10 table a couple of times a week can add up. If you hang in there, now you have another thousand dollars in your pocket at the end of the year. Yes, it means another hundred hours of work a year, so that’s worth thinking about. 

    You might also try to think of it as paying for a lot of your tipout for the night.

    And if you work in a high-end restaurant, you certainly risk losing a lot more than $10 on a deuce. As anyone who works in such a restaurant knows, any table any time can be the one that makes your night and changes it from a $100 night to a $150 -$200 night, even with a small table. I can certainly testify to that. One thing to consider is that some of the heavy hitters in your restaurant like to come in after the rush.

    This is a quality-of-life issue that everyone has to make for themselves. I’ve certainly been a serial table-dropper offender in the past myself. But I do it less and less. I find myself changing my mindset in subtle ways. I look at it as a way to do my closing sidework at a leisurely pace. I look at it as paying for my tipout. I look at it as “well, it’s only an extra hour or two and, who knows, I might pick up an extra table or two from people who are bustin’ to get out on the town”. 

    This is just another way to look at getting by during these times of shrinking business. Remember, there’s almost always someone who is thinking of getting the hell out, so, if you can come to an accommodation with yourself, you could definitely profit from someone else’s “lifestyle choice”.

    It’s another option that you have available to you; one that you might not have considered from all angles.

    Oh yeah, one final thing to consider – management will come to depend on you as someone who doesn’t mind staying and doesn’t bitch about getting that last table. This can subtly influence their seating habits and you might start getting a higher quality of table in general.