So You Want To Be A Waiter

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

Daily Archives: July 6, 2009

New link added – The Thairade

First of all, I’m a sucker for a well-turned phrase, double meaning, pun, or clever wordplay. So the name of this blog, The Thairade, would have attacted my attention on its face. But the producer of this blog had the good taste to praise my blog in a comment to a recent post, plus, I have a great affinity toward Thai food, so we’re adding it to ye olde blogroll.

Fortunately, it’s also well-written and witty. It’s also, as I might have said during my times living in Germany, Nagelneu (literally “new nail”, but means brand new or new as a shiny nail), so get in on the ground floor and watch it grow. It’s fairly unique because I haven’t seen any blogs from waiters in ethnic or exotic restaurants. Should be fodder for some interesting stories.

PS, I give it the same number of stars that I demand from my Thai food – 5 stars (Native Thai, extremely hot).


New link added because of post that proves that “The customer isn’t always right”.

For those of you who subscribe to the trope, “The customer is always right”,  I give you counter example, Exhibit A:

And the “punch line” is brilliant.

Here’s the deal. The customer isn’t always right. It’s not right to touch or grab a server without permission, especially when at another table, make unwanted sexual advances or comments to workers, lie about your food or order, bully the waitstaff into giving you special privileges, discounts or other dispensations like honoring coupons that have been expired for months,  lie about being a “friend of the owner” (this one rarely works), take anything off of a tray being carried by someone, interrupt a  waiter while they’re at another table, whistle or snap your fingers at a waiter to gain their attention, refuse to accept that you’ve been cut off, or piss in the sink of the restroom.

Just letting you know. And don’t think that this list inclusive either. That would also be wrong.

Just for the above post, “bitter waiter” gets added to my blogroll. Let’s give them a warm SYWTBAW welcome. Añejo
 neats all around. Limes for those who need them.


Kitchen tool of the day – tabletop convection over/toaster

Convection oven

This is my exact model of convection oven/toaster. There are larger capacity “ovens” but I’ve got a pretty small kitchen, so I wanted a pretty small footprint. Also, I got a refurbished model from Amazon for around $30.

These things are very handy. I still use a toaster for most of my bread slice toasting needs, but I use this for roasting quail, dehydrating peppers, cooking small pork tenderloins, roasting chicken parts and small chickens 3 lbs or less, and my most common use, toasting rolls that I’ve frozen, mostly brought home from the restaurant on Sunday night that are left over from the weekend and about to be tossed.

I’ve got a foolproof way to do this. I pop a frozen roll or two into the microwave for 30 seconds. This warms them up from the middle. Then I set the oven on “toast”, which I have preset for “middle dark” and I throw them in. If the oven hasn’t been on at all, the time is preset for 4min 30sec. I usually move the rolls around a little to keep them from burning on the top and as soon as they’re brown (usually around 3 and a half minutes), I pull them out.They come out just about perfectly toasted and hot and tender in the middle. I do this for frozen bread slices as well.

I like the convection feature for cooking things like chicken breasts and thighs. Quail is a little trickier because it stands so tall in the compartment and you have to be careful that you don’t burn the top part of the bird. It’s perfect for baking just a few cookies or reheating  pizza slices. It looks small, but is surprisingly cavernous for its size. It has a wide variety of controls, including a dehydrating function that works well. You can buy a special dehydrating tray but I find that I haven’t really needed it. I’ve only dehydrated fresh chile peppers with it though.

It’s a very handy device. It sits on top of my microwave, so it actually doesn’t take up any countertop space.

There are many good brands and a variety of sizes. You should get the largest size that your counter-top will accommodate, because some of them are large enough to roast a whole chicken larger than 3 lbs or bake a small pizza. The DeLonghi that I have has worked perfectly for over a year, and, even though it was refurbished, came packaged as looking brand new. I don’t think Amazon has them at the moment, but it’s worth being on the lookout of them being run as a special. Most decent brand new tabletop convection ovens run between $75 – $250, but even if you have to buy a new one, they are worth their weight in gold. They’re much more efficient than using your regular stove oven for many tasks.


For Technorati users and others

If you use Technorati for blog searching, I am now registered there.

Since I use a pre-packaged theme here at Word Press, I’m not sure if I can add a button for it (I’ll be checking soon). There’s no way for me to add code without going CSS, and I’m not quite prepared to do that at the moment.

So, if you enjoy the blog, I hope that you will link to me so that I can get some “authority”. However, I want you to do this only if you think that I offer useful material.

If you do link to me, let me know so that I can return the favor. I’ll still evaluate your blog to make sure that it’s “link worthy”, but if it’s reasonably worthy, you’ll get a link.

Thanks for your consideration and I hope that everyone has a great week!

Cookbook of the day – The New Professional Chef


The New Professional Chef

by The Culinary Institute of America


  • Publisher:Van Nostrand Reinhold; 6 Sub edition (November 7, 1995)  
  • ISBN-10: 0471286796
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471286790

    This is the basic textbook of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). It’s big and expensive. I don’t recommend buying it new, but you can sometimes find it at used bookstores for $20 – $30.

    Obviously, it has a lot of basic information about things that a chef needs to know about nutrition, safety concerns, kitchen tools, food prep and food ingredients. However, I think that some of the other books that I’ve recommended that focus on specific things like ingredients, cooking techniques for specific cuisines, etc. is money better spent.

    I’m recommending this book to those who have the occasional need to produce food for large gatherings. if you occasionally throw large dinner parties, patio barbecues for family and friends, or do the occasional catering gig, this book is invaluable because it had many many recipes for basic sauces, stocks and classic dishes that are designed for 10 or more people.

    Most restaurant chefs in quality restaurants keep this volume handy, and it’s a short-sighted professional caterer that doesn’t also use this volume often. It’s also useful for the non-pro as well, but only if you cook for large families and gatherings occasionally.

    A little code to Technorati


    And no, this isn’t some secret upselling tip for servers :chuckle:.

    Quick tip

    Yesterday’s quick tip was about being careful to reprint checks. I can hear some of you newbies ask, “Why would you have to reprint a check up to three times if you print a check right before dessert? Wouldn’t the most you would have to reprint it is one time, assuming that they got dessert”?

    Well, a good waiter never assumes that they’re finished. Yeah, yeah, I know that most of the time, you’re hoping that they’re going to leave quickly so that you can get another table. And it’s true, in the middle of the rush, sometimes rather than up-selling, you downplay dessert.

    However, there are plenty of times when the “dessert course” can mean a significantly bigger check, especially if you’re in a more upscale establishment (I know that most newbies won’t be in such a place, but you should still understand that there are times when what you sell post-entree can raise your check significantly).

    There have been times when I’ve asked before they order dessert whether they want coffee and they say no. Then I bring the dessert and halfway into dessert, they realize that they need coffee. So I ring up coffee (printing the check and discarding the previous check that I’ve already printed) and go get it for them. Then, because I had already previously asked them if they wanted Bailey’s with their coffee or port, one or two of them decides that Bailey’s would be nice when the coffee hits the table. So I bring the Bailey’s, having to reprint the check and discarding the old one while I do it. Then I get back to the table and someone decides that port would be nice. So the reprinting check thing happens again. And, as I think I’m finished for sure, two of them decide to cap off the meal with cognac.

    Of course, I don’t mind all of this grand desserting because they’re one of my later tables and the bill has just risen by an extra $60.

    When I get a table that starts doing this, I get back into the selling mode, even if it’s in the middle of a rush, depending on how I’ve read the table during the meal. That’s because, in my current restaurant, you never know where it’s going to end. One of my fellow servers thought they were finished with a deuce when the two businessmen decided to have two glasses of Louis XIII, or as we like to call it in the business, Louis Trey. Those two glasses of cognac are $150 a piece. His deuce, an already nice deuce at $300, doubled instantly. And they never would have done it had he not suggested it and sold it as an experience, even though he thought they were through. He just had a feeling about them based on their demeanor and how they had been ordering through the meal and he rolled the dice. He never gave up on them. and he got a great $120 tip instead of a really nice $60 one.

    I realize that many of you don’t have those kind of selling opportunities. But most of you can upsell things like Bailey’s and Frangelico with coffee. This should be SOP for you. If a table has been drinking any type of alcohol, you should always solicit at least Bailey’s when you solicit coffee. It can mean an extra $20 on your check if you sell two or three of them. and hell, they’re going to have coffee anyway, right? Might as well  make it a $10 coffee instead of a $3 one.

    Obviously, you don’t want to build your check by $20 and lose a turn, because that can cost you another $60 table. So you should be aware when you should and shouldn’t be somewhat aggressive about up-selling the dessert course. Just don’t get in the habit of automatically going into down-selling mode when you pick up the entree plates because you want to get them on their way so that you can get your next table. You just never know. Pick your times and places and then go for it. Don’t forget that a grand dessert finish to a meal will leave the guest with the ultimate dining experience and might very well be reflected in your tip percentage.

    Louis XIII

    Louis Trey, baby.