So You Want To Be A Waiter

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

Daily Archives: July 7, 2009

Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants profits down – waaaay down

Like 90% down. Gordon had to sell his Ferarri as well as pump millions of UK pounds into his restaurant business. I wonder if we’ll see a Donald Trump called in to pay him a visit and perform a miracle, as Gordon does in his TV series.

Here’s the whole story:

Apparently he still has his Bentley though. British before Italian – that’s the motto:


Cookbook of the day – The Art of Creole Cooking (1962)

Creole Cooking

The Art of Creole Cooking

by William I. Kaufman and sister Mary Ursula Cooper, O.P.

  • Publisher Kessinger Publishing, LLC (September 12, 2007)
  • ISBN 10: 0548387699
  • ISBN 13: 978-0548387696
  • The cover subtitle of this book is accurate: A delicious composite of familiar and not-so-familiar Creole recipes documented with pertinent historical comments.

    I have the original edition of this, complete with the original dustcover pictured above. Long out of print, it has been republished by the above publisher in 2007, so it is once again available to the discerning foodie. Currently, there’s at least one copy of the book with original dustcover available for $40, but there are several available without dustcover at eBay for far less. If you are happy with a paperback reprint, the book will set you back around $20.

    Before we get into the book itself, let’s make clear that Creole cooking isn’t the same as Cajun cooking, even though it shares many characteristics, including reliance on the integral brown roux, used as a foundation ingredient in many dishes in both cuisines. However, Creole cooking integrates Spanish and American Indian flourishes in addition to French and Black influences.

    Basically, Cajuns were more isolated, as you might expect from a group of Acadian ex-pats from Canada. They stuck together and stayed more of a closed culture, and their cuisine generally reflects that. Creoles tended to employ more diverse influences. You might make a broad sweeping generalization (always dangerous, of course) that Cajuns were more rural and Creoles more urban. People who are in the know will tell you that most cuisine that you find in New Orleans proper is actually mostly Creole, rather than Cajun. Creole is a more “refined” cuisine, while Cajun is more “comfort food” (refined not intended to mean that it’s “better”). This makes Creole a better cuisine for restaurant service with its refined sauces and plate presentation possibilities. Cajun is more what you would find at family gatherings, as it’s very “pot-centric” and family-style. Creole also has a Caribbean influence because many Creoles have a Haitian heritage. 

    Tom Fitzmorris, famed New Orleans food critic, has a very sensible primer on the difference between the two, and it’s worth a read:

    Now that we’ve dispensed with this, what about the book? The most famous Creole dish is Shrimp Creole. But Creole cuisine is far more than that, which you will discover when you browse this book. There are many French-based recipes such as Crepes Suzette and Delicieux Poulet au Vin (Delightful Chicken with Wine), made with sherry rather than the red wine that you would expect from a French chicken dish with vin in the title. There is Oyster Stuffing, Braised Pigeons or Doves, Turtle Soup, Porcupines (a tasty little baked confection made from ground pecans, dates, shredded coconut, brown sugar and eggs) and Crackling Corn Bread (which reflects the Black culinary influence).

    Every chapter has specific information about the Creole slant on the following recipes and it’s full of practical information that will help you navigate the cuisine.

    I highly recommend this volume, whether you try to seek out an original copy or simply buy the current reprint.

    Creole boudin

    Creole Boudin (Creole Sausage)

    Quick tip

    When you take back your guest’s check after running the credit card, do two things – look at the signature block and take note of the name. If the signature block says “Check for ID”, ask them for ID when you get back. They will love you for it. And you’ll be one of the few people who ever asks them. This sets you apart from the crowd and is the final cement block in the foundation you have carefully built, a foundation of trust and care for the guest. There’s no way for me to quantify it, but I don’t think that it can do anything but help the tip.

    I also give the check holder back and say something like, “Here you go Ms. Rogers. Thank you”. You’d be surprised how few waiters use the person’s name after having it handed to them on a silver credit card platter. It’s a pretty common adage that there’s nothing that a person likes to hear than his or her name. People almost perk up at the use of their name, especially when they haven’t told you.

    Finally, I also shake their hand and give a little head nod. That’s something that I think seals the professional relationship that you have established.

    One caveat – if it’s a difficult name, you do this at your own risk. Nobody likes their name butchered. I worked with a waiter named Villegas (like the famous golfer). He said that when he dined out, he would even reduce the tip if someone butchered his name by saying VIL e gus instead of Ve JAY gus. And this is a WAITER saying this. So be very careful, and if you have any doubt, don’t do it. I will sometimes give it a shot and say something like, “”Is it Mr. Bu LOAN ya” (for Bologna), as I did Sunday night. The wife perked up and said, with a note of puzzlement and happiness, “You said it exactly right! Nobody ever gets it right”! I turned to the husband and said, “Well, there’s the actor Joe Bologna, so I figured it was probably the same”. what I didn’t say is what i was thinking, “Would people actually think it was Bu LOAN ee like the lunch meat”?

    Start doing these simple things and I think you’ll see better tips. At the very least, you’ll feel a more personal connection with your tables and it will help you recognize and greet guests who come back. It might help you build your call party list.