So You Want To Be A Waiter

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

Daily Archives: September 1, 2009

Cookbook writer and food entrepeneur Shelia Lukins – RIP

Sheila Lukins dies at 66; co-author of ‘The Silver Palate’ cookbook

Lukins helped popularize gourmet cooking in America’s home kitchens. She also ran a pioneering gourmet takeout shop and wrote a column for Parade magazine.

By Valerie J. Nelson

September 1, 2009

Sheila Lukins, an influential cookbook author whose “The Silver Palate” demystified and helped popularize gourmet cooking in America’s home kitchens, has died. She was 66.

Lukins, who also operated a pioneering gourmet takeout shop, died Sunday at her home in New York City, announced Parade magazine, where she had been food editor.

Lukins was diagnosed with brain cancer three months ago.

“The Silver Palate” is one of the top 10 best-selling cookbooks of all time. She wrote it with her business partner, Julee Rosso, in 1979, two years after they opened one of the nation’s first gourmet takeout shops, in New York City.

Read the rest of the article at the L.A. Times here:,0,314140,full.story


The difference between a void and a comp

Sometimes, waiters are confused about the difference.

A void means that something is removed as if it never existed.

A comp means that something was served but had to be taken off.

The difference is important in that a comp becomes part of the costs of the restaurant whereas a void doesn’t.

An example:

I accidentally ring in a N.Y Strip instead of filet. I immediately realize that I’ve miss-rung an item so I rush back and tell the chef, who puts the kabosh on the steak going on the grill. We didn’t cook it and so it was never “wasted”. Therefore, it’s a void. I re-ring the proper steak and all is well.

I don’t immediately realize that I made a mistake, so the steak gets cooked. Unfortunately, it’s at the end of the night and we can’t sell it. It gets tossed. That’s a comp (there are different categories of comps, as we will see shortly).

I don’t immediately realize that I made a mistake, but it’s in the middle of the rush, so the broiler person can actually use it for a different order. This is a void because the steak gets used.

The steak is miss-cooked. I ordered medium rare but the steak comes out medium well and we have to cook another steak. This is a comp.

I made a mistake and ordered medium well when the guest said medium rare. Another steak has to be cooked. This is a comp.

I made a mistake and ordered medium well when the guest said medium rare, but someone else made a mistake and the broiler person is able to use it for my steak. This is a void.

The owner’s brother-in-law comes in and the manager-on-duty decides to take off the steak as a goodwill gesture. This is a comp.

The MOD decides to take off an entree because the guests had to wait to be seated even though they had a reservation. This is a comp.

It’s important to get it right because a comp counts against inventory and can skew food costs or mess up inventory counts. A void has no effect whatsoever except to give management an indication about which servers are sloppy in their ringing up of food. Some managers will judge a server by the number, or lack of, voids that have to be done for them.

They are concerned about this because voids (and comps for that matter) can enable theft because a void (or comp) can be the fraudulent giving away of product to friends or valued guests (it was served but the server gets it taken off of the bill using subterfuge or fraudulent reasons). Also, if it’s a cash sale, the waiter can take payment but then get an unwitting manager to take off an item right as the guests are leaving. If this happens, the waiter gets to pocket the cash for the item without anyone being the wiser.

Plus, if a waiter rings in a lot of items that are wrong, this can be an indication of their general proficiency.

Hope this clarifies the difference. A manager will appreciate it if you can tell them upfront whether it’s a void or a comp.

Ten funniest things to say to a waiter

Thanks to Ocean Guy for the mention

I’m honored to be listed in “The Best of the Rest of Top Chef Bloggers”.

I hope my readers will check out his blog.

Ocean Guy

Cookbook of the day – The Seducer’s Cookbook

Seducer's cookbook

The Seducer’s Cookbook

by Mimi Sheraton

Publisher Random House (1963)

This was a gag gift given to me by my GM one Christmas. I’m not sure what the message was supposed to be or what his image of me was, but I’m glad to have received it because it’s a cheeky little product of pre-Kennedy assassination America.

This was the time of a freeing of the mores of the 50s and the promise of a more urbane and worldly US. Jackie Kennedy was the hostess and style editor of America and, although we didn’t know it at the time, JFK was working his way through the distaff Washington and Hollywood elite while his wife was seducing America at large.

This book bridges both of those themes with humor, panache and a nod and a wink by famed food critic and writer, Mimi Sheraton.

It’s illustrated in that wonderful line drawing early 60s cartoon style by Paul Coker. You might not know the name unless you’re a MAD Magazine freak, but his sparse style helped define the cartoon style of the early 60s:

Coker 007

His artwork really establishes the time, place and atmosphere of the book.

Oh yeah, the book – it’s very witty. You get little bon mots as How to Seduce Your wife – “A good rule of thumb here is to keep thinking what you would do if you were after a woman who was not your wife and then stick as close to that program as possible”. It’s not quite Oscar Wilde, but it’ll do in a pinch.

It’s not just for the sleazy male seducer with the cravat and bearskin rug either. There’s plenty of tricks that the evil woman will pull off to bag her prey, both sides of the equation being represented by a lot of perfectly good 60s recipes, some obvious and some not so.

So, I’m really lucky to have this First Edition library covered treasure from a time almost forgotten. I’m eternally grateful to that GM for enhancing my bookshelf.

BTW, this edition is dedicated to Dick.

I think it’s fortunate that she was married to a guy named Richard, whom she apparently seduced well enough to still be married to him lo these 50 years.