So You Want To Be A Waiter

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

Tag Archives: review

New link posted – Waitersfriend – A friend in waiting

I highly recommend this fairly new blog from three waiters in Australia.

This blog appears to have a lot of potential, focusing on practical information for waiters of all stripes. In that regard, the goal seems similar to my own blog – lots of culinary information and advice for the working waiter.

The tab, “a Waiter’s Glossary” is a great compendium of culinary terms that waiters should be familiar with. Not only does it cover the basics, there are a lot of more obscure culinary terms that can expand a waiter’s knowledge exponentially. So far, it’s just food-related items. I hope that they expand the glossary to include many of the arcane terms that we waiters use in our workdays. I have made such a list on this very blog and they are welcome to add the terms to their glossary.

This blog should prove to be a valuable reference for all of us, and so, I proudly add this to my blogroll and suggest that everyone of my readers check it out sooner rather than later.

Cookbook of the day – Le Répertoire de La Cuisine

Le Repertoire

Repertoire de La Cuisine, Le: A Guide to Fine Foods

byLouis Saulnier

  • Publisher Barron’s Educational Series (December 31, 1977)
  • ISBN 10: 0812051084
  • ISBN 13: 978-0812051087
  • I found this handy little volume yesterday in my local used bookstore. I suspect that it’s going to prove handy as a reference in the future.

    It assumes that you know how to do certain things like poaching, reducing, masking, etc.  Quantities aren’t listed and the reader is on his or her own in determining how much of something to add to the “recipes” or determining cooking times or order of cooking, which are along the lines of Escoffier. As Jacques Pépin points out in the preface, “The professional chef will use the Répertoire mostly as an aide mémoire (reminder) to find out the necessary ingredients for a garnish, as well as to get the correct spellings for different proper names and names of dishes”. he goes on to point out that amateurs can also use the “pamphlet” to “clarify confusion” and simplify the organization of a menu.

    Whether you need the definition of ancienne (“small braised onions without colouring”) or come across a reference to “Turtles Baltimore” (“cooked pieces of turtle, tossed in nut brown cooked butter, dressed in cocotte, with the thickened gravy, and a glass of Xérès wine”), this book covers the gamut of esoteric and obscure French cooking terms. If you’d like to do filets mignons marly, you’ll quickly discover that it’s filets cooked in butter, coated with madeira half-glaze and garnished with artichoke bottoms filled with carrot balls. You’ll find it quickly because each main ingredient is followed with a multitude of preparations.

    This is a small format book (hence the use of the word “pamphlet” in the preface) and is a handy helpful adjunct to Escoffier.

    If you can find this hardback and jacketed book for $2.00, as I did, you’d be a fool to pass it up. and if you have to buy it from Amazon for $12, it’s worth it if you wish to have a complete culinary reference library.

    Frank Bruni interviewed at Zagat


    A critical talk with Frank Bruni

    In the foodie circles of New York City, Frank Bruni needs no introduction: up until last week, he was The New York Times’ restaurant critic. Upon the occasion of the release of his memoir, Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater, in which he confronts his dysfunctional relationship with food, he chatted with the Buzz about what it was like being the most powerful critical voice in the New York restaurant scene.

    Read the interview here:

    Jeffery Chodorow

    “February 27, 2007 — RESTAURANT mogul Jeffrey Chodorow has put out an all-points alert on the Times’ food critic. “Frank Bruni is banned from all my [29] restaurants,” he told The Post’s Braden Keil. “I’m telling my staff that the first person to recognize Bruni at any of my restaurants will be given a free trip for two to the Caribbean.” The Kobe Club owner, who bought a full-page ad in the Times blasting Bruni over a zero-star review, will also post Bruni’s photo on his Web site”.

    From The New York Post.

    Cookbook of the day – All Around The World Cookbook

    All Around the World Cookbook








    Sheila Lukins all around the world cookbook

    by Shelia Lukins 

  • Publisher Workman Publishing Company; illustrated edition edition (January 5, 1994)
  • ISBN 10: 1563052377
  • ISBN 13: 978-1563052378
  • It’s weird. I’ve had this book laying out for while because I had planned to eventually review it. I’ve seen it subliminally as part of the furniture for about a month now.

    It’s been a little while since I posted a review and so yesterday, when I had an unusually early day off in the week, I decided to catch up a little. I actually looked at the book and considered doing it, but decided to do another book. It was the first time that I had actually looked at the book and actively considered picking it up and reviewing it since I pulled it out over a month ago.

    It wasn’t a couple of hours later that I got the word that Lukins had died.


    So, to the book itself.

    It’s a nice roundup of food from around the world, gathered during a year year world journey by Ms. Lukins. There’s nothing earthshaking in terms of uncovering secret local cuisines – I mean, harissa isn’t exactly a secret, right? But it’s a handy volume to grab if you’re stuck for a menu item or a theme for a dinner.

    It’s a large and breezy volume that avoids a lot of pedantry (like the kind you find on this very blog!). It’s the result of a publisher sending a food writer around the world to build a specific book, and, as such, it’s a pretty personal view of what a middle-aged upper-middle class lady might experience from a cuisine standpoint. She ain’t no Zimmer or Bourdain, but that doesn’t make this nice bit of compendium any less useful, with some caveats of course.

    There’s concise information on beers, wines and alcohols of the world in the book and background information on the different cultures. And there are some unusual recipes, such as a Chilean Quinoa Tabouleh, a grain salad usually more associated with the Mediterranean and the Middle East, not south America. And the substitution of quinoa (please pronounce this KEEN-wah) for bulgar wheat is a nutritional upgrade. The salad even adds avocado and sweet corn. This is Lukin’s own fusion of two disparate continents;  it’s not an indigenous dish. You’ll find quite a few recipes like this, so, when you read this book, realize that it’s not just a collection of local recipes. there a lot of recipes “inspired” by locales. and there’s very little “authentic” about most of the recipes. They are tailored to American tastes. kitchens and  markets.

    This is a handy, if not particularly indispensable, book to have available when you need a little inspiration. Just don’t mistake it for a “reference work”. 

    PS, yes the title is exactly as reproduced at the top of the page.  No possessive apostrophe and all lower case letters (at least according to The Library of Congress listing).

    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.


    Cookbook of the day – The Barbecue! Bible


    The Barbecue! Bible

    by Steven Raichlen

  • Publisher Workman Publishing Company (January 6, 1998)
  • ISBN 10: 1563058669
  • ISBN 13: 978-1563058660
  • This was the first of the big barbecue books from Steven Raichlen. This is more in the style of BBQ USA than How To Grill. In other words, rather than being a photographic step by step pictorial tutorial, this is more narrative. The only photographs you’ll find are of people, places and things, not dishes or ingredients. You’ll find some illustrative woodcuts peppered throughout, but this is as much travelogue as it is recipe book. Don’t get me wrong – there are hundreds of recipes. But there are also descriptions of famous restaurants throughout the world, good tips on things like larding meat, and , of course, the obligatory section on the nuts and bolts and coals of grilling and barbecueing. He starts by acknowledging the difference between the two terms grilling and barbecueing and by no means is this intended to simply be a treatise on barbecuing. It’s clear that we Americans tend to use the terms interchangeably anyway, even if they aren’t strictly the same thing. How many times have you been invited to a “barbecue” where the only things served off of a fire were steaks, hot dogs and burgers? Technically, you should have been invited to a “grilling”.

    In any case, while there’s some redunancy if you already own the other two books that I’ve mentioned, all three books are reasonably enough priced where you should get all three (you’ll end up with about 1500 pages of recipes and information about the world of cooking over flame, coals and wood). You should even check out some of his other books as well. The only other book of his that I have is his very early volume Miami Spice, and I’ll be reviewing that in the future.  The three books that I’ve already reviewed and mentioned in this post are definitely must-haves. The others are optional.

    The great thing about these books is the care that Raichlen takes in highlighting barbecue and grilling techniques and recipes from around the world and different barbecue styles right here in the US. You’ll find many exotic and wonderful creations here, whether you want to reproduce Afghan styled chicken, actually an Indian dish, or Saigon street kabobs. 

    Oh yeah, you can watch him on some PBS stations as well.

    saigon grill

    Image from “noodlepie” at Flickr:

    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.


    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.


    Cookbook of the day – Sauternes



    by Bernard Ginestet

    Publisher:Jacques Legrand S.A. Paris ©1990

    ISBN-  0-582-07544-0

    ISBN- 2-905969-39-3

    This is a book that you might have to dig for. It’s a mostly European-distributed book from the series Bernard Ginestet’s Guide to the Vineyards of France. It was translated by John Meredith and has a foreword by Nicholas Faith, who points out that, Unfortunately, the French edition went to press before Bernard could discuss the biggest single revolution in the history of the great sweet wines of the bands of the Ciron: the way in which the technique of cryo-extraction has swept the vineyard, even such vineyards as Chateau d’Yquem, in the past few years.

    Other than that topic, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better discussion of the wine history of the region as well as a rundown of the chateaux of Sauternes, down to a discussion of the soil composition . Most get at least a cursory examination, some very extensive discussions, and at the very least, a listing of the various statistics and whether or not they allow visits.

    There’s a great map of the region, color-coded according to soil type. The photo on the cover shows a typical bunch of grapes which clearly shows the contrast between “healthy” grapes and the raisinesque botytris-attacked “raisins”. There is a comprehensive discussion about botrytis and Ginestet would seem to hope that the popular term “noble rot” disappear from the lexicon. In fact, he points out that this isn’t what we normally would call “rot”, as it doesn’t attack dead tissue but living, healthy grapes. The grapes end up getting picked in two different categories of decrepitude, shrivelled and dessicated. This necessitates constant pickings, and the price of the product is a reflection of this reality.

    You get a detailed report on the meteorology of the region as you would expect from a book covering a French region, as dependent on terroir as they are.

    The language is what you expect from translated French, lugubrious and academic. It achieves this without becoming treacly or haughty. There are copious photographs, which give you a sense of the culture of the region. There are even 5 “savory dishes” recipes from regional chefs in French; recipes that utilize Sauternes in the dish.

    I don’t recommend this book for people only getting into wine. This is for the intermediate wine enthusiast or better. It’s not that it’s above the head of a beginner, it just goes into more detail about a small but significant region of French wine, a region that the beginner might not even encounter, as most restaurants don’t even offer a Sauternes on their wine list. Additionally, it’s not a common book and might be difficult to find at a decent price (I was lucky enough to find mine for $3.00 – would I have piad $20 for it? Probably not, although for a wine expert it would be worth the price).