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Reflections on the care & training of waiters ...

Who makes the best waiters ?........answer, waiters ! Simple enough one would think but unfortunately they are few and far between. Actors between jobs may act at being waiters, students play at being waiters and sometimes they are very good at it but in the end there is no substitute for a real professional waiter, the type that makes their life’s purpose the care and service of their guests.

A ‘real waiter’ never walks to the kitchen empty handed or past his tables without scanning each to ascertain whether anything is needed or needs clearing away. The amateur may well get everything to the table without incident but is rarely found checking the other tables to see what needs doing next. The guest does not have to attract the real waiters attention he is always there when needed, while the amateurs often appear to be wearing blinkers.

A real waiter can store orders in his head and know in an instant what each guest has ordered and how far their meal has progressed. He will remember the guests special requests and idiosyncrasies from their last visit and keep the chef informed. If a mistake happens in his ‘section’ it is a calamity and not a joke.

The real waiter will have started his career laying tables and polishing cutlery. By the time he is allowed to converse with guests he will know the menu and chefs cooking style back to front, often better that the new or junior kitchen members. Be able to describe each dish in an appetising manner without being condescending or superfluous. He will be able to advise guests and guide them through the menu so they have a balanced meal. A real waiter will be a fountain of reassurance ensuring his guests that the line of communication with the chef is open and working well and that the chef is personally taking care of their table.

A real waiter gives service but is not servile. They are friendly but not over familiar. They hear everything but comment on nothing. They are the very epitome of diplomacy, treading the fine line between the guests wants and expectations and the restaurants ability to deliver.

Nothing fazes a real waiter and nothing is more exhilarating to a real waiter than a full restaurant. Amateurs on the other hand get that ‘rabbit caught in the headlights’ look on their faces when faced with what essentially the restaurant has been designed for….being full !

Why are real waiters so few and far between down under ?...mainly because it is still not considered a ‘profession’ rather a vehicle for earning money. Of course there are some real waiters but we wont have a quorum of them until the job is taken seriously as a profession.

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