You Only Live Once

You Only Live Once
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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Do This and Get a Bigger Tip?

I read in a book the other day about influencing people that if you present the bill to a table when you thank the person touch them lightly on the shoulder or forearm that they will tip more.

It has to be so subtle though they will hardly notice you doing it. But subliminally they will notice it and I guess cause of the way people react to being touched and creating a closeness that person they will end up tipping more.

Apparently they did a study of this and the tip went up 2% when the person was touched as opposed to not touched. It has to be so subtle that 1/3 did not even realize they were touched at all.


Monday, November 23, 2015

What I Learned and Knew Already from Today's Show

My guest today was Ron Kalenuik who is a chef, author, teacher, radio and talk show host. He talked a lot about how he became a top chef serving celebrities and so on.

But if you listen to the show what you will find out is that it was not easy at the beginning. He worked upwards of 90 hours a week to learn his craft. But as he states during the show it was all worth it.

Anything you want to do in life is not going to come easy. The sacrifice you make now will pay dividends in the future but you have to keep at it.

You can listen to the show right here at this link  

A great interview that I hope any aspiring chef will tune in and listen. Or anyone else who needs inspiration!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

I Am Keeping My Tables Aware of What is Going On

Whether you are in sales, a server in a restaurant, or in any other service profession the one thing I have always found helpful is letting people know what you are doing.

As a server in a restaurant it can sometimes become very hectic. You go from one table to another trying to do as many things as quick as you can.

Whether it is getting a drink, explaining the features, clearing, or taking an order you cannot do it all at once.

So what I do is usually one thing at a time. If I greet a table perhaps I will ask them if they want bottled water or just tap water to start. When they answer I say let me get that for you and get some bread and when I get back I will let you know what the features are.

This way you have told them exactly what you are going to do. They are not sitting there wondering what's coming next. While I do that I may then take a dessert order from a table or clear the plates away from another one. So when I go back to get the bread I am not going empty handed. Or I am entering a dessert order.

Then I go back to the table with bread and pour the water and give the features. At this point I ask them if they would like a beverage and then I do the same thing all over again. By the time I get back to them they should be ready to order.

I let people all the time know what I am going to do. I say things I will be right back and after they see me run out some hot food I get back to them. Or if they have already ordered appetizers when I go back to a table I tell them while their appetizers are being prepared can I take your main course order so I can remove the menus away so that they have more room when the appetizers come out. If they are reluctant I add do not worry I will make sure you have plenty of time to enjoy your appetizers etc. etc..

I do this so the guest has no surprises and it cuts down on complaints. Subtly you build a rapport with your guest. Sometimes all you do this for is to ask permission to leave the table and do something else higher on the priority list going on inside your head. Then get right back to them.

The less surprises the better is the way I like things to go.

Chateau de Nages 2012

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Now Everybody Eats Out

Back when I was younger in the 60's and 70's people did not go out to eat that often. I remember as a kid once a week my Mom would take me to this restaurant in a shopping center for a Hot Chicken Sandwich. That was the treat of the week. A hot chicken sandwich with chicken gravy, green peas and french fries. It was something I looked forward to every week.

We never went out. Meals were always cooked at home and everyone helped with the dishes and taking out the garbage. That was it.

When I started bar tending and waiting on tables in the late 70's going out to restaurants was something only people with money did. They had the disposable income or company expense account so that they could afford to go out and eat. Eating out was a privilege for the very few.

This is why you had to have experienced waiters and bar tenders serving during this time because these people had money and would run up some pretty big bills. Lousy service was not accepted and not the norm either because during this time you had the gueridon ( table side service when the waiter used to finish cooking and plating the meal at your table ). Or making a caesar salad right in front of you. A lot of waiters came over from Europe having worked in a fine dining restaurant back home.

Nowadays everyone goes out and eats. The day of the family dinner at home has almost become extinct. There are too many. Restaurants of all kinds exists for any pocketbook. From $18 entrees somewhere to more expensive. The only thing though is that the restaurants with the $18 entrees are becoming plentiful whereas the finer dining restaurants are becoming less popular. What comes with that though is waiters and service staff do not need to obtain that much experience before being rushed into a full section. Just rush and get the food out. It is all about the volume.

Nowadays waiters simply are forced to do something they have to do till something else comes along better. With the $18 entree the average check is lower so the need to flip tables becomes all important. Details are missed and with families going out now parents are bringing children at an age that my folks would never have thought to take me to a restaurant.

Employers only want part time as opposed to when I started when it was full time.

The industry complains of lack of trained personnel available. Well with so many restaurants creates a high demand that can hardly be filled.

Maybe if people would just stop opening restaurants at a breakneck speed the industry will correct itself and have enough good people to go around. I doubt that will happen though.

I liked the old days back when I got started.

Seasoning a Carafe

When you have an expensive bottle of wine and you want to aerate or decant it for the guest, in other words pour the wine into a carafe, you should always season the carafe first.

Each time the carafe is used how you clean it can adversely affect the next wine you use it for. There could be some soap residue or even dust build up inside. So to season the carafe you take some house wine such as a Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and pour a couple of ounces in the carafe. Then you spin the wine around so that it comes in contact with the bottom and sides of it. Then when pouring it out you spin the carafe slowly so the wine comes in contact with the thinner top part of the carafe as well.

Doing this gets rid of any soapy residue or dust inside the carafe. Seasoning the carafe this way ensures there will be no detriment to the expensive wine it will be used for. Thus you will avoid the taster saying something like the wine smells off.

This way the wine is protected.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

I Sold An Extra Bottle of Wine Last Night - Here is How I Do It

Last night I was doing this party of 15 people. Some were from Europe and others from Canada and the U.S. They were drinking this Brunello that was going for $145 a bottle.

Just before they were getting their entree I poured what was left of the 3rd bottle. I topped pretty much everyone's glass up when I noticed to the right of the person who chose the wine this guy's wine glass was a little bit low.

I didn't top his up though. I emptied the decanter instead into the other guy's glass ( the wine chooser ). When the entree was served I asked the guy whose glass was low if he would like some more wine. Naturally he said yes and the guy beside him said to me I guess I better open up another bottle.

Now if I had filled his glass up I think everyone would have been happy with their amount. As it turned out I poured pretty much all the 4th bottle anyway.

Always if you can leave someone's wine a little short when topping up the wine and when the entree comes out the host almost always has to okay another bottle if there is one person at the table who needs more wine.

It worked for me last night...

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Hospitality Industry News Network | VoiceAmerica™

The Hospitality Industry News Network | VoiceAmerica™

If you missed the show all about Honey yesterday click on the link to listen to Angelo Prosperi-Porta tell us about his new book.

Did you know the honey bee is becoming less in numbers?

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Changing of the Cutlery

A pet peeve of a waiter is how people do not know what fork or knife to use when eating. Depending on how you are setting your table it always feels like you are constantly replacing a fork or knife that was meant for something else throughout the meal.

For example, let's say where I work we have the small fork on the outside left and the big fork on the inside. On the left of the small fork you have the bread plate with the butter knife. On the right side we just have the one fork usually meant for the main course. If they order soup we just bring the spoon out at the same time.

Now the butter knife is usually not even used because a lot of people just grab the big knife on the right and go for the butter. Or a hot appetizer comes out that really does not need the knife but is meant for the small fork. Most people just go for the big fork right away leaving the small fork for the big entree that follows.

Heaven forbid if you put the steak knife down right away or else they would be using that to butter their bread.

I know the main idea is to change the cutlery once they have ordered and take away any unwanted silver but I tend to do all that before their main course comes out because for sure the utensils they will use will have to be replaced anyway. You wouldn't want the guest to be using a fork or knife smothered in some appetizer served previously to be used for their main course.

A lot of the cutlery we polish every night I am sure at least 20% of it should never have been used. Yes I know I need to take it away at the beginning of the meal. But most of the people now share appetizers so I would have to change the cutlery anyway afterwards. Or they would be asking for extra utensils so they can have their own to share the appetizers. Then the side plates get smothered with stuff other than the bread they are meant for. So you have to bring out extra side plates so they can use them for the starters when they share or bread afterwards.

I am surprised by how many eat out and share everything. It is like a sit down buffet sometimes at the table. Just put the food in the middle and the people pick away at it.

Back in the early days and especially on the ship when it was mandatory to change all the cutlery before the first plate came out it seemed a lot more people knew how to eat and use the right utensil. Fish cutlery, steak knives, and soup spoons, everyone knew what was what. On the ship we had 3 forks on the left, knife, soup spoon then another knife on the outside right.
Outside fork and outside knife - Appetizer
Soup spoon - Soup
Second fork - Salad  ( you do not need a knife for a salad ) If you do you add it.
Main course - you should only have one fork and one knife left.

Oh yes then there is the dessert cutlery on top which I neglected to mention but that is for another time.

If you do not know what to use think of this simple rule.

Start with the outside utensil and work your way in.

Hope this helps!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Moving People Through Their Meal Experience

Let's say it is a real busy night and I am running around after getting slammed. I got people who just sat down at a table and waiting for me to get over to them, I have drinks to make for another table, and I have to get another glass of wine for another table etc..etc..

What I do quite often is first of all you have to prioritize what is most important but secondly let's say I get that table their drinks. If I have to then take their order I tell them I will be right back I just have to do something first. Then I run like heck to get that other glass of wine because I know if I don't soon they will have already ate half their main course.

So what I am saying is do not spend too much time at one table when you have many things to do all at once. If you at least greet the table and get a drink order ( if they are ready ) or simply say hello and tell them the features move on after that. If a table is ready to order take the order if that is high priority but then go right away after to clear another table that needs to be cleared before ringing up the order.

All this helps your section move along quicker. In other words you can do a lot you just do not have to do it all at once. The goal is to simply take one step at a time on any given table in your section.

As long as you let the table know you will be right back that is the most important thing you can do. This way they are not feeling you left them in the lurch.

Control your section and do not let your section control you.