Serve the Order

The technical aspects of service refer to the way items are physically placed before a customer. You should check to make sure that all dishes are complete and properly garnished before you serve them.

More important to customers, however, is the manner in which they are served. Most customers care about the following:

• When delivering dishes, did the server keep his or her fingers on the edge of the plate, away from the food?

• Did the server use his or her left hand to serve the food products from the customer's left side?

• Did the server anticipate customer needs instead of waiting to be asked?

Hand Service

Many restaurants use hand service instead of tray service. Hand service is bringing dishes to the table without using a tray. Hand service works well if the distance from the service line in the kitchen to all points of the dining room is short.

A server should be able to carry three soup cups or soup plates on the left arm and hand, with a fourth in the right hand. A server should be able to carry plates on the right arm, with the last plate in the left hand when serving the appetizer, salad, dinner, or dessert courses. You must develop the skill to carry plates, cups, or bowls without tipping or angling them. This will ruin the presentation, and soup or sauces will run onto the rim of the bowl or plate. If soup does spill along the rim of the bowl, wipe it clean using a server napkin or towel.

Hand service often requires more teamwork between service staff members. The size of a party may prevent one server from carrying all the plates to a table at one time. No matter what type of service is used, everyone at a table should be served at approximately the same time.

Tray Service

Tray service involves bringing dishes to the table at the same time on a large tray. Tray service allows the server to carry more cups, bowls, and plates without worrying as much about the presentation.

Tray service is almost universally used in banquet service. A single server can carry a course for 10 to 12 guests at a time. Dinner plates are covered with plate covers to allow dinners to be stacked one on top of another. For banquet service, portion foods onto trays, and prepare menu slips or tray cards to identify the dishes on the tray.

Service Trays and Stands

A tray stand, or tray jack, has metal, wood, or plastic leg frames that will fold. The leg frames are usually connected by two fiber or cloth support straps that hold the legs steady when the tray stand is set up. Some frames include a low-level shelf to use as a small side stand. Follow these general guidelines when you use service trays and tray stands:

• To prevent plate slippage and accidents, service trays are usually lined with rubber or cork. If the service tray is not already lined, use a wet service napkin to line the inside of the tray.

• Arrange items on the tray so it is as evenly balanced as possible.

• Pick up and carry the heaviest part of the tray closest to your body.

• Always carry a service tray in the left hand when going through a door. This allows you to go through a doorway without the door swinging back and hitting the tray.

• Carry the tray on your fingertips or palm, depending on the tray's weight.

• Use your left shoulder to help balance the tray if necessary.

• Carry the folded tray stand on your right while you walk in the dining room.

• Try not to place the tray stand right next to the customer's table when you set it up. Leave a little space instead.

Server Walking With Tray

Tray Service Carrying a service tray in one hand allows you to set up and take down a tray stand with the other hand. Why is it important to have a procedure to set up and take down a tray stand?

• After clearing a customer's table, use a service napkin to cover the tray before you carry it from the dining room.

• Remove the tray and tray stand as soon as the table is cleared.

• To prevent accidents, tray stands should always be folded and placed out of busy traffic lanes when they are not being used. Follow these steps when you unfold a tray stand at a table:

• Extend the arm holding the tray stand and flick your wrist. The support legs will separate, bringing the tray stand to an open position. Place the tray stand so that one set of legs faces your side. This will ensure that as you place the tray on the stand, the top cross bar will not obstruct your movements. The frame legs should be parallel to your body.

• Turn, bend your knees, and lower the tray horizontally until it sits directly on the tray stand.

• Carefully slide the tray across the top of the tray stand to distribute the tray weight evenly.

• Keep your back straight. Bend and lift with your knees and legs when you pick up or put down a loaded tray.

• Reverse the process when you remove the tray. While you hold the tray level, collapse the tray stand against your hip. Then, remove both the tray stand and the tray.

Course Service

In addition to following procedures for using trays and stands, servers must follow procedures for serving each course. There are separate guidelines for serving bread, appetizers, soup, salad, entrées, and desserts.

Food is always served from the customer's left with your left hand. Dishes are cleared from the customer's right with your right hand whenever possible.

Continue reading here: Safety Check

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