Acknowledging the Act of Running Food as a Delicate Collaborative Dance
All restaurants are different in how they operate as far as table numbers and assigned seat numbers go, but they all have a system. Some choose seat 1 to be closest to the kitchen, going forward in a clockwise direction; others pick a different point of reference in the restaurant to designate said seat number. Some stick to the ‘serve from the left, clear from the right’ rule; some use the ‘hugging technique’ which personally I’m most fond of; others ignore said rules altogether. There are two reasons I find the hugging technique to be most efficient and presentable. For one, a lot of times you simply can’t get to the person due to where they’re sitting in order to serve them from the left so you end up breaking the “rule” regardless. Another reason is it truly does not matter which side you approach them from as long as you’re not elbowing/forearming them in the face, hence the term “hugging”. You serve from the side that allows you to face the guest instead of turning away from them. A server/food runner should never carry more than three plates at a time, which brings me to another point: the big black oval tray. I’ve worked at three places that swore up and down that they’re a Fine Dining establishment and yet, all their food would come out of the kitchen on that gigantic ugly thing, accompanied by a stand. That’s Diner status right there, not Fine Dining; sorry. The only thing trays should be used for are to carry drinks and glasses. In fact, it is that rule that is often violated in these pretend- Fine Dining restaurants, by servers carrying the drinks in their hands instead of on a tray. Plates should be carried in hand, and they should all come out at once utilizing as many servers as possible to complete the task and they should all be ‘dropped’ at the table in unison and in accordance to proper seat numbers. Things can get pretty hectic when chef expedites; calling out the plates and saying where they’re going; that’s why team work and the utmost focus is incredibly important. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen food being plopped in front of people without any minor descriptions of what it is or any concern for the fact that it’s not even the right seat number; stuff like that would never fly in a true Fine Dining restaurant.