I Make Mistakes Too

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It takes a certain amount of hubris to write a blog like this.  To sit back and write about how to be a better server almost implies that you think you are good enough to be emulated.  I will never claim to be the world’s greatest server.  I do consider myself humbly better than average, but apart from that I try to keep my ego in check.  Contrary to what this blog may lead you to believe, I make my share of mistakes.

As I approach my 50th post and my 5th of the week, I thought it only fair to share some of my most memorable slip-ups.  Over 15 years there have been plenty.  In order to be hospitable you have to be able to relax a bit with your tables.  This leads to the occasional “foot in mouth” moment.  You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.  Here are some of my more memorable omelets for your Friday reading pleasure.

Read the full post at Restaurant Laughs

Foodie Friday: Types of Crab

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Guests often bring up the names of Food Network and Cooking Channel chefs to me at work.  The jokes usually go right over my head.  People assume that I am somewhat familiar with these chefs because of my job.  It is actually quite the opposite.  After spending a shift staring into a kitchen wondering if that well-done filet is every going to be plated, the last thing I want to do is watch people cook on television.  There is one exception; I love Deadliest Catch.

So does most of America it seems.  I receive several good crab questions every week from guests who are perhaps more familiar with crab than any other type of seafood.  This has required that I in turn learn more about crab to stay ahead of them.  So whether you are a server looking for answers or a guest just curious to know more about the fascinating creatures, this post is for you.  I will look at the four main types of crabs on restaurant menus and try to share a few fun facts.

Read the full post at Foodie Knowledge

Foodie Fridays: Salmon Species

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Salmon is one of the least understood items on most restaurant menus.  Servers are often unaware of what type of salmon is served out of their kitchen.  Even more commonly servers are unaware of the unique selling points of the species they offer.  This is problematic because premium salmon can warrant a premium price.  It is the responsibility of a great server to be able to explain the benefits of the salmon they serve to be able to justify the premium price in the minds of their guests.

Last week’s post on wild caught versus farm-raised salmon provides a good background for understanding this post.  Rather than trying to list every type of salmon, I will focus on the species most commonly caught and served in North America.  Want to know about a different species or name?  Leave a comment below.

Here are the four most common types of salmon you may encounter:

Read the full post at Foodie Knowledge

Foodie Friday: Salmon Basics

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I spent most of my life disliking the flavor of salmon.  Growing up most of the salmon I ate came from a can and was served in “patty” form.  As I worked in casual dining restaurants I would occasionally try the salmon dishes only to be turned off by the lingering flavors it would leave with me.  It was not until working at an upscale seafood restaurant that I learned what good salmon tasted like.  This is the equivalent of someone disliking beef based upon the experience with $2 steaks.

Very few proteins vary as much in flavor as salmon.  The difference in taste between imported farm-raised salmon and wild caught Alaskan King salmon is as wide as the difference between Boone’s Farm and Moet Chandon.  Knowing what type of salmon to order in a restaurant is the key to a guest’s enjoyment of a salmon dish.  Knowing the differences between them and which to recommend is the job of a great server.  Basic salmon knowledge is vital to every server dealing with seafood on his or her menu.

Read the full post at Foodie Knowledge

Foodie Friday: Beef Made Easy (Part One)

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Even some great servers have trouble explaining steak cuts.  There are so many terms used to describe beef that it almost becomes a case of contrived complexity.  Some terms are legitimate government sponsored grades while cattle ranchers create others as a marketing tool.  For a food that many of us eat for nearly every meal, we know remarkably little about what these terms mean.  With a few basic facts about steaks, you can easily look like an expert, impress your guests, and sell more expensive cuts.

Even if you are not a server, knowing about steak cuts will help you as a more educated consumer.  Guests ask me from time to time, “what is the best steak?”  This is like asking what the best type of soda is.  I have a definitive opinion, but it is a subjective question.  The “best” cut depends on your preferences.

Here are the basics of steaks:

Read the full post at Foodie Knowledge

Five Great Food Stories

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Who doesn’t love a great story?  Even before written language, humans shared stories to remember their great moments.  When we are children, our parents read us stories and as adults we read them to our children.  When we are with the people we have known the longest we tell stories of our past and work to create stories for the future.  It is fundamental to human nature to enjoy a good story.

The best stories are those we can pass along.  Over the years I have collected a great number of stories from guests and fellow servers.  They are referred to as stories rather than fact, because they are often oversimplified to the point of being inaccurate.  A great story must be both easy to understand and easy enough for you guest to tell their friends next time they eat out.  Getting too bogged down in details will lose the guest’s attention rather than making them feel smarter.  If your story makes them instantly think, “I can’t wait to tell that story,” you have a great story.

Here a five great stories to try on your guests.

Read the full post at Foodie Knowledge

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