Rich Waiter, Poor Cook – by Matt Satow

28 03 2008

Having served tables for all of three weeks now I’ll admit that serving – even the few tables that I personally served on any given day – is more difficult than I had imagined, but it still amazes me how much more money on average the front of the house makes than the back of the house. Tim, our front of the house instructor, says that for him quality food takes a back seat to quality service, but I would have to disagree. For me if the service is great obviously my overall experience dining at a restaurant is going to be positively enhanced, but I’m there to eat the food and open myself to new culinary experiences. Anyone can learn to serve well, but not everyone has what it takes to be chef or even to work in a kitchen.

Three weeks in and my class is already off to a very positive start serving tables. I dare say we’ve already learned a large majority of what it takes to perform the job at a high level. It’s the kind of job that pretty much anyone can do, at least adequately, with very little training. However, can you imagine learning the fundamentals of cooking in 3 weeks? After years of cooking as a hobby, and a solid twelve months of intensive training I still feel like I’ve only scratched the culinary surface. Two burn covered arms, countless blisters and forty grand later, and I’m still reaching for the first rung of the kitchen ladder. I’ll be lucky if I can find a job paying twelve dollars an hour, meanwhile Joe Waiter is fetching refills over at Trottter’s, driving around in a BMW and making ten times as much as me. Don’t get me wrong, I know that waiting tables is hard, frustrating work, but so is working in a kitchen. Coming into the industry with a completely fresh perspective the whole system just seems bizzarly out of whack.

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