Service With More Than Just A Smile

Being a great food server, or waiter, is a lot more challenging than one might expect. When I was in culinary school every student was required to work as a server for one week at each of the four restaurants on campus. It was during that time, my only experience working the front of the house, that I gained real perspective for what it's like to be a server and just how difficult and demanding a job it really is. I am to this day grateful for the experience (which I detested) because it gave me insight and respect for servers and what they do, maintaining a smile on their face and an air of civility all the while.

All of that said, my understanding and appreciation for the job does not take away from the fact that I have admittedly high expectations of servers and little patience for those who just don't get it right.

A few nights ago, while dining out, I had an experience that brought me back to thinking about what it means to be a good server because the person waiting on us had badly missed the mark. This server was overly familiar, offered suggestions where none were requested and spent far too much time at a table that was obviously not interested in engaging her. Having the ability to read your customers is skill set number one in table service and on that account she just failed. But that wasn't the worst of it.

This woman spoke as if she knew the menu well and obviously respected the chef, but was enthusiastic about the food to such a degree that it could never have possibly lived up to her praises, and it didn't. Her incessant use of superlatives and repeated references to having "just tasted that in the back" was followed by mediocre food that wasn't as she had described and ultimately, she lost all credibility with us. She didn't fare any better in her wine or dessert suggestions.

After dinner I did a mental comparison between this server and a rude, stand-offish waiter I had while in New York a few weeks ago. While this guy was unfriendly and not in the least bit engaging, he was, to his credit, professional, knew exactly when to be there and when not to and offered menu descriptions (upon our request) that were spot on.

I guess the lesson here is that dining is as subjective as any other activity and what encompasses good service in my book may be just the thing that ruins the experience for someone else. I have had impeccable service at the diviest of dives and terrible service in the classiest of fine dining establishments and both experiences were the result of how well or poorly the server took note of my needs. In a profession where salary is so dependent upon tips it doesn’t make sense to me that a server would be anything other than what the customer wants them to be and a server who can’t gauge that should probably find another calling.

Browse Culinary Arts Schools & Colleges

Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT

    See More

  • DEGREE

    See More

  • PROGRAM TYPE

  • START TIME

    LOCATION
    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Searching Searching ...

            Matching School Ads
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
            • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            1 Program(s) Found
            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Lets undergrad students try classes before paying any tuition.
            • Has an average class sizes of 18 for undergraduate and 13 for graduate-level courses.
            • Offers numerous scholarship opportunities that can help students save up to $750 per term on their tuition.
            • Tends to educate degree-seeking online and campus-based students who are adult learners with families and students who work while pursuing higher education.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Received the 2015 and 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            4 Program(s) Found
            • Hands-on culinary education with focused attention on each student
            • An ACCSC School of Excellence with multiple “Best Vocational Cooking School” awards*
            • 15,000 graduates, including celebrities like Bobby Flay, David Chang, and Christina Tosi*
            • Programs in Culinary Entrepreneurship, Professional Culinary Arts, Professional Pastry Arts, and much more
            • Campuses in New York and Silicon Valley with nearby housing available
            Show more [+]
            2 Program(s) Found
            • Ranked among the Best Colleges in the South in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Ranked the 13th  Best College for Veterans in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • A private institution founded in 1977 with a current total undergraduate enrollment of over 15,00.
            • Its student-faculty ratio is 12:1, and 89.3% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
            • Has students attend one class at a time to ensure easy access to faculty and a more hands-on education.
            Show more [+]
            5 Program(s) Found

            Sullivan University is a private institution of higher learning dedicated to providing educational enrichment opportunities for the intellectual, social and professional development of its students.

            1 Program(s) Found
            • Preparing individuals for career opportunities, technology training, and certifications for the medical, culinary arts, HVAC repair, legal, and cosmetology fields since 1934.
            • Has many lecture classes with a maximum of a 30:1 student to teacher ratio, and most lab classes with a maximum of an 18:1 student to teacher ratio.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges and Schools.
            • Has locations in Dearborn, Farmington Hills, Lansing, Madison Heights, Roseville, Saginaw, Southgate, Waterford-Pontiac and Wayne-Westland.
            Show more [+]
            • Financial Aid