Waiting tables is hard work that can be both physically and mentally taxing. The more upscale the restaurant, the more challenging the position of waiter can become. Waiters and waitresses who work at elegant, high-end restaurants must possess a diverse skill set that enables them to provide the best possible dining experience for a discerning clientele.
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A waiter or waitress in an upscale restaurant is often responsible for more than simply taking orders and delivering plates of food to hungry diners. They must also be able to recite a constantly rotating list of specials and explain the ingredients and preparation to customers. In the case of a high-end restaurant, that may mean explaining the difference in taste between capon and guinea fowl or how poaching differs from cooking sous-vide. Many upscale restaurants often have sommeliers on staff; however, a skilled server must be able to offer wine pairing suggestions for every dish on the menu. In rare cases, they may even need to bartend or help bus.
Basic requirements include the ability to stand for at least eight hours, carry heavy trays, and maintain a friendly and courteous demeanour at all times. Special skills needed include an understanding of high-end ingredients (as well as the ability to explain their taste and texture), adeptness at explaining haute cuisine cooking techniques, and an appreciation of wine and wine pairing. Also of benefit to upscale waiters is a basic understanding of the pronunciation and ability to communicate in a language that is relevant to the restaurant where they work (for example, Japanese at a high-end sushi bar, French for a Provencal-style restaurant). Language skills are helpful both for reading the menu and for communicating with any customers whose native language is not English.
Appearance and Grooming
A server at an upscale restaurant must groom himself in accordance with the dress code at his place of employment. Most often, all-black attire is preferred and must be of good quality. Generally speaking, long hair must be tied back, or else it is prohibited altogether. Long beards are often prohibited, as well. In many cases, facial jewellery and/or tattoos must be removed or concealed. Women are often expected to look their best, which may require the use of make-up. Both women and men are usually forbidden to wear any strong scents such as perfume or cologne, as it can interfere with the aroma of the food.
Education and Qualification
Most restaurants require only former restaurant experience and not any educational background other than a high school diploma or GED. However, servers with a college degree or other educational experience may be at an advantage over other applicants. For example, waiters with first aid certifications or those who have taken wine, cooking or hospitality classes may be a better fit for many upscale dining establishments.
Potential for Future Growth
Waiters at upscale restaurants often make more money than waiters at diners or casual eateries. In addition to monetary benefits, upscale waiters may also be able to move up the food chain, so to speak, by growing into positions as maitre d'hotel s, sommeliers, senior waitstaff or general managers.
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