Correct Way to Carry a Food Tray

Written by jeffrey brian airman
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Correct Way to Carry a Food Tray
Balancing large food trays on one hand may take some practice. (chocolate tray image by Francois du Plessis from Fotolia.com)

Carry a food tray with balance and confidence to deliver the meal safely to the table. There are two basic hold positions to correctly carry a food tray. The waist-level carry divides the weight evenly between two hands and is preferred for short trips and trays with handles. The shoulder-high carry position is more difficult as it puts the majority of the of the food tray's weight on one hand with the other serving as a stabiliser.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Instructions

    Waist-Level Carry

  1. 1

    Slide the loaded food tray to the edge of the table or counter and position your body as close as possible without touching the tray. Distribute the weight of food and drinks evenly as close to the centre of the food tray as possible.

  2. 2

    Keep your back straight and bend your knees slightly as you firmly grasp the sides or handles of the food tray.

  3. 3

    Straighten your knees as you lift the food tray from the table or counter and turn slowly to face your destination.

  4. 4

    Look 6 to 10 feet ahead of you while securely holding the tray with both hands and walking with a medium gait at slow to medium pace. Watching food and drinks wobble on the tray will cause you to drop more items and run into obstacles.

  5. 5

    Turn your body with the food tray to avoid spinning items off when taking turns in route to your final destination.

  6. 6

    Lower the food tray to the edge of the table or counter and slowly slide it forward until it is fully supported.

    Shoulder-High Carry

  1. 1

    Slide the loaded food tray to the edge of the table or counter and position your body as close as possible without touching the tray.

  2. 2

    Keep your back straight and bend your knees slightly as you firmly grasp the sides or handles of the food tray.

  3. 3

    Straighten your knees as you lift the food tray from the table or counter and turn slowly to face your destination.

  4. 4

    Hoist the tray to shoulder height by sliding the a single hand under the centre of the food tray and holding the edge with the other hand to guide. Spread the fingers of the weight bearing hand as the tray is raised to better control the balance. This lifting move should be practised on empty or barely loaded trays before carrying full loads. Many servers prefer to leave their dominant hand free to deliver food by holding the tray with their non-dominant hand.

  5. 5

    Look 6 to 10 feet ahead of you while securely holding the tray with both hands and walking with a medium gate at slow to medium pace. Watching food and drinks wobble on the tray will cause you to drop more items and run into obstacles.

  6. 6

    Turn your body with the food tray to avoid spinning items off when taking turns in route to your final destination.

  7. 7

    Lower the food tray to the edge of the table or counter and slowly slide it forward until it is fully supported.

Tips and warnings

  • Keep food trays clean and dry to avoid letting them slip out of your hands.

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