Tips for How to Hold Multiple Plates as a Waiter

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The ability to carry multiple plates to and from a table is a valuable skill for waiters. This skill will make your job more efficient and allow the customers at a table to be served at the same time. Carrying multiple plates can be challenging at times, but there are tips to help you succeed in doing it.

Plate Position

Make sure the edges of the plates have been cleaned before carrying multiple plates. Normally, it's the chef's responsibility, but the edges must be clean to avoid slippage. Position the plates in your arm in the order you will be serving the diners. That way, you can minimise any movement around the table. If you're right-handed, place the heaviest plate in your left hand with your thumb on the outside edge of the plate and your index finger on the bottom rim of the plate. Your remaining three fingers should be free and exposed. Position the second plate on your exposed fingers so its edge is pressing against the bottom rim of the first plate. Hold the second plate securely with your middle, ring and pinky fingers. Position the third plate on your lower arm so it balances against your wrist and the edge of the second plate. You can carry a fourth plate with your other hand.


Carry heavy loads at waist height where you have the most power and control. Maintain a straight back and keep your arm straight so the plates won't tilt, disturbing the food presentation. Don't carry the plates too high or else the plates will touch food. If you find the plates touching food, it's probably best to carry fewer plates.

Plate Load

Avoid carrying too much weight or stacking the plates too high. The more weight you add, the harder it will become to maintain control of your plate load. Use extra caution when carrying smaller plates on your forearm. Without good balance and control, you won't be able to lock small plates between the plates in your hand and forearm. Place a towel over your arm if the plates are really hot.


Avoid hurrying in a busy, crowded restaurant. It could result in a collision with a customer or fellow waiter or you could trip and spill the plates. Use extra caution when entering swinging doors and moving around blind corners while holding multiple plates. You won't be able to shield yourself from the door or individual if you're carrying multiple plates in both arms.


Practice carrying multiple plates so you will be confident of your abilities as a waiter. Prepare yourself for worst-case scenarios such as dropped plates or food spillage. That way, you will know how to react if you ever find yourself in an uncomfortable situation.

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