Best Ways for Restaurant Servers to Earn More Money

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One of the biggest challenges a food and beverage manager faces is maintaining the quality of service.  Although the product a kitchen produces may be top-tier, it is sadly undermined by poor or inconsistent service.  Food is only part of a guest’s experience – beverage and service make up the other two-thirds.  By not delivering a full experience, we fail to give our patrons what they are paying for, especially in a gratuity-based service culture.   So I offer the following resources as training tools for new servers and as a reference or reminder for the experienced.  Feedback and suggestions regarding tips and tools that may have helped others out in the service industry are welcome in the comments below.

Links

Video Links

Server Steps of Service

  • Welcome guests with warmth and appreciation and break the ice with some pre-business banter (ie. Have you been here before? Are you a guest of the hotel? What plans do you have today?). Make them feel special and important!
  • Give the guests your name in a genuine way. Avoid clichés like “Hi my name is ………., I will be your server today.”  Waiting until the end of the introduction and saying something like,  “… my name is ………………, if there is anything you need, please let me know”,  makes it something that they will remember!
  • Pour water immediately and talk about menus, along with drink and food specials. If they haven’t visited the establishment before, talk to them about the menu layout, feature dishes and your recommendations.  If they have been here before, talk about trying something new on the menu.
  • Be well informed about the wines beer and cocktail menus, in order to assist with drink selection. Do not ask “What can I get you to drink?”  Instead, offer them a pint of beer, cocktail or a glass of wine.  This way, a guest is likely to choose from one of the three options as opposed to make a quick decision for a pop or water.
  • Recommend personal favorites and listen to the likes, dislikes and dietary restrictions of your guests. Remember, you are the expert on the menu.  By asking them what they are in the mood for and how hungry they are, you should have a pretty good idea about what they want.  Guests do not want to make decision about what they want to eat, really they want you to.
  • Inform guests about food preparation details when necessary, while answering questions about menu items – what it tastes like, why it’s special. Create anticipation of what is coming so they are excited and they don’t get any negative surprises.
  • Treat every allergy as if it was your own, and communicate with the Manager or Chef before ringing in special requests. This will allow the guest to see how serious you take allergies/requests and allow them to be at ease.
  • Order food carefully and accurately, being sure to include all modifiers, taking the time to review before sending the order. Be sure to use accurate seat numbers so that others can run your food.
  • Set up the table with everything needed for the food that was ordered. This should be done as soon as possible to assure it is for sure done .  Items like extra cutlery, side bowls, condiments and extra napkins will ensure guests can start eating as soon as the food arrives and don’t have to wait until they can ask someone for the item they need.
  • Ensure water glasses are refilled regularly and additional drinks are ordered before the drink they have is empty.
  • Double-check the food as it comes up, and wait until the entire order is ready before removing plates from the line. Never run food before the kitchen has put up your bill. Food should not get cold while sitting on the table in front of the guest as they wait for everyone else to get their food.
  • Deliver food, ensuring that you are always open to the guest – always aware of your elbows and armpits. Always use the right hand to serve from the right side of the guest and left hand to serve from the left side of the guests.
  • Return to the table after guests have had time to enjoy two bites. A quality check should be specific and focused. Not, “How is everything tasting?” But rather, “Is your steak cooked the way you like it?” or “Is that chicken as delicious as it looks?”  Avoid the guest saying everything is good as it is a conditioned response that doesn’t give us proper feedback.  This eliminates any issues the guest will have later on.
  • Clear plates as they are finished with at the table – this can be identified with the fork and knife placed together in the 5 o’clock position. Avoid stacking plates on top of each other at the table as it looks too casual.
  • Remove anything from the table that is no longer needed, being sure to wipe away fallen food. Giving the guest room on the table allows them to be comfortable.
  • Never offer dessert as it gives the guest a chance to say no.  Instead, bring the dessert menu to the table and let them know your favorite or a “must have”.  Remind your guests of our selection of digestifs, such as scotch, liqueurs, dessert wines or specialty coffees.
  • Review the guest’s bill before presenting it, and process payment as quickly as possible. Do not make a guest feel rushed, but if they do want to leave quickly, this allow them to do so.
  • Always bring change, never ask if they need it.
  • Always take the time to warmly thank guests and invite them to come again. Let them know,  “It was a pleasure to serve you tonight, my name is …………., I hope to see you again soon.”

Humor and Sarcasm

5 Kombucha Recipes You Must Try

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There is so much more to a brewing a satisfying batch of Kombucha than a scoby, some tea and some great flavor ideas like the ones listed below.  Use the first fermentation to get a great base for a finished product – my recipe has been refined over time to yield a consistent brew.  Although invariable conditions are ideal, tasting at the end of the first fermentation is critical, regardless of whether a second fermentation is to take place.  This takes into account factors such as weather, temperature, and location as well as tea blend, scoby health and age, and other inevitable variances.

So flavors.  Second fermentation.  I recently came across this article that offered some great flavor combinations as well as valuable insights into brewing techniques – definitely worth a read.  Other suggestions? Be sure to use natural fruit juices with as few ingredients as possible, organic is best.  Be aware of pH levels of fresh fruits as these will affect fermentation and may result in exploding brews or non-carbonated ones.  Use whole, fresh herbs whenever possible – dried ones become more ‘generic’ tasting as they age and are harder to remove before consumption.

Blueberry Lavender

  • Each of 4 x 750ml Grolsch Style bottles: 
  • 4 x 8″ lavender sprigs and stocks, cut in half
  • 90 ml natural blueberry juice (organic)
  • topped with Kombucha – leave a few inches at top

Mango Ginger

  • Each of 4 x 750ml Grolsch Style bottles: 
  • 2″ knob of ginger, peeled, thin sliced, cut to fit in bottle
  • 90 ml strained natural mango juice (organic)
  • topped with Kombucha – leave a few inches at top

Strawberry Peppercorn

  • Each of 4 x 750ml Grolsch Style bottles: 
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorn
  • 1/2 tsp whole pink peppercorns
  • 90 ml strained natural strawberry juice (organic)
  • topped with Kombucha – leave a few inches at top

Apple Mint

  • Each of 8 x pint jars: 
  • 1/3 granny smith apple- peeled, cored, sliced
  • 6 fresh torn mint leaves
  • 60 ml natural apple juice (organic)
  • topped with Kombucha – leave 1/2″ to 3/4″ at top

Cherry-mary Pomegranite

  • Each of 4 x 750ml Grolsch Style bottles: 
  • 1 x 3″ rosemary sprig
  • 45 ml natural cherry juice (organic)
  • 45 ml natural pomegranite juice (organic)
  • topped with Kombucha – leave a few inches at top

 There’s wiggle room in any recipe and there’s no exceptions here. Be as food-safe as fermentation allows, follow your tastebuds, and have fun. Happy brewing. 

Kootenay Foraging – 10 Edible Reasons you Should Take a Hike this Autumn

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Back before life had responsibilities, I did not look forward to autumn because it marked the end of summer.  It marked the end of endless days of sunshine, swimming, bike riding, building forts.  Family vacations, hanging out with friends, BBQs.  Summer was a time of freedom from responsibility, a time for fun, for play. And winter, the time for snow, for hockey and for Christmas.  Winter was still so far away.

At some point though a change in my mind set occurred.  I can’t remember the exact date but I most definitely do remember the catalyst: surfing.  Tofino is dubbed Tuff City for many reasons.  One such reason alludes to how much fortitude one needs to live year round on the west coast of Vancouver Island, in a temperate rainforest that receives about 130 inches of rain annually, over about 210 days.  It’s about mid to late October when the swell starts picking up. This coupled with decreased tourist activity, especially on the beaches, was very much something to look forward to.

Although I haven’t lost my love of the ocean, the beaches are no longer just down the road.  And despite the abundance of beautiful lakes in the area fit for paddle boarding and canoeing, they don’t give up much in the way of waves to ride.  (Although I have heard of a break on Okanagan Lake, just out of Penticton.)  What the Kootenays lake in waves, they make up for in snow.  Wow!  Some of the nicest powder in the world some say and I wouldn’t argue.  The Monashee, Selkirk and Purcell Mountains have some back country terrain that is breathtaking – covered in snow for riding or carpeted green or muddy for biking.
Autumn though, the bit of time between warmth and cold, between sun and snow. This special time of year in the same mountain ranges mentioned above offer even more if you’re walking or hiking in their forests and trails. After the rains start, so do the mushrooms.  Pines, chanterelle, porcini and lobster mushrooms are some of the more sought after.  However coral mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, and puffballs are out there as well. Even walking around the neighbourhood looking around the backyard, fairy ring and meadow mushrooms abound.  I find it akin to fishing: fishing is called fishing not catching as foraging is not necessarily called finding.  What is guaranteed is fresh air and an abundance of nature. Being attuned to flora and fauna that I share my time with on a hike is meditative.

A few things that make up my foraging ethos:

  1.  Be bear aware, and other other creature aware too.
  2.  Wear bright clothing.
  3.  Be careful how to pick/cut mushrooms when I forage.
  4.  Always cook what’s picked and never in the field.

To really explore the world of mushrooms, both edible and not, mushroom guides and references are handy.  The internet is the best repository for imformation but can sometimes be hard to sift through.  The 4 sources I usually refer to are Mushrooms of Northwest North AmericaNorthern Bushcraft, mushroaming.com, and MushroomExpert.com

Thanksgiving – This is One Turkey You’ll Think Twice About Preparing

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Happy Thanksgiving

 

If you’ve never heard of Morton Thompson’s Turkey, you’re about to.  Every Christmas and Thanksgiving and pretty much any opportunity to talk turkey and stuffing, I bring up this bird.  The original recipe as I first read it is great, but I’ve included a printable version that might be easier for shopping and preparing.

You might ask, “But is it worth the trouble?”  I would  answer with a resounding, “Yes!”  The turkey is as tender as you could imagine, and the stuffing is pretty incredible.  I know, your stuffing recipe is the best, but you really should give this one a try.

Morton Thompson's Turkey
Definitely worth the effort. Substitute ingredients as close as possible.
Print
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
5 hr
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
5 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 turkey - 7 to 9 kg (16 to 20 lb)
Basting Broth
  1. 1 bay leaf
  2. 1 tsp paprika
  3. 1/2 tsp coriander
  4. 1 clove garlic
  5. 4 cups water
  6. 1 cup cider (added after turning off simmer)
Bowl One (medium-sized)
  1. 1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced
  2. 1 orange, peeled, seeded, and diced
  3. 1 twenty-oz can, crushed pineapple, drained
  4. rind of one lemon, grated
  5. 2 five-oz cans water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped
  6. 3 tbsp chopped preserved ginger
  7. 1 cup cider
Bowl 2 (large-sized)
  1. 2 tsp powdered mustard
  2. 2 tsp caraway seeds
  3. 3 tsp celery seeds
  4. 2 tsp poppy seeds
  5. 2 1/2 tsp oregano
  6. 1 crushed bay leaf
  7. 1 teaspoon black pepper
  8. 1/2 tsp mace
  9. 4 tbsp parsley, well-chopped
  10. 5 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  11. 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  12. 1/2 tsp turmeric
  13. 6 large ribs celery, chopped
  14. 4 large onions, peeled and chopped
  15. 1/2 tsp marjoram
  16. 1/2 tsp summer savory
  17. 1 tsp poultry seasoning
Bowl 3 (really-big-sized)
  1. 6 cups fresh bread crumbs, or 3 packages bread crumbs
  2. 3/4 pound ground veal
  3. 1/2 pound ground fresh pork or sausage
  4. 1/4 pound butter, softened
Paste
  1. 2 egg yolks
  2. 1 tsp powdered mustard
  3. 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  4. 1 tbsp onion juice
  5. 1/2 tsp salt
  6. 2 pinches cayenne pepper
  7. 1 tsp lemon juice
  8. Enough sifted flour to make a stiff paste
Instructions
  1. Rinse the turkey, inside and out, and then season the same with salt and pepper.
  2. In a stewpan put the chopped gizzard and the neck and heart. Add the remaining basting broth ingredients along with salt to taste. Let this simmer slightly while you prepare the dressing.
  3. Mix each bowl thoroughly. "...mix it well. Mix it with your hands. Mix it until your forearms and wrists ache. Then mix it some more. Now toss it enough so that it isn't any longer a doughy mass."
  4. Turn oven on high, as hot as it goes. Really hot.
  5. Stuff bird. Prepare basting Paste.
  6. Place turkey in oven and brown evenly all over. No to worry about cooking it, just make it look picture perfect.
  7. Remove turkey from oven and reduce temperature to 325°F.
  8. While still hot, "...paint it completely all over with the paste. Put it back in the oven. The paste will have set in a few minutes. Drag it out again. Paint every nook and cranny of it once more. Put it back in the oven. Keep doing this until you haven't any more paste left."
  9. Remove the basting broth from the simmer but keep warm. Baste the bird every 15 minutes with the basting broth.
  10. Internal temperature should be 160°F. Remove from oven, remove crust, cover and rest.
  11. "You do not have to be a carver to eat this turkey; speak harshly to it and it will fall apart."
  12. Enjoy.
Notes
  1. The original recipe suggests flipping the turkey a few times during roasting: "After the bird has cooked about an hour and a half turn it on its stomach, back in the air, and let it cook in that position until the last fifteen minutes, when you restore it to its back again. That is, unless you use a rack. If you use a rack don't turn it on its back until the last half hour." I prefer to just let it do its thing and baste only.
Adapted from from "Joe, the Wounded Tennis Player" by Morton Thompson
Surfing-Chef http://www.surfing-chef.com/

Kombucha – My Kind of Homebrew

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The Kombucha Chronicles – Part One

 

I’ll be the first to admit that I jumped on the Kombucha bandwagon – like most people – quite recently.  As it was with my mullet, I was a bit late joining the fad, but my dedication to the art and execution have remained unwavering once becoming hooked.  Unlike my mullet however, my partner likes my kombucha and it remains a socially acceptable topic of discussion and display.  The Kombucha Chronicles  document my exploration into the world of SCOBYs and mothers and probiotics.  Comments and suggestions are welcome: the little time I’ve spent brewing and reading about brewing is all because of comments and posts I’ve read online.  I owe my biggest thanks to JL, a co-worker who gave me my first mother and put my fermented tea train in motion.  She continues to make the consistently best Kombucha I’ve tried, and sets the bar high for my own brews.

This installment of the Kombucha Chronicles will outline my basic recipe and procedure.  If you want to read the pins and posts I’ve based my bottled fiascos on, here’s my repository:  My Kombucha Pins.  Additional links in the comments below are appreciated.  Future posts will highlight some variations on the basic recipe and technique for brewing Kombucha outlined below.  I do recommend reading through the whole recipe and procedure thoroughly before any brewing commences, especially if it’s your first time.  Furthermore, I would suggest reading through this Food Renegade post by Kristen Michaelis – this was my first introduction to Kombucha and is the genesis for my recipe.  Have fun.

Basic Kombucha
How to make Kombucha, the double fermentation process. Yields about 8 pints in 7 to 10 days.
Print
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
15 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
15 min
For the Tea
  1. 1 large glass jar - at least 1 gallon
  2. 2 cups (500ml) fresh, filtered, non-tap water
  3. 1 cup white sugar
  4. 6 bags black tea or
  5. 1 tbsp loose leaf tea
First Fermentation
  1. 3 qrts (3lt) fresh, filtered, non-tap water - slightly chilled
  2. 1 Kombucha mother, aka SCOBY
  3. 2 cups minimum previous brew, mothers' home liquid
Second Fermentation
  1. 1 quart mason jar and lid
  2. 8 pint mason jars and lids
  3. 2 cups fruit juice, no sugar added, no pulp or solids
Instructions
  1. Read notes on sanitation and safety below. IMPORTANT.
Make Tea/First Fermentation
  1. Boil distilled water, add sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat.
  2. Add tea bags, let steep 20 minutes, stirring 2 or three times
  3. Strain tea into gallon brewing vessel and add about 3/4 of chilled water to cool tea
  4. It is important that the diluted tea is not warmer than room temperature
  5. Add liqueur from mothers' home (reserved from previous batch of Kombucha) to gallon jar
  6. Top jar with remaining chilled water to within 1.5 to 2 inches from top of jar, at shoulder
  7. Gently place mother on top, brownest side down
  8. Cover jar with a clean towel or cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band or twine
  9. Let rest in a dark place at room temperature for 7 to 10 days
  10. Check periodically that there is no mold growing, that the SCOBY is just a SCOBY
Second Fermention
  1. Use a straw to sample the brew. After 5 or six days it might be getting close - bubbles and nice balance of sweet and sour. Usally minimum 7 days.
  2. Pour 1/4 cup (65ml) of fruit juice into each of 8 pint jars
  3. Remove mother to quart jar, cover with fermentation liquid. Cover and refrigerate for your next brew.
  4. Distrubute fermented tea evenly between the pint jars, leaving at least 3/4 of an inch at the top
  5. Don't fear the solids at the bottom - add some of them to each jar at this point too. They can be filtered later if desired.
  6. Cover each jar with lids, let rest in a dark place at room temperature for another 2 days
  7. Do not shake the jars, the lids should not click when pressed, they should be firm
  8. Place in the refrigerator and let chill. Consume at your leisure.
SANITATION
  1. There is such a thing as too clean - not too sanitized, but too clean. Ensure everything is cleaned and sanitized with soap and heat etc. For sure. However, do not use any utensils or vessels that have not been rinsed with vinegar. Keep a little bottle of apple cider vinegar handy. Any equipment used at any point during a brew should be rinsed with it. Soap and chemicals can cause serious harm or even kill the SCOBY - we want Mother alive and well. I try to avoid plain white vinegar and stick to the apple cider variety. A quick swirl in clean jars, brief splash over utensils, brisk rinse of my hands before handling Mother - it all helps.
  2. Avoid using metal where possible, as well as all clays and ceramics. The boiling of distilled or filtered water is okay in stainless steel pots as there no long term exposure to acids. Use only glass for the first and second fermentation processes, and try to stick to wooden utensils.
SAFETY
  1. Keep in mind you are fermenting a liquid. Take care at every phase to deter any foreign debris or microorganisms that mean you harm or may lead to hazardous molds or bacteria. Best rule of thumb, "If in doubt, throw it out" and start again. Poisoning yourself or others is not worth the risk.
  2. It is also important to note that pressure may cause explosions - shards of exploded jars embedded in walls are not unheard of. Ensure your jars are not chipped or cracked before using. I usually wrap my second fermentation in a towel just in case. Don't shake the jars. I would even suggest wearing eye protection when first learning about the second fermentation. Until you get to know your brews and your recipes.
Adapted from The Food Renegade
Adapted from The Food Renegade
Surfing-Chef http://www.surfing-chef.com/

Roadtrip – Okanagan, Tofino and Back Again

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My Roadtrip from Kelowna, British Columbia to Tofino and back to New Denver.  As told by links and narrated by yours truly.

Consulting Magicseaweed didn’t leave me in a very optimistic headspace whilst considering the chances for a surf in Tuff City.  Nevertheless, the board and gear was packed.  Although a rising swell and longer interval looked promising taking the scenic Pacific Marine Circle Route on the return trip, a traffic delay just out of Cathedral Grove crashed that action.  Maybe should have tried the new trend in Tofino.  Despite the non-surf aspect of the trip, the holiday was thoroughly enjoyable with my two favorite travel companions and many of our friends and family we saw en route.

Had to hit up the tech shop and get a few GoPro mounts.  Already having the Chesty and standard Helmet mounts, I added the suction mount and head strap mount to my arsenal.  I have since purchased the vented helmet mount.  Mt camera got a bunch of footage taken from the hood of the truck while driving.  Unfortunately, as breathtaking a drive as it is, 3 hours of highway driving is pretty monotonous.  I am in the process of making a condensed version of the Island Drive.

4-northshorebikeshop-6049296727-interior-700x500First stop after leaving the Okanagan:  The Rackstop and the North Shore Bike Shop in North Vancouver for my new ride and an awesome rack to carry it.  The guys at both places were super helpful.  We put locks in the adjustable arms on the rack for security.  As well, the bikeshop’s policy of 15% off upgrades and accessories when purchasing a bike made a good deal even better.  Matt and the team at Northshore Bike Shop totally stand behind their products, offering a super awesome tune-up rate for your new bike as long as you own it.  SWEET!

After an uneventful ferry ride, we overnighted in Parksville before driving on to Tofino.  We arrived early so our accommodations weren’t ready yet.  Tofino is a regular destination for us and we often stay at the The Nalu House.  We stayed in the Surfer Studio this time, although on previous occasions we have stayed in the two bedroom Groundswell Suite.  Both are super great, clean, fully equipped and literally steps away from Chesterman Beach.  Jesse at the Wildside Grill didn’t disappoint with his Gumbo.

One might realize soon enough, Tofino and gluttony are synonymous when talking about a trip to Tuff City.  At least they are for me.  The crew at the Schooner Restaurant definitely was a perfect setting for my buddy’s 40th birthday.  We were definitely wined and dined!  Birthday boy, JB, manages Foo in Victoria.  We have worked together on and off for 15 years, so our conversation is 95% restaurant.  Especially when our friend, Chef Simon from Kuma gets in on it.  Super awesome surprise to hook up with them.

Another friend, NB, just opened up Best Little Hairhouse in Tofino.  She and I go back while as well.  She used to keep my mullet, yes I said mullet, tuned up.  My significant other isn’t quite so daring in the coif department, but spent the morning treating herself in the chair.  Meanwhile I checked out the pastries I’d heard about across the street at Wolf in the Fog – was not disappointed.  Eating dinner there with drinks is whole other experience, wow!  However the pastry snacks didn’t put me into a food coma like the evening meals do, and they were even better than expected.  Especially with coffee from Tuff Beans.

Before dinner at Jamies Rainforest Inn, we checked out our usual shops and galleries:   Eagle Aerie Gallery, Love Craft and House of Himwitsa.  We also loaded up on seafood from our buddy Lutz.  He runs West Pacific Seafoods and Tofino Oyster Bar. We also snacked at Sea Monster Noodle Bar.  The Pork Buns were amazing, my ramen had great broth but lacked housemade noodles, and the Dan Dan was disappointing.

Tofino, Victoria, Vancouver and Okanagan.  Visits with family and friends on the return trip.  A few meals whilst in Lake Country:  Bun Ta Pho Grill and Olympia Taverna Pizza.  I’d not tried the Vietnamese restaurant in Winfield but was more than satisfied with our meal – we easily could have shared one soup with our meal.  And although Olympia Pizza in Rutland is by far my favourite pizza place, the rest of their Greek menu is delicious.

Six days, full bellies and good times with family and friends – isn’t that what a road trip is all about?  Even though surfing some Pacific swell would have made a great trip EPIC…