South African Information IconButler Blog

Table Service – Butler Training

By Butler Academy

English Service: Often referred to as the “Host Service” because the host plays an active role in the service. Food is brought on platters by the waiter and is shown to the host for approval. The waiter then places the platters on the tables. The host either portions the food into the guest plates directly or portions the food and allows the waiter to serve. For replenishment of guest food the waiter may then take the dishes around for guests to help themselves or be served by the waiter.


French Services: It is a very personalized service. Food is brought from the kitchen in dishes and salvers, which are placed directly on the table. The plates are kept near the dish and the guests help themselves.


Silver Service: The table is set for hors d’oeuvres, soup, main courses and sweet dish in sterling silverware. The food is portioned into silver platters at the kitchen itself which are placed at the sideboard with burners or hot plates to keep the food warm in the restaurant. Plates are placed before the guest. The waiter then picks the platter from the hot plate and presents the dish to the host for approval. He serves each guest using a service spoon and fork. All food is presented in silver dishes with elaborate dressing.


American Service: The American service is a pre-plated service which means that the food is served into the guest’s plate in the kitchen itself and brought to the guest. The portion is predetermined by the kitchen and the accompaniments served with the dish balance the entire presentation in terms of nutrition and color. This type of service is commonly used in a coffee shop where service is required to be fast.


Cafeteria Service: This service exists normally in industrial canteens, colleges, hospitals or hotel cafeterias. To facilitate quick service, the menu is fixed and is displayed on large boards. The guest may have to buy coupons in advance, present them to the counter waiter who then serves the desired item. Sometimes food is displayed behind the counter and the guests may indicate their choice to the counter attendant. The food is served pre-plated and the cutlery is handed directly to the guest. Guests may then sit at tables and chairs provided by the establishment. Sometimes high tables are provided where guests can stand and eat.


Counter Service: (Snack-bar Service) Tall stools are placed along a counter so that the guest may eat the food at the counter itself. In better establishments, the covers are laid out on the counter itself. Food is either displayed behind the counter for the guests to choose from, or is listed on a menu card or common black board.


Grill Room Service: In this form of service various meats are grilled in front of the guest. The meats may be displayed behind a glass partition or well decorated counter so that the guest can select his exact cut of meat. The food comes pre-plated.


Room Service: It implies serving of food and beverage in guest rooms of hotels. Small orders are served in trays. Major means are taken to the room on trolleys. The guest places his order with the room service order taker. The waiter receives the order and transmits the same to the kitchen. In the meanwhile he prepares his tray or trolley. He then goes to the cashier to have a cheque prepared to take along with the food order for the guests’ signature or payment. Usually clearance of soiled dishes from the room is done after half an hour or an hour. However, the guest can telephone Room Service for the clearance as and when he has finished with the meal.


Buffet Service: A self-service where food is displayed on tables. The guest takes his plate from a stack at the end of each table or requests the waiter behind the buffet table to serve him.


For sit-down buffet service, tables are laid with crockery and cutlery as in a restaurant. The guest may serve himself at the buffet table and return to eat at the guest table laid out. The waiter may serve a few courses like the appetizer and soup at the table.


Russian Service: An elaborate silver service much on the lines of French service except that the food is portioned and carved by the waiter at the gueridon trolley in the restaurant in full view of the guests. Display and presentation are a major part of this service. The principle involved is to have whole joints, poultry, game and fish elaborately dressed and garnished, presented to guests and carved and portioned by the waiter.


Gueridon Service: This is a service where a dish comes partially prepared from the kitchen to be completed in the restaurant by the waiter or, when a complete meal is cooked at the table-side in the restaurant. The cooking is done on a gueridon trolley which is a mobile trolley with a gas cylinder and burners. The waiter plays a prominent part, as he is required to fillet, carve, flambé and prepare the food with showmanship. The waiter has to have considerable dexterity and skill.


Breakfast Services:


There are basically two types of breakfast offered in hotels and restaurants. The Continental Breakfast and the English Breakfast. The Continental Breakfast originated in Europe. It is a light meal as the Europeans normally have a heavy mid-day meal. The English breakfast is heavy and is a major meal of the day. A traditional English breakfast runs into six or seven courses.


Continental Breakfast


Consists of bread rolls or toast with jam, honey, or marmalade and rounded off with tea or coffee. Better hotels may serve brioches and croissants. The cover layout consists of


(a) A side plate and a side knife
(b) A butter dish and a butter knife on a quarter plate
(c) A tea cup and saucer with a teaspoon
(d) A sugar pot with tongs
(e) A bread boat or toast rack
(f) Serviette
(g) Jam, marmalade and honey pots


Note: There are variations to the Continental Breakfast. Cafe com- plate refers to Continental Breakfast with coffee (or tea) while cafe simple refers to just coffee or tea with nothing to eat.


English Breakfast:

Is more elaborate and offers a choice of juices (or fresh or stewed fruits), cereals, fish course, choice of eggs, meat course, toast with jam, marmalade or honey, and finally, tea or coffee. The cover consists of :


(a) A side plate and a side knife
(b) A butter dish and a butter knife on a quarter plate
(c) A tea cup and saucer with a teaspoon
(d) A sugar pot (a tongs, if there are sugar cubes)
(e) A cruet set
(/) A fish knife and fish fork
(g) Dinner knife and fork
(h) Jam, marmalade and honey
(i) Dessert spoon and fork
(j) Serviette


Typical English breakfast Menu:


· Chilled fruit juices : Orange, pineapple. tomato, grapefruit.
· Stewed fruit : Prunes, pears, apples, figs.
· Cereals: Porridge, cornflakes.
· Fish: Grilled herring, fried sole.
· Eggs: Poached, boiled, scrambled, fried, omelets
· Meat: Sausages, bacon, salami, kidney, breakfast steak.
· Breads: Toast, rolls, brioche, croissant, bread sucks.
· Preserves: Jam, marmalade, honey.
· Beverage: Tea, coffee, hot chocolate.
· Eggs can be served with: grilled tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, baked beans, fried potatoes.

2 Responses

  1. Julio Ferreira says:

    The above is just a small (though very important) part of what we learn here at the South African Butler Academy. For those reading and feel it is all too much…it is! However it is wll worth the time and effort. Hard work and testing your limits are part of what makes life so much fun. This course will change your life, the friends you make will be there for life and you are learning from the best!

    So take the plunge, you have nothing to lose and so much to gain. And to all those butlers busy with their table exam as I type this, best of luck and dont forget the salt and pepper!

  2. Amanda says:

    Ammmmm l learnt a lot on my table setting but hey I had few mistakes such as no names for my guests, glasses on the wrong side they should have been on the right side. My menu was suppose to bobotie ,yellow rice timbale and ratatouille which l thought bobotie has its on fork and knife but am gland l made those mistakes because now l know and next time l asure you my table will be more than perfact. Thank you so so much Mr Cross

Leave a Reply