Silver service is a type of service that adds a certain amount of style to an occasion. If it is done well with flair, customers will be impressed and think very highly of your restaurant. In order to become proficient at silver service, you must practice, preferably not on customers. One of the best places to practice is at home. You can very easily silver serve dinner to your family every evening to become comfortable and efficient at this technique. This will ensure that you will not be nervous when you serve customers and that they can enjoy the ceremony of having the beautifully presented food on the service platter transferred to their own plate.
In a restaurant the food is taken to the customer’s table on a serving platter called a flat. You will already have placed hot dinner plates on the table. The food is then transferred from the presentation platter to the dinner plates with the use of a fork and spoon, two forks or even two spoons depending on the type of food that is being served.
Some restaurants may use a part silver service, where they may only serve particular items such as the bread or maybe the vegetables that accompany a main dish.
When providing silver service at a banquet, it is very important to work very quickly, as you will be serving 10 –12 people and the food must be served hot to all of them.
A variation of silver service is called Gueridon service. In this case, a trolley is placed next to the customer’s table and food is served onto plates from this trolley. Gueridon service also refers to cookery at the guest’ table. In this case the waiter will do the actual cooking of a dish next to the customer. Popular Gueridon dishes include Crepes Suzette and Steak Tartar.
It is extremely important to follow all relevant health and safety principles and food hygiene principles. You must also be comfortable with silver service techniques in order to provide service that meets customer’s expectation.
Providing silver service in a restaurant calls for staff to be very organised and efficient in all work practices. You must have a work plan in order to work efficiently and ensure customer satisfaction at all times. All staff members must know all procedures and organisational requirements. You must be aware and have a good knowledge of all service procedures and be comfortable carrying them out.
Always work within specified areas to avoid disturbing the workflow of others.
Plan your work to avoid unnecessary movement. E.g. if you are going to the bar or kitchen, never go empty handed – there is always something that needs to be removed from the restaurant.
Organise your work area to establish an efficient workflow. Always have all service items and equipment ready for use to avoid unnecessary trips.
Always clean as you go and go as you clean, as this will avoid unnecessary cleaning and time wasting at the end of your shift.
All preparation areas should be kept clean at all times.
Smooth workflow and following of organisational requirements will ensure that customers are satisfied at all times. Customers expect efficient and organised work practices and good service at all times. This ensures that they will return and hopefully advertise the establishment through positive word of mouth advertising.
Remember that in restaurants there are sharp implements such as knives and waiter’s friends and hot and heavy service equipment which must all be treated with the utmost care at all times.
In the case of silver service, you must always take the greatest care in serving the customers to avoid spilling or dropping any of the food that you are serving on the customers.
It is also important to remember to cause the least amount of disturbance to customers, especially as you are working very close to them. Try not to lean on or over the customers or hover for too long.
The longer you take in silver serving the more chance there is of the food cooling down, so you must work quickly and efficiently at all times.
Tips: Before attempting to silver serve food to customers, you must be prepared. (mise-en-place) All your service items and equipment must be clean, undamaged and positioned ready for service.
Liners or flats
Service cloths and other linen
All service items and equipment must be inspected before use to check that:
Placement of all service items and equipment is extremely important.
As in all hospitality establishments, we must remember that the customer is king and he/she expects to be treated accordingly. If he/she is not treated properly, he/she will not return, nor will he recommend the establishment to anyone else.
Most customers will always order from the menu they are presented with, but you will always come across someone who wants an item that is not on the menu for a variety of reasons:
At all times it is important to try and meet the special requirements that customers may have. Generally this will be possible, but it takes a little patience and time on the part of the waiting staff. It is important to make sure that you know exactly what the customer wants. If it is a special requirement, you do not want to get the order wrong. You will need to liase with your supervisor and also the chef in the kitchen. Your supervisor will need to be advised, especially if there is to be a price difference, due to an extra ordinary item being served. You will have to talk to the chef to determine whether he/she is able to meet the customer’s request.
Customers may have other requirements that are not food related:
When providing silver service to customers, it is important to take special note of customer’s requests, and listen to them as you work around the table serving. Not all the customers will want everything that you are serving – they may not want as much as has been portioned out to them. If they require more, then you may have to check with the kitchen about availability.
At all times we should try to satisfy the customer’s requirements, and if there is an extra cost involved, the customer must be informed at the time of the request.
To serve larger items such as bread rolls, stuffed tomatoes and roast potatoes, you should turn the fork around. This will give you a better grip. The cutlery will also curve around the food so it will be more secure when you are serving it.
If you are serving large soft items such as an omelette or large whole fish or fillet, then you should use two fish knives. Hold the fish knives the same as the spoon and fork, and splay them out to give you better support for the item.
When you have finished silver serving food, you may often have a surplus of food. This may be because more was on the platter than was actually required, or a guest did not wish to have the full portion allocated to them.
In the case of surplus food, you should return the food to the kitchen as soon as you have finished serving the table and then you must follow organisational requirements regarding the disposal of the surplus food. After the service of food, you will also have used service equipment. This equipment must be dealt with immediately by returning it to the kitchen or wash up area. You should not leave any dirty or other used dishes in the restaurant and in view of customers. Your sideboard or waiter’s station should always be clear of all used equipment. This will make the whole restaurant look neat and tidy. Remember that the overall appearance of an establishment is very important.
At the same time as the main plates:
Do you offer silver service in your restaurant? Please leave us a comment on how you find it. If you would like training for your team, give us a shout.
Hospitality Coach, Speaker & Consultant