Myth: Serve from the left, remove from the right

For those in the restaurant industry, or even for those who are experienced diners, serve from the left, remove from the right, is a service industry myth that has been perpetuated for so long that it is on the verge of becoming a truth, based on repetition alone.

Fine dining restaurants, places that demand that service excellence be superior, are the biggest culprits to this silly little lie, but as with most lies, it stems from a truth.

Modern day service and dining is still pretty, well, er, modern. The way people dine nowadays is a relatively new style of dining compared to how it had been done for hundreds, even thousands of years.

Back when, people that were served food were relatively affluent. Enough so that they had butlers or servants. These servants would prepare food in the kitchen, put it on a platter and present it to the master(s) at the dining room table. They would present the food from the left. This would allow the dinner guest to select which food they would like to enjoy. The butler or servant would place the food on to their plate, or the dinner guest would take the food from the platter. In these cases, presenting food from the left was the correct service procedure.

The type of dining practiced all around the world, currently, is a variation of “Service a La Russe”. This is the kind of dining that you are most likely familiar with, in which you choose what you will dine on and the food is prepared in full, by Chef, in the kitchen and delivered to you in its entirety. There are no choices from platters. In these cases when food is delivered, fully prepared on the dinner plate, it is to be delivered to the guest from the right hand side. All drinks are to be delivered from the right hand side as well.

The only thing that is meant to be delivered from the left is bread or some accoutrements to the meal. Otherwise, it is, serve from the right, remove from the right

The next time you are out to eat at a nice restaurant, watch… Does the service team deliver the food correctly?

There are more pertinent food presentation consideration for modern restaurant conundrums.

Here are some modern day rules

1. Know what each guest has ordered. Never “auction off” the food. Use position numbers when taking the order to ensure that the correct food goes to the correct guest.
2. Deliver food to the ladies first.
3. Do not lean over one guests food to deliver food to another. It is more important to deliver food to the furthest guest in, (such as at booths) and work your way out, than it is to deliver food to a lady first.
4. Keep thumb and finger contact with the plate at a bare minimum. Ideally, you should only have the meat of your hand holding the plate, not a thumbs grip which causes the thumb to be present on the plate.

There are many rules on serving food. They were created to make dining experiences wonderful for the guest and easy on the server. There is rhyme and reason to etiquette… use it!

By Papa

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