Kinds of Service


One who prepares meals to order for private individuals or dishes to be taken away.

Under the Ancient Régime, traiteurs formed a corporation, specialising in weddings, feasts, and banquets. They also had the right to hire out cutlery, crockery, and table linen. The profession of traiteur was at that time considered more honourable than that of innkeeper or rôtisseur. The traiteur was the predecessor of the restaurateur, the difference being that customers were not able to eat on his premises. In addition, as Brillat-Savarin said at the end of the 18th century, traiteurs “could only sell whole joints; and anyone wishing to entertain friends had to order in advance, so that those who had not the good fortune to e invited to some wealthy house left the great city without discovering the delights of Parisian cuisine.” Restaurants were not yet in existence, and respectable people did not frequent inns. However, following the success of restaurants towards the end of the 19th century, the term traiteur acquired a rather derogatory meaning and was applied to restaurants of the lowest class and wine merchants who provided meals.

The modern caterer specialises in banquets, cocktails, and lunches, served either in the clients’ homes or in hired rooms. These services can e provided rooms. These services can be provided by pastry cooks, confectioners, restaurateurs, and delicatessen owners.

The kitchen of the pastry cook who provides a catering service is very different from that of the restaurateur, firstly because the transport and reheating of dishes require special methods. And secondly because he has to cater sometimes for several thousand and sometimes for a mere dozen. The dishes he provides typically include croustades, bouchées, timales, vols-au-vent, pâtés, galantines and ballottines, chaudsfroids, dishes in aspic, canapés, and of course, set pieces for special occasions and a variety of desserts, ice creams, and petits fours. Restaurants providing a catering service often offer dishes from their menu, which can e easily transported, such as cassoulet, sauerkraut, confit, civet, etc.


Beverages and cocktail sandwiches are offered on silver serving trays. The customers mostly standing help themselves.

Counter service

For this form of service a number of customers are seated at the actual service counter itself. The menu can offer a wide range of dishes. A very quick turnover is necessary for this form and labour costs are reduced to a minimum because as many customers as possible are seated at the service counter. Therefore the counter hand can take the order, prepare and plate up the dish required, and serve it. In order to do this efficiently and quickly as much labour-saving equipment as possible should be used.

Self service

This is a form of service whereby the customer collects a tray from the beginning of the service counter, moves along the counter selecting the meal, pays cash or by credit card and then collects the appropriate tableware for the meal. The type of establishment carrying out this form of service would have a high customer turnover rate. The speed of customer turnover depends on the efficient organisation of the service counter and the rapid replenishing of all dishes as and when necessary. The menu offered would show a wide range of dishes from simple hot and cold snacks and beverages all individually priced.

At the entrance to the food service area the menu should be prominently displayed so that all customers may decide as far as possible what meal they will purchase before they arrive at the service point. This will save time at the service point and ensure that the customer turnover is as quick as possible. At the beginning of the service counter will be a tray stand and each customer will collect a tray before proceeding along the service counter. The layout of the counter is most important and it generally follows that the dishes are found in the order in which they appear on the menu. An important aspect of the service counter is the presentation of the cold items to be sold. These must be well and attractively displayed, under cover for hygiene reasons and at the correct temperature. Those dishes put on show will act as a selling aid and the responsibility for this rests with the person in charge of the kitchen and his or her staff.

With this form of service the meal may either be completely pre-plated or just have the main meat/fish dish plated and the potatoes, vegetables, sauces and other accompaniments added according to the customer’s choice. At the end of the counter would be sited the cashier who would charge for the meals chosen by the customers before they pass on to the seating area.

Where this form of service is being carried out cost is most important. To this end certain portion control equipment is used to ensure standardisation of the portion served. Such equipment would include scoops, ladles, owls, beverage dispensers, etc. At the same time great use is often made of pre-portioned foods such as butter, sugar, jams, cream, cheeses, biscuits, etc.

Clearing staff should be moving around all the time clearing the dirties from the table, wiping down the tale tops and emptying ashtrays. All dirties should be removed as quickly and quietly, with as little disturbance to the customer as is possible.

Plate service

This is another form of table service, where the menu presented would be tale d’hôte. This form of service is very often offered where there is a rapid turnover of custom and speedy service is necessary. The waiter/ress receives the meal already plated from the service hotplate and only has to place it in front of the guest ensuring at the same time that the correct cover is laid and the necessary accompaniments are on the table.

Silver service

The waiter receives the food from the aboyeur at the hotplate. He takes it to his sideboard and depoits the food on his hotplate on the sideboard. For presentation purposes all the food is dressed up on silver flats or entree dishes and in vegetable dishes, with the appropriate sauces and accompaniments in silver sauce boats. The waiter now works fom his sideboard, placing the plate in front of the guest and then presenting the main meat dish before serving it onto the guest’s plate. This is then followed by the service of potatoes, vegetables, sauces and accompaniments. The waiter must ensure that the food is served on to the guest’s plate in an attractive and presentable manner. This form of service demands skill on the part of the waiter in handling and manipulating clips, and in organising his service quickly and efficiently.

Gueridon service

The definition of the term gueridon is a movable service table or trolley from which food may be carved, filleted, flambéed, or prepared, them reheated and served. It is in other words movable sideboard carrying sufficient equipment for the immediate operation in hand. whatever it may be, together with a surplus of certain equipment in case of emergency. It should also carry any special equipment that may be necessary. The gueridon itself may come in various forms, i.e. Calor gas trolley special made for that purpose; plain trolley or even a small table.

It is the most advanced form of food service and demands dexterety and skill on the part of the waiter who in turn must have good organizational ability.

The dish comes on a silver tray from the kitchen. Before the preparation the silver serving tray has to be presented to the customer, than put on the Gueridon. Use clips or the relevant equipment to prepare the dish (see – prepare a main course). One half of the dish has to be prepared, the other half to be kept on a Rechaud (plate warmer). Do not use the rim of the plate for preparation. Serve the plate from the right-hand side; the sauce a part will be served from the left. Decant the sauce not on the meat or side dish; it goes separately. The second half kept on the Rechaud will be prepared later on a new plate.

Prepare a main course

  • Meat at 6 o’clock
  • Potatoes, rice, noodles at 2 o’clock
  • Vegetables at 10 o’clock
  • Sauce at 8 o’clock

Butler service

A silver serving tray is prepared from the kitchen. The waiter offers the tray from the left-hand side and the customers help themselves. There have to be clips on the tray heading with their handle towards the customer.

Wine service

White wine will be served always chilled; red wines will be served at room temperature unless instructed otherwise by your headwaiter or supervisor. The host will be shown the bottles label and offered to taste the wine. Bottles will either be placed on a spider rack or on a base plate. Pour not more than a third until to a half of a glass.

Prior to opening a bottle present it to the host to allow them to check that it is the ordered one. Open the bottle within view of the host, in the hands or on a flat surface; – never use the legs as a clamp. Cut the foil beneath the raised lip, and then wipe the top of the bottle with a napkin before pulling the cork. A waiter’s friend is still the most effective method when in experienced hands.

Offer a small amount for the host to taste. In theory this should be purely to check for cork taint or other faults and to check that it is the desired temperature, if a customer has a complaint it is difficult to insist that there is nothing wrong with a bottle. However, it is important for the person serving to realise there is no fault, as to offer the same wine again would be invite the same complaint. It is best to offer an alternative.

Begin by serving the host’s guests first, female before male in order of seniority. Then returning to fill the hosts last, always pour from the right. Hold the bottle showing the label and carry a napkin to catch any drips. To fill the glass 1/2but not more then 2/3 full is accepted practice. A gentle twist when lifting the bottle away from the glass will lessen the chance of any drips.

Return the bottle to the table or ice bucket; remember that over chilling a white wine will reduce its flavour. For each additional bottle ordered the procedure should be repeated, offering clean glasses for each fresh bottle.

When pouring, full measures must be given. All measuring instruments or capacity measures must be government-stamped.

Wine by the glass will be served on the tray in the marked glass of the correct size to customer’s requirement by using a coaster.