Patty Canedo is a chef in Palm Beach. She writes frequently about her kitchen exploits in this column, Half-Baked.
It's been said by so many: it doesn't matter how good the food is if the service is lousy. The kitchen only runs as well as our front of house staff does. That's why in this industry servers come and go, often as quickly as the rush.
I've worked with some of the best and, unfortunately, I've also witnessed some of the worst. What's really amusing is how harsh servers can be on one another. It's a cutthroat business based on how good your performance is; that's why I know my FOH friends won't mind if I school you (and some of them) on the Five Servers To Avoid. Even the hosts and floor managers will understand if you spot these people and ask for another server -- to be moved to another section.
5) The Trainer
The establishment deems this person not only fit to serve your table but be the example for a new employee. His role is to demo a perfect performance, which is usually an overbearing survey rather than dining experience. On the other hand, his rookie will be swinging by every few minutes to fill your drink the second you take a sip of it, check how the food is after every bite, and grab your plate as you're laying down the fork.
4) The Neglecter
This server will spend the least amount of face time possible. You'll only see her when she drops drinks, food and the check. You know who you are dealing with, now: how to deal with her. Figure out what you want for drinks through dessert before you are even greeted. Make sure she doesn't remove any extra silver or napkins off the table. Order waters with your drinks, and talk with your mouth full if need be, because you don't know when you'll see her again.
3) The Boundary Crosser
This person is so friendly and focused on making you comfortable that she makes herself comfortable, too. Taking a seat while taking an order: faux pas numero uno. Crossing the personal space boundary: big no-no number two. Chiming in on the conversation at the table: strike three! I'm always nervous that they'll get too comfortable, grab a drink and dive into the app.
2) The Mentalist
This server will try to dazzle you by not writting down your detailed/large order, which can be an impressive feat. However, this trick only works when you go from the table to the computer to fire the order. In South Florida, there are plenty of people (not just old biddies) who wreak havoc on an order by ignoring the menu choices and making up their own culinary creations with substitutions and special requests. Nine times out of ten something will get missed or forgotten. It's just more impressive to get the order right.
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1) The Drama Queen
The kitchen staff hates him, he has an ailment of some sort, he got into a fight with his significant other, his dog has the same ailment and your order triggered a childhood memory. Next thing you know, this server is in a fetal position at your feet because you wanted mashed potatoes instead of fries with your meal. Don't worry folks -- the show is free with your meal!