Did anyone else play the computer game Diner Dash? I am convinced that this concept was created by someone with real serving experience and I think it was my first encounter with dining room management.
If you’re unfamiliar, the avatar in the game is Flo — a server trying to please everyone in her dining room. She must seat guests, take orders, deliver tickets to the kitchen, run food, bus tables and ring in checks. As you advance through the levels, there are more and more guests at the restaurant with less and less patience.
After the remodel of the restaurant I transitioned into the Front of House as a server. I find myself thinking about this game and how its shockingly accurate. I have to hand it to Flo, she does it all without any help from hostesses or bussers.
For my first few days of serving I was definitely feeling like a one woman show. Especially a night when were short staffed, but with one week under my belt I’ve learned that you can’t do it alone. I’m so grateful for the busser cleaning off tables and hostess resetting them and giving me a heads up when she seats new guests. In a lot of ways service is a performance and the presence of a backstage crew is certainly one of them.
As a server I feel like I'm improving everyday and that's exciting. I'm getting more and more comfortable and consequently more graceful. The pop-up wine bar I worked back in December gave me some practice opening wine bottles in front of people but I still get a bit nervous when I have to do bottle service. I'm not sure that this is the side of the restaurant I want to stay on but its fun to try something new.
I just finished Ruth Reichl’s Garlic and Sapphires and was fascinated by her personas and their effect on her. I’ve wanted to read it for years and when I came across it at the library I checked it out and could hardly put it down.
When Ruth decided to fool the restaurants she attended by augmenting her appearance she didn’t just wear a disguise, she became a different person. Each character she created for herself had a distinct sense of style, back story, and behavior. She discovers both the best and worst versions of herself through these women she imagines and inhabits. It’s what makes her successful as a food critic but also why she had to leave after six years at the New York Times.
It’s no surprise to me that her stage is a restaurant, the dining room floor can feel like a theater, particularly for those of us who spend the most time on it.
I related to Ruth in her love of restaurants and the experiences they offer as well as her inner feelings of being a home cook. While I enjoy cooking and learning in the restaurant, when cooking really gives me peace and energy is when I’m in my own kitchen. Ruth finds herself avoiding restaurants in favor of taking on her own food projects towards the end and I hope to have half the career she’s had before resolving to do the same.
If you have any other food memoir recommendations please leave them in the comments!