DO’S OF TABLE SERVICE
- Give yourself one hour to set the table- start with the table decorations in the centre, followed by table place settings and then glassware and always use white gloves when setting. Then you can set your side tables (mise-en-place), and organise your pantry, Pantry prep is just as crucial to ensure it all flows smoothly. Inside The Seaworthy Yacht Stewardess Course there’s a pre-meal checklist which has everything on it so you don’t forget a thing when setting the table.
- Know the menu off by heart – the ingredients in it and if it’s diet specific such as gluten free or vegan.
- Remember the little things – when you remember all the little things it can make a big difference between a good and an amazing and memorable meal service. You can simply observe the guests and just make a note of the way it’s unfolding. Things like remembering the principal guest likes lemon wedges with certain dishes, or condiments like hot sauce, or a coffee immediately after a meal.
- Avoid Asking “Would you like a top -up?” Just keep refilling. The guests will let you know when they don’t need another.
- When serving wines, I recommend referring to The Seaworthy Wine Guidelines in the course to ensure each wine is served correctly such as the correct temperature, in the right glass and opened correctly in front of the guests.
- Don’t say “Are you still going on that?”, wait for the signs that tell you they are finished, napkin on top of plate, cutlery on a diagonal or vertical on top of plate.
- Remember your sequence of service serving the principal’s main female guest (usually his wife or partner) first, followed by other females, then the males then the principal guest.
- Always listen to your chief stew or Head Of Service. Each yacht has a bespoke style of service based on the owner’s preference. This could mean breaking the rules on service styles to ensure the owners’ preferences are met and they are happy.
- Go around the table in a clockwise direction so you don’t bump into other service stews.
- Always use trays to serve and clear on and off the table (except courses’ plates and chargers). And never stack plates. When it’s a large dinner you can clear plates and place them on a sideboard out of sight of the guests and then another stew can take them to the pantry as your eyes should be on the guests.
- If cutlery or a napkin falls on the ground, replace it immediately with a new one even when the guest says it’s okay to keep the same one. This is why having extras on your side service station is crucial.
DON’TS OF TABLE SERVICE
- Do not clear plates until every guest has finished eating, and keep the galley updated with where you are up to with clearing so they have time to prepare the next course. Before dessert everything must be cleared from the table that isn’t relevant to the final courses. Start with the largest item and work down to the smallest. Use a tray to clear small items. (unnecessary cutlery, salt, pepper, bread plates, chargers, etc.).
- Do not interrupt a conversation. Wait for the right moment to ask. Most of the time it’s only you who feels awkward waiting for the right time to ask the guests something.
- Never say “I don’t know” to any question without following with, “however I’ll find out rigth away.” Also I learnt this one the hard way never say “No problem” or ‘No worries’ (mostly orientated for the Aussies). As it is considered a problem. It has a tone of sarcasm. You can say “My pleasure” or “You’re welcome” will do.
- Try not to bump into chairs or tables nearby in service, we are trying to be graceful around the table so move slowly.
- Don’t make yourself unavailable during a service, you should be observing from a distance or refilling water wine or clearing not chatting away in the pantry.
- Don’t leave water marks on the table. Be discrete and wipe away with a service cloth in your hand. And don’t cut guests off when you are pouring water/wine if they are in conversation.
- Don’t use the wrong silverware or service cutlery with the meals such as a fish knife with the lamb. I’ve included a list of all the types of silverware and their uses in The Seaworthy Yacht Stewardess Course.
- Here are some don’ts from the wine guidelines I mentioned previously:
Never use the same glass for another drink unless you have asked and they have requested to pour it in the same one.
Do not pop a champagne cork. Remove it quietly, gracefully. The less noise the better.
Never let the wine bottle touch the glass into which you are pouring.
If you want to polish your service skills as a yacht stewardess. The Seaworthy Yacht Stewardess Course has you covered. Inside the online training course you get video modules on service guidelines for the 4 main types of services onboard. You will also find Table Setting Guidelines for Informal and Formal dining, plus a How to Set a Table cheat sheet. As well as In the Drinks module you will have access to the wine service guidelines, bar set up checklists, and more.
Download the course here.
Having the right tools at hand gives you the confidence to do a really good job. As you continue to learn throughout your stewardess journey you will know that it only leads to bigger and better jobs with better perks!
By starting off on the right foot and learning the foundations of service really sets you up for success.