Monday, May 01, 2006 by Ospite.

Food. It's why we're here. It's a perk of the job. Free meals, discounted meals, quality dishes prepared by someone else. There are times when it can be torture to a starving, been-on-the-floor-for-12-hours-without-a-break restaurant staff member to watch an army of food march towards the tables only to be half eaten and then thrown away.

Two women wander into the trattoria. Designer this and that, clothes that scream money, bodies that scream personal trainer, checks that scream "I'm hungry enough to feed the entire Roman club team." They order the calamari (which is decent, yet shockingly high in calories), then the house salad, then one attacks the huge lasagna dish while the other wades through a massive bowl of pasta. They ate only four pieces of the rubbery cephalopod, retossed the salad without actually ingesting any, and stabbed the main course with the forks. This escapade takes about 2 hours, by the way. After staring at their food over an energetic conversation about nothing at all, they order dessert. Cheesecake and a lemon thing. Now, our cheesecake is quite delicious and it almost pains me to see it not fulfill it's dessert destiny and be eaten. When two bites are removed from it and the second simply sits on the utensil and never reaches the mouth, my heart hurts for the cheesecake. They ate about a tenth of their meal and walked away "O my GOD we're so full!" The remainder of their food was thrown out.

It is this behavior that spawns several resultant behaviors in restaurant staff. Two of which are either loathing the patron for splurging and wasting, or being delighted by the extra food, taking it in the back and eating it. Don't be shocked...not many do this, but some.

We have one particular waiter who watches his tables like a hawk. You'd think he was paying attention to their refills, or just to make sure they get the best service. You'd think that, but you'd be wrong. He first decides whether or not the person looks attractive enough to share food with. If the woman is hot, sexy, adorable, cute, or possibly simply average, his mindset is "If I'd make out with her, I could share her food. If I could share her food, then I can eat off of her plate after she leaves." If the woman does not reach the high standards he has set, or the targeted patron is a male, then his observations turn to "which sections of the food he touched or might have breathed on excessively during the meal." If the food seems as though it might hold an untainted portion, it will be cut with a knife, the offending food removed and the remainder consumed.

98% of us other staff feel as though this is grotesque. I was under that impression until the other day when a personal friend came in. Her boyfriend was visiting and they popped by for a bite and a hello. I treated them to dessert and my friend did not have the room to finish hers. I had not eaten dinner and the remainder of her cake was staring in my face as I passed. I fell hard. Scooping up the plate, I made a mad dash for the kitchen where I grabbed a fork and dove in.

"Alriiiiight. 'Dead cake.' Toss me a fork."
"Actually, this came from a table."
"Please tell me you're kidding."
"For f*ck's sake man, have some dignity!"

I had stumbled upon the perfect way to keep the jackals at bay. Granted, I had to give up a small piece of respect from each employee. In the long run, I think it will be worth it.


Blogger Logical Philosopher said...

I always guessed it went on but once I saw it - the waiter took our plate, which was still 1/3 full as we didn't realize the large serving we would get, and as he walked back towards the kitchen slid the plate onto the table of wait-staff that were on their break. I thought you'd at least want to keep it out of eye-shot!

7:57 PM  
Blogger Girl at the bar. said...

I've never done it. but my cousin works at a steak house, and he has no problem with using the "blotting" method with a paper towel, cut off the un eaten portions and putting them back in the window to warm up... I on the other hand can't even order food from my resturant to eat myself, let alone eat someone else leftovers.

4:41 PM  

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At your service, Ospite

I am not in the restaurant business, I am in the people business. I use every opportunity to people watch, because to me, even the most mundane is fascinating.

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