Ice bag

Last two weeks I was on holiday! And we’re CrazyWaiters also when we’re off so I kept my eyes wide open. I have eaten several times in the Sale Art Cafe in Catania (go there when you’re in Catania, maybe it’s the best restaurant of Sicily in it’s segment, read also the weblog of Andrea, the owner or manager if you understand Italian)

Over there I saw this bag for the winebottles, the Ice Bag. It’s trendy and very pratical because it’s easy to store and take to the table. Not suitable for all the settings but if it fits in your restaurant it’s a cool idea!

Great miming in Paris… je t’aime

Paris Je t’aime is a film consisting of 18 little films each representing an arrondisement in Paris (two are left out).  This video, shot near the Eiffel tower (8th arrondisement,) is written and directed by French animator Sylvain Chomet. A boy tells how his parents, both mime artists (Paul Putner and Yolande Moreau), meet in prison and fall in love. It’s great inspiration for CrazyWaiters, I’ll use the gesture of the hand moving from the bottom of the face to the top to let appear a smile a lot 🙂

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Olive oil, the green liquid gold

Once I was a food technologist with specialisation quality management. I’m still fascinated by the term quality: what is quality really. And what distinguishes top quality (the best of the best) from good quality and bad quality. And how to see, feel or taste those differences.

Not only of services, but also of products and food. Now I’m into olive oil. It’s triggered by an episode about Ollive Oil from a Dutch Television programme ‘Keuringsdienst van Waarde’ (it’s in Dutch, from 13:50 they are going to taste in an Italian sensory lab where things are explained by a very cute Italian lady – maybe she was the real trigger;)).

It’s a huge business and there’s a lot of marketing involved and also real scam. They show beautiful Italian pictures in the publicity while the oil is relative cheap Spanish oil. (in fact the marketing-‘lies’ is what the program tries to uncover)

The first info to start with is Wikipedia. Good portals are, and Here you find tips and tricks how to taste and how to set up a test. It continues with a description of the tastes and flavors in olive oil. I’ve put some other intersting links about this topic at delicious (and it will grow the following days)

The best way is of course to go to a shop where they sell a lot of olive oils like I did yesterday (without the knowledge I found today). You’ll find a lot of things in common in the different oils but also a lot of differences which makes it cool and really nice to discover. I’m going to Sicily in 4 weeks (yes!) and of course I try to do a olive oil tasting under the Sicilian sun!

A book for tips!

We CrazyWaiters are always fond of tips. Especially those who are serving in countries where service is not included (and salaries are
lower and thus depending on tips). If you als want inspiration how to increase your tips I recommend the new book of David Hayden.

Hayden is known for his websites Tips for Tips and his Hospitality Formula Network which consists of a bounch of sites for waiters and other people in the hospitality business. Now he releases a book “Tips2: Tips For Improving Your Tips”. It’s not in a storyform like the Waiter Rant-book (also very recommendable) but it is broken down into 10 sections containing 52 chapters which each address a very specific skill to improve yourself.

It’s very readable and because the chapters aren’t too long you can (re)read the book bit by bit. Also the tone of voice is very

David is very kind by giving the readers of a reduction of 20%. For that you have to use the coupon code  “CRAZYWAITER”, valid until July 1st 2011. (FYI: I don’t benefit of your purchase – not that I’d accept it). So go to his booksite and order the book. I’m soon going to order mine (and some for a couple of dear friends). You might also be able to buy/order it at your own bookstore using the ISBN’s: ISBN-10: 0-9836393-0-2 or ISBN-13: 9780983639305

Bob Sinclar & Raffaella Carrà – Far l’Amore

This might be the European summerhit of 2011. An old Italian song sung by Raffaella Carrà has been remixed by Bob Sinclar, a French DJ. The beautiful lady in the taxi is Caterina Murino, an Italian actress from Sardinia. They are talking about Gold, a restaurant of fashiondesigners Dolce & Gabana who also make a candid appearance in the video. Apparently it’s a good restaurant, so another reason to go back to Milan quickly. (here is the translation and original song)

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Remarkable CrazyWaiter… part 2

Also this year your CrazyWaiter is one the employees who are cited the most as remarkable. (I believe ca. 60 certificates out of >5.000 employees, 2 in every restaurant.) It’s always nice and inspiring to get some appreciation, even when it’s for the second time. It shows that you’re doing something well…

Although I hope there will be a hattick (also one of the most cited for the third time next year), I won’t be sad when another colleague will get this honour next year because there are so many nice, friendly and good waiters in my workplace. (no names… you know who you are 😉

Arnica magic

Because I’m a runner, I follow a lot of running weblogs. Silly Girl Running is one of these. She’s also a bit crazy (in the good sense of the word) by running for example two marathons in two weeks or running 78 km (49 mi) in the mountains of Swiss this summer.  In one post she showed the things she always carries with her and one of these is  arnica-gel. This triggered me to do some googling and research and finally I found and bought also a tube of the french brand Mercurochrome.

Yesterday I my hamstrings hurted, so I did a little massage with the gel. I applied it also today before work and the pain disappeared! (of course I didn’t do a double-blind test but it’s worth the try to see if it helps for you)

It doesn’t smell or seem to leave traces and most important it doesn’t make your hands fatty like massage oil does. And it works great for tired muscles and little pains (*) like we waiters often have after walking more than 6 km (4mi) a day at work!

I want to try other brands (there are a lot at Amazon or the french site Ciao) like Weleda (I think the most ‘natural’), Boiron or VSM (Dutch) but already after two days I recommend this kind of gel to my collegue waiters!

Any tips for brands or other gels to cure little pains? Don’t hesitate to share them!

(*) It’s important to listen to your body! When having a lot of pain or recurring problems go to see a doctor!

This post is not endorsed by any of the sites and/or brands mentioned.

Serving twice

The tables are seated twice in the restaurant where I work, some tables even three times. This is for me one of the hardest part of the job. In the time I learnt some tricks how to make it easier for myself thus improving the quality. Of course I’ll be happy to share these tricks with you:

  • Pre-bussing (taking empty glasses, bottles and cuttery away)  the table (without giving the feeling that the guest has to leave) is essential!
  • You spend most time in the chain emptying the table -> going to kitchen -> emptying your tray -> going back -> redressing the table with middle three steps. So I try to empty as many tables as possible at the same time to save time.
  • The hardest moment is when there are guests who leave and want to pay and new guests arrive and want to give their order. My manager and hotesse won’t be happy to read this but the easiest way to avoid is to wait with redressing the tables untill your station is completely empty (or the guests left don’t have to pay in the first couple of minutes). Of course you stay active and try to empty the tables and put the material on the table (so if they really need it, it’s easy for the hostess to redress it) but this secret method saves a lot of stress. In my opinion being flatseated is more efficient (you take all the orders at the same time) than doing 2 payments and 2 orders mixed. I realize that the guests have to wait longer for their table but I prefer that above confronting them with a freaked out CrazyWaiter!
  • Even if the table isn’t ready for the guests, I try to take care that there is already bread, spoons and glasses on the table. Our collegues seat the people as long as there are two knives, two forks and a napkin on the table but missing items as mentioned cause a lot of stress because the guest will ask for it. Pan and cuchara are the first Spanish words I learned for this reason!

CrazyWaiter’s Framework of Reference for Languages

There’s an Common European Framework of Reference for Languages which is very handy to evaluate your language skills. I made an own version of it. In fact the steps like I experience them are ‘Hello -> Order -> Information -> Complaint’, but I also applied the framework to our work so you can evaluate yourself and mention the level(s) on your CV.

A1 You can say the basic things, e.g. those which are written on the flap of a tourist guide (“I can interact in a simple way“)

A2 You can take an order and give information regarding topics outside your work (“I can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar topics and activities.“)

B1 You can handle a complaint, You can talk about what people have done that day (“I can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. I can enter unprepared into conversation on topics that are familiar, of personal interest or pertinent to everyday life”)

B2 People are starting to ask whether you have lived and worked for a while in that country (“I can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible“)

C1 You can express fluently (“I can express myself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions.”)

C2 You shouldn’t be waiter but translator 🙂

By the way, I think they should have made two top levels of C2: An motherlanguage level and a scientific level. I think most of my collegues aren’t able to ‘write complex letters, reports or articles which present a case with an effective logical structure which helps the recipient to notice and remember significant points’, while it’s their mother tongue and know most words, expressions and slang.

Saving lifes…. you can do it too!

Today the CrazyWaiter took his two-yearly refresher cours of lifesaving first aid interventions (eg. cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and Recovery position). I really think it’s a moral obligation for every professional working in public places, thus also CrazyWaiters!  To motivate you even more to take also a training, these funny videos. But you can’t learn from Youtube how to save lifes, so contact a training programma as soon as possible!

(BTW the two test breathings in the beginning are not done (anymore), at least not in France)

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