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!

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.


The CrazyWaiter spent his well-earned weekend in Brussels. He ate in three restaurants but was surprised by Steakfrit‘. There’s no need to do always fancy things in life, sometimes you have to keep it stupid simple but do it f#cking fabulous. The menu is with traditional belgian dishes for very reasonable prices especially in Brussel where the brasseries ask higher prices in general.

The most popular plate (ordered by 70% of the guests) is of course the steak:  Angus primebeef, specially imported from Ireland. The steak is a cut of the finest and tastiest part: the Sirloin and tasted very well. It’s accompanied with belgian frites, stoemp (mashed patatoes with vegetables) and a salade.

The service by Morgane and her coworkers of Steakfrit’ Grand Place was great (BTW I loved their shirts) and one of the many things that made this restaurant special was the unlimited refill (‘la repasse’) with the steak, frites and/or stoemp.  This is not usual and makes that you always eat warm food. (and let’s be honest, it costs a little seen the fact that only 20% takes something extra but it gives a great hospitality and ‘value for money’ feeling for your guests). Other remarkable choice of the restaurant is the fact that they only serve three wines to keep life simple: red, rosé and white for one price €18 for a bottle, also very reasonable. Also pretty unusual is the fact that kids up to 8 years dine for free and up to 12 for 50% of the price.

Last but not least : my former qualitymanager-heart started to beat a bit faster when I saw that they gave a questionnaire with the bill. Not too extensive (if I remember well only three questions: what was good, what wasn’t good, do you have suggestions) but it shows again the focus on quality by Steakfrit’ ! It looked like a make-easy-money-tourist trap, but it was GREAT!

If you understand Dutch it’s worth looking at the videos has taken about Steakfrit. (page 3)

Clear Ear

I’m working in a restaurant with a lot of kids and without any materials to damp the noise. That drove me literal crazy, sometimes I had to go backstage to calm down a bit because the noise worked on my nerves. There are a lot of variations of the CrazyWaiter and this is not the one the guests are waiting for. That’s why I decided to use earplugs. First I used other ones, but then I discovered the Clear EAR 20. It’s made by 3M, the big company which also makes the post-it-papers.

They filter very well while keeping the voice range almost intact (the more the noise, the better I understand the guests), they are very discrete (A friend asked me afterwards whether I had them really in my ears or not, while he knows that I use them) and very cheap (around 3 dollar/euro). I use them around 150 hours, then I change them because they become a bit unclear. Like every plug I recommend them to use them from the start, even if there’s not a lot of noise so your brain is adapting itself.

You can find them in several webshops, but if you’re Dutch Conrad has a good deal!

(Post not endorsed by 3M, Clear or Conrad). PS If somebody from 3M reads this: your site is freaking me out, luckily the earplugs are better than the usibility of your site where I can’t find the product (anymore) on the site

Little CrazyWaiters

When I was a little boy I had already fun with emptying and cleaning the tables in the café where my parents were drinking a coffee. I also used to play restaurant with my brother. Maybe I knew my destiny already at those times. When working, I also try to make kids enthousiastic for working in the restaurant business. I remember a little girl who was interested and knew her destiny after I gave her a tour in the à-la-carte restaurant in our hotel.

Little wannabe chefs de cuisine and maîtres d’hotel can now play with this box. For the chef there is a book with receipts, a toque, and a plate with “employees only”. The little waiters and waitresses can have fun with a sets for the table, money, menus, writing pads and a book “the perfect waiter”. Damn, I wish I was a little kid 🙂

If you live in France you can order it here or here (around 20 euro). If you live elsewhere order another American box Let’s play restaurant! (less sophisticated and more expensive IMHO) , or start your own business with selling boxes like this!

(Photo by LeFigaro)

The CrazyWaiters pockets

Let’s dive today in CrazyWaiters pockets. Everything he carries has his sense.

  • Winekey To open winebottles of course. The knife is multifunctional. My preferred one is the Cellini of FarmItaly.
  • Pen To write the orders and sign the creditcard slips. Bic Cristal because they don’t leak inkt when it gets warm (read: in your pocket). Of course two because pens are there to loose.
  • POS card to have access to our POS computer. We use Micros
  • Crown cork opener It goes more quickly with a simple one like this than with the one on the winekey.
  • Matches To lighten the candles on the birthdaycake. In France it’s prohibited to smoke in the restaurant, so it hasn’t sense to give a light to the beautiful girl at table 501 🙂
  • Stickers To reward kids who have eaten everything. Or to put on the adhesive bandage to make an exclusive one.
  • Adhesive bandage For ourself, the colleagues or guests.
  • Needle and wire To fix buttons and perform other little reparations to our clothes or others. Also to adjust princess-dresses which are a bit too big. EDIT 24-11-2010 I ruined a dress today after I made it shorter with safetypins… ooops.. so I won’t do it again
  • Faceshield To protect yourself and the other when performing Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The one of Leardael is the best according to my CPR teacher. By the way, I strongly believe that knowledge of First Aid and CPR is a moral obligation of everybody working in public places as restaurants and hotels.
  • Gloves To protect yourself while cleaning vomit and stopping bleedings
  • Earplugs There is a lot of noise in the restaurant where I’m working. Now I have Alpine worksafe but I’m waiting for Clear EAR 20 who will filter more the hightones and less the lowtones (eg. the voicerange). This type of earplugs is very discrete, you don’t see them if guests are looking to the front of your face. The new ones will even be more discrete. (EDIT: view a review on the 3M Clear Ear here
  • Wallet To collect the creditcardslips, tips and the most of the stuff listed here. Fixed with an wire to my trouser because I’m too afraid to forget it somewhere or loose it.
  • Handwipes To give to the guests after eating shrimps. (To give them opened half torned is a nice gesture because the guests hands will be fatty) Also useful to clean tables, shoes and spots on the wall. (NB: Not on the picture)
  • Hotel- and parcinformation To answer all the questions about opening and closing times of shops, sauna’s and other nice things we have to offer.

And what do you have in your pockets what is not listed here?

Shoes for CrazyWaiters

One of the big risks in the restaurant industry is gliding. Once I banged my head that hard against a wall that I was almost unconscious. (see also this video.)

Now we have the Executive Wing-Tip from Shoes For Crews. In contradiction to other shoes I have used in the past, they fit fantastic, have a flexible sole, have great cushioning, give support and I’ve never glided any more! I managed to run 200 meter in 50 seconds with it when I forgot my POS-card in my locker  😉 and when I see them in a shop I’d definitely buy one of their shoes for daily use. So I really recommend these shoes!

Edit: I would choose the new Senator, because the little ‘holes’ in the Executive Wing-Tip are difficult to clean.

Edit 2: Apparently they’ve changed supplier because the new shoes are not as good as the old ones in terms of comfort, fit and anti-gliding capacities. So try to fit them first before you buy them

Edit 3: Now I’m working in the event- and partycatering I wish I had this one with a steel toe to protect my toes against falling and rolling tables. Anyone in a good mood? 🙂

Edit 4: They listened to me (ahum…) and have now an Excecutive Wing with a steel nose. But now I don’t work at eventcatering anymore…

NB: The CrazyWaiter is not paid for this message. However, if SFC wants to give a pair of shoes for this testimonial all they need to do is to contact me. 🙂

Edit: is a Dutch webshop selling SFC