Lesson 9: Food and Beverage service

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If you found unit 11 very interesting then prepare yourself because this unit holds a lot more surprises for you.

Have you ever dined in a restaurant? How did you find the service? Did you feel like a queen or king with all those waiters or waitress waiting on you? Did you notice how smart they look and how well they serve their food and drinks? You can also serve food in the same way if you study this unit carefully.

It contains a lot of information on table setting, methods of serving food and drinks and waiting at table.

By the end of this unit you should be able to

identify table appointments select and cane for table appointment list the various types of drinks served in restaurants explain the important of communication and interpersonal relationship in catering acquire the skill needed for serving meals describe the processes used for mixing drinks set a table correctly using appropriate equipment

Table Appointments

Meal time and all other times that food is served, have a social function. This is a time when people come together to eat, talk and share experiences. People join with others at mealtime because it is enjoyable to share a meal. The table setting, the way the meal is served and the behaviour of those at the table add to the enjoyment people get when they eat together.

Meals are enjoyed when a table is set with the comfort and convenience of the people in mind. The table need no be elaborate to make it attractive. However a table should be well laid so as to stimulate people appetite.

The equipment and other things used to set a table are called table appointments. They include the table linen, dinnerware, flatware and centre pieces.

Have you used any of the table appointment mentioned above? Can you describe them? Now read on and see if you are right.

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Table linen

Table linen includes table cloths, place mat, table runner and table napkins. They are called table linen because in old times they were mostly made from linen fabrics which are durable.

Nowadays table linen can be made from both natural and synthetic fabrics.

Table cloths

These are made with different fabrics and in different fabrics and in different colours. Usually, patterned or coloured table cloths are used for casual dining whilst white and pastel plain clothes are used for more formal occasions.

The size of a table cloth is determined by the size of the table on which it would be put. Table cloths should hang down the side of the table up to at least 30cm. For very formal and buffet tables, the cloth should hang almost to the ground.

Table cloths should be well ironed and used without creases.


They usually measure about 28 – 43cm. They came in various shapes e.g. rectangular, oval, round etc. The material used includes linen, lace, plastic, jute, cork etc. Can you think about others?

Placemats are easier to maintain but they can not be used for very formal occasions. They are used on tables that are beautiful. Sometimes they are placed on table cloths to protect them. Tablemats are used to cover the place occupied by one person whiles table cloths cover the whole table.

Table runners

Table runners are usually 30 – 33cm wide and a little longer than the table on which they are used. They are often used alongside placemats. They are placed across the middle fo the dinning table lengthwise.

Uses of table clothe, table runners and placemats

They are mostly used to make the table attractive. Also they can be a silencer to prevent dinnerware from making noise on the dinning table

They can also serve as a heat pad.

Table napkins

Table napkins are made with fabric or paper. The fabric must be absorbent. They can be made to match other table appointments or to contract them. There are different napkins sizes.

The standard sizes are

cocktail 13cm square luncheon 38cm square dinner 56-66 square

Table napkins can be made of paper. They are cheaper and save washing. They can however be used only for informal dinning.

Functions of Table napkins

for wiping hands wiping the mouth protecting clothing when eating

Choice of table linen

To choose table linen you must always consider its durability, colour, fastness and ease of care.

Centre pieces

Centre pieces are often used to decorate the table they are made with fresh fruits and vegetables, rocks, dry plants and seashells candles, fresh flowers.

Use seashells to make a decorative piece that can be put at the centre of a dinning table.

Centre pieces should be proportional to the size of the dinning table. They should not be so big as to cover the view of guests.

Do not use potted plants on dinning tables because the soil may get into food.


Dinnerware is a collective name given to dinner plates, breakfast plates, side plates, soup bowls, cereal bowls and dessert bowls.

The materials used for dinnerware are ceramics, china, pyrex and plastic, which of these types of dinnerware do you use in your home?

When selecting dinnerware, consider the following:-

How the colour and design will look when you serve your food in it The durability of the material The ease of care Proper handling and storage can extend the life of your dinnerware. The following are some diagrams of some dinnerware.


This is sometimes called Silverware and it refers to the equipment used for eating and serving food at table. Table knives, forks and spoons, serving spoons and forks, dessert spoons teaspoons and coffee spoons are all called flatware. They are made of silver, stainless steel, wood or plastic.

Silver and stainless steel are affected by eggs, vinegar, salt, tea and coffee. You should avoid their prolonged contact with these foods.

Discoloured stainless steel can be cleaned with non abrasive materials like sifted wood ash.


Glasses come in various shapes and sizes, collecting they are called Glassware. They add beauty and height to table setting.

Glasswares are made with glass, plastic, stainless steel and wood. Plastic cups are a good choice for children.

There are two types of glasses. Doe you know them. How would you call the glasses you use for drinking water? They are called Tumblers. Tumblers do not have a stem or post, they are short and chunky or tall and thin.


Tumblers are tall and they are usually used for drinking water and fruit juice. Short tumblers are used for drinking alcoholic beverages.

Now, stop reading and reflect on all the different glasses you have used for drinking. Did you use any glass that is different from what has just been described? How did it look like?

Some glasses are made to have three distinct portions. They have a bowl, a stem or post and a foot or base. These types of glasses are called Stemware.

They are graceful in appearance but very fragile. They come in different shapes and sixes. Observed the following diagrams, do they remind you of the time you used one of them?




Stem Ware

Tumblers and stem ware can be used for at different occasions and to drink different types of liquids observe the examples given below and the types of drink they are used for.

Choosing glassware

When choosing glassware;-

Consider the other tableware See that they are well balanced on the table The joints of stemware must not be visible It must have a comfortable hold Choose the ones that can be used for all purposes

For example champagne glasses can be used for shrimp cocktails, fruits cups and ice cream cups.


Glasses should not be stacked. If they get stacked, place the outer one in warm water. It will expand and the inner one can be removed. Alternately place ice blocks in the inner one to make it contract.

Handle glasses carefully. Hold stemware by the base of the bowl.

Do not put cold glass into hot water. Sudden temperature change can cause cracking.

Types of glasses and their uses

Table setting

Setting a table is the same for casual and formal dinning. It is the arrangement of the table appointments used by one person.

A cover is the amount of space allowed for one person and it covers a space of 50-60cm. Tables are set for convenience and comfort of dinners.

How to set a table

You can use a table cloth or place mat to cover the table when you sue a table cloth, it should cover the table with about 30cm overhanging on all sides of the table. The table cloth should be well ironed with no creases and it must hang evenly on all side.

Place the dinner plate in the centre of the cover (see diagram) about one inch from the edge of the table. Put soup plates on an Underlines. An underline is the plate used under a soup dish or a cocktail glass.

Place the fork to the left of the dinner plate and the napkin to the left of the fork. Place the dinner knife to the right of the plate with the blade facing the dinner plate and the dinner spoon to the right of the knife with the bowl of the spoon facing up.

Place forks and spoons in the order in which they are starting from the extreme end. Water glass is placed at the tip of the table knife.

When a knife is not used a fork is placed at the right of the plate. Hemmed edges of napkins are towards the plate and the edge of the table. Any other glass used apart from the water glass should be placed to the right of the water glass and slightly below it and should be placed on a coaster.

Juice glass for breakfast is placed to the right of the water glass and a little below it. When juice is served as an appetizer it is placed on a small plate in the centre of the cover.

During breakfast the cup and saucer are placed at the right of the teaspoon and the bread and butter plate at the tip of the table fork.

Meal service

Meal service is the way in which food is served at table. How do you eat your food at home? Do you eat anywhere you find comfortable or you sit at table to eat.

Meal time should be enjoyed and any method used for serving meals should be as simple as possible,

There are two main types of meal service. Can you name them? They are:- formal meal service and informal meal service.

Let us look at the informal meal service first because this is the type most people use. This type of meal service is characterized by the casual nature of service. Food is often served by the people who will eat it.

Informal meal service can be divided into five categories. They include

a.plate service b.family service c.compromise service d.buffet service e.modified english service

Most of these are not familiar to you but don’t worry because you would learn about them as you read on.

Plate service

It is an informal type of meal service. Foods is served on individual plate in the kitchen and are place in front of those eating at table by one person who is also eating or each diner goes to collect his plate of food from the kitchen and comes to the table to eat. Does this type of meal service seem familiar to you? It should because this method is often used in our homes. It is a quick method of serving food. No serving dishes are needed some sometimes food is wasted especially when people do no dish the food themselves. Some restaurants also use plate service.

'=== Family service ===

This is self – service at table. Serving dishes are placed on the table with the serving flatware beside them. Individual plates are placed at each of the cover. The serving dishes are passed round at the table so that individuals can serve themselves with the quantity of food they can eat.

The serving dishes are passed in the same direction to usually counter clockwise. Food is not wasted but good serving dishes are required.'

Buffet service

In this type of service, the necessary table appointments are attractively arranged on a long table. The guests help themselves to what ever food they want. Guests either sit at table to eat or on chairs with the plate or tray on their lap.

If guests would not sit at table the food should be such that they can easily be eaten with one hand. Plates are usually the first in line and flatware and napkins are the last. It is a convenient method for entertaining a large group.

In Ghana the buffet service is slightly altered to suit our environment. People tend to collect more food than they cane at so the different foods are served by somebody behind the table so the quest only pick their plates and they are served by servers.

Formal and service

This type of meal service is very formal. It is sometimes called Russian or continental. It requires the assistance of some waiter or waitress. It is an elaborate type of meal service.

Food is not placed on the dining table until people are seated. All courses of the meal are served from the kitchen and carried to the table by waiters or waitresses, who serve the guests. They table is cleared between each course.

People may be required to follow a dress code. This type of service is expensive and does not make people relax because you have to adhere to all the rules of behaviour at table. Wouldn’t it be good, if once in a while one can enjoy a formal meal?

Choice of style of service

List some of the reasons why people would choose one form of meal service over another?

Does your list include the following?

dining space available table appointment time available for serving and eating number of people to be served occasion convenience

Well done.

Waiting at table

The following are some of the things you would do when waiting at table:- Remove and place dishes except beverages from the left side of the diner with your left hand The water glass and beverage cup are on the right, they should be refilled with your right from the right side of the dinner. Glasses should not be filled to the brim. Use a napkin in your left hand to catch any drops from the pitcher

Table manners

I am sure you are wondering what table manner’s is doing in a course on food and beverage service. Well to start with table manners has something to doe with eating of food is it not so? If you served food it must be eaten. When people are eating together they must be considerate about the other people eating the food hence a table manners.

What would you do it the friend you are eating with makes funny noises when chewing his food? You would probably call him a bushman. You may not want to eat with him again so you see how important it is to learn about table manners.

Good behaviour at table adds to the enjoyment of the meal by everyone. Here are some ways in which we can show consideration for others at table.

Wait for everybody to be served before you start eating your food Use the correct flatware. Forks are meant to carry food to the mouth, to cut soft foods and to hold foods when cutting them with a knife Use a knife to cut food which you can not cut with a fork Use napkins to protect your clothes, blot your mouth and wipe your hands Break off small pieces of bread as you are ready to eat Remove small pieces of bone from your mouth quietly and unconspicuously with your fingers If you spill or drop something apologize briefly Take part in conversation but do not take over Eat quietly and slowly when eating soup dip the spoon in the soup away from you Don’t put too much food in your mouth and chew food with your mouth closed Do not talk with food in your mouth When you finish eating, place your cutlery across the centre on the left of the plate

The menu in a catering establishment

You have probably heard the word menu several times already what do you think it is?

Write down two things you know about a menu. A menu is also known as bill of fare. It is a list of dishes and their prices offered in a catering establishment. Menus can be presented in different ways but two of these are commonly used especially in restaurants

These are

Table d’ote menu A la carte menu

Table d’ahote menu

This is used in many types of food service outlets. It features are:-

It has a fixed selling price for the whole of the meal It has a set number of courses It has a number of choice for each course It is usually ready for service at a set time

A la carte menu

This is a menu in which dishes are priced separately. Each menu item has its own price customers can choose dishes to make up their own courses. It has the following features.

A menu is a valuable piece of literature for selling an establishment and its services. It must therefore have accurate descriptions and pricing.

Communication and customer relatives in catering

The staff involved in food and beverage service in a catering establishment come into regular contact with customers. This contact is very important if the customer should have a pleasing money of the establishment and come again and again. Many customers judge an establishment by the standard of its service. Good personal appearance and meal presentation are important attribute of staff. The way in which a waiter stands, moves and responds to customer requests often tells whether the waiter is interested in looking after the customers interest or not.

Facial expressions can show lack of interest to customers, posture, especially in the service area should show interest and seriousness, no slouching or leaning on walls.

Always look at the person to whom you are talking. Poor facial expressions may show lack of interest

Body movements like nods can reinforce verbal messages Use correct grammar and pronunciation and talk clearly Receive information by a.listening carefully b.identify relevant points c.taking notes, where necessary d.recheck information received by repeating it to the customer

Meal service techniques and procedures

Whoever is responsible for greeting guests must ensure that the reception is welcoming. Lead guests to a table and help them to sit down by slightly pulling out chairs and moving them forward as guests sit.

Menu Presentation

The waiter must present the menu opened to the guests and give them time to read and choose their dishes.

Taking the order

The order is taken while standing on the left of the guest. The waiter can give advice or explanation on the choice of dishes only when asked.

Food service techniques

where possible serve food from the customers left serve hot foods on hot plates and cold foods on cold plates serve ladies first where possible serve cold food, before hot foods

presentation of the bill

At the request of the guest the bill must be collected from the cashier and presented to the host folded to conceal the figures and on a side plate. When payment is made the money is taken to the cashier and any cheque returned with the receipt on a side plate unless the guest indicates that the change is a tip it should be left on the plate until the guest leaves. Beverage Service

Beverages are served either on their own or with food. In a drinking bar, drinks are usually served on their own, in restaurants they are sometimes served with food.

Beverage is a general name given to all types of drinkables. They are divided into two main groups.

Alcoholic beverages Non-alcoholic beverages

Alcoholic Beverages

These are beverages that have some amount of alcohol in them. They include strong beverages like whisky, brandy, gin and milder ones like beer and some wines.

Non Alcoholic Beverages

These are beverages which contain no alcohol. They are classified into several categories.

- Juices

These include tomato, orange, pineapple and grape fruit juices. They are mainly made from fruits and vegetables. They are served in small bottles and cans. They can be served on their own or as an accompaniment to an alcoholic drink. Soda or lemonade can also be added to them.

- Natural Mineral Waters

These are natural and have refreshing quantities. They also contain minerals which may have health-giving properties. When served on their own they should be well chilled and served method ice mineral waters can also be served with other drinks.

- Aerated Water

These are flavoured waters charged with carbon dioxide bottled or canned. E.g. lemonade, butter lemon, ginger ale, tonic water, coke, soda water, fanta.

They can be mixed with other drinks e.g. gin and lime.

- Squashes and Cordials

These are concentrated drinks which are diluted or used in mixing other drinks. E.g. orange squash, lime juice cordial, black currand cordial

- Syrups

These are used mainly as cocktail ingredients.

- Tea, coffee and cocoa are also beverages

Steps in serving drinks

In serving drinks to customers the following must be noted.

The correct type of glass should be used for each drink All glasses must be clean and free lint, chips and cracks Glasses with handles should have the handle to the right of the customer Glasses should not be held by the rim. Hold the stem, the base or the handle depending on the type of glass you are using.


You have been reading about how food and beverages are served and some of the equipment used in meal and beverage service.

Table appointments should be carefully chosen so as to make meal times pleasant and comfortable. In choosing table appointment consideration should be given to care, ease of use, durability and quality.

Table for dining so as to give the individuals who sit at the table elbow room. Forks, knifes and spoons should be wiped well before they are used.

The type of meal service are chooses depends on factors like number occasion, space and availability of serving dishes. Menus used in restaurants are divided into two groups.

A la carte menu and table d’hote menu.

Beverages divided into alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

Unit Review

Give two table appointment and describe their use List the various types of drinks served in a restaurant Why is good communication important in catering In what order would you serve food when waiting at table?