What Is the Proper Way to Serve Food?

Properly serving food in a formal setting requires the waiter to follow several rules, including serving plates of food from the right, carrying plates properly and removing food from the left. There are rules for every aspect of serving food, but most are easy to learn.

  1. Serving food

    Carry plates one in each hand so that fingers do not touch the top of the plate, and be sure to set the left plate down first. Plates of food are served from the right, while platters of food and pans are served from the left. When serving food from a tray, offer it to the guest from the left hand, bending down so that they can easily serve themselves from the tray. Do not reach across the guests lap or table space at any time while serving.

  2. Refilling and serving drinks

    Place and remove beverages with the right hand while standing on the guest’s left. Refill glasses from the left without disturbing or lifting the glass. Instead, use a pitcher and hold a folded napkin at the edge to catch any spilled liquids.

  3. Removing dishes

    Remove empty dishes at the end of each meal or course, not as they are emptied, unless performing another function, such as filling a beverage. Transfer plates to the left hand from the right, and if necessary, stack them on the hand rather than on the table. Remove serving dishes first, then plates and utensils and then glasses.