To think of personality types in catering is like thinking of all the stereo types that you have and pushing them out there. From fatly towers to the snotty waiter in the films, the drunken bar man from cocktail and every other clich that you can think of. The truth is that it takes all sorts to make a world and that in this trade you do not get the most academically advanced graduates apart from when they are students. You do get colourful characters and often with the free and easy access to things such as alcohol. The mix can be very interesting indeed. But lets look at the big picture and see if I can see what is the best things to look for .
The big divide is the front of house and back of house. Two worlds divided by a swing door. And are in every way two sides of the same animal. Not always working together and often at logger heads. As I have done both, that is worked either side of the swing door, it is a strange position that I can look at this and think of what it means to be both chef and waiter. When in the restaurant you never consider the heat of the stove and grill and the chef never thinks of the general public and what they might or might not want. And so neither fully appreciates what the other has to do to get the job done. But only if they did then you would find that, maybe every thing would be alright in the world. But what nonsense is this. As hot is to cold, ying to yang and man to woman. So once you have established that in the one world there are in fact two worlds, one you see and one you do not, then you can have a look at the personality types that work there in. As you come in to contact most with the people how you met as they seat and great you I will start with the front of house staff.
The waiter or waitress bar person who ever you need the right skills to get along. Now as all the people do more or less the same job I will concentrate on the waiters and waitresses who I think can sum up all the skills that you need for front of house.
Here you have generally a few types of waiter. The very good or the very bad. Now what makes a good waiter is how good they are a doing more than one thing at once. If you are in a restaurant and you have a number of places or covers to service then you know that you are the person who is going to have to keep every thing going all at once. This sounds like a easy thing to do but it is, if the truth be told, not as simple as it looks. The people come in are seated and then want menus drinks bread. Now as a customer you think that just to get this for you is a simple thing. But if the restaurant is busy and the person who is looking after you is going to be any good. Then you have to think of all of the others in his life at that time. I would say that a good waiter or waitress should be able to cover about twenty covers at any given time. So if you go out with your wife and kids and take a table of four. You are probably in the area of a group of about twenty, sixteen others, as well as your self. Now The hard thing to think of is that if who ever is giving you the service in the restaurant at your table is any good any restaurant manager or head waiter is going to know that. And by the knowing this they are going to put more pressure on that person by putting more and more cover in to that waiter or waitresses area, or section. So the multitasking think of seven things at once and try and keep every thing happening is a very difficult job to do. And if you ever think that you have not had the service that you think you deserve then think about what the person doing the job is having to do. The other day I went for a meal with my family to a restaurant and I watched as the young man who gave us menus did so at three other tables at the same time. He took our drink orders and then starters and main cores order all at the same time but each time we was all treated as individual tables. He reacted and inter reacted with all the tables at the same time as well as other tables that had been there before and as one went he rest and a new set of people came in their place. He was a true master at what he did. So the best personality for a waiter or waitress, bar person or any one who has to do this is an organised mind that can change to circumstance as fast as they change. Think on their feet, keep cool and always be polite and on the ball.
Bad people who can not do this generally do not give the service that you want and that is why you either get good or bad service.
The other reason for thinking that you are getting bad service is that you do not feel comfortable with what is happening to you. If you think that the person who is serving you is looking down on you as you do not know what to do, that is just bad service or just you not being comfortable with what is happening. Do not confuse what you feel with what is happening. Some establishment want the staff to be discreet and not so personal. If you are not comfortable with that then you need to find another place to eat as what you think is bad service is just good service that you do not like or want.
Now to the back of house. Here is the world of the chef. Chefs by and large have images of bad tempered perfectionist who will stop at nothing to get it right. The torched artist who will work all the hours that god sends to make his food the best in the world .I wish this was true but you find that most are not. Like most people they are just there to earn a wage and not a lot more than that. I’m not saying that they do not care. It’s just that the level of work that you need to do to get into the top level is beyond the commitment of most people. To be a top chef who is going to work to the top talent is not enough. You do need sacrifice. You will work for at least twelve hours a day for five to six days a week, and think nothing of it. You will forgo Christmas and parties and working office hours. All the time starting to do the basic things and perfecting them and getting better. And after you have done all of that you then might make it if you are lucky. And by make it I do not mean books television and all of that, just make it to be a good chef. But if you are a good chef it does not mean that success. For all the good chefs I have known, many have been disasters restaurant owners.
And that is why good staff are so hard to find and then keep. For as soon as you think you have found them they move on to somewhere else and you have the problem once more of finding the right people all over again. And that is why it is so hard to thinks of a box to put any person in when thinking of the personality types in the catering world. Like so many worlds it takes all sorts to get it right and wrong