Friday, June 27, 2008
Jonathan Tisch Going "Down the Ladder" Serving as Banquet Waiter, Line Cook, Room Attendant, Bellboy
Wouldn't you love to see your F&B Director or GM do your job as mega-millionaire Jothathan Tisch did? They probably wouldn't know the first thing to do but they love to tell you how to do your job! Our bosses have no idea... -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jun. 5, 2003 - The white tablecloths hung perfectly. The cutlery gleamed; the glasses shone; the entire table was set, almost to a fault. But the banquet captain in training, a man named Jonathan Tisch, was unable to master the art of folding linen napkin into fans.
"He's doing very good, except for the napkins," said Danny Outerino, a banquet captain at Loews Miami Beach, peering at the near-perfect table set in one of the hotel's ballrooms.
"The napkins are clearly an issue," Tisch somberly agreed.
Fortunately, Tisch already has a job; he is chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels Corp., a string of 19 high end hotels, and his job paid him $1.7 million last year.
Yet for four days ending Saturday, Tisch will toil in more mundane corners of the hospitality trade. He will work as a banquet server, line cook, room and pool attendant and bellboy. A three-person camera crew will record his every step, and the footage will be used for a TV program tentatively titled Down the Ladder, in which CEOs spend a few days with their company's rank and file.
"It's a great way for me to know more about our business, to come down from the office and see how things work" said Tisch, 49, who lives in New York. "The air definitely gets thin when you're a CEO."
Based on a British Broadcasting Corp. show, Down the Ladder is being produced by New York Times Television, progenitor of Maternity Ward, a "documentary verité" that runs on The Learning Channel. TLC will also air Down the Ladder, likely late this fall. The segment's producer, Alastair Bates, hopes his program will air after the hit Trading Spaces, in which neighbors decorate each other's homes.
Tisch's adventures and misadventures will be aired on the first installation of the show. The second installation is expected to be filmed at Club Med in Ixtapa, Mexico, with John Vanderslice, the company's CEO.
Tisch's identity will not be revealed to guests, and the camera crew has been instructed to inform any askers that they are filming a trainee.
Much of Tisch's childhood was spent at hotels. His father, Preston Robert, and his uncle, Laurence, spent the post-World War II years opening Atlantic City's Traymore, the Americana in New York and the Americana Bal Harbour, now a Sheraton. In 1959, the brothers bought majority interest in Loews Theaters and converted the bankrupt movie houses into hotels.
Tisch remembers working as a hotel operator at the Americana Bal Harbour at the age of 7. He later ascended to bellboy, front desk clerk and waiter.
On Wednesday, outfitted in a bow tie, a name tag and an ivory blazer, Tisch insisted he was not worried about the challenges ahead. He admitted to slight trepidation, though, about the prospect of working the front desk.
"I've done all these jobs before," he said. "But at the front desk now everything is computerized. The pressure of not screwing up is looming large." Should Tisch blunder, chances are the staff will not mind.
"When employees see their CEO going their daily lives, it builds morale," Outerino said.
By Cara Buckley, The Miami Herald
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
(c) 2003, The Miami Herald. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. LTR, CMI,
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Anyway, we start our hotel career with the best of intentions and "assume" that everyone else will do the same. But NO, it never seems to go that way. Some crap always happens to ruin my day. Either it's a lazy waiter, a dopey sales manager, an incompetent meeting planner, or the G.M. just being a pain in the butt!
There are so many things that make me say..."I hate it when this happens" that I needed to add a Part 2. Here it goes...
- The event's sales manager allows the customer to extend the event by 1 hour with no additional charge. (doesn't it always seem to happen on the last day of the week, now leading to overtime for the staff)?
- The p.m. restaurant waiters come late at night and steal the banquet teaspoons.
- The wedding photographer takes the bride and groom outside for a "few more shots" two minutes before your entree is scheduled to be served.
- You catch your best bartender hiding a few beers in his bag!
- Housekeeping didn't schedule an attendant to monitor the restrooms on a day when you had a convention for 300 breastfeeding mothers! (what a mess...)
- The restaurant buffet attendants hide all the tongs and serving spoons in a spot that "Columbo" couldn't find. This makes you run around like a stuck pig looking for them 5 minutes before your buffet opens.
- The dishwashers stack hot highball glasses on top of each other because "they couldn't find another glass rack".
- The bride is dancing with her father to "Daddy's Little Girl" and this kid starts sliding on the dancefloor in his socks.
- The waiters don't change the linen on the buffet table from breakfast and just add more white linen on top and make "clouds" with it. Then they setup for lunch on the same table. (lazy ass waiters)!!!
- Your houseman supervisor calls out sick on the day you have an enormous room flip.
- Your V.I.P. server gets the orders screwed-up on the V.I.P. table!
- You already gave the band a five minute notice that the next food course is coming out but they refuse to stop playing.
- Your waiter is wearing black sneakers and spends 10 minutes giving me excuses why it's ok.
- The F&B Director refuses to order additional wine and champagne glasses because "there's no money in the budget this month".
I need a REAL job!
Click here to read the posts from "Don't You Hate it When This Happens - Part 1"
Friday, June 20, 2008
Because of all the support, and visits, from our readers, this blog was selected to be listed on the Alltop.com website. We're listed under the "Career" section.
Info from their site:
"We help you explore your passions by collecting stories from “all the top” sites on the web. We’ve grouped these collections — “aggregations” — into individual Alltop sites based on topics such as environment, photography, science, Muslim, celebrity gossip, military, fashion, gaming, sports, politics, automobiles, and Macintosh. At each Alltop site, we display the headlines of the latest stories from dozens of sites and blogs."
"You can think of an Alltop site as a “digital magazine rack” of the Internet. To be clear, Alltop sites are starting points—they are not destinations per se. The bottom line is that we are trying to enhance your online reading by both displaying stories from the sites that you’re already visiting and helping you discover sites that you didn’t know existed. In other words, our goal is the “cessation of Internet stagnation” by providing “aggregation without aggravation.”I'm so happy to be included with some of the best sites on the web. Please visit alltop.com.
Thanks again for your support.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
The recent case of salmonella poisoning in raw tomatoes has caused me to write this post.
Many fast food restaurants, with McDonalds leading the way, have removed raw tomatoes from their menu. The same goes for other restaurants. Now it's hitting the banquet departments. At work it’s a real pain in the butt since the chef has to modify some dishes that we serve. They don’t want to do it but it they don’t, the wacky customers say “is that a chopped-up tomato in that dish or a red pepper” or some other stupid comment like that. And don't ask the waiters what's in the food because they sure don't know.
The industry-standard tomato and mozzarella platter is a big no-no. Customers are calling to change their menus for events that are weeks or even months away.
Two years ago, when we had the problem with spinach, it was the same thing. Almost everyone that saw a green leaf on a plate asked if it was spinach. We even had to stop using arugula since it looks the same as spinach. Most of the customers didn’t know what arugula was anyway.
Before that there was bad beef (mad cow disease), bad chicken in China (I think they killed almost every poor chicken in the country), diet sodas were bad for you (aspartame), and mercury in fish.
We have a better chance of getting struck by lightening than getting sick, or killed, by any of these food items. You also have a better chance of falling in the bathtub and cracking your skull open than dying from a spinach leaf!
The same people that worry about this and go out of their way to make sure they don’t eat anything that may be contaminated don’t seem to worry too much about some other very dangerous things. Such as;
•Having a “few beers” after work then driving home.
• Not wearing their seat belts.
• Get out of the car to video tape a huge bear that is being fed by the person in the next car (remember the video from Faces of Death?)
• The “lion tamer” that sticks his head in the open jaws of a lion (“he’s a tame lion” he says).
• Having sex with the person you just met at the bar last night (a few too many beers I guess).
• Talking on the phone, putting on your make-up, listening to music, and eating an Egg Mc Muffin while driving to work.
…funny how most of these have to do with cars.
Anyway, that’s not even counting the crap we used to do in high school or college.
Listen; as long as we take reasonable care in all we do, usually everything will be fine. If not, well there’s nothing we can do to change it regardless. So relax…
Just don’t give us banquet managers any more grief about the “contaminated food of the week” or better yet, peanut allergies.
…that’s a story for another day.
P.S. Don’t those peanut allergy, lactose intolerant, gluten-free, sauce on the side, health-freak vegans drive you crazy!!!
I need a REAL job…
Read about some more stupid things people do at Darwin Awards.com
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
This came across my email today and I wanted to pass along these ideas for buffets & action stations. Congratulations to the Hilton Suites Phoenix.
In the ultra-competitive world of banquets and catering, being recognized with an award is always good. But when it's based on guest feedback, it's even better. Hilton Suites Phoenix recently won a "Connie" award within Hilton (nicknamed after founder Conrad Hilton) as the best of the brand when it comes to meetings F&B in North America.
Action = Reaction
F&B Director Andrew Wintz says action stations are the foundation of the property's F&B for groups. "It always adds an experience enhancement as opposed to just a dry service occasion for the guest," he says. Some examples include:
- Made-to-order-juice: For meeting breaks, the hotel will have not only the standard coffee, water, and soda setups, but also a juicer station, run by a chef who makes fresh fruit or vegetable juices to order. "It's stimulating for the guest to interact by choosing what they want, then watch it blended in front of them." Wintz says.
- Fire and ice: For banquets, one popular action station is "Fire and Ice." The ice station features a chef preparing fresh ceviche and sashimi, along with a raw bar of crab legs, oysters, and shrimp, while the fire station features a chef making dishes like "mussels diablo" or spicy New Orleans-style shrimp, surrounded by appropriate red linen. "The chefs have fun and add their personalities to the station, which also elevates the guest experience," says Wintz.
- Interactive salad bar: Guests choose from more than a dozen ingredients and put them in a bamboo salad bowl. At the end of the line, a chef attendant tosses it together with a hot protein sautéed shrimp, salmon, chicken, or a petite steak prepared in front of the attendee. The chef arranges everything in the original bowl and gives it back to the customer. "We charge more for the enhanced atmosphere, so it's a bonus, revenue-wise," says Wintz.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
I've been trying to watch the Hells Kitchen TV Show as much as possible this season (when I'm not stuck at work overseeing a dopey dinner meeting). There has been one thing I've noticed that has me puzzled; they don't serve the food correctly!
I don't mean the cooks can't serve food correctly (they have enough problems so I won't pick on them here). It's the waiters. They continually serve the plates of food from the guests' right-hand side. Did you see it again last night?
It was so obvious, especially at the table of 12 ladies (swimsuit models, yeah sure!) where they tried to serve the entire table at once. They had multiple waiters with 2 plates each go to the table but what did they do? They served from every which way possible. From the overhead shot you can clearly see one waiter on the left side of the table walk in between two guests and serve one plate to the person on the left and the other person on the right at the same time with each hand. What the hell is that!
Now I know it's only a stupid TV show and we shouldn't expect perfection, but Chef Ramsay certainly does expect perfection from the other chefs on the show. But nobody apparently pays attention to the service from the waiters.
As I always tell my staff; we don't book the event, we don't plan the stupid menu, and we don't cook the food. We have only one job to do; provide the best possible service to each guest based on industry standards of food service.
The basic rule #1 for a waiter is:
Serve from the left, clear from the right!
It's not that hard to do. Well I guess for the Hells Kitchen TV Show it is...
This proves again that banquet waiters are better than restaurant waiters. Our waiters would NEVER serve the wrong way. Would they...?
P.S. I just found this link. Click here to play "Hell's Kitchen The Game".
Monday, June 9, 2008
Don't you hate it when this happens to you...
- The breakfast actual start times are 7:00am instead of 8:00am as on the BEO.
- The kitchen forgot to schedule a cook to work the omelet station so you have to pull another server to cover the station; or you do it yourself (dammit, I got my new suit on!)
- The guests from today's pharmaceutical sales convention didn’t leave the room at 5:00pm as you were told and your wedding reception starts at 6:00pm in the same room.
- The dishwashers are scheduled to leave at 11:00pm but your wedding ends at 12 midnight (who’s supposed to wash the coffee cups & plates from dessert?)
- The next morning your washing the same dirty coffee cups and teaspoons yourself just to get ready for breakfast (and the waiters are pissed).
- The kitchen ran out of sea bass and there are still 30 people left to go through the buffet (they said it was too expensive and didn’t want to order too much). Damm chef...
- The purchasing manager never ordered the waiter gloves that you need for the biggest event of the year tomorrow.
- Three people at the table changed their order from chicken to beef just as you were serving it.
- As usual, the waiters you got from the agency SUCK!
- A guest complains because the waiter never offered her a second cup of coffee.
- The sales chick says “I told you about that in yesterday’s BEO meeting”.
- The coffee machine goes down always at the wrong time.
- The room service waiter that you were counting on working for you, called out because he needed to cover a shift in room service.
- The meeting planner forgot to tell you about the additional 11:15am coffee break (it’s now 11:07am). This happens all the time, right?
- You thought you had enough clean ivory napkins…
- The water from the raw bar spills all over the carpet, and stinks like hell!.
- The shampoo machine is broken (oh no)!
- You couldn’t order the specialty wines because all the liquor distributors were closed for inventory (I thought that was next week!)
- You get your butt chewed out from the father of the bride because you don’t have Uncle Tony’s favorite wine.
- The sales chick starts crying because you chewed her out for telling you too late about the special wine (actually you liked chewing her out - It's about time she got hers...).
- The G.M. chews you out for the above (dammit - I got mine)!
I could go on forever…
I need a REAL job!
If you have anything to add to this list, write it in the comment section and I’ll add it to Part 2.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Be sure to remember Jackie Mason’s voice as you read.
If I said to you, “I have a great idea for a business. I’ll open a whole new type of coffee shop. Instead of charging 60 cents for coffee, I’ll charge $2.50, $3.50, $4.50, and $5.50. Not only that, I’ll have no tables, no chairs, no water, no free refills, no waiters, no busboys, serve it in cardboard cups, and have the customer clean it up for 20 minutes after they’re finished.”
Would you say to me, “That’s the greatest idea for a business I ever heard! We can open a chain of these all over the world!” No, you would put me right into a sanitarium.
And it’s burnt coffee! It’s burnt coffee at Starbuck’s, be honest about it. If you get burnt coffee in a coffee shop, you call a cop. You say, “It’s the bottom of the pot. I don’t drink from the bottom of the pot.” But when it’s burnt at Starbuck’s, they say, “Oh, it’s a special roast. It’s a special bean from
The bean is in your head!!! I know burnt!!! You want coffee in a coffee shop, that’s 60 cents. But at Starbuck’s, if it’s Cafe Latte: $3.50. Cafe Creamier: $4.50. Caffe Suisse: $9.50. For each French word, another four dollars. Why does a little cream in coffee make it worth $3.50?
Go into any coffee shop; they’ll give you all the cream you want until you’re blue in the face. 40 million people are walking around in coffee shops with pitchers of cream:
“Here’s all the cream you want!” And it’s still 60 cents. You know why? Because it’s called “coffee.”
You want cinnamon in your coffee? Ask for cinnamon in a coffee shop; they’ll give you all the cinnamon you want. Do they ask you for more money because it’s cinnamon? It’s the same price for cinnamon in your coffee as for coffee without cinnamon – 60 cents, that’s it. But not in Starbucks. Over there, it’s Cinnamonnier – $9.50.
You want a refill in a regular coffee shop, they’ll give you all the refills you want until you drop dead. You can come in when you’re 27 and keep drinking coffee until you’re 98, and they’ll start begging you: “Here, you want more coffee?” Do you know that you can’t get a refill at Starbucks? A refill is a dollar fifty, two refills, $4.50. Three refills, $19.50. So, for four cups of coffee, $35.00.
And there’re no chairs in those Starbucks. Instead, they have these high stools. You ever see these stools? You haven’t been on a chair that high since you were two. Seventy-three year old Jews are climbing and climbing to get to the top of the chair. And when they get to the top, they can’t even drink the coffee because there’s 12 people around one little table and everybody’s saying, “Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me.....” Then they can’t get off the chair. Old Jews are begging Gentiles, “Mister, could you get me off this?”
Do you remember what a cafeteria was? In poor neighborhoods all over this country, they went to a cafeteria because there were no waiters and no service. And so poor people could save money on a tip. Cafeterias didn’t have regular tables or chairs either. They gave coffee to you in a cardboard cup. So because of that you paid less for the coffee. You got less, so you paid less. It’s all the same at Starbucks – no chairs, no service, a cardboard cup for your coffee – except in Starbucks, the less you get, the more it costs. By the time they give you nothing, it’s worth four times as much! Am I exaggerating?
Did you ever try to buy a cookie in Starbuck’s? Buy a cookie in a regular coffee shop. You can tear down a building with that cookie. And the whole cookie is 60 cents. At Starbuck’s, you’re going to have to hire a detective to find that cookie and it’s $9.50. And you can’t put butter on it because they want extra. Do you know that if you buy a bagel, you pay extra for cream cheese in Starbuck’s? Cream cheese, another 60 Cents. A knife to put it on, 32 cents. If it reaches the bagel, 48 cents. That bagel costs you $3.12. And they don’t give you the butter or the cream cheese. They don’t give it to you. They tell you where it is.
“Oh, you want butter? It’s over there. Cream cheese? Over here. Sugar? Sugar is here.” Now you become your own waiter. You walk around with a tray. “I’ll take the cookie. Where’s the butter? The butter’s here. Where’s the cream cheese? The cream cheese is there.” You walked around for an hour and a half selecting items, and then the guy at the cash register has a glass in front of him that says “Tips.” You’re waiting on tables for an hour and you owe him money?
And I say this with the highest respect, because I don’t like to talk about people.
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Have a great day friends.