You may have seen waiters sailing towards tables, holding silver platters aloft. More importantly for you as a planner, you may have been charged for it on your master account. Professional waiters are adept at several service styles; the most popular is called "French." But there is some confusion on just what French service is. It is further confused by similarities with butlered and Russian Service. Let’s demystify the styles: First, there are two types of French service – Cart French and Banquet French. Cart French is what most people are familiar with because it is most commonly used in fine-dining restaurants.

    Cart French service

    The food is prepared tableside. Hot foods are cooked on a rechaud (hot plate) that is on a gueridon (small table). Cold foods, such as Caesar Salad, are assembled on just the gueridon. Servers plate the finished foods onto individual plates and serve them to guests from the right. (This is the only style of service where food is served from the right). Some foods, such as desserts, may already be prepared. They are displayed on a cart, the cart is rolled to tableside, and guests are served after making their selections. This style would only be used for small VIP groups.

    Banquet French service

    Platters of foods are assembled in the kitchen. Servers take the platters to the table where guests are seated. The server, using two large silver forks in his or her serving hand places the food on the guests’ plates. (Now silver salad tongs may be allowed if the forks cannot be coordinated with one hand). Each food item is served by the server from platters to individual plates. Guests are served from the left. Anything that is added to a plate by a server after it has been placed in front of the guest – soup in a bowl, salad dressing, sauce on dessert, etc. – is part of this type of service.

    Butlered service

    Foods are presented on trays, from the left of the guest, by servers with utensils available for seated guests to serve themselves. (This is also used for butler passed hors d’ oeuvres at receptions).

    Russian (silver) service

    Food is cooked tableside, like cart French service, except servers put the foods on platters and then pass the platters at tableside. Guests help themselves to the foods and assemble their own plates. Service is from the left While French cart service and Russian service both prepare food tableside, in Russian, the food goes on platters for the guests to select their own food, and French cart service the food is placed on individual plates before being brought to the table. Butlered and Russian both allow guests to select their own food from a platter, but the platters are assembled in the kitchen for butlered and tableside for Russian. The most important thing is for the planner and the caterer to have the same understanding. And, the planner should know that these styles take more time and usually cost more. Find Restaurants with Private Dining on the free Cvent Supplier Network for your next group dining event, private party or business lunch in the U.S. and worldwide.

    Need more F & B insights for your upcoming meetings and events? Check out this post!

    Written by Patti Shock.

    What is a French service?
    Service à la française (French: [sɛʁvis a la fʁɑ̃sɛz]; "service in the French style") is the practice of serving various dishes of meal at the same time, with the diners helping themselves from the serving dishes. more
    Is Cajun French and Creole French the same?
    French Creole is a term of identification for people of color of mixed African and European descent. Like French Cajuns, these are largely members of families who came to the area during colonial days. So, Creole in Cajun Country refers to a francophone African-American of mostly rural or cowboy culture. more
    Are French dip sandwiches French?
    Who invented the French dip sandwich? The French Dip Sandwich did not originate from France but its originator, Philippe Mathieu, was French. Phillipe owned a sandwich shop in Los Angeles, Philippe the Original that is still around today! more
    Is a French dip actually French?
    The sandwich is an American invention, with the name seeming to refer to the style of bread, rather than any French origin. more
    Can the French understand Cajun French?
    The vast majority of words, structures and pronunciations used in Cajun French would be recognized and understood by fluent French speakers from other countries even though some of those them are not current anymore in Standard French. more
    Why did the French lose the French Indian war?
    Strong leadership within the military, the size of the French army, and the number of Indians who allied themselves to the French made it difficult for the British. In 1757, a new English prime minister, William Pitt, vowed to win the war against the French. more
    Why are French fries called french fries?
    In winter, when the river froze, the fish-deprived villagers fried potatoes instead. It's said that this dish was discovered by American soldiers in Belgium during World War I and, since the dominant language of southern Belgium is French, they dubbed the tasty potatoes “French” fries. more
    Why are French knickers called French knickers?
    The French knicker style evolved from drawers, the baggy long-legged underwear of the Victorian era, and may have derived its name from the frilly underwear worn by Parisienne Can-Can dancers, existent from the late-1800s to the early-1900s; the French however, do not use the term. more
    Is French kissing really French?
    French kissing became popular after WWI No one really knows the exact reason why we use the term, but it was likely adopted by Americans who traveled to France and kissed French women, who were more comfortable with a bit of tongue action, says Kirshenbaum. Naturally, the term “French kiss” developed. more
    Can French people understand Creole French?
    Though in some ways similar to French, a French speaker would not be able to translate Haitian Creole because of all of the cognate terms. If need a translation or interpretation for Haitian Creole, Akorbi is just the company you need. more
    What do the French call French dressing?
    vinaigrette In France they call it vinaigrette. I can only attribute as a food oddity how our creamy, red/orange version, so commonly served in America, evolved from those ingredients into something so different yet with the same name. more


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