Is Left Right?

Server brings food to customers

What side do you serve from?

The correct way to serve food is probably unknown to your customers, but vital to you. This technique requires you place the dishes in front of the customers and take them away from the proper side. Doing so will enhance their overall dining experience.

Chef Albrich, an Austrian-born fine dining expert, suggests that the traditional method of placing dishes from the left and removing them from the right is not always the best way to serve guests. According to him, the custom of serving guests from the left started long ago when food for meals would come out on large trays. Empty plates would be placed in front of guests from the left side, then each one of the plates would be filled with food in their place from the large tray.

“But if you are like most people today and have the plates presented to your guests with the food already on it, nicely displayed and decorated, then it should be served from the right, and it is incorrect to serve it from the left,” Chef Albrich says.

He goes on to outline which foods can be properly delivered from each side of the guest.

Serve from the left

If the place where you work gives its guests empty plates and later fills them at the table, those plates should be given to the customer from the left side. Sides such as vegetables and bread can also be delivered from the left and they should also be removed from the left.

Serve from the right

If the customer’s plate is arranged in the kitchen it should be delivered to them from the right side. Pre-plated food (considering the exceptions above), beverages, all empty plates, and utensils should be served from the guest’s right. All dishes served from the right need to also be removed from the right.

Once again, it is likely that many of your customers won’t know which side is correct when you serve them; however, there is a proper way to serve dishes and you never know when you’ll have a dining expert in your midst!

—Jeremy Howard

This post was originally published in November 2014 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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