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What's the word?

Semolina ~ Escarole ~ Crème Brûlée ~ Epinard ~ Montrachet

Do any of these words give you a pronunciation hesitation? As food varieties from around the world become easily available, more and more unusual words appear on our menus.

Sophisticated consumers are often treated to a round of giggles as a server struggles to pronounce and define some of the more exotic ingredients from the list of daily specials.

While it seems harmless enough, this situation is damaging in many ways. Even if the server is spared humiliation, the caliber of his service, and your restaurant, just dropped a couple of notches. This means a dent in your guest frequency rate, and probably a dent in tips, too. Add in the lack of credibility when a culinary illiterate makes a recommendation for your high gross profit entrée or a special bottle of wine, and you've just lost on several levels.

Hey, it's nothing to be embarrassed about. As an industry we simply don't put a focus on front of the house training. I've been saying for years that the advent of the culinary revolution and celebrity chefs, combined with legislated back of the house food safety and sanitation programs, has raised the caliber of kitchen staff to a very respectable level. But not so in the front of the house. While our European cousins hold the wait profession in high esteem, the common perception here is that a waiter is someone in between real jobs.

But this can change with some attention to training and an added dose of pride and self-esteem. To help with the training part, we've attached a customizable Glossary of Culinary Terms with pronounciation key you can review with your staff. We also have a variety of Trade Secrets front of the house training programs available. Leave a couple of copies in the stations around the restaurant and give occasional pop quizzes and with bonuses for the highest performers. The pride and self-esteem are up to you.

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