Different Service Styles

The meal is placed in bowls and platters. The diners serve themselves and then pass the dish to the next person.

The food is placed on a side board with the plates. The guests serve themselves and take their plate to the table.

The meal is plated in the kitchen and then served.

The most time consuming. When seated, warm plates are placed before the guests. The meal is presented to the guest. This service has limited use today. If you are the only one serving, the number of diners has to be kept small.

Six is the largest that one person can serve and keep the food hot. Many people are not accustomed to serving themselves from a platter and the delay just lets the food get cold.


The service techniques that you use will depend on the country you are in, the family that you work for and your training. The ones that are generally used in the US are:

  • Serve from the left and remove from the right.
  • Beverages are served from the right.

To serve from a platter or bowl use the following techniques.

Hold the serving fork and spoon in your right hand. The tines of the fork and the bowl of the spoon should be pointing up. The fork will be on top of the spoon. The spoon should go between the index finger and the middle finger. The fork will go between the thumb and index finger.

Gently scoop the food into the spoon. Push the fork down to hold the food in place. Hold the serving plate over the edge of the diner's plate and put the food on the plate. Tip the spoon and fork slightly and release the pressure on the fork.

If a left handed person moves their glass to the left of the cover you may pour from the left. Some people may hold the glass up for you to pour: watch out for this because an accident may occur.

Some people may want to drink the same beverage through the entire meal or not at all. Keep an eye on their water glass. European service is different.

From the left you present platters, serve from platters, serve salad as a side dish, clean the cover. From the right you set and remove plates, change flatware and pour beverages. Do the same thing all the way around the table.