What Exactly Is French Service?
Working in the event industry, we oftentimes hear the term French Service but what exactly does the term mean?
The concept arose from the elegant style of the French court, le grand couvert (the great cover) and provides a unique and personalized seated dining experience for the guest, as the meal is plated at the table - not pre-plated in the kitchen.
Two types of French Service:
Cart French Service: This version involves tableside food preparation and assembly, where unprepared foods are brought from the kitchen to the dining room on a gueridon (a cart) and then the final preparation is completed at a side table in front of the guests. For heated foods, a rechaud would be used.
Banquet French Service: The food is prepared in the kitchen - and the servers will serve the food to guests from platters with tongs (from the left side). The platters are then kept in front of the guests to replenish.
Of course the service staff who are providing this type of service must be fully prepared with skill and knowledge to offer such a finessed experience. Typically these roles would include:
Chef de rang (the main server): Tasks would include preparing, serving food, serving the beverages, and presenting checks. Techniques would be tossing, mixing, presentation, saucing, deboning, carving, and flambeing.
Commis de rang (assistant to the main server): Tasks would include taking orders from the main server, bringing food to dining room, serving dishes prepared by the main server, and clearing the tables.
Dining Room Captain: Seats guests and oversees the service.
Cocktail Server: Serves beverages.
Wine Steward or Sommelier: Trained professional providing wine and food pairing knowledge.
Hopefully these notes will help next time you're wondering, "What exactly is French Service?"...
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