As a petty officer, you may be placed in charge of the serving line. When this is the case, you should instruct personnel on the proper techniques for placing items on the serving line. This should include how to serve each item and how to place the items on the plate or tray. Correct serving techniques are very important. Merchandizing
Presenting menu items on the serving line is doing what commercial food operators call merchandising. Successful merchandising involves making these items so attractive and appetizing that customers want to eat them. When we present menu items on the serving line we want to stimulate the appetite and promote the welfare of the patron.
People will always eat with their eyes. So it is a good rule of thumb that foods that do not have an attractive and appealing appearance are often rejected without being tasted.
In cha tP we discussed the importance of planning a menu so the foods selected for a menu will have harmonious colors. Harmonious colors present an inviting appearance when placed together on the plate.
All food items in a well-planned meal should vary in color, size, shape, and texture.
Service is speeded up when a person knows what foods are being served before reaching the serving line. It is a good practice to post the current menu, in full view, near the beginning of the serving line. It may either be in the form of a typed menu or a menu board. The menu board is used to display those food items that are being served for the current meal. Actually, any display method is acceptable that gives the customers time to decide which foods they desire before they reach the serving line. A suitable means of expressing calorie content for each item in the meal should be publicized for the benefit of dieters and weight watchers.
Centerpieces can be the focal point of the serving line on holidays and special occasions. The realm of possibilities is limited only by imagination and time.
Ice, crushed, cubed, or carved, can be an interesting addition to highlight any meal. On special occasions, and when practical, ice carvings can be used as distinctive centerpieces. They can take on many forms, such as swans, baskets, rabbits, deer, and even turkeys. They may be elaborate or simple in design.
Though garnishing is just one step in presenting food attractively, it is a very important one. A garnish is described as an ornament or a decoration. Garnishes are planned to complement the flavor and the texture of the dish as well as add eye appeal. Any garnish used should be edible and should be such an integral part of the food that it will not be left on the plate.
If you were to plan a garnish for every food, it would be quite a job, but fortunately not all foods need this help. An example is a meal consisting of pot roast of beef, mashed potatoes, brown gravy, buttered peas, celery sticks and sweet pickles, hot rolls and butter, and blueberry pie. Such a meal needs to having nothing added in the way of a garnish to make it attractive. The natural colors, textures, and flavors combined in this meal provide enough variety to make the meal inviting to the eye and tempting to the taste.
Many of the AFRS recipes have a built-in garnish. Good examples of this are beef stew, tossed vegetable salads, browned casseroles, and desserts such as cakes iced with frostings that complement the color and flavor of the cake.
Always refer to the food-preparation worksheet for information on garnishing various foods on the menu.
The following list contains some practical guides to effective food garnishing:
• Use restraint in garnishing. Keep a picture of the whole meal in mind. Too many garnished dishes in one meal will spoil the effect. Select a suitable garnish, if one is needed, and use it sparingly.
• Vary food garnishes. Do not let garnishes become monotonous. Use a section of orange or a slice of peach on top of a pudding occasionally; not always a maraschino cherry.
• Plan garnishes ahead of time and show the serving personnel how garnished foods should be served.
• Plan simple garnishes. Do not sacrifice timely preparation for the sake of garnishing.
• Take advantage of the natural food color contrasts in combining foods. Do not rely on the addition of food coloring to the food to supply color contrast.
For special occasions such as holidays, hand carving hams and roasts on the serving line is preferred over machine slicing.
Carving plays an important role in serving meat in an appetizing manner. Carving affects the appearance and texture of the meat, and the portion size can be controlled by carving. Therefore, as an MS, you must develop skill in carving.
The direction of meat grain determines how the meat is to be sliced. Most meats should be cut across the grain. Cross-grain slicing shortens the muscle fibers and produces a more tender slice of meat. Roast meats should be allowed to rest about 20 minutes after they have been removed from the oven before they are carved. This period allows the meat to "firm up." It also allows the meat to reabsorb some of the juices lost during the roasting process. The meat becomes firm and can be sliced with greater ease in equal slices.
Slicing should be done on a hard rubber cutting board so the cutting edge of the knife is protected. The carving board should be placed in a sheet pan to catch the drippings while the meat is being sliced. Remove any string or netting that may have been used to hold the meat together while it was cooking. With a sharp carving knife (long, thin-bladed knife) and a two-tined fork in hand. carve the roast as follows:
1. Cut one slice across the top of the roast so the Carver can determine the direction of the grain of the roast.
2. Hold the roast in place by pressing the fork firmly into the top of the roast.
3. Carve across the grain of the meat from right to left for a right-handed person and from left to right for a left-handed person. The carved portions can then be easily lifted to the plate or tray.
Sliced meat portions should be controlled by weight rather than by the number of slices. For this reason, the customer's preference for thick or thin meat slices can be satisfied by the carver.
The commanding officer sets the hours for serving the meal. The time published should be strictly adhered to; the day's work schedule in the galley should be organized to conform to the established hours for serving meals. The messdecks and serving personnel should be ready to begin serving on time. Planning will ensure prompt and efficient service.
The serving line should not be setup too early. You should set up about 45 minutes before the regular meal as a general rule. This also allows for the cooks and mess attendants to enjoy their meal.
When serving you should be alert to what needs to be replenished. Do not wait until the food item is completely depleted before replacing. Food items should not be left on the steam table line too long. Remember to batch-cook all items that can be cooked progressively. A good rule of thumb to remember is what is available for your first customer should be available for your last customer.
FoodService personnel should be trained to provide good customer service. Common courtesy is the backbone of good customer service. This cannot be overemphasized because the way the serving line personnel conduct themselves often determines the patrons' satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the meal.
Every person assigned to the serving line should be clean and look neat. This requires the washing of hands many times during the day. Uniforms, hats, and aprons must be clean. Long sleeves should be rolled up to avoid touching the food and equipment. Foodservice attendants not only should be clean and neat, they should be trained to serve food properly because serving techniques also affect sanitation and attractiveness. They should be given detailed instructions on the proper serving of each menu item. To avoid possible contamination, utensils and dishes should be properly handled during serving. Servers' hands should not come in contact with eating surfaces of bowls, trays, or silverware.
Serving Line and GM Appearance
All items of mess gear should be inspected for cleanliness and should be supplied in sufficient number to last the entire serving period. The serving counters and steam tables should be checked for cleanliness before foods are set in place. Condiment bottles, including tops, should be thoroughly cleaned. During meal service, keep serving lines and salad bars wiped down. Wipe up spills immediately. Sponges and other cleaning aids should be kept out of sight. If used, sponges should be spotlessly clean. Dirty sponges detract from meal service. Return soiled empty serving inserts and containers to the galley.