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Buffet service was briefly described earlier in this chapter. However, there are unique sanitary considerations involved in the setup and operation of buffet- or cafeteria-style serving lines. Open serving pans and trays provide ideal sites for growth and spread of disease-carrying organisms. Following a few simple rules can reduce the chance of infection.

1. Always keep hot foods at temperatures above 140F, Discard the food within 4 hours of the beginning of preparation if these temperatures cannot be maintained.

2. Display only limited amounts of food on the serving line at any one time. This permits the balance of food to be kept in the pantry for temperature control. Refill serving pans and trays only as necessary.

3. Finally, use a sneeze shield whenever possible. The principal tasks involved in setting up the buffet serving line are presented next.

The serving line setup tasks should be done in the order listed and completed 5 minutes before serving time.

1. Make space for the buffet serving line. A buffet table should be located to allow MSs convenient access to the pantry for filling the serving pans. This also allows the diners to use the serving line easily without crowding from furniture or other diners.

2. Place the linen on a special buffet table or a selected area on the sideboard. Remove all nonessential items on the sideboard area when used to setup a buffet serving area.

3. Set up the chafing dish stands. Setup enough stands so there is at least one for each food item. Place them in the serving area so a diner can have ready access to them without leaning over the table. After the chafing dish pans have been set in place, put 1 inch of water into those pans that are for hot food. Sterno heating units are then placed below the center of the pans containing water. Make sure there are no flammable items placed near these units as the setup continues. Do not light the heating units at this point.

4. Place the sneeze shield now, if one is available. Do this in a way to make sure all food items are properly protected. Diners should still have ready access to the foods.

5. Determine what utensils will be needed. Then place all necessary eating utensils neatly at the beginning of the serving line. Napkins and silverware are usually placed on the dining tables. However, when there are more diners than seats, additional place settings should be kept on the sideboard. They should be placed on the dining tables after diners finish and leave, making room for additional diners. There are not always enough MSs to do the resetting. On these occasions, napkins and silverware should be placed on the serving line. They should be placed next to the china and away from the chafing dishes.

6. Set the decorations selected by the wardroom supervisor on the serving table. Decorations are usually artificial or real flowers arranged around the three sides of the serving area facing the diner.


In the wardroom where regulations and precedence closely control seating arrangements, officers are assigned to permanent seats for daily meals. They are seated from left to right, as shown in i r  - according to rank and precedence.

Figure 9-6.-Wardroom seating.

The senior line officer in command, or in succession to command, is the president. He or she sits at the head of the table, or at the head of the senior table when more than one table is used. The commanding officer who regularly eats in the wardroom is the president. When the commanding officer has his or her own mess, the executive officer is the president. The exception would be on large ships that have more than one wardroom. In this case, the senior line officer of each mess is the president. However, when the commanding officer or other senior officer is invited for an occasional meal, this officer is considered the guest of honor. In this case, he or she is seated to the right of the mess president.

The caterer sits opposite the president. The officer next in rank sits in the first seat to the right of the president. The officer third in rank sits in the first seat to the left of the president, and so on down the table. All line officers of the same grade take precedence with each other according to his or her respective dates of rank. When they have the same date of rank, their precedence is according to their lineal numbers as given in the official Navy Register.

Staff officers with the same date of rank as running mates of the line take precedence after their running mates of the line. However, they take precedence before all line and staff officers who are junior to the running mate. When officers of more than one staff corps have the same running mate, they take precedence in the following order: Medical Corps, Supply Corps, Chaplain Corps, Civil Engineering Corps, Judge Advocate General's Corps, Dental Corps, Medical Service Corps, and Nurse Corps.

When more than one table is in use, the treasurer usually sits at the head of the junior table.

When officers of other service branches have the same relative grade and the same date of rank, they have precedence according to the time each has served on active duty as a commissioned officer of the United States Armed Forces. The seating arrangement changes when a guest is present. When several guests are to be present, the seating arrangements are normally worked out by the wardroom supervisor and approved by the caterer.


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