Jamie Oliver

August 27, 2012

I like Jamie Oliver. I find him earnest, charming, always inventive, and a true master at creating proper rustic dishes. After learning about an alleged list of words his wait staff are instructed to use at his restaurants, I like him even more.

Here are a few of my favorites: fancy, scrummy, magic, slamming, wicked, lush, legendary, silky, and squeeze. I like jobs where you’re expected to use scrummy words, don’t you?

Have you ever worked in a restaurant? I wish I had because everyone I know seems to have the most hilarious stories from their days as a server! It must be a fantastic way to practice public speaking and build up confidence. Will you share your own experiences? I’d love to hear about your most memorable moments while waiting tables!

P.S. — I’ve had a million jobs, but the only ones in food service were a high school gig at the mall yogurt shop, and flipping burgers + making shakes for a semester in college.

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Victoria August 27, 2012 at 10:14 am

I’ve never worked in the food industry, but do love to eat out often!!! Love Jamie too. We have all his books and I think he has become a real embassador for good eating (particularly in trying to improve school meals and healthy eating for children). I also have some fabulous storage jars from the Jamie at Home collection.

http://hibiscusbloem.blogspot.com/2010/08/new-storage.html

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2 Chelsea C. August 27, 2012 at 10:29 am

After having waited tables at a NYC Irish pub, I have to say that most of my memorable moments are the humiliating ones! Dropping an entire beer down my front during happy hour at the bar comes to mind; also running upstairs from the kitchen carrying a plate of fish and chips, tripping, and sending fries flying everywhere. There are a couple of fond memories too, though — my favorite regular, Frank, would trudge in every day at 6:30 with that day’s crossword puzzle. And when Frank came in I knew immediately to go to the bar and get his usual (Manhattan up, extra vermouth, stirred, two cherries).

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3 rachel August 27, 2012 at 10:43 am

I’ve never worked in food service, so I’ve often wondered how the servers who don’t write down the orders can remember everything! *I* can barely remember what everyone in my family wants…

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4 Nora August 27, 2012 at 11:04 am

I worked in several restaurants to earn money for college. I slung beer and even made caesar salads at tables for fancy French service. It can be a busy job. One skill I’ve kept is the ability to stack several plates on each arm to carry them to the table. People who’ve never tried this are always amazed. You just need balance and momentum! Sometimes it was great to be a small part of a family celebration, marriage proposal or other event. Sometimes you bore the brunt of frustrated clients. Sometimes you made a ton of cash, other nights you hung out waiting for anyone to show up. Overall, I think it is a great experience to work as a server.

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5 Geevz August 27, 2012 at 11:15 am

My best memories were the interactions with the cooks. One or two would occasionally ask me to be their girlfriend in broken English so I learned how to say, “Only in your dreams” in Spanish. They thought it was the most hilarious thing in the world and laughed for ten minutes straight. Then all 6 cooks asked me out every. single. day. For some reason it never got old. For them at least :)

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6 Melissa August 27, 2012 at 11:50 am

Hmmm…I’m wondering what “pimp” means to a Brit?

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7 nicki September 1, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Pretty much what it means to everyone else world over.

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8 Jeanette August 27, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Once upon a time, I had romantic visions of becoming a chef. I thought I better see what it was really like and get a job at a restaurant before plunking down some change for culinary school. I was blessed to work in a small place where I was able to work closely with the chef and pastry chef. I improved my knife skills and basically absorbed as much as I could. I appreciate everything I learned (the good and bad) and still enjoy cooking, but realized it was something I didn’t want to do for the rest of my life.

I always got a chuckle out of several “vegetarian” patrons who would ask if a certain soup was vegetarian. We let them know that it contained bacon, to which they replied, “Oh, that’s okay…I eat bacon!” They were always seduced by bacon.

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9 Nichshee August 27, 2012 at 12:55 pm

To this Brit (in this context) it means sexying something up – as in ‘pimp my ride’, MTV, I believe. However, when I double-checked that I wasn’t making it up, I found this:
http://onlineslangdictionary.com/meaning-definition-of/pimp
it means a lot more than I knew! To advertise, promote… really??
Jamie is the king of adjectives and describing tastes…. love it when he says a herb or lemon (or something) makes a dish ‘hummmmm’ or ‘zinggggg’ it reminds of the rat in ‘ratatouille’ (in a good way, if you haven’t seen the film).

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10 Jody August 27, 2012 at 12:56 pm

I was a waitress in a small rural diner. I had the regular clientele who would be insulted if I didn’t automatically get them their ‘regular’ drink. One thing I hated was Friday fish night. We had a baked alternative to the stereotypical “Fish fry”. One the menu board we just called it “Baked Fish”. People would inevitable ask what kind of fish it was (duh!) and I would have to say, “It’s Cod”. Ick.

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11 Lindsey August 27, 2012 at 1:57 pm

After my semester abroad in France, I spent the summer in Ireland. I was desperate for a job so I completely lied that I had experience waiting tables. It was SO stressful and crazy and nutso and OBVIOUS that I had NO experience!!! Needless to say, I lost that job after two weeks. Phew. ;)

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12 Janan W August 27, 2012 at 2:00 pm

I Love Jamie Oliver! and his food revolution! We need to change the American School Lunch program!

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13 Sonya August 27, 2012 at 2:02 pm

I’ve been a host at many restaurants (mostly upscale) in Chicago and a cocktail server, all of it was part-time while working a full-time job. Every position had many funny memories. At one particular very trendy restaurant, there was a lot of camaraderie between the girls at the host stand and we were all great friends and still are friends today. Waiting tables and being a host isn’t rocket science, but it isn’t easy work either. I always tip well and treat my hosts, servers and bussers with a lot of respect because I’ve done time in that industry.

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14 Melanie August 27, 2012 at 3:18 pm

I worked as a waitress at a Mexican restaurants for two weeks when I was 19. We had to wear light blue button down shirts and black or navy pants. This look did not really go with my dyed black hair and Doc Martens. I lived in a small town, so eventually you had to serve people that you knew and disliked. One of those people left me a 3 cent tip. Then I got the flu and never went back. :)

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15 Brent Morris August 27, 2012 at 3:20 pm

I worked in a restaurant for many -many years. The key was to get on the good side of the kitchen staff. (who in most cases resemble pirates-in attire and there salty language) If they liked you it made the job so much easier.

There are many tricks to learn, the first being to always blame mistakes to the cooks on the customers… “apparently they didn’t read that it came with tomato” and vice versa with the customers..”I am so sorry, I told the chef no tomato”

Everyone should work in a restaurant at some point in their life to appreciate (with better tips) how hard it is for the waitstaff to do what they do.

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16 Sarah August 27, 2012 at 3:55 pm

I met my hubby while we were both waiting tables at a well-known chain restaurant. We were all in college and it was quite the meat market. There were at least four couples who ended up married from the year and a half that I worked there.

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17 Rosie August 27, 2012 at 4:56 pm

10 years and 20 pounds ago, I was a skinny-minnie nervous about my first time as a server. After bringing out a huge, heavy tray and taking off some of the hot plates, the tray tipped, sending the last entree all over the floor. The older gentleman whose order that was obviously was disgruntled, and after assuring him we would remake it quickly I rushed back to the kitchen. Visiting the table again to apologize for the inconvenience, I said in a daze to the gentleman, “At least it was all over the floor and not all over you.” He laughed hysterically and (thankfully) all was well after that.

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18 Lauren August 27, 2012 at 5:09 pm

In college, I worked at a bed and breakfast where we would serve catered dinners. One of my favorite stories is when we had a group throwing a going away party and they each had brought a small object or meaningful token to glue to a large piece of driftwood and give to the woman who was moving. Somebody had a bit too much to drink and hot glued one of the B&B’s silver napkin rings to the driftwood. Of course, I had to awkwardly ask for it back and the woman’s poor husband ended up giving me a huge tip because he was so embarrassed!

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19 julie August 27, 2012 at 9:02 pm

I was trained in the art of “Socializing” and conversation at two local landmarks in the 1970′s: Dick’s Cafe and The Mushroom Farm. I was a total introvert all through elementary school to high school, but quickly learned that to receive good tips; one must be gracious and quick on the draw with wit and grace. I had several less-than-graceful instances like; pouring coffee on customers, and dropping plates and the like. But I learned. . . and went on to be a gracious and graceful server many times in my “Mom needs a job” years. I have admired the cooking style and teaching style of Jamie Oliver for many years. I would love to work in one of his Restaurants and learn from a true master.

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20 Zoe - SlowMama August 27, 2012 at 9:44 pm

I worked as a server on and off in my 20s. Once, first day on a job, I was assigned to the formal dining room for brunch. Three couples came in and ordered Bloody Caesars — a popular Canadian cocktail made with clamato juice which is bright red and served in a large, tall glass with a long stalk of celery jutting out and a salted rim. As I approached the table with a smile and went to take the first drink off the tray, out of the corner of my eye I saw all seven other drinks sliding forward . I couldn’t tilt the tray back in time and suddenly all the drinks sailed off the tray, hurling through the air, and landing with a crash all over the white table cloth. Ice and celery and bright red were everywhere — it looked like a horror movie. The mess even splattered on some of the diners’ clothes.

Thankfully, my supervisor didn’t see the episode and the couples were very forgiving. I quickly cleaned up, apologized profusely, offered to pay for dry cleaning, got more drinks, and wondered if it was all a bad omen. Turns out it was — I left that place after a month. Generally though, restaurant work was enjoyable — hard work but I learned a lot about people and customer service.

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21 nicole i August 27, 2012 at 10:10 pm

jamie oliver is my boyfriend…in the fantasy world of course since we are both happily married. i love him. he is wicked.

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22 michelle August 28, 2012 at 7:38 am

We love Jamie in our house, my daughter watched his show about school lunches and now she wants him to come to her school! Thanks for sharing his fun words, I’m putting them on my wall for us to use to rev up our meals :) Michelle

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23 Caryn August 28, 2012 at 7:50 am

Such great stories! I was a server during my freshman and sophomore years of college. I dropped a tray of eight huge milkshakes on myself the second day but eventually became pretty good. I had a regular too named Jerry who always sat at the same booth and the second I saw him walking in, I started his sweet iced tea and his berry cobbler. He always tipped the same small amount but somehow it meant more from him. We had great theological discussions if the place wasn’t busy. My favorite customer of all though was a little girl who spilled her milkshake on herself and while I helped clean her up, she told her mom it was like winter on her legs. Ha!

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24 Stephi August 28, 2012 at 8:02 am

Every job I had until I was 25 was in food service, as server, hostess, bartender and barista. I use more from what I learned waiting tables than I have learned in college. It refines interpersonal skills on every level, vocabulary (thanks to people like Jamie!), multi-tasking, prioritizing, critical (and fast) thinking and understanding of proper etiquette. It is active and fun, and anyone can learn to do it–and learn so much from it.

I always had the best regulars. When I was preparing to get married in Vegas, they set me up with gambling money. :) When I was pregnant with my first child, I received as many gifts (and bits of advice) from my customers as I did from family and friends. Many would share their stories with me, and they all stick with me today: the man who stopped in for coffee every day after visiting his wife of 50 years in the nursing home (sometimes she knew who he was, and those were good days); the woman who let herself leave the house for the first time since her husband’s suicide nearly a year earlier, and she came and sat in my bar. I got to spend time with her every week and watched her return slowly to what must have been her radiant former self. It’s such a fantastic opportunity for someone to open their mind and see people in a new light. When you no longer have the option of avoiding someone you normally would, and instead are forced to look them in the eye, it is amazing what you see.

Now, to be quite honest, I don’t know how the texting generation will ever meet the standards with which I was trained. My husband and I are always disappointed at the lack of personal skills when we go out to eat. Of course we go for the food, and we appreciate good service, but my husband always tries to strike up some kind of comaraderie with the server, and when they get that lost expression on their face, as if they don’t know how to go off-script, I just pat his hand and tell him waitstaff aren’t expected to have personality anymore.

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25 Melissa Walsh August 28, 2012 at 1:00 pm

I got my first job as a waitress when I was 16. Flash forward to today (I’m about to turn 36 years old) and I’m still waiting tables. I did it through high school, college, after college as a second job. When I left my work in public health to go to grad school and to start a family, I decided to wait tables full time at nights. It allows me the awesome opportunity to make money for my family and to be home with my children during the day. If someone had told me 20 years ago that I’d be a waitress (STILL) at this point in my life and that I would be a waitress during 2 pregnancies (I worked all 9 months both times), I would have called them a liar!! Waitressing can be an awful and wonderful job. But, most importantly, it gets me out of the house each night, puts money in my pocket to pay for extra fun stuff for my kids and it helps keep me sane. Although, I am looking forward to the day when my youngest goes into Kindergarten (4 years away), so I can return to my profession once again.

But…ohhhhhhh…the stories I can tell about what I’ve seen and heard. Oh Lordy. I could write a sociological perspective on it and make millions!

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26 Yvonne August 28, 2012 at 7:31 pm

We actually own a restaurant in the East (SF) Bay – the funniest story so far (16+ years) is the night Sir Elton John came by for dinner after a concert at a nearby arena and my husband didn’t realize who he was waiting on until he left, and all these people rushed him! I made him (my husband) a funny sign with Elton’s photo and a captian ‘thanks for the food!’ that hangs in our hallway!

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27 Yvonne August 28, 2012 at 7:32 pm

Whops, thats CAPTION not captian! And btw yes, he did like the food :-)

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28 Kristin August 28, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Worked as a waitress for years, very fun job to have! Only regret is it took me too long to realized go high end..the tips are SOO MUCH BIGGER. A memory that still makes me blush.. I was serving a tray of beef chili to a table of men (this restaurant was near a pro football stadium). I picked up the last cup of chili that was resting near my chest and as I served it a long string of melted cheese stayed stuck to MY CHEST that had been sitting in the chili!!

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29 Erin August 28, 2012 at 8:51 pm

I love Jamie Oliver, too. In my teens and early twenties, I totally crushed on him. Now I don’t, but I he is still one of my favorite celebrities, hands-down. And I really don’t trust or like celebrities one bit, almost without exception. I even once bought a large Jamie Oliver platter just for the pleasure of owning something with his name on it! Do you remember “The Naked Chef”? I thought that was a brilliant title–and then they changed it, allegedly to avoid the shame of the word “naked,” which makes me hang my head, since that’s silly. It was about naked *food*, not people. And then, years later, when I found Jamie’s “Food Revolution” show on Hulu, I was cheering in my house for him! I guess we have similar thoughts about food.

Food jobs–yes! I suppose this post says this about me: I love food. I love to cook food. Read about it. Look at it. Buy it. I ask for ingredients as birthday and Christmas presents. So I’ve had a lot of food jobs! On the lower end of the scale of sophistication, I’ll tell you this: one of my jobs caused me to never want a doughnut ever again.

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30 Lauren August 28, 2012 at 10:14 pm

A couple of summers in between college semesters I waited tables at a pizza joint owned by a bunch of Turks. They were a little intimidating at first, their English wasn’t the greatest and their accents were thick, but by the end of my first summer I was translating their somewhat broken English for our guests.

My friends used to joke that I worked for the Turkish Mafia, because they were all related and were constantly bringing in more relatives to work there. They paid me under the table, in cash, and my boss Orhan once thought it was funny to joke with some boys that came to visit me that if they ever did anything to hurt me, he would cut off their heads. They were too scared to ever come in again.

Even with their sometimes morbid sense of humor, I have a few heartwarming memories of the Turks. I remember helping Hassan register to vote, and how excited he was to be able to. I remember Orhan taking my picture with his nephew who had recently emigrated from Turkey, to show his family his new American friend. I remember cleaning up every night with Hassan while he sang a song from his home country with lyrics that sounded like my name. I remember Orhan joking with our customers that I was his adopted daughter (I have red hair and definitely don’t look remotely Turkish), and I remember Orhan taking me aside my last day and thanking me for all I had done to help them in the restaurant, and after asking where I would be moving to for school, saying, “Utah…Utah–I know people in Utah! You have any problems, anything at all, you call this number, and they will help you.” …So perhaps I’m under the protection of the Turkish Mafia. Never did call the number, so I guess I’ll never know. =)

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31 Tori August 31, 2012 at 12:38 pm

After graduating from college, I waited tables for a year before I got a 9-5 type job. It was great money, and I took a pay cut when I started working in the corporate world. Actually, I still wait tables on Saturday nights for the extra pocket change!

Being a waitress taught me how to talk to all types of people from all walks of life. The majority of the time customers are polite and easy to serve, but every once in awhile I will get a table that makes me think, “What happened to common sense and normal, basic human interaction?”

The busiest shift I ever worked, I dropped a full glass and it broke two other full glasses all over the table. I was mortified when everyone in the restaurant went quiet then turned and stared. Luckily, the people at the table were very understanding :)

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32 Michelle Villemaire August 14, 2013 at 8:47 pm

I’ve worked in many restaurants and bars, from New York to LA. Working at night allowed me the freedom to go to auditions during the day. There’s no question my most memorable restaurant moment was the time I received a $50,000 “tip” from a wealthy television producer. Yes, you read that correctly. I wrote about my experience for ELLE magazine 15 years ago, but I’ve been meaning to write a new story for my blog about the impact it had on my life. Thanks for the reminder. Ha! Yes, the food service industry is bizarre and fabulous and sometimes even life-changing…

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