Waitresses can wear nail polish

Service training for catering, gastronomy & waiters

How do I set a table? How do I serve wine or other drinks? And how do I correctly carry three plates? We have provided this free training course for these and other questions in the field of service, gastronomy and catering. Take a look at the short introductory videos and read the training text on this page carefully, then you will then be able to correctly answer the questions in the service test.

If you are already registered with InStaff as a host / hostess, please enter the same e-mail address with which you registered in the test. If you successfully pass the test, we will note it in your profile. This way, potential customers know that you already have theoretical knowledge in service and you have a better chance of being booked for a job.

Introductory videos

Please watch the English-language video on the subject of "Serving Food" or "Sweep Service" for an introduction. The other six videos below are optional.

to serve food


Legal employment

Working as a waiter or waitress is basically a dependent activity where you, as an employee, have to be billed to your income tax card. You cannot be paid with a trade license ("on account") because you are only offering your labor and do not bear any entrepreneurial risk. If a company settles you with a trade license or gives you the money in cash, it is bogus self-employment or illegal work. You then have to report this to the "financial control of undeclared work" (a sub-department of customs).

Wages and tips

A minimum wage of € 8.50 gross per hour applies throughout Germany. You will probably earn significantly more at trade fairs and congresses, as the typical hostess salary is 10 to 14 euros per hour. This income has to be taxed as normal, with a large part or, if applicable, the entire wage tax paid back at the end of the year if you earn less than € 10,000 per year. In addition, depending on the type of employment, you also have to pay social security contributions, although you do not have to pay social security contributions as a short-term employee at InStaff.

As a rule, you will not receive a tip at trade fairs, congresses or other events. However, it can happen when working in a restaurant or on festive occasions (e.g. at Christmas time). If a guest gives you a tip voluntarily, you can keep it untaxed. Your employer may not withhold the tip you have given or offset it against your wages. However, it is common in many industries that tips are collected from all employees and distributed among all employees after the shift, so that, for example, the cooks also benefit from the tip.

Instructions according to the Infection Protection Act (IfSG)

If you come into contact with food during your work, you need a food instruction according to §43 Abs. 1 IfSG (also called "health certificate", "health pass" or "red card"). This initial instruction is valid for life if the instructed person has started their activity within 3 months of the initial instruction. The employer is then obliged to carry out follow-up training for the employee when he starts work and again every two years.

The health department in your city offers such an initial instruction. This costs between € 13 and € 36, depending on the health department. You have to pay these costs personally.


It is important that the first impression is a positive one. To a large extent, this includes your external appearance. There are a few principles in service that need to be observed.


When it comes to clothing, you should generally make sure that you look well-groomed and that you wear neat, clean and fresh-smelling clothes. Your clothes shouldn't be too flashy, usually a white, simple blouse with black pants is sufficient. For more upscale occasions, clothing may be provided to ensure a uniform appearance. Your shoes should be elegant, simple, and comfortable. Not only are high heels inadequate to service, they also cause pain. As a service staff, you are on the move many hours a day. Work shoes should therefore be comfortable and still stylish. Flat shoes that are closed at the back and front are ideal. If jewelry is worn, it is important to keep it discreet. In addition, jewelry on hands and arms is taboo.


Headgear must be avoided. Instead, emphasis should be placed on a neat hairstyle. If you want to wear make-up, that's fine, but please use subtle tones - never eyes that are too dark or lips that are too red. If perfume is worn, it should be kept just as discreet. In addition, well-groomed hands without nail polish characterize an excellently trained staff. Chewing gum is understandably inappropriate.

Before the start of service


In order to prepare the premises accordingly, the room should be ventilated before the arrival of the first guests and then brought to a comfortable room temperature. Mopped floors, tables and window sills and the cleanliness of the place setting go without saying. In addition, candles should be changed and flowers should be checked for freshness. If smoking is still allowed, all ashtrays should be emptied and cleaned. The sanitary area should also be checked for completeness of the utensils available in it. Above all, there should be plenty of toilet paper, but also soap and towels.


The reception of the guests is very important, as an initial judgment about the service is made here. It is always positive if you take a few steps towards the arriving guests as soon as they enter the room. It is considered polite to assist with cloakroom and seating arrangements. It is particularly important to greet children as politely as adults and to take their wishes seriously. In all contact with guests, a friendly and natural smile and generally polite behavior are essential.

Set the table


The individual place settings (plates, cutlery, serviette, glasses, etc.) are arranged at a distance of 60-70cm. The measurement is from the center of the table setting to the center of the table setting. The tablecloth has an overhang of 20-25cm. Napkins are folded in the plate, on the left side of the plate or above the plate.

The place setting

Before setting the table, you should of course make sure that the table is clean. The cutlery is arranged in such a way that the cutlery that is used with the right hand (knife, spoon) is on the right side. On the left are the parts that are used with the left hand (fork). The dessert cutlery is placed 1cm above the plate with the knife edge towards the plate. If you have several courses, you should also ensure that the guest uses the cutlery from the outside in. The cutlery is therefore adapted to the menu sequence: the cutlery for the first course is on the outside, the cutlery for the last course on the inside.

The glasses

When arranging the glasses, a distinction must be made between whether there should be several glasses at the table (if there are several courses with different wines, for example) or one glass is sufficient. In the case of individual glasses, the glass is directly above the knife on the right-hand side of the place setting. If there are several glasses, the glasses are arranged over the knife / spoon provided for the respective aisle.

Serving rules


A well-trained waiter knows which guest will be served first at the table. In any case, a good impression can be made on the guests. When handing out the menu cards, when ordering and when serving, the concept applies: Ladies First. Then come the gentlemen and then the children. The host's turn comes last.

Moving in space

On the way to the buffet, to the kitchen or to the counter, it is important to always stay on the right side, to always move forward (do not go backwards) and not to idle (for example, to take empty plates with you on the way to the counter). In addition, when serving at the table, people always walk around the table in a clockwise direction.

Plates and platters

At the guest's table, empty and already prepared plates are served and lifted from the right side. When lifting, the plates change from the right hand to the left hand. The cutlery and the leftover food are placed on the lower plate, which is on the fingertips. The other plates can be stacked on the upper plate, which is now empty. Salad plates, bread plates and butter knives, which are to the left of the main plate, are brought and picked up from the left so as not to disturb the guest.


Glasses are served from the right side, poured with the right hand and placed on the right. It should also be noted that the glass handle and also the coffee cup handle must always point to the right.


Carafes are placed on the right above the glass.

Serve drinks

Drinks are always served on a tray. This should always be dry so that the glasses do not drip onto the table. When carrying bottles on a tray, the bottles are on the part of the tray that is closest to the hand. Glasses, which are lighter, are placed on the outer edge of the tray.

When serving drinks in carafes, make sure that the glass is served from the right-hand side and that it is filled between a third and a half with the drink ordered. Drinks in portion bottles are brought to the table together with the glass on a tray. The glass is served from the right and also filled between a third and a half. It is important that the bottle is only opened in front of the guest. The bottle is then placed on the right above the glass. The label always faces the guest.

Excursus wine

When serving wine, there are a few special features that you should keep in mind if you adhere to them you can leave a professional impression on the guests.

Serving wine

Wine glasses are carried to the table on a tray and placed to the right of the guest. The same principle applies when handing out carafes with the glasses that go with them. It should be noted that wine bottles should never be carried on the tray. The glasses are on the tray and the bottle is carried to the table in the right hand. The bottle is opened at the table so that the guest can be sure that it is a freshly opened wine.

Sample swallow

A sample sip is offered to the guest who has ordered the bottle of wine. While the guest is tasting the wine, the bottle is held in front of the guest so that he can recognize the label.

Defects of wine

The sample sip is important because wine can have certain defects. In order to enable the guest to recognize the deficiencies, a sample sip is offered. Wine can, for example, be “corked”, “mousse” (fermented in the bottle) or sour (turned into vinegar) due to incorrect storage, significant temperature differences or uncleanliness when filling.

Pouring out

Wine from the bottle is poured with the label facing up. It must be noted that, for aesthetic and hygienic reasons, the bottle must never be touched by the bottle neck. When pouring, the edge of the bottle is not placed on the glass. The glass is then half filled. If wine is served in a carafe, the glass is only filled to a third.

red wine

With high-quality, old red wine, special procedures must be observed. If such wines are stored for a long time, a sediment (a so-called depot) forms. So that the depot does not cloud the color of the wine, these wines should not be shaken and should be poured carefully. Old wines are therefore often brought to the table in a wine basket and carefully poured into a decanter in front of the guest so that the deposit remains in the bottle. A decanter is used to give the wine more surface to “breathe”. Through the supply of oxygen (oxidation) it can develop its full aroma, that is, it can develop its full volume (the taste) and bouquet / flower.

The optimal drinking temperature for red wine is 15-18 ° C (between 15 and 18 degrees Celsius) and is therefore just below room temperature, which is usually around 20 ° C. However, since the temperature in most kitchens is around 16 to 18 ° C, the red wine can also be stored there without further ado and then served immediately.

White wine

A white wine is served in a wine cooler and with a cloth to dab off the condensation so that the water does not run into the glass and spoil the taste of the wine.

The ideal drinking temperature for white wine is 10-12 ° C and thus slightly above the typical refrigerator temperature, which is usually 7 ° C. This means that the white wine should be taken out of the refrigerator a few minutes before serving so that it warms up a little.

Clear table

For safe operation, it is also important to know when the guest is finished with his course and when he is simply taking a break. If the plate is cleared away even though the guest has not finished eating, an embarrassing moment can arise. Certain rules of the cutlery arrangement provide information about the situation a guest is in. The following two scenarios are of primary importance:


If the guest takes a break, the cutlery is placed uncrossed on the plate (cutlery must not touch the tablecloth). The back of the fork should point upwards.

Completed walk

If the guest has finished the course (despite any leftovers), he will put down the cutlery parallel with the handles pointing down to the right. The back of the fork points downwards and the knife with the cutting edge points towards the fork. By the way: Contrary to some myths, there is no cutlery arrangement that expresses whether the food was tasty.

IMPORTANT: Used cutlery is never put back on the tablecloth.

Glasses stay

It is also important to note that glasses are not cleared away when you have finished the entire menu. At the end of a menu, the glasses remain on the table to signal to the guest that they can still take their time before they leave the restaurant.


Once it is certain that the guest has finished his course, plates and cutlery can be cleared away. It should be noted that plates, side plates and side dishes are cleared away first, and then plates and cutlery. In the exclusive service, only four place settings are cleared at a time and there may be more runs.

Service test

Test your knowledge in the field of catering & gastronomy service now. In this quiz we go into all aspects that you should know as a service hostess or waiter.

Choice of quiz questions

  • How should you normally dress?
  • How do you receive guests and what should you keep in mind when making first contact?
  • Which order of the guests should be kept when serving?
  • From which side are plates, trays and plates served?
  • From which side are glasses served?
  • Which hand is poured with?
  • Where does the label on a portion bottle point?
  • How high is the glass that goes with a wine carafe filled?
  • Where does the label point when wine is being served?
  • Who at the table takes a sample sip with wine?
  • What is the usual drinking temperature for white / red wine?
  • What is the correct clearing order?

Further training from InStaff

We currently offer four different online training courses: the Basic hostess Training that Service & catering Training that Sales & retail Training as well as the Telephone acquisition Training. If you participate successfully, you will receive a certificate and a badge in your InStaff profile.