This is a very sensitive topic because from the title itself it might seems that vegan guests need some kind of really special attention and that some mystical skills are required to the waiting staff. In some ways it is the case. But not for the reasons you might think.
The vegan host, like any other guest, may be very polite rather than rude, shy rather than fearless, accommodating rather than extremely meticulous. What makes the difference is the baggage of bad experiences and disappointing situations that could have weakened his trust.
What makes the difference is the baggage of bad experiences and disappointing situations that could have weakened his trust.
That’s why an extra dose of understanding and care might be very appreciated. Workers in the hospitality industry are often characterized by a sort of psycolgical inclination, that capacity to understand situations and act consequently to make the guest felt welcomed and cared about. Being able to deal with this specific clientele should be a natural consequence.
But in addition to this aspect there is also to consider that, normally, the vegan offer is quite lacking. So be attentive and be ready to surprise the guest with extra pampering and you will charm them easily.
Let’s be clear. To do this it is very important to have at least a basic understanding of what veganism is, where it comes from and how the food you will be serving is made.
To do this it is very important to have, at least, a basic understanding of what veganism is, where it come from and how the food you will serve is made.
In the vegan fine-dining experience ingredients sourcing is more important than ever. Customers have lately developed an important knowledge of food sourcing and preparation and this isn’t less true for vegan guests. Telling where the main ingredient of the dish come from and how it has been sourced could be a great add to the conversation and will let the customer perceive the real and honest attention to details.
I am aware of the difficult relations there might be sometimes within the kitchen and the waiting staff. Tensions are always behind the corner. That’s why being organized and prepared to satisfy the vegan clientele is essential. Times of unpreparedness are gone. The waiting staff should insist on having enough options to offer if they are not on the menu and to have extra alternatives if those provided are inadequate.
As usual the waiting staff is the one offering his face to the guests and having the right confidence while dealing with the guests is very important.
The watchwords to cater the perfect service to a vegan guest are:
- Expertise: you have know in detail the dishes you are going to serve and, not less important, the characteristics of all the elements of the service (is the bread you are serving vegan? Do you have an alternative to butter to serve?)
- Set-up: If the menu already includes vegan options don’t forget to get the kitchen have a vegan amuse-bouche ready.
- Beverage: don’t forget the beverages. Guests may ask specifically for vegan wine or wanted to know if the aperitif you are serving is vegan friendly.
- Listening: don’t be afraid to ask a feed-back about the food served. Be open to listen and report to the kitchen.
- Petit fours: please don’t leave in a table of four just the vegan guest without exciting petit fours.
Although a great restaurant experience must include great food, a bad restaurant experience can be achieved through bad service alone. Ideally, service is invisible. You notice it only when something goes wrong. ― Dana Spiotta
The waiting staff intelligence and savoir faire is what can really make a difference in building the perfect guest experience. The effort and commitment of this department is essential, even if not always recognized.
Photo credit: Eleven Madison Park – NY