The Waiter's Friend

Waiter's Friend

Pop! Or not, in this case Certain types of bottle are not so easily opened, even using the waiter's friend

ESSENTIAL USER NOTES

In thias article, Ready, Steady, Chuck! departs from tradition by examining a utensil that is not only not limited to use in the kitchen, but which is also not simply named after its primary function. The so-called waiter's friend is a very curious tool indeed, and eminently worthy of the attention of this monthly guide. The big question, if you happen to be a waiter is, naturally, "is it really your friend?" And it is the fact that you might even contemplate asking this that suggests it may not be. For the waiter's friend is the truly multi-purpose tool, the perfect Jack of all trades, the ultimate Swiss army knife of kitchen utensils.

Perhaps the reason why its purpose is not enshrined within its name is a result of the many functions to which this versatile tool may be usefully applied. The waiter's friend finds practical use in kitchens as a knife, fork, reamer, corer, skewer, stirrer, prong, ice pick, tin opener, nutcracker, serving utensil, vegetable peeler, potato masher, cake decorator, olive stoner, barbecue cleaner, coconut opener, toothpick, doorstop, caltrop, and thing for getting stones out of horses' hooves. It can also be used to open some types of bottles.

Different chefs and, indeed, waiters, use contrasting handling styles to get the most out of their waiter's friends. Most popular amongst the various techniques commonly seen in the modern kitchen include the "offhand spin" approach, most suited for left arm unorthodox reverse use, although arguably the most important consideration is grip. Variation in grip has a major outcome on the delivery, particularly in relation to the inswing. None of these approaches, however, are known to be particularly successful when attempting to make friends with waiters, and there is some risk that attempts by swingers could ultimately lead to leg breaks from bouncers.

Despite its wide range of practical uses, though, the waiter's friend is not a utensil that should be treated lightly, nor one which should be used with impunity in the kitchen. Its close combination of corkscrew, knife blade and bottle opener means there is significant potential for serious self-harm to result from improper use. Stories, some of which are probably apocryphal, abound of serious accidents and near-death experiences that have arisen through inappropriate waiter's friend use. As a result, kitchen staff who have not had the opportunity to attend one of the Ready, Steady, Chuck! accredited three-day residential waiter's friend training workshops should ensure that they have at least read through the appropriate health and safety manual and have taken the necessary precautions before handling this utensil.

That said, when used by experienced staff the waiter's friend can truly come into its own. No other utensil can fulfil all the functions necessary in six-course formal dinner preparation, including opening all the wines, meat carving, vegetable preparation, butter curling, cake icing and propping up the one short leg of the dining table.

One of a few picked utensils The waiter's friend is a key component of the extreme chef's essential utensil kit
Use this utensil to make Bacon, Avocado and Ginger Thing

QUICK START GUIDE

DO:

  • use the waiter's friend for opening bottles, cans and other containers
  • use the waiter's friend as a substitute for almost any other utensil (but see below for exception) if the other utensils do no0t happen to be available
  • use the waiter's friend for impressing people at parties when they brought a bottle but forgot to bring anything along to open it with, and you produce one as if from nowhere.

DON'T:

  • use the waiter's friend to try to make friends with waiters. If you want to make friends with waiters, in the vast majority of cases you will need more than just a handy utensil.
  • waste time socialising with the waiter's friend. The fact that it has a friendly name does not mean that you need to be friends with it, nor should you under any circumstances expect it to share the bill.
  • use the waiter's friend as a spoon. This basically just doesn't work.
  • use the waiter's friend for opening bottles that are already open, however much you have already drunk.

Previous utensil: the melon baller

Next utensil: kitchen dice

Back to Essential Utensils