The "Operations" TRED training module offers an overview of several areas of concern for Two Roads Event Designers. These include core standards of operations; operations for buffet services; operations for seated meals & family style events; and finally, an overview of some basic cooking terms that every events professional should be familiar with.


Welcome to 'Operations'!

Thank you for participating in the Operations training module. 

This course is designed to present Two Roads Event Designers with information they should know about core standards of operations in the FOH and BOH, as well as information specific to the type of event you are hosting. It offers an overview on universal FOH standards of service, service for buffets, seated meals and family-style meals. Finally, there is a section detailing many culinary terms that you should familiarize yourself with in order to better communicate with the BOH and your guests. 


This training module has 4 sections. Each section covers information about a specific area of concern involving FOH or BOH operations, and is then followed by 2 short quizzes on the knowledge that was presented. Completing these quizzes completes the training module. 

Additionally, there is an appendix section that offers a number of YouTube videos on superior service. We recommend that everyone who is excited to complete TRED and further their careers in hospitality watch these videos. 

Core Standards of Operations

Floor Comes First

There are a number of basic service rules you should ensure that you and your staff abide by during the course of an event. 

The 15 Minute Rule

In order to guarantee that you are prepared for an event, all food and beverage stations should be fully set and ready for service fifteen minutes prior to the BEO scheduled start time. The only exceptions should be sensitive food items that may suffer in quality or presentation if put out early. Both the kitchen and FOH supervisor should approve any items that do not abide by the 15 minute rule.


We will immediately pick up any garbage on the floor, clean small messes and report issues we cannot handle ourselves. No matter what job you hold, if you notice a mess, you are responsible for cleaning it up (if possible) or ensuring that it is cleaned up. It is imperative to be aware of all areas front and back of house, from ceiling to floor and wall to wall.

Floor Presence

There must be at least one server per 100 guests on the floor at all times during meals. If a meeting is being held, it should be checked on at least once per hour.

Use Guest POV

Event managers and staff should put themselves in the guest's shoes. Is there anything you would want or need if you were that guest? If so, provide it, and if not, smile and consider the next guest. Similarly, consider what is visible to the guest. Is there anything that would not look good to you if you were that guest? If so, fix it or report it. 

Work With An Eye to the Future

Be Knowledgeable (Read BEOS)

Use BEO’s to be aware of what is happening during your shift and what you will be preparing for the next shift(s). Always be aware of what is happening outside banquets and in the broader resort. Be prepared to answer any questions that may arise.

Anticipate Guest/Group Needs

In addition to BEO’s, check group agendas, resumes and pay attention in line-ups to be prepared for room refreshes and breaks before the first guest opens the door. Expect special requests and know how, where and when to fulfill them.  If a guest asks for something special once, they are likely to ask for it again.  Be sure to notify your supervisor so it can be communicated to the team effectively and we can all be prepared.

Be Prepared-know our inventory/stock levels

If you think we are low on an item, from candy to bottled beverage, or juice glasses to pens, notify a supervisor and add the item to the “needs list”. If there is an item that we do not regularly have but you know a guest wants or needs it, bring it to a supervisor’s attention.

Leave all areas set for the next function/shift

We expect each shift to set up the next shift for success. Morning sets, in particular, must be detailed prior to departure unless specifically directed otherwise by a manager. 

Provide the Best Service

Practice your hospitality skills in every guest interaction. Always greet guests warmly and thank guests like you mean it. Be visible and smile during guest arrival times. Welcome and direct guests to their function. Upon departure, thank guests for joining us and always invite them back.

Whenever possible, refer to our guests by their names. Be sure to know group contacts and VIPs by name in particular. Check BEO's and resumes for guest names. Any guest wearing a name tag should also be referred to by name. Most guests will appreciate an honest effort to use their name more than they might be annoyed by mispronunciation, so don't be afraid to call them by their name even if you are unsure of how to say it.

Use LEARN to help in service recovery. This acronym stands for Listen, Empathize, Apologize, Resolve, Notify. When approached with a complaint, fully Listen to the guest without interruption. Empathize with the issue that is causing them distress. Apologize that they are experiencing something less than ideal. Resolve the issue with the resources available to you. If you cannot resolve a guest opportunity quickly, please Notify your supervisor immediately. 

Constantly improve personal knowledge and skills. Change is inevitable. We are always getting better or getting worse. Make sure you are always working towards the positive and bettering yourself. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Maintain your strengths and work on your weaknesses. Let your supervisors know what you need to help you be your best.  We can’t improve without your participation. 

True or False

  • Do not refer a guest by their name if you do not know how to pronounce it
  • If a guest asks for something once, they are likely to ask for it again
  • It is not a manager's responsibility to clean up a small mess at a banquet
  • If guests are in a meeting, they do not need to be checked on until they ask for something
  • All food & beverage stations should be fully set fifteen minutes prior to the BEO scheduled start time

Fill in the blanks below

The acronym LEARN describes the proper process for dealing with a service recovery. It stands for      

Buffet Service

Buffet Service Essentials

First and foremost, always read and fully understand the BEO. Make sure that you, and all of the event's staff, understand the following primary pieces of information from the BEO:

  1. Where the meal is being served.
  2. What time the meal is being served.
  3. For how many people the meal is being served.

In addition to these 3 basic essential pieces of information, look for the following information:

  • Are people eating at dining tables or meeting tables?
  • If they are eating at dining tables, are they being set with place settings or with roll-ups?
  • Are ice water or other beverages being pre-set?

Know The Menu & How it is Being Served

You should know exactly what is on buffet menu and how it is being served. Specifically, consider the following points:

Allergens. Are there any items with common food allergens, such as shellfish, nuts or gluten? 

Order of service. In what order is the menu being served? General standard is to serve in the following order:

  1. Cold items like fruit, yogurt, salads, pastries, breads, etc.
  2. Warm starches and vegetables like potatoes, rice, grilled or sautéed vegetables.
  3. Warm proteins like bacon, fish, chicken, beef, etc.

Presentation. In or on what are the items being served? Are cold items in a bowl, on a board or individual servings? Are hot items being served in a chafer, cast iron pan or individuals on a warmer? Are there any sauces or garnishes on the side? 

Setting the Buffet

The general principle is to make every buffet visually appealing. Additionally, you the buffet should be adequately prepared for service. In order to do this, please follow these steps:

  1. Ensure the tables and any linens, risers, chafers, serving pieces, etc. are clean and polished as needed.
  2. Create levels using risers so that items are NOT all at the same height.

  3. Place sufficient plates or bowls at the beginning of the buffet or before the item(s) for which they are intended.

  4. Place silverware as needed

    • Place roll-ups at the finishing end of the buffet if the tables are not set   with silverware.

    • Place pockets of silverware on stations based on what is being served, e.g. spoons with yogurt or soup, forks with dessert, forks and knives   for carving stations.

  5. Place appropriate serving pieces for each dish with underliner in front of or beside each dish.

    • Underliners are generally white long rectangular plates.

    • If the buffet is double-sided, please have serving pieces for both sides   to use.

  6. Place signage for each item so that each sign is visible to guests (from both sides if necessary).

    • Ensure signs and holders match and are clean and free of food, spills, stains, etc.

  7. Ensure there are appropriate sternos for each warm item

    • These should have sufficient fuel to last for the duration of the buffet whenever possible.

  8. Fill chafers with HOT water and light sternos 45 minutes prior to meal start time.

    • e.g. dinner buffet starts at 6pm. Chafers are filled with hot water at 5:15pm and lit   at that time.

  9. Double check the above set for detail and anything missing
    • As you review your buffet, ask the following questions-
      •  Is everything clean and polished?
      • Are there sufficient plates?
      • Does every item have the correct riser, chafer, etc.?
      • Are levels varied?
      • Are roll-ups or other necessary silverware present?
      • Is there signage?
      • Are chafers filled, lit & hot?


Setting the Tables

While most of your preparation for a buffet will focus on the buffet itself, keep in mind that your guests will likely spend the majority of their meal seated at dinner. Proper preparation of the dining tables, and careful attention to presentation, is just as important as preparing the buffets. 

Adequate silverware and glassware should be collected and polished. Service staff should fold napkins or make roll-ups with silverware. Water glasses may be filled with ice and water and held in a refrigerator. Tables should be covered with table cloths, and place settings and roll-ups can be placed upon them. Finally, place salt & pepper shakers, votives and any center pieces. 

Bringing Out The Food

All buffet food should be placed in the banquet pantry 30 minutes prior to the menu's start time. The kitchen is responsible for bringing down all food unless specifically arranged otherwise. If food is not down, notify supervisor and go to kitchen to ask for food.

Once the food has arrived, inspect the buffet. FOH and BOH supervisors are both responsible for walking the buffet(s) to ensure all food, equipment and signage are present and presentations are up to standard.

Remember the 15 minute rule from our core standards-all food and beverage stations should be fully set fifteen minutes prior to the BEO scheduled start time. At this time, any final details should be resolved. Servers should be standing by, ready to greet and direct guests. 

True or False

  • Items on the buffet table should be presented at the same height
  • Typically, cold items such as fruit are served first; then warm starches & vegetables; then warm proteins like chicken & fish
  • It is much more important to have a good looking buffet than to have dining tables properly set
  • Chafers should be filled with hot water and sternos should be lit 15 minutes before the event
  • The kitchen is responsible for bringing down all food unless specifically arranged otherwise

What are the 3 essential pieces of information that all members of the event staff should know before any event? (Select all 3)

  • Where the meal is being served
  • What time the meal is being served
  • How much money the client is paying for the event
  • For how many people the meal is being served
  • What time the event ends

Seated Services & Staffing

Family Style Service

Family style means that the server brings out large plates and bowls of whatever is on the menu and you serve yourself. In other words, it isn't individually plated. There are many occasions when family style is the perfect service style, and it offers a number of benefits, outlined below:

Your table looks bountiful — and it's bound to make people hungry. There's just something about a big plate of chicken with vegetables nestled around it, or salad mounded up in a bowl. It looks inviting.

It saves you time. You can dump everything from the roasting pan (or slow cooker, or sauté pan) onto a platter and go. You can serve it straight from your colorful dutch oven! No fussing over individual plates, trying to evenly portion out six servings of asparagus.

Passing platters encourages friendly conversation. It just does. Eating feels communal and familial, which is how dinner should be. And trust us, when someone says, "Hey, can you pass me the potatoes again? Those are good!" it will warm your heart.

Your guests get to eat what they want. If someone doesn't like couscous, she can pass, or take a small amount, rather than eating around a pre-portioned serving already on the plate. Also, guests can help themselves to seconds without your having to get up and go back to the kitchen.

You can show off less fancy food. The best family-style dishes, in our opinion, tend to be big bowls of pasta, roast chickens or chicken breasts, or braises from a slow cooker. These are rustic meals that often involve less expensive ingredients, but when served in a big heap, look majestic. Simple salads also look great in a big bowl.

Plated Dinner Steps of Service

While both buffet-style banquets and seated dinners share the same core standards of service, plated dinner service has its own unique steps of service.

Before seating, it is important that you are set up for success. Make sure that tables are set as accurately and completely as possible. This includes polished silverware and glassware, napkins, votives, centerpieces and may also include menus. Also ensure that all side stations are fully stocked with pre-selected wine (if applicable), water pitchers, coffee sets, and side towels. Make sure their are order sheets and pens for servers. 

As guests arrive, offer wine and other beverages. When they seat and everyone has a beverage, confirm orders. If applicable, clear any extra glassware that is not being used.

Serve the first course when it is ready. In the meantime, refill water as necessary, and refill wine if available. 

Next, the first course should be cleared. Ideally, the whole table should be finished eating before the course is cleared. Clearing should happen as a team to avoid multiple trips interrupting the guests' service. Be sure to remove the extra knife whether it was used or not.

When ready, serve the main course. Again, continue to refill water and wine.

After all guests have finished eating, clear the main course. Again, clearing should occur as a team. Everything that is not being used for dessert should be removed from the table. This includes all dishes and silverware, including bread and butter platers. It also includes salt & pepper shakers. Any excess crumbs should be removed from the table as well. 

Next, the table should be prepared for dessert. Fresh silverware should be given for the dessert course. Coffee should be offered to all guests, and promptly brought out. It is imperative here to work as a team.

Finally, the dessert course is brought out. Water, wine and coffee should be refilled as long as the guests are still drinking. If guests are finished with their coffee, those saucers should be removed. If the entire table is finished with dessert and still seated, their dessert plates and silverware can be removed.




  • Continental Breakfast: 1 server for every 40 guests 
  • Breakfast Buffet: 1 server for every 30 guests
  • Lunch or Dinner: 1 server for every 20 guests
  • Coffee Breaks: 1 server for every 50 guests


  • Breakfast: 1 server for every 25 guests
  • Lunch: 1 server for every 20 guests
  • Dinner: 1 server for every 18 guests


  • 1 Bartender for every 75 people

Untitled statement question

  • During a seated service, dishes should be cleared as soon as guests finish them
  • Family style dining can encourage conversation
  • Staffing is always the same, no matter what meal period is being served
  • If a guest declines wine because they are drinking a cocktail at a seated dinner, you should leave their glass on the table anyway because they might want it later
  • If there is a 60 person dinner buffet, 3 servers should be staffed

Cooking Basics

Importance of Understanding the Basics of Cooking

Even though event designers do not work directly in the kitchen, it is imperative that you have a good understanding of what happens in the back of house. The following section offers an A-Z overview of many common culinary terms that you should be familiar with. In order to maximize the effectiveness of your communications with the back of house, it is essential that you understand the proper verbiage. Additionally, understanding these terms will ensure that you are able to respond to your client's requests in an educated, thoughtful manner. Always work to increase your knowledge of culinary techniques and trends, both to maximize the efficiency of your operations and to appear not only credible, but impressive, to your clients. 

Culinary Terms A-Z (Part 1)

Culinary Terms A-Z (Part 2)

Culinary Terms A-Z (Part 3)

Culinary Terms A-Z (Part 4)

Culinary Terms A-Z (Part 5)

Culinary Terms A-Z (Part 6)

Match the term with an example of its meaning

  • Chiffonade
    Lettuce cut into extremely thin strips
  • Gratin
    The crust of a dish that has been topped with bread crumbs and placed in a broiler
  • Jus
    A thickened veal stock
  • Legume
    Green peas
  • Paillard
    Sauteed veal cutlet served in its pan's juices
  • Tripe
    Cow stomach
  • Zest
    Grated lemon peel

Appendix: Videos on Superior Service

Danny Meyer

Danny Meyer Service with a Smile

Hospitality legend Danny Meyer's take on service.

Michelin Stars

Michelin Stars: The Madness of Perfection

Documentary on the Michelin program.