How to recommend dishes to customers

People in hospitality jobs in restaurants are often called on to suggest what their customers should try from the menu. 

Being given the chance to help someone pick out a meal is a nice responsibility – but it can lead to some nervousness. What if the customer doesn't like what they have? 

If you're a waiter or waitress, perhaps you use some of the following techniques to help suggest the right things with flair? 

Check with your superiors in advance 

It may be that you've been given a list of specials or other dishes which are ripe for promotion on a certain day. It's worth asking your employer what they think you should be saying when a customer asks for advice on what to pick. You may well have been given training in this already. 

Specials are ripe for recommendation as they are not always on the menu, so even a long-time customer may get something new and exciting from this selection. 

Check if they have dietary requirements 

Often, waiting staff dive into a recommendation without checking whether the guest has any special dietary requirements. It's a waste of time offering steak to a vegetarian, for example, unless they're on the verge of a lapse! 

Why not try double checking if there's anything you should know before you recommend a dish, by saying something like 'do you have any special requirements?'. You'll also have to know your menu well, to know which dishes are, for example, gluten or meat free, so you can point them out to the customer! 

Memorise ingredients 

It will leave a great impression if you have a clear idea what goes into each menu item – and don’t have to duck into the kitchen to ask! 

Try it!

Most of the time, there will be chances to try the food you're serving if you work in a restaurant. For example, you might be able to eat from the menu on your break. Try to get a sense of the whole menu. If you want to be really professional, make a note of what you think of each dish you try, and how it tastes. This way, you'll be able to give really personal recommendations. 

Sound knowledgeable 

Knowing about your product will help you sound like you're knowledgeable when you discuss things with the customer. You don't want to come across as out of your depth when they ask you a question – it will make a far more professional impression if you seem like you're fully aware of the products your employer offers and can help them navigate the menu with ease. To increase the professional effect, why not practice explaining different dishes when you have time spare?