How to Carry Plates Like a Pro Restaurant Server

Transporting piping hot plates through a bustling restaurant is no easy feat, but it’s a skill every server needs to master. If you’ve ever wobbled under the weight of an overloaded tray or mixed up table numbers mid-service, you know precisely how critical yet tricky excellent plate carrying can be.

Luckily, this in-depth “How to Carry Plates” tutorial by Real Server Training is here to take your skills to the next level. Whether a total serving novice or a seasoned veteran looking to brush up on technique, this video lesson will have you transporting towering dishes with grace and ease in no time.

Mastering the Art of Plate Carrying as a Server

As a restaurant server, having the ability to smoothly carry multiple plates is an invaluable yet underrated skill. When servers can transport dishes from kitchen to table swiftly and with poise, it not only expedites food delivery but also enhances the overall dining experience.

In this article, I’ll share insider tips and techniques for flawlessly balancing stacks of plates, inspired directly from an insightful video tutorial by Real Server Training. Whether an aspiring hospitality novice or a seasoned formal dining serving pro, read on to elevate your plate-carrying prowess!

The Technique – Initiating the Sequence

  1. Start with the Third Seat: When carrying plates for a multi-guest table, always pick up the 3rd guest’s plate first with your non-dominant hand (left hand for righties). This leaves your dominant hand free for the final plate.
  2. Proper Grip: Grip the initial plate securely with thumb on top, pinky underneath, and back of plate resting against fingers.
  3. Adding the Second Plate: Next, balance the 2nd guest’s plate atop the first, positioning it on your thumb, pinky, and inner forearm to create three sturdy contact points for a stable, slip-free carry. Avoid direct plate surface contact, as stacking bottom-to-top violates health codes!
  4. Finally: Complete the sequence by lifting the 1st guest’s plate gently with your free hand, taking care not to touch food surfaces or plate edges where possible.

Prioritizing Order Accuracy

When carrying completed dishes, verbally confirm seat order first before table number. For example, clearly designate “Seat 3, Seat 2, Seat 1, Table 10” as you transport the stack. Focusing on proper seat sequence first reduces chances of confusing orders!

Pro Holding and Handling Tips

  • Grip plates securely without harboring edges
  • Adjust positioning to avoid direct food contact
  • Transport smoothly without sudden motions
  • Maintain clean hands and neat fingernails

Elevating Skills with Advanced Tactics

Once fundamental techniques feel natural, try upping your plate count for an added challenge! With practice, adept servers can gracefully balance:

  • 3 plates in a single hand
  • 4 plates with strategic elbow grips
  • Side plates along forearms

Just take care by prioritizing stability and care over speed or risky maneuvers. Dropped dishes can spell disaster!

Bring Your Plate Carrying to the Next Level

Mastering the graceful dance of transporting dish-laden plates not only speeds up service to positively impact customer satisfaction – it also indicates mastery of a nuanced serving skill.

So, whether you are just starting out or looking to refine your technique, implement these plate-carrying pointers to elevate your capabilities. Bonus points if you can effortlessly carry a towering tetrahedron of plates without spilling a drop!

How to Carry Plates - Restaurant Server Training

Bonus Tips to Keep Your Cool While Carrying Plates

Maintaining Balance is Key

Staying steady while schlepping hefty platefuls takes skill! Keep shoulders square to your direction of movement and spine aligned to establish a solid foundation. Maintain a moderate pace and fluid motions. Wobbling servers can’t wow customers!

Obey Health Codes

Hand hygiene is non-negotiable when handling dishware bound for hungry guests. Thoroughly wash hands with warm, soapy water pre and post plate carrying to banish bacteria. Ensure your uniform is crumb and stain-free too. We serve food, not contamination!

Carry On with Your Strong Hand

Serving with your dominant appendage? Support plate bottoms with the other, using flat fingertips along the rim to stabilize. Shifting weight between poised hands grants better control, reducing slip-ups.

Run Food Like You’re On the Clock

Rushing orders equals recipe for disaster! Confirm dishes pre-departure, communicate with the kitchen staff to avoid collisions and travel at a brisk but balanced clip. Nobody wins if mac and cheese ends up on the floor!

Map Table Seats

Struggling to recall seating charts? Visualize numerical table order from a set spot, assigning corresponding seat numbers mentally as you go. These spatial cues help servings stay on track, not lost in space!


There you have it – the inside scoop on keeping calm and carrying on like server supernova! Implement these failsafe tips until transporting entrees feels as easy as pie. Soon you’ll be earning “most balanced” awards alongside the big tips!

Let me know in the comments what other serving skills you would like me to cover in future articles and videos. I love hearing tips and tricks from fellow hospitality pros in the trenches!


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