When Sweetbitter, a novel by Stephanie Danler, came out in May 2016, food lovers gobbled it up with the same voracious appetite that the novel’s heroine had for all that New York has to offer—from oysters and prosciutto to bad boys and booze.
Two years later, the story of 22-year-old Tess, who lands a job as a waiter at a fancy-pants restaurant, will play out in a six-episode series on Starz starting May 6. In preparation for filming, the actors underwent a crash course in fine-dining service, overseen by Justine Slattery, a front-of-house restaurant consultant. “I tried to condense my 15 years of fine-dining experience into 10 hours,” Slattery says.
Here are her tips for turning up the service at your next dinner party.
Keep Calm + Carry More
A move that’s sure to impress is the three-plate carry, and the secret to success is in your tiniest digit. “It’s two plates in your left hand, so one is balanced on your forearm,” says Slattery. “Your pinkie acts like a kickstand for the other plate, so you don’t drop gravy down people’s dresses."
Pop Corks Like A Pro
Rule No. 1: Don’t put your back into it. “Your instinct is to use part of your body, but you don’t want the bottle to touch anything other than your hands,” says Slattery. Rule No. 2: Get the corkscrew in right. Carefully center the tip of the screw onto the cork before pressing in and you’ll nail it.
Don't Be A Drip
How do you avoid those dreaded drips while pouring wine? When finishing a pour, lift the bottle slightly while also twisting about a quarter turn, says Slattery. “Also, if you neatly cut the foil just below the collar of the bottle, that can help catch little dribbles.”