"The tradition of grand and elegant service is kind of fading, but we're
trying to re-energize the European-style training," says Mary Franchini. She
is a maitre d' and associate professor of table service with a culinary institute
in New York. "This field will always have a need for good, professional service.
Many restaurants are known for that."
A word of French origin, maitre d' means "master of" -- as in master of
the hotel or restaurant. A maitre d' is where the action is. They take reservations,
greet patrons, deal with complaints, handle the bills and sometimes prepare
food at the guest's table. They may also train and supervise serving staff.
"There'll always be room and a job -- a very good job -- if the person
has the skills and wants to put in the time," says Paul Paz, president of
the National Waiters Association. "Managing the restaurant or hotel food area
requires a lot of effort. But it's very worthwhile and rewarding."
"It's very important to be physically capable of being on your feet for
very long periods of time -- like 10 or 12 hours at times," says Randall Hodgson.
He is a maitre d' at a hotel.
"You'll do a lot of walking. These are hard, long hours, especially around
Christmas and New Year's when you'd better be ready to go from the moment
you walk through the door."
Maitre d' Richard Nottingham logs 50 to 60 hours a week, which includes
holidays and weekends.