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Jun 2, 2013 07:17 PM

Restaurant talk: "marking" a table?????

OK................. so we're really busy one afternoon and a young, culinary academy trained chef I now work with asks me if a table has been "marked". She gets pretty annoyed when I tell her I have no idea what that means.

She says that to "mark" a table means to set place settings on it (ie- napkins, utensils). OK...........................

I Googled "marking a table" and found that at least this one restaurant (and one other online source)uses the term with that meaning: I also found reference to servers leaving some visible object on a table to call attention to it for some reason - which could relate back to place settings, I guess.

My question......................... how common is this usage?? I've never worked in a restaurant (the wine bar I work in is slowly becoming one), but I've never heard the term used that way before. The situation made me feel like I SHOULD know the term.............. hence the angst.

While we're at it, if anyone knows why in the world the word "marked" would be preferable to, say "set"............ please chime in. Sounds a bit pretentious to me, but I can be a bit sensitive.

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  1. Been around for years, and as long as since I was in high school.

    As to the history or origins to the term? No idea.

    But I find nothing pretentious about it, however.

    1. I, too, am a cul school grad. In my restaurant years, never heard of it.

      1. It's very common. I've also heard laced as the table being completely reset for service. Plus the term monkey dish for the small bowls typically used for side sauces or vegetable.

        1 Reply
        1. re: holypeaches

          "monkey dish" -- the first time I heard those words, I had been on the job for about 6 months as sales secretary (back in the day when admins were called secretary) at the catering company I still work at. I had no clue as to what it was. Now, it's second nature to call it that, and I can't think of any other term so specific. We have other small bowls, but none that would work like monkey dishes.

        2. The difference between "Marking" and "Setting" is that marking refers to items needed for a course that is yet to come. Setting (Or flipping) a table refers to returning a table to it's original mis en place before a guest sits.

          Marking is also used universally for anything that is supposed to be on the table i.e. marked with wine/bread/etc.

          It's also meant to help communicate with the expo on the line in the kitchen. Often, when a table is ready for their next course, a "mark" of some sort is drawn on the ticket.