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If you're hired as a server at a restaurant, it's likely that you'll need to demonstrate your familiarity with the food offerings by memorizing the menu. Memorizing the menu is more than just a test; it's a way to serve the patrons by offering suggestions, being mindful of ingredients in case a customer has food allergies or specific tastes, as well as a way to show how much you know about the restaurant. Memorizing an entire menu, especially in establishments with lots of options and ingredients, can be a difficult task; however, there are techniques that can help ensure your success.
Flash cards are a good way to memorize the menu. Simply write the title of an appetizer, entree or dessert on one side of the card and the ingredients or information about the dish on the other side. Go over these cards repeatedly until the information becomes routine. The reason that flash cards work is because they force you to write down the information, which is helpful in the memorization process. Plus, reading the cards requires repetition, which is beneficial in reinforcing information.
Repetition is perhaps the most useful strategy to keep in mind when memorizing your menu. Simply reading the restaurant menu over and over again will provide visual clues for drawing out the information. As you read, say the menu information out loud. Hearing the information aloud will hit yet another sense and encourage you to remember the menu contents. Similarly, writing the food and necessary information again and again on a notepad can be helpful in memorization.
Becoming familiar with the menu can be as simple as seeing the dishes once they're complete. Because visualization is useful, if possible, try to watch food preparation in the kitchen or be mindful of how a dish looks when you deliver it to a table. Making the information personal can be helpful as well. For example, if you don't like mushrooms, you're likely to remember any dish on the menu that includes them, even if only to remind yourself that you wouldn't like the dish.
If you are someone who likes to use lists for organization, numbered lists can be very useful in memorizing the menu. Divide the contents of the menu into categories, such as appetizers, salads, entrees and desserts. Number the options within each category. For example, "1 -- Greek salad" and "2 -- house salad." When memorizing, keep the number of options for each category in mind. You will know that you missed one if you can't name each numbered option. You can break this information down even more by numbering the ingredients in each dish.
Liza Hollis has been writing for print and online publications since 2003. Her work has appeared on various digital properties, including USAToday.com. Hollis earned a degree in English Literature from the University of Florida.