You can find all kinds of odd and unique events in Japan, but this week the capital of Tokyo was host to on of the more peculiar; the international competition to determine the best waiter in the world. Contestants from 14 different countries met on Thursday to be tested in categories such as serving etiquette to knowledge of wine and recommendations on what would go best with a chef’s signature dish.
It must difficult to choose the “best” waiter, as people must have different tastes on how a server makes their meal more enjoyable. But that doesn’t stop a professional jury from judging 24 contestants across nine categories in order to find the winner of the Georges Baptiste Cup. Actually two winners are selected, one student and one professional, each showcasing the skills of both a waiter and butler. 20 year old Amritpal Warraich, of Switzerland, say there is so much more than meets the eye when working as a maitre d’. For example, a skilled butler will know what the guests want even before they do, and it is their task not only to help, but to make them more comfortable. It would make me pretty uncomfortable if my waiter was psychic, as all I really need is someone who is friendly and brings me the right order.
Domestic competitor, Shin Miyazaki, 35, works at Tokyo’s Château Restaurant Joël Robuchon and feels that the waiting trade is under appreciated in Japan, even with the recognition that talented sommeliers and chefs are important. He says that the ideal maitre d’ helps the customer appreciate the chef’s dishes even more. Originating in France in 1961, the Georges Baptiste Cup was initiated in honor of the chef and butler of the same name. 30 years later it began to include competitors from all over Europe, and starting in 2000 it went global, subsequently hosted in Canada, Mexico, and Vietnam. Tokyo’s winners are set to be announced on Friday.