Federico is staying with us for 5 weeks. He arrived on Sunday from Tuscany. His parents are my former students. In October he will be going to university to study Law. Before then, he has decided to spend 5 weeks in the UK to learn and improve his English by working. He is a delightful, hard-working 19 year old and we are thrilled to have him with us.

Blog_Restaurant Waiter

He has a lot of bar and restaurant experience so it seems only logical that he look for work as a bartender or waiter. We went out together yesterday and the first restaurant we visited was so impressed with him that they decided to give him a try out the following day. As I write this post, Federico has already worked a 10 – 3pm shift and is currently working his next shift of 5 – 10pm!

Federico’s level of English is Elementary to Pre-Intermediate. Like many learners at that level, he lacks a lot of vocabulary. I wanted to make his first day at work go as smoothly as possible by giving him some of the vocabulary he will need as a waiter. So, we had an hour’s lesson this morning at 8 going over some key food and restaurant words and expressions.

As I was going over the vocabulary, I realised that many of my students, even at higher levels, often lack food and restaurant expressions. So, I thought that I would share my lesson here with you.Blog_Food-lovers


The first thing I did with Federico was to go through the main FOOD GROUPS with some examples that you would find on a restaurant menu.

  • Red Meat – Beef (Cow), Lamb, Pork (Pig), Sausages, Liver
  • White Meat (Poultry)- Chicken, Turkey
  • Fish – Cod, Haddock, Halibut, Salmon, Sardines, Whitebait, Tuna, Swordfish
  • Shellfish – Crab, Prawns (British)/Shrimps (American), Lobster, Mussels
  • Vegetables – Spinach, Courgettes (British)/Zucchini (American), Carrots, Potatoes, Broccoli, Mangetouts, Peas, Green Beans


“How would you like your meat, sir?”

Blog_I said well done










If someone wants a steak, they may ask for it to be cooked rare, medium-rare, medium or well-done.


How is the food cooked?

  • Fish, meat and vegetables can be pan-fried, grilled, roasted, sauteed and baked
  • Fish and Vegetables can be steamed 
  • Vegetables can be sauteed, boiled
  • Potatoes can be fried, baked, boiled and mashed



“Would you like some mineral water, sir?”

Blog_Still or SparklingThe customer has the choice of still or sparkling water. A lot of people now ask for a jug of tap water instead of bottled water.

“Here is the menu. Would madam like to see the wine list? We have some excellent red and white wines. However, our house wines are particularly good”.

After an exceptionally good meal, the customer might finish their meal with coffee and liquors like brandy, whiskey and so on.



How is the menu divided?

Blog_Menu Image

Some people like to begin their meal with a starter followed by a main course with side orders of vegetables and potatoes and often finish off with dessert. Most people find that a three-course meal is enough for them. However, on special occasions it’s great to have a five-course meal with cold starter, soup, main course, cheese and biscuits and dessert.



 What’s on the table?

Blog_Table Setting

The typical table setting in a restaurant would have a fork, a knife (steak, fish, bread or standard), a spoon (soup, standard, dessert), glasses (water, red and white wine) and a table napkin (made of cloth).
There might also be a side plate for the bread. The main plate will arrive normally with food. Of course a bowl would be better if you’re having soup and a pasta bowl that is wider and flatter is recommended.


Could we have the bill, please?

If the customers are particularly happy with the service they received they will often leave a tip.


Federico isn’t back yet from his first day at work. I feel like a mother waiting for her little boy to come home! I do hope his first day went well and that the vocabulary and expressions he learned this morning were of help.

Have you ever worked in a bar or restaurant in the Uk or in English? How was the experience? Please do share it with me here.

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Ciao for now