I am a strong left handed server, hold the try with my right hand, and old habits die hard. Is it more important to be comfortable and just focus on keeping my body language as open as possible in Certified service portion of the exam or suffer a potential slip of champagne glasses and attempt to hold the tray in my opposite hand in keeping with court standards? I have a friend who dropped glasses and failed service once for this and DID pass by being a left hander. I have my exam in the next week and am very curious if anyone thinks this is JUDGED HARSHLY...?
I was told back in 2014 to learn with the right hand so I did and passed. It helps tremendously in real situations to be able to pour with either hands. I have heard a few people recently say that they did pass by pouring with the left hand.
If pouring with left, make sure you crush all the other points of service because (total assumption) I think you would be starting at an uphill battle. Break a Leg! (Not a glass)
Im left handed, and learned to pour right handed for the certified exam.The tray work was more of the issue, but I felt it was best to do so as I plan to take higher level exams and want to be prepared. What points you miss in the certified might not fail you, but they might at the advance level. Every point counts. In your situation, a week out, go with what you feel comfortable with. Confidence is important. Good luck, you got this. Let us know how you do.
FYI - dropping a glass doesn't disqualify you either, but you would rather not....
Execute service with whatever hand will allow you to fully engage your confidence, charisma and salesmanship. My only recommendation, both in your exam and on the floor, is to practice open-handed service, use your feet and pivot with intention.
I would practice doing formal beverage service with your right hand for the exam. Proper beverage service is done from the right, with your right hand. You should be doing proper beverage service in an examination. In real world situations, it is totally acceptable to pour with your left hand, but IMO, there is no excuse to pour with your left in an examination setting.
Think about it this way, 90% of the world's population is Right handed. 9 out of every 10 diners will hold their wine glass with their right, they'll keep it to their right, etc. etc. Our job is to serve and accommodate guests; not the other way around. Serving from the right also ties in with clockwise movements around the table, which is an almost universal standard in service to ensure a myriad of things (no collisions between service staff, calculated but predictable movements so as to keep guests at ease, it looks sloppy walking and then pivoting onto the guest to pour to their right, etc.) You need to show you can do this at an exam - - -
Now in a real life situation, you don't have always have that luxury and sometimes you need to switch things up. But those are on a case by case basis and, in my opinion, shouldn't override the comfort and custom of right handed diners. Now if people are huddled together and talking, I'm not going to throw my arm in the middle to pour; I'll switch it to my left, and pour from the left to avoid interrupting. It's critical to be able to pour from both, but ultimately, even in a real life, in my restaurant moment... I'm going to default to what is best for the guest; Not what is easiest for me.
Go with your strengths. What's the most points it could really cost you? Spilling a tray of glasses because you are going with a new and uncomfortable hand is hardly worth it. Accept that you may lose a couple points and make up for it elsewhere.
I say this from personal experience. On my final level 2 test, I served with the tray in my right hand, and I got the best score in my group. The test before that, I spilled a bunch of champagne flutes all over the floor and was utterly devastated (and didn't pass), but hey, I had the tray in the right hand! Which was actually the left hand, but I digress...
Go with your strengths. If you have months to practice, sure, learn the correct hand. If the test is coming up, GO WITH YOUR STRENGTHS.
I think I have told you this privately, but I wanted top get it in writing here for when somebody else searches this very same conundrum...
I recommend practicing holding the tray in your left and learning to do it 'properly.' However since your test is next week I agree with Garrin above me; you can totally pass while still carrying the tray in your right hand. You will have some closed off moments of service, but if you are clearly comfortable and confident in that position it is indeed better than being terrified of dropping something the whole time.
Presence, confidence, and grace under pressure are keys here!
Leftie here. My experience in restaurants has given me dominance with both hands. Not all tables are situated the same way in real life floor situations. I think learning to use both hands for service is something righties should know how to do as well. With practice it became second nature. Nowadays, I'm more comfortable holding the tray with my dominant hand anyway. Best of luck! #LeftieSolidarity
Update: I appreciated everyone's advice, decided to go for it and sacrifice a little speed to do it the correct way. Didn't drop the tray and passed on Wednesday! Even got "graceful and humble carriage" notes. Thanks again everyone who took the time to respond.
OP delivers! Thanks for the follow up and congratulations!