Certified Exam Service Practical

Hi Everyone

I am preparing for the certified exam here in Chicago.  

For service, are we expected to bring anything other than our preferred cork screw for our mis-en-place? I am assuming that cradles, coasters, serviettes, etc. will be provided.  

Is this correct?


  • Caroline,

    You will only need your cork screw and yourself.  Be yourself during the service exam and have fun.  They will throw some curve balls at you so be prepared and be honest.  Good luck

  • In reply to Timothy "Jeremy" White:

    I would bring two corkscrews, a couple of lighters, a couple of pens, something to write on, a crumber if you have one.

  • In reply to Brian Brill:

    1. Wear a suit.

    2. Wear your Intro pin.

    3. Wear your smile.

    4. Bring 2 pens, 2 corkscrews, 2 lighters, a small pad of paper and a crumber.

  • In reply to David D. Denton:

    Good luck on your Certified, Caroline!  If you want to study with me, (though I don't think I will be ready for the Chicago exam) please let me know!  (Also if you want a willing victim to play the role of customer for your Practical).

  • In reply to Douglas Trapasso:

    I brought an Ah-So to mine, didn't need it, but why not?

  • In reply to Greg Sisto:

    Make sure your nails are neatly manicured. I would recommend unpolished buffed nails (men too).  Do not forget to polish your shoes. These things were noticed. Good luck to all the candidates.

  • In reply to Jodi Bronchtein:

    I did not know that I was supposed to wear my pin from Intro (which I took 6 years ago). Def have it on when you go in for service.

  • In reply to Melissa L. Smith:

    Follow the guidelines as posted in the literature.  2 waiters' corkscrews, a crumber, lighter or matches, wear the pin, look neat.  However, do not rely on the advice given in the Guild videos to slow down and take your time.  When I took it in Atlanta last month we were surprised to hear someone call "TIME" during the service demonstration.  Unbeknownst to any of us there is a 12 minute time limit within which you must pour 8 glasses of bubbly.  That includes the interview portion of the demonstration.  Several people who did very well on the theory and tasting portions of the exam failed due to exceeding this time limitation.  The solution is practice, practice, practice.  Not so much in opening the bottle but in setting the mis-en-place, the glassware on the table, folding napkins, etc.  Have your system developed so you can fold three napkins, set the underliners and glassware on the table, and place the bucket appropriately all within one minute.

  • In reply to Charles Warner:

    Sorry, Charles, but I have to disagree with you here. You need to keep working, and you can't do extraneous work (like folding 30 serviettes when 3 will do), but rushing through service is not really the answer.  

  • In reply to Matt Stamp:

    I used to take way too long at serviette folding.  I was doing a service mock preparing for a competition once and someone pointed that out to me.  You definitely don't want to rush through anything but refining your technique on little things (so you're not thinking about it, and just relying on muscle memory) has helped me.  

  • In reply to Matt Stamp:

    Matt, I don't understand your comment or what you disagree with.  Where do you get the 30 serviettes from?  I'm simply trying to let those taking the class know that there is a time limit even though you are not told this.  There were several people who failed the course because they were not quick enough.  You have 12 minutes including the amount of time your examiner uses to check your knowledge base.  Some took several minutes for this phase.  My examniner used about 3 minutes with the interview portion.  I was fortunate to get my service done in time.  Some did not.  A word to the wise.

  • In reply to Charles Warner:

    To Charles:  The Guild videos are a valuable resource given the demonstration aspect ... an excellent tool for those who do not normally work on a restaurant floor.  Yes, you need to work and move with purpose during the service practical, however, each exam proctored by CMS for one group of candidates is not the same for all subsequent exams.  I would be cautious on advising that the 12 min. clock is definitive ... may have been the testing scenario for your group.  Having had the honor and privilege to host CMS in FEB/2013 at the property where I work, the Level II exam was a "full house" regarding candidates, however, I do not recall the implementation of a 12 min. clock.  Yes, one should practice under the pressure of "tick-tock-tick-tock" ... no, one can not take the "remains of the day to finish" ... on advising to others the "how to" of the exam, a word of caution though.  No one truly knows how CMS will administer each individual exam.

  • In reply to Nathan T. Prater:

    Nathan.  You point is understood.  All I can tell you is how our exam was conducted.  There was no mention of a time limit. And our group was full - over 100 contestants.  However, when some of the failed contestants asked the MS who was in charge about a time limit (as they failed due to taking too much time)  the answer was "of course there was a 12 minute time limit!"  IF, as you say, the criteria change depending on the event and staff then this indicates a potential flaw in the system.  As for the Guild videos, I have been clearly told by the Court that this is an alternate group and the Court is not held to the same standards.

  • In reply to Charles Warner:

    Speaking as a certified examiner,

    Yes, there is typically a 12 minute time limit, but this is not to say that the exam cannot change in the future. Imagine yourself spending 12 minutes on a restaurant floor. That is an eternity at a restaurant table. You should be able to complete the task of opening / pouring wine and answering a few questions with time to spare. We are not asking you to rush -- because rushing looks, well, rushed -- but we do ask that you understand the steps of service and that you are able to complete them in a quick and efficient manner. If you have taken the time to understand the steps of service, and you are able to recommend wines reasonably quickly -- i.e. as quickly as you would have to on a restaurant floor -- time will never be an issue at the certified exam.

    In regards to our videos: as former Head Sommelier of the French Laundry and the current owner of Frasca, Bobby Stuckey MS is one of the best in the business, and we filmed his service so as to closely align it with Court standards. 

  • In reply to Matt Stamp:

    To Matt:  nice to hear from you ... hope all is well ... as usual, clear points w/ precision!

    To Charles:  I would encourage you to visit the CMS website and print off the 2013 Service Standards ... as well would use the same and compare w/ the Guild Study regarding service (a "comparative tasting", if you will)