Mastering the Art of 'Helicoptering' Trays: A Waiter's Guide to Perfect Balance

Serving elegance in motion: How to keep your drinks and snacks safe, even on the twistiest of paths

In the realm of hospitality, there exists a fascinating skill known as 'Helicoptering' – a delicate ballet of balance and grace performed by seasoned waitstaff. Imagine a tray loaded with drinks and snacks, gliding effortlessly through a bustling restaurant, swerving around corners without a drop spilled. In this article, we delve into the art of 'Helicoptering' trays, a technique born from years of real-life experience in the hospitality industry.

The Dance of the Tray

To truly appreciate the mastery of 'Helicoptering,' one must first understand the dynamics at play. Picture yourself carrying a tray laden with a variety of beverages, from frothy cappuccinos to sparkling cocktails, along with delicate snacks perched atop. As you navigate the twists and turns of a crowded dining area, the key lies in balance and intuition.

Finding Your Center

  1. Balancing Act: The essence of 'Helicoptering' is maintaining the tray's equilibrium. It's not about brute strength but finesse. Begin by holding the tray close to your body, ensuring it's level with your shoulders. This central position establishes a solid foundation.
  2. Fluid Motion: As you move, anticipate the shifts in weight and adapt accordingly. When you encounter a curve or corner, gently tilt the tray in the opposite direction of the turn, using the centrifugal force to your advantage. It's like a dance, with the tray leading the way.
  3. Speed: Speed can be both your greatest ally and your fiercest adversary when it comes to tray-carrying. When you're manoeuvring liquids, a swift pace can be your friend, allowing you to glide effortlessly through the crowd. However, should the need for a sudden stop arise, speed can quickly become your foe. That's why mastering the basics of solid tray-carrying skills is absolutely essential before you even think about progressing to more advanced techniques.

The Over-the-Head Alternative

While the "Helicoptering" method of carrying trays may seem like an intimidating feat in crowded spaces, an equally impressive alternative exists—the over-the-head travelling of trays. This technique is not for the faint-hearted but rather for those who have mastered the art of balance and are in complete harmony with their tray.

Holding the tray above your head not only grants a clear line of sight but also frees up valuable floor space. The key? An extended, steady arm to prevent any spills. When executed correctly, you'll feel as if the tray is an extension of yourself, seamlessly navigating through any throng.

But this method serves a dual purpose—it's not just about carrying food or drinks, it's also a useful tool for crowd management. Need a customer to shift? Simply hover the tray directly over their head. Trust us, they'll get the message. In fact, the spectacle of a 6'3" (1.91m) tall waiter holding a tray of scalding hot beverages aloft tends to make room miraculously appear.

So, the next time you're faced with the challenge of transporting a fully laden tray through a bustling environment, consider the over-the-head method. It's more than just carrying; it's a performance.


In the world of hospitality, mastering the art of 'Helicoptering' trays is a testament to skill and poise. Whether you opt for the classic technique or the over-the-head method, both showcase your dedication to impeccable service. So, the next time you embark on a culinary journey through a bustling restaurant, remember the dance of the tray and how 'Helicoptering' can elevate your service to new heights.Cheers to 'Helicoptering' your way to success!

'The "Gently, Bentley!" Way'

'My Clairvoyances'


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