“Expose yourself to as much food and libation as possible. Learn.”
Dave Stevens – Table X
“I worked my way up, from washing dishes to line cook to serving,” says Dave Stevens, whose serving jobs put him through two college degrees—film and psychology. “Like most people, I stumbled into a serving career.” Now he’s an admitted foodie, having discovered a love of the cultural significance of dining. In his view, the server invites the diner along on an adventure. “A huge percentage of meaningful human experiences happen over food. I like to help make that happen,” he says. A server encourages diners to try new things, to explore.
Stevens first worked at Bill White’s Wahso, at a time when Fodor had named it one of the country’s top restaurants. He was on the opening staff at Scott Evans’ Pago. That’s where he absorbed a passion for the business and where he learned that food gives a deep sense of connection to a place. “We went on field trips to farmers and purveyors to learn about the food. I learned about wine. I took wine courses from Jim Santangelo’s Wine Academy of Utah. I worked in the restaurant’s garden,” he says. And he will garden at his latest job, serving at Table X, which has its own garden behind the restaurant.
Steven says, “The restaurant should suit your style of interacting with people so you can enhance the diner’s experience. You have to follow cues from the diner, but you have to be confident and unafraid. An evening when everyone is ‘on’ is like choreography—there’s a rhythm to it, when everyone hits their mark. It’s like finishing a great performance.”
Written by: Mary Malouf
Photographed by: Adam Finkle