Buffet Workers Reveal The Things You Should Know Before Chowing Down

Buffets are beautiful places with boundless food and reliable people watching. What goes on behind the scenes, however, might have you questioning whether a buffet is really the place you want to go for food.

mahvelfan asked, Buffet workers of Reddit, what is something everyone should know about buffets?

Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.

Skip the filler, go for the (farmed and frozen) lobster.

The more expensive stuff is usually placed towards the end of the buffet line in hopes that you'll fill your plate with the cheaper fillers.

Fries and ice cream are the best part...

I saw a TV show in the UK about folk who try to 'beat the buffet' and apparently it will take you seven plates to break even (going by the figures they gave on the show). Seven plates.

A buffet owner said kid's parties are their breadwinner because the wee idiots just fill up on chips (fries) and ice cream, which costs them very little to make.

So much for those sneeze guards.

I worked in a deli through college and we had a salad bar that I would occasionally be in charge of. One day another employee came over and said that a handicapped guy put his hand down his pants and started touching all the food barehanded. Thankfully they saw so we were able to swap out everything (literally pounds of food got thrown out), but I don't eat at buffets anymore because the stupid and gross things I've seen people do while in charge of that salad bar.

So my advice, never eat ANYTHING that the general public had access to.

They should charge people for the food they ruin by doing this. Just don't.

I worked at a c-store that had at least 6 types of soup available all the time. One of my coworkers noticed on the kitchen camera that a lady had dipped her finger in a pot, licked it, and moved on to the next pot. She hurried out and stopped this lady, but learned from one of the floor people that this lady had done this with 3 other soups (why nobody stopped her, I'm not sure). They had to toss 4 out of 6 soups and remake them.

Someone needs a crash course in the dangers of cross-contamination and allergies.

Once I was at a Chinese restaurant, they had a buffet and a tiny Mongolian grill where you pick your meat and veggies to be cooked together. I went to get my beef and bell peppers at the little grill. There was a lady in front of me that was getting her food cooked, she asked for more shrimp to be added. The cook then proceeds to grab the tongs used for the peppers, sticks them in the raw shrimp, then back into the peppers. I haven't eaten there since.

A discount for having had stomach surgery? Maybe a buffet isn't for you...

I'm a casino buffet manager, Ask me anything

Pro-tip: walk the buffet line and look at the pans, if you see dry, crusty rings or food specs, it's been sitting for a while, request something fresher.

Crab legs aren't worth the hassle of trying to eat them for most people

Old people try to steal a s* ton of food, all the time. Show me an old person and I'll show you someone who has 7 cookies in a napkin in her purse "for the ride home."

Buffets run on a cost per cover model. Whereas a cover is the price of one adult meal. We calculate how much the average person eats from several categories. Proteins, center of the plate items, sides, soups/salads, desserts.

Please don't ask what items are gluten-free, if you need a gluten-free diet, you'll know even though we don't run a gluten-free kitchen.

Please don't ask for a discount because you had stomach surgery, it's a buffet, you eat as much as you want and if you can't eat that much, maybe a buffet isn't for you.

Nope. Totally going for the unlimited carbs.

Stay away from the fillers like rice, bread, polenta and anything else like that. It'll take up valuable room that could be better filled by the nicer things on offer.

The amount of waste at buffets is really depressing.

Worked at a restaurant where we did buffets at weddings etc. There is so much reserve we throw away. Sometimes full trash containers per day.

Our food was nice so I always took something that was over for at home.

Feeling very attacked. Again.

You're allowed to get food more than once. Stop piling the turkey on top of the pizza on top of the fried rice on top of your salad.

"All you can eat" doesn't mean forever.

They really will throw you out if you "stay too long."

Pro tip: the fresh food is on the bottom of the tray.

Our restaurant isn't strictly a buffet but we do a couple buffets a week. When we put out more food, we rotate it. The tray we're removing, we take the last couple- I dunno- biscuits out of it and put them on top of the fresh one. I've seen buffets that don't rotate the food but I think most do.

So, don't just grab a chicken leg like normal people. Shove all the rest of the chicken out of the way until you find the bottom chicken and eat that.

Or don't because they're not going to put food out there that can't handle sitting in a chafer anyway and digging around in the pan f*s it up for other people. I'm not the buffet cop.

Hell who needs a professional's buffet advice anyway?

Maybe a Purell station ahead of the food would be helpful...

People touch all manner of things then hit the buffets without washing their hands first. So yeah, if you have ever eaten at a buffet your food probably was sprinkled with weiner dust.

I try not think about this any time I'm at a restaurant. It's too much.

Just remember the spoon/utensil that you used to load whatever onto your plate has been touched by hundreds of people that day.

Going to a restaurant right before they close is seriously not cool.

I worked at a restaurant that had a Sunday buffet for 5.5 years. We really hate it when you come in 15 minutes before close. The salad bar is homemade other than the canned fruit and pudding. Sometimes leftovers are put on the buffet (they are stored properly though). We hate it when you go on both sides of the buffet. Our dinner rolls are store bought and covered in liquid butter after being pulled from the oven. There is butter in the corn for flavor.

These buffets are starting to sound like petri dishes.

The stale rolls become bread pudding. The fresh stuff is usually on the bottom as containers are flipped when filled. The towels used to wash tables aren't changed In an evening.

There's a lot here, but the plastic bag idea is genius.

I work in catering which is very similar (literally a buffet that we bring to the events)

  • There's a good chance that the cake or pie you got was just a thawed out frozen cake, as in the same kind you can find in the freezer section at your local grocery store.
  • If you want to get lots of free food, befriend someone who works in catering and give him/her some freezer bags before they start their shift
  • You know those delicious as f_ck appetizer meatballs? It's only 3 ingredients: 1 part Chilli sauce, 1 part Grape jelly, and a bag of frozen pre-cooked meatballs
  • Unless you're the kind of person that is okay with gas station stuff, don't eat the hotdogs or hamburgers.
  • EVERYONE in this industry cuts corners, with the possible exception of the guys at the very highest and most expensive tiers (who not even the 1% can afford, they are 0.1% territory). If we didn't then we'd never get anything done on time and the service would be even more expensive (and it's already pretty expensive as is). That said, I'm happy to say that the one I work for is one of the better ones in the area fwiw
  • The best populations to serve for in my experience are blue collar workers (company Xmas parties). They are all very polite folks that are usually pretty patient and low maintenance.
  • The worst populations to serve for in my experience, consistently across the board, are middle-aged uptight businessmen/businesswomen. Always gets way more food than they can actually eat so their plate has this massive mound of food waste on it that is impossible to stack other plates onto, never drinks water throughout the day so they ask for refills on their lemonade/Arnold Palmers constantly, looks at me (the server) with a stack of 13 plates and thinks "yeah, it's okay for me to ask this guy to take my plate for me right this second", always at least one guy who brings their kid with them to the benefactor party or wine meet-and-greet who is bored out of their mind because everyone else was sensible enough to leave their kids at home (and if you've been invited to one of these events then you can absolutely afford to hire a sitter), you often times have no choice but to butt into their conversations to ask if anyone wants their plate taken/a refill/any special assistance because you can stand over their table for 5 solid minutes and these non-inclusive douchenozzles will never even notice that you exist, the list goes on.

Well I'm certainly not doing "all you can eat" for health reason, so...

All the premade "salads" potato, noodles and ham, all that stuff is terribly unhealthy. I mean literal cups of mayo and ranch go into their making. Also the light ranch is just regular ranch in a different container.

Their ability to bounce is a big clue.

My mom worked at a buffet and she says to stay away from anything with eggs because they are synthetic (fake).

Noticing a trend of health code violations...

If you see them restocking the pans and put fresh food on top of the old food, run away. Pans with older food should be removed from the line before putting in the new.

And the post-buffet mood, because obviously.

The meal's not over when I'm full. The meal is over when I hate myself.

I eat just about anything, but can't say I'm a fan of okra. Might it have to do with the way it is typically prepared, at least in my experience? It's slimy. It shouldn't be. It would probably taste better fried. But I have friends from the South who swear it is heaven on a plate.

But there's more than food that's disgusting. Like... why do people idolize Joe Exotic, the Tiger King? He's a sexual predator and a criminal. I know we all needed something to watch during lockdown, but damn. Don't tattoo his face on your body!

People shared their opinions after Redditor blackismyfavcolorlol asked the online community,

"What's that one disgusting thing that everybody except you seems to like?"
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Photo by Josh Hild on Unsplash

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