Prof. of Service: A Trail of Breadcrumbs

On Service: A Trail of Breadcrumbs

BY IAN MAKSIK My last column left off with serving your boss and their spouse coffee and dessert. I promised my readers pizzazz, so let’s make that coffee or tea service truly memorable. I love a good crumber. Wait let me explain. The table crumber was invented in 1939 by John Henry Miller, who owned a fine dining establishment in Baltimore. Before the crumber’s invention, the only option for clearing away dinner remnants was a clunky brush and pan. Miller’s patent application provides a concise explanation of the tool: “It consists of a simple narrow piece of transversely curved strip of metal, plastic or like, bent on a segment of a circle of about 120 degrees.” Miller’s table crumber was interpreted in various materials and designs. One sleek, faithful, early design is still on the market; snag one at This service magic happens after clearing the main course. These handsome table crumbers (especially the silver ones) are sadly not used as much these days, but they remain an affordable option, and vintage versions are plentiful for sale on eBay and other resale shopping websites. Here’s a simple DIY crumber method. Fold a napkin in fours (see included diagram), before centering it on a dinner plate. Use a butter knife (or your new table crumber) to clear debris into the napkin’s waiting folds; safely sweep them up and securely cover them over, allowing movement while ensuring errant specks don’t make it onto guests’ person or clothes. Profofservice_Crumb_Catcher_1-8_Editable Address any questions you have on service, etiquette or catering via email to The Professor will reply via email or in this column. That’s an “86” aka “I’m out,” from Ian Maksik, “Professor of Service.” Ian Maksik is a Cornell Hotel School graduate and a former Hilton general manager and catering editor for New York magazine CUE. Known as “America’s Service Guru,” Maksik has keynoted, lectured and trained owners, management and staff of hospitality facilities in 21 countries and at notable industry conferences. Contact him at or (954) 804-5413.

Prof. of Service: A Trail of Breadcrumbs was originally published on


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