A chef's table typically is located in a restaurant kitchen. It is reserved for guests of the chef. Most chef's tables have bar-type seating to save kitchen space. In some restaurants, the service is temporary or seasonal, while other eateries offer the service on a regular basis.
Making reservations to sit at this table typically is necessary for several reasons: there is only one of these tables and it may already be reserved on any given day for a special occasion. The chef also needs to make sure his or her schedule is organized so that he or she has time to talk with the dinner party. Chefs usually prepare special menus for diners who reserve the kitchen table.
Some tables are bar-seating areas that divide the kitchen from the regular customer dining area. A genuine chef's table usually should be separate from regular dining tables; it should actually be located inside the kitchen. The inner kitchen viewpoint can be fascinating since guests at the table can watch the food being prepared and plated.
Guests at this table typically receive a lot of attention from restaurant staff. Not only does the head chef communicate with guests and offer them the day's freshest menu choices, but the head sommelier, or wine steward, will usually make several expert suggestions of wines from which to choose. Some restaurant owners add service charges onto the food bill as a way of compensating for the extra attention of the staff.
Many restaurants also have a minimum capacity for guests who wish to sit at the chef's table. For instance, most restaurants will not reserve these tables for less than a group of five people if the table seats only seven guests plus the head chef. Most of these tables do not seat more than eight people since adequate kitchen space for preparing, cooking, plating, and serving food usually is needed. Space considerations are also why many chef's kitchen tables have bar-style seating – it takes up less room than a conventional dining table and chair set.
Having chef's tables in restaurant kitchens is usually considered positive for the hospitality industry. People get to know the chef a little better and often recount to others their experiences at a chef's table. Many of these stories are published and are read by people who regularly try new restaurants. This promotion may encourage new diners to experience the food at a restaurant with a good chef's kitchen table. Many chefs will allow customers to take photographs; they may also sign menus and give these to their chef's table guests.