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Tray Chic!

The Course des Cafés race tested restaurant servers’ speed and skill.
A group of servers in white shirts carry trays with croissants, water, and coffee as spectators watch from the sidelines.
© Dimitar Dilkoff—AFP/Getty Images
Servers begin the Course des Cafés race in Paris, France.

It’s one thing to participate in a race to see who’s fastest. It’s another to do so while balancing a tray of food and drink. That’s what 200 of the best restaurant servers in Paris, France, did on March 24. Called the Course des Cafés, the race required speed and skill.

The Course des Cafés required participants to walk 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) through the streets of Paris while carrying a tray with a croissant, a glass of water, and an empty coffee cup. The rules were simple. Don’t run, don’t spill, and don’t carry the tray in both hands at once.

Judges examined each participant’s tray at the finish line. They took off points for broken dishes, spilled water, and empty glasses. The men’s winner, Samy Lamrou, finished in 13 minutes, 30 seconds. The women’s winner, Pauline Van Wymeersch, reached the finish line in 14 minutes, 12 seconds. Van Wymeersch said being a server is very hard work, but she can’t imagine having any other job.

Paris is famous for its restaurants and cafés, and its servers are well trained. They are known for being able to remember complicated food orders—and for balancing trays full of food. The Course des Cafés first took place in 1914 to honor these skills.

This year’s race celebrates Paris as the host of the 2024 Summer Olympic Games, which will open on July 26. Experts thought a food race would be an ideal way to promote both the world’s biggest sporting event and the host city’s famous tradition of restaurants.

The winners of the Course des Cafés will have the opportunity to go to the Olympics. They each won tickets to the opening ceremony that starts the big event!

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Fun Fact

A restaurant in Mexico holds the record for the world’s fastest service, at just over 13 seconds. On a daily basis, its servers bring customers their food in 1 minute or less!
© Alexey Yaremenko, Kostyantine Pankin, Seamartini/; Animation Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Robot Restaurant

People sit at two restaurant tables as robot servers malfunction and drop food around them.
© Mast3r, Topgeek, Evgenii Naumov/; Animation Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Imagine you own a restaurant. How can you make your business different from the rest in a way that keeps people coming back? You can make the best food in town. Or you can have robots serve the food!

When Two Panda Deli opened in 1983, it quickly became famous for the two robots that brought people their orders. Robots were not a common sight back then, and these robots were special. They didn’t just carry food to the tables. They also played music and told jokes. People liked the food, but often they returned to the restaurant to see the robots.

Unfortunately, the robots weren’t very good at their jobs. They would sometimes drop food on the floor or spin in circles, according to Shayne Hayashi, who owned Two Panda Deli.

“When someone crosses in front of [a robot], it stops. Some people move a chair or something or move the table, and we’re in trouble,” Guinness World Records quoted Hayashi as saying.

The Eiffel Tower

© Adrián Sánchez Berger 740636/51A VidCR—DigitalVision/Getty Images

Paris, the capital of France, is home to a famous landmark called the Eiffel Tower. People can take an elevator to a platform near the top of the tower, about 900 feet (275 meters) off the ground!

Read more about the Eiffel Tower at Britannica.

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Part of speech:
: confidence and skill shown especially in a difficult situation
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