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Seven Tips to a Successful Buffet Date

Looking to impress your most recent love interest with a trip to the all-you-can-eat buffet? Follow these tips to score on the buffet line--and later on.

Buffet Field Assignments

Click here to see the King's most recent trips to the buffet, with plate-by-plate strategic analysis.

The Art of Buffet

Do you know how to properly scout a buffet? Do you know what buffepticons to look out for? For all-you-can-read buffet advice, click here.

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Welcome to the Art of Buffet!

We've all heard of Sun Tzu's The Art of War, a 13 section guide to war strategy. Well, we're in the 21st century people, it's time to update: this is the age of Buffets. Salad Bars, Pizza Buffets, Chinese, Seafood, Breakfast, KFC buffets, Sandwich bar, Sushi, AYCE wings, Buffets in the South, Buffets in the North, Buffets in the Northwest, Continental Breakfast Buffets at hotels, Buffets at weddings, Buffets at banquets, Jimmy Buffet, Good ol' American Buffets, Dutch Shmorgasborgs.

The Art of Buffet is a one stop site to all things buffet; All You Can Eat is in, baby. In here you'll find buffet etiquette (Buffetiquette), maximizing buffet plate area, strategic buffeting, and general help and advice to maximize your overall buffet experience. My goal? Help you find your inner buffet. Buffeteers--LAUNCH!

In buffets we trust,

King of Buffet

Fieldwork Assignment #3: The Chinese Buffet

Hello Buffeteers!

Many of you are probably thinking, "Wait, what, Buffetimus Prime, he's back?" Well, much like Optimus was revived in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, your old Buffet Guru is back, and better than ever. Now, I've been humbled by the business of life, those of you that are any good at math know that it's been two years since my last post. That's bad form. That's like the buffet that let's the mac and cheese go cold. That's like the ice cream machine that doesn't mix properly and spits out inappropriate-looking white goo. But, last I checked, people are still eating at buffets, and last I check, the aforementioned buffets are still "All-you-can-eat". So once a week, I will be posting either a buffet field assignment, or another post related to the Art of Buffet, much like before. I figured, what better place to get the party started, than to do a strategic analysis of a Chinese Buffet.

Now, cat jokes aside, Chinese buffets are a good buffet experience. For one, they offer much more complex flavor profiles than your traditional American buffet. I can slam down chicken nuggets with the best of them, but Chinese food is based more in flavor profiling from sauces, such as the ever popular General Tsao's chicken or Kung Pao Chicken. (By the way, if anyone knows who General Tsao actuall was, please comment on this post. By the way his chicken tastes, he must've been a freakin' bad ass. By the way, you know how to spot a buffoob at the China Buffet? Look at the guy piling on slices of 'pizza' or quesadillas on his plate. Dude, go to the Pizza Hut buffet for that. You go to a Chinese Buffet, you eat Chinese food. I think I'll add that to the buffet commandments. Anyways, on to the analysis:

As you can see here, we have the traditional island set-up, the most common form of buffet placement for Chinese buffets. Hot foods in the middle three islands, and over to the right (not in the picture) you have your cold items. I recommend grabbing a plate (people need to know you mean business) and then make an S like pattern through the islands to scout out the buffet. Some things to consider: are there any trays that were just replaced? Those are go-to items--hot and fresh. Also, where are the big ticket items. Are there crab legs? These are usually the highest priced items at a Chinese buffets. Hit them early, and hit them often.
Also, the hot items and cold items are separate from each other for a reason, don't have both on the same plate. A common mistake that will lead to ridicule from your friends. Hot items go TOGETHER. For my first plate:
Plate One: "Dam Rice"
A couple of observations here, many of which you buffeteers have probably already noticed. I can hear it now, "OMG WTF Buffet King, why did you put rice on your first plate?! Don't you know that rice and carbs fill you up faster than any other buffet food. What a buffoob!" Here's what I have to say to you text-talking teenager. What is the purpose for the rice? If you look to the south region of the plate, what do you see? That's right, sweet and sour chicken. Now let me ask you this? Do you WANT sweet and sour chicken and broccoli? Do you WANT sweet and sour Mongolian beef? If you answer yes, than I've got nothing and that's just weird. As you can see, I've created a 'dam' of rice on my plate. The reason is twofold, one, and most obviously, it keeps the sweet and sour sauce from contaminating food that you don't want to be sweet and sour. The second reason is that rice is a great absorber of flavor. It will take on the flavor of whatever sauce surrounds it. Let me tell you folks, sweet and sour rice is really good! I'll admit, I could've made the dam smaller, as rice does indeed fill you up at the buffet. However, that is much lesser offense than letting sweet and sour sauce run all over your well-thought out plate. A couple other things to mention with this plate, if you look in the northwest and northeast quadrants of the plate (Mongolian beef and chicken and broccoli, respectively), there's something very important going on there. Something I like to call the M to V ratio. M to V stands for the "Meat to Vegetable". Ideally, you want this to be one to one. It always sucks having that one piece of broccoli at the end to not pair with chicken. And let's face it, that piece of broccoli probably feels left out as well. So unfortunately for the picture, the broccoli is hiding under the chicken, but I can assure you the B to C ratio there is one to one. Top it off with some salt and pepper chicken due north and you've got a pretty damn good first plate.

Plate Two: "Getting Saucy"
Despite the suggestive nature of the name of the plate, no, I did not go to the back room with one of the employees for a special treat. The main theme of this plate is sauce compatibility. "But wait, buffet king", you say, "You JUST talked about how sweet and sour sauce can ruin a good plate, and now you are talking about sauce compatibility?" That's right, ambiguous random guy that keeps asking questions. Here's the thing: does a brown sauce (like chicken and broccoli, relatively mild) and sweet and sour sauce (sweet and tangy) go together? If you have half a pallet, you know that the answer is "no". However, here in the upper left corner, there are some boneless spare ribs. Immediately right of those, honey chicken. Both tangy bases, sweet. Sauce compatibility? A match made in buffet heaven! Below in the southeast, some Garlic its left, Mongolian Beef (I was a fan). The garlic sauce on the beef was a great fit! Now, I'm not going to tell you what is right and what is wrong (even though I literally did that five lines up). This is about experimenting. A lot of people, when they load up their plate, just go for mass, forgetting that there is always a layer of sauce at the bottom. Find a sauce you like? Try pouring it over another item (such as a dumpling, which is the white thing in the middle of the plate) Take risks, you will never improve your buffeting skills if you don't. If you find any particularly amazing sauce combos, please let me know.
Plate Three: "Happy Ending"
Again, not doing myself a service with these names, I'm just trying to be punny. If I wanted an actual happy ending, I'd go for a sundae at Friendly's. So the final plate here, obviously dessert, is a no-brainer. Anyone that hasn't tasted a Chinese donut either A) hasn't lived, or B) has a severe allergic reaction to gluten. They are LITERALLY fried balls of dough, covered in sugar. If I could marry a Chinese buffet item, this would be it. Why throw on chocolate pudding? Didn't I just say don't mix hot and cold? Well, once you eat a good amount of that pudding, these Chinese donuts are perfect for sopping up anything leftover on the plate. Again, we are going for A) Plate optimization and B) Plate completion. This was the perfect dessert. And of course, you can never forget to top off your meal with:
A cup of ice cream. As the old saying goes, "There's always room for ice cream." Which is scientifically true, as the ice cream melts and fills up any remaining cracks in your stomach. And that, my buffeteers, is how a Chinese buffet is done. A few more points, Below pictured is my water glass:
What do you notice? Yeah! It's practically full. Pretty amateur stuff here, but you can always notice the buffoob that's slugging back water...he's just making himself full faster. A note on this: you may want to save spicy items towards the end of your meal. Obviously, really spicy items cause us to want to drink more water, which in turn is just making less room for other things. Other option? Drink soda!
Here, a highly ambiguous fortune cookie to finish off the meal. Much like the North Star has it place in the sky (love grammar in fortune cookies), buffets have a place in our stomach.
You stay classy, Buffeteers.

Buffet First Date Do's and Don'ts: 7 Tips to a Smooth Buffet Date

My loyal Buffeteers,

I have been busy, far too busy as of late to pick up the forks and dig into my local buffets. The summer is over, school and work have begun, and the joy of buffet has taken a backseat to the clockwork of life. A sad truth, but a truth that I will no longer stand for. People out there in buffets are scared and confused. They are not being updated on the latest and greatest of strategic buffeting. Fear not though, I am back. And just in time to save you on your first buffet date.

What better place to take a girl on a first date than a buffet? It involves social interaction and you can learn about her plate organizational styles and buffet type which will tell you more about her than any zodiac reading. So read on Buffeteer, and eat up these seven tips to a successful Buffet First Date.

Tip #1: Be a Gentleman. Sounds like common sense yes, but you still want to establish a good first impression even before she takes her first bite. Come with flowers. Shower beforehand. Tell her she looks great. Pull out her chair for her before she sits down. Keep it Classy, Buffet Diego.

Tip #2: Go to a place you know. Nothing kills a buffet date like a guy who doesn't know the buffet. If you go to a foreign buffet, you are subjecting yourself to the embarrassment of not knowing where the big ticket items, such as crab legs or prime rib, are located.

Tip #3: Get an in with the Hostess. This is not meant at all to be a suggestive interaction with the hostess...that's bad form for a first date. It simply helps if you know the hostess knows you by name--it gives you the heir of a primetime buffeteer. Call beforehand if you don't know the hostess and ask if she can say, "Yes Mr. ________, I'll seat you at our finest table" Most hostesses are willing to do this, and it makes the girl feel special. If she/he is reluctant, tell him/her you will laud them to their manager.

Tip #4: Ask her what she likes. If small talk is all you're getting on the on-set, ask your date what she likes to eat at a buffet. If she says 'a lot', you have a winner. But by her answer you can probably assume her buffet style of El Classico, Aggressor, etc. This way you can recommend a strategic path based on your knowledge of the buffet. Consider yourself her own little mapquest. Plan a recommended route for her. Take charge. Lead the way, buffeteer.

Tip #5: Watch your own plate. Nothing will kill a first date like a plate full of baked beans and sauerkraut. Although you may enjoy these options, think of what musings a girl would have when you have a plate like this. She may have been thinking about that kiss afterwards, but not after seeing you suck down a plate of kraut. Stick to safer items: chicken nuggets, mac n' cheese, green beans for this first date. Save gassy items or items that cause bad breath until after you've sealed the deal.

Tip #6: Wait until she is done with the plate until you go for another plate. Just because you can eat beef with broccoli 6.8 times faster than her doesn't give you an award that allows you to get another plate right away. Use this time when she is still eating to keep the conversation going. Make sure you tell her not to rush. Now is your time to tell her how you fended off a 350 pound man for 2 minutes so your friends could nab the last piece of prime rib. Now is the time to tell her how you once fit eight cherry tomatos in your mouth with ease. Now is to tell her the time you once tried every single item on a buffet line. (include some regular talk too, interests, movies, etc.) But WAIT until she is finished to get your second, third, seventh plate, etc.

Tip #7: Plan a post-buffet activity. The best thing about a buffet, is that afterwards you usually want to go for a walk. Have a park or area that you can go on a walk for. Not only will this help with digestion, but it will also give you more talking time with her. Look at her posture: Are her arms uncrossed? Is she walking close proximity to you? All these will be signs of interest.

So Buffeteer, if you follow these 7 easy tips, you are on your way to successful buffet first date.

Initiate: ROMANCE!!

Buffet Fieldwork Assignment #2: Shady Maple Birthday trip

So while I was performing buffet research on my last trip about ten days ago for breakfast, I saw a sign that brought a tear to my eye: "Free Buffet Meal on Your Birthday!" After rubbing my misty eyes, and making sure this wasn't a fluke, I knew what I had to do: Go back to Shady Maple on my birthday. And go back I did. I realized during the breakfast buffet, I had only covered about 25 feet of the 200 advertised feet. With a new look on life and buffets and a greater confidence of my buffeting ability, I went with a compadre (my girlfriend) and decided to take on the lunch portion of this buffet for my birthday.

I do first have a pre-buffet comment. I went to an older lady, black hair, working on the middle register and said proudly, "I'm here for my free birthday buffet!" and whipped her my ID. After being eyed up by her, and not in the way I hope to get eyed up by a girl at the bar, she check my date and said in quite a scolding voice..."happy birthday". Well thanks Crappy Customer Service lady. After this, I vowed to rip Shady off as much as I could. But, this blog isn't about Shady Maple, it's about the food. And so I begin with Plate One.

Plate One: "Oh my God everything looks so good right now"

Now, I name this plate accordingly. I know we've all gone to a buffet really hungry before. Like REALLY hungry. Like, "oooh look at that last piece of soggy fish sitting alone in the tray looks like Poseidon's gift to man" hungry. This was me on this particular occasion, and as you can see my attempt to be a 'segregator' in my plate organizational strategy became a "pile-on". In this plate, you've got pulled pork in the lower left quadrant, with mashed potatos northwest of that. Now, normally I would create a mashed potato dam to keep the gravy from running into other food, but I made sure I had something that I wouldn't mind getting gravy on it next to it. At the top was some ridiculously good cheese ravioli. But the REAL highlight, is what's to the right of the plate. BROASTED CHICKEN. What the hell is broasted chicken? Hell if I know. It's lik Fried Chicken, but lighter on the breading, but still delicious. I want to use the work 'broasted' more in daily conversation. Like "Man, you've just been broasted". If I had to define it, I'd say that it when you roast a bro. But in this case a chicken. Phenomenal.

Now, before I give you my other plate of food, I wanted to show you a picture of something a buffoob would get on their plate. The fact that this 'buffoob' is my girlfriend is another story, we are working this out personally. But check out the following plate and see if you can find the deficiencies.

Girlfriend Plate One: "I'm a Buffoob"

Wow, yes. Buffeteers, hide your eyes. I'm an optimist though, what are the positives? For one, the selections she made (broasted chicken, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese) are all top quality items, can't knock her for that. But plate optimization? Child please. The whole southeast corner of the plate is unused. The glaring misbuffet here is the gravy pouring. This is my chance to reinforce the importance of creating food dams when dealing with liquids that could run. You need to create a wall of mashed potato so the gravy doesn't spill over and ruin the mac and cheese. It's called mac and cheese. Not mac and gravy. Now let's get back to excellence.

Buffetmis Prime Plate #2: "Broast me some more, man"

I'm proud of this plate, I really am. As you can see, only the far regions of the plate are unused, the regions where spills are always capable of occuring. Also, I used action research to decide that broasted chicken was worth another go. Combined with mac and cheese, fries, breaded haddock and broccoli. (Hate on me all you want, broccoli is money in the bank) But we are looking at one rather well rounded plate. Not too much of one item, but enough to get a solid taste.

So what do we take from this? Where do we go from here? I felt as though I ate a lot more than the previous entry on breakfast buffet. Why? Well, because I didn't talk as much and focused more on eating. Not that my girlfriend is bad company, but those long silences where we stare lovingly in each other's eyes work especially well for maximum food consumption. In addition, my plates were more well rounded. When in the breakfast entry I went all meats in the first plate, in this one I took a more Traditionalist approach with each plate. My advice for you? keep a record of your buffet trips. How long were you there? How crowded was it? What food groups did you eat the most of? What were your BPM? (Bites per minute) Keeping a log will help you analyze how much you at and maximize your buffet potential.

Keep it classy, Buffeteers

Buffet Fieldwork Assignment #1: Shady Maple Breakfast

Hello Buffeteers, and welcome to the first buffet evaluation by Buffetimus Prime. I know, for the past month or so I've preached from buffet plate strategies to Buffepticons, but I know you all really want to know how the buffet master handles his buffets, so here it goes.

Awhile ago, I decided to come up with an event for co-workers to go to Shady Maple Buffet out in Lancaster, PA. Let me start out by saying, Joe Paterno is to College Football Coaches as Shady Maple is to Buffets. It's the cream of the crop. Top of the line. Heck, the website boasts 200 feet of buffet. TWO HUNDRED FEET. It would take Usain Bolt like, 5 and a half seconds to sprint that length. And he's FAST.

Let me tell you, the PA Dutch know how to buffet. It is a line buffet, with a large center island in the middle with cold foods (fruits, pastries, etc.) and three islands of warm foods on each end. (To my dismay, the warm foods are the same on both sides of the middle cold food island. So in actuality, there is only 100 feet of original buffet, but beggars can't be choosers) The strategy of the buffet is simple, work outwards in, filling up first with the meats, then the starches, and end up in the middle island of colder but sweeter foods for dessert. I scout the buffet, realizing that Shady Maple intermixes meats and starches in the same island, clearly wanting people to mix and match (and fill up sooner on starches, I may add!) Unfortunately for me, I had been waiting for a few late-comers, and let a hungry stomach dictate my first plate, rather than my normal buffet sense. Added to this was the long lines, so I went for the shortest of the lines rather than playing out my pre-buffet strategy. With the Unattended Children Buffepticons rife throughout the buffet, I had to be extra careful dodging the mindless wandering of toddlers shakily carrying there plates. The first offense is a sticky bottom shoe, compliments of a syrup spill from a child in front of me. But to the first plate:

Plate #1 "Meat and Greet" Analysis: (I apologize, the picture is a little blurry) Clearly, as those of you who have read my post on Plate Organizational Strategies, this is that of a "Pile-on". Little to no structure, mostly slopped on by my crazed hunger state. Mostly meats here to start, couldn't pass up the corned beef hash, although it contained potatos in it. In the upper left quadrant of the plate is scrapple. For those of you not from around her scrapple is pretty much the stuff that doesn't make the cut to go in a hot dog, goes into scrapple. Good stuff. The lower right quadrant contains one of my favorites, creamed dried beef with a few home fries underneath. (I debated using bacon as the foundation for the cream dried beef, but instead used four pieces as garnish. There are also three cheese stuffed sausages in the northern most part of the plate. Overall, a very large plate of food. All was washed down with a plate of apple juice.

Meats x4
Starches x2
Dairy x1
Bacon Count: 3

My journey to my second plate of food was just as arduous, as apparently everyone else doesn't like to wake up early and waits for the last hour to come. Cutters were abound at the buffet, sneaking in just to get one item instead of waiting in the line. One guy tried to cut in front of an Old Dutch lady and get some sausages, but she smacked his hand repeatedly saying "Ya gotta wait in the line like the rest of us" with a scowl that would make Voldemort's blood turn cold. Note to self: don't mess with Dutchy ladies at Shady Maple. I was thankful she was able to dispatch the Buffepticon nonetheless. So, to the second plate of food:

Fruit x2
Meats x3
Starches x2
Bacon Count: 4
Plate #2 "The French Toast Stick Allegiance" Analysis: As you can probably tell, I do not have a specific buffet plate style, as this one is clearly that of a Segregator, using the French toast Sticks as a barrier between the fruit (and the juices that come with it) and the meats (Yes, that is a large chicken nugget in the lower right quadrant) Even as Buffetimus Prime, I am trying to find my ideal Plate organizational style. I prefer my French Toast sticks to be virgin (no syrup) but used Barbeque sauce with the chicken nugget. (Any place where you can get a chicken nugget for breakfast is a win for me and any of those in the "El Classico" buffet style) Unfortunately, this would be my last large plate of the day. Feeling rather full, but having mentally have promised my tummy a jelly donut by meal's end, I did have one half of a jelly donut, pictured here:

Fruit x1
Starch x1

Blueberry filling, I believe. If you mentally promise your tummy a desert, don't let it down, it may let you down a little later in the bathroom.
So in all, based on my highly accurate servnings counter, I ended up with 7 servings of meat, 5 of starches, 3 of fruit, 7 strips of bacon (slightly below average) and, well, 0 vegetables. People, it's a buffet, not Weightwatchers. Areas of Improvement: The only way to improve is to do a post evaluation of your buffet exeperience, and even I, as Buffetimus Prime, realized I goofed a few times. First of all, I may have only actually hit about 25 feet of the buffet. The crowds prevented me from doing a truly thorough walkthrough, thus my strategy wasn't quite developed enough. In addition, 5 servings of starches is way too much if you are looking to reach MSC (maximum stomach capacity) I let my eyes get ahead of my brain, mixing in too many servings of starch in my first plate, making me feel full faster. Also, I was in good company, so I was talking, a lot. While conversation is key to social excellence, it is importance that the conversation is spread around so you can chow while others speak. Finally, I had a large Chinese meal the night before. As Buffetimus Prime, I will never turn down a Chinese dinner, but instead of saving up for the large breakfast, I feel as though I didn't fast enough before hand.

All in all, I feel as though this field experience was a success. My research on Buffepticons was supported by real-life instances of cutters and unattended children mainly, although I did come across a Critic buffepticon who was inspecting each enlarged chicken nugget, as if she were looking for the one christened by Colonel Sanders himself. Buffeteers, we must constantly be aware of our buffets so we can adapt and perfect the art of Buffet. But good news folks, I found out that you get a free meal at Shady Maple on  your birthday, and since mine is coming up next week, you will be getting another field observation, but this time for lunch.

Also, come back later in the week, as I'll have a post to helpt you calculate your Maximum Stomach Capacity.

You stay Classy, Buffeteers!

The Four Buffet Roles of a "B-Team"

So you and three friends have decided that today, today is a Buffet Day. A valiant decision indeed. However, have you considered who will take what buffet role each of you will take. Many of you may have played war video games that have different positions. (Engineer, medic, soldier, sniper) None more important than the other, of course. The same goes for buffet teams. (B-teams) Not all four of you can scout the buffet to highlight points of interest. Not all four should be the lookout for fresh trays of food coming out of the kitchen. No one would have time to do what is really important in the buffet, eat. LOTS. So here is a handy guide with the four major buffet roles, so you too may designate each member of your buffet team an equally important role.

The Scout - The scout's role exists only before the eating commences, but is arguable the most important position of the B-Team. The scout is to go out to the buffet, perform a walkthrough of the buffet, and report findings back to the rest of the B-Team. The Scout should be not only the most observant of the group, but also the one with the best memory. The Scout tells the other members where key points of interest are...such as crab legs, prime rib, or other 'big ticket' items. In addition, he or she shall be able to distinctly describe the layout of the buffet. Is it a line buffet, the traditional "U shape", a series of islands? The Scout may want to come armed with a sheet of paper and pencil, to draw an overhead map and then put stars on the big ticket items listed above. From here, your B-Team can conduct a strategy to minimize the amount of walking needed to get to path of their buffet success.

The Timekeeper - Again, a very simple job, but very important as well. The Timekeeper's most important job is to set their watch or stopwatch to beep at five minute increments. This is to keep the B-Team informed on the amount of time before they will reach MSC, or maximum stomach capacity. Around twenty minutes is when the stomach starts telling the brain it's full, so the Timekeeper's job is to keep his B-team on track. The goal is for the first plate to be done around the 7 minute mark, the second plate by the 15 minute mark, and the third (usually smaller plate) done around 20 minutes. That way, dessert can be snuck in without too much complaint from one's tummy. The Timekeeper should also run the conversation. Say that the medic is talking too much, the Timekeeper should alert them so they can make up for lost buffet eating time. Your timekeeper should be attentive, observant, and able to host a conversation.

The Lookout - The lookout has a few very important tasks. The Lookout should take the lead when the hostess goes to sit your B-team. He or she should take command, making sure you are seated within full view of the buffet. This may depend on how crowded the buffet is, but if possible, the lookout's field of vision should optimally be at 75% of the buffet. This is because the lookout is always looking for fresh trays of food coming out of the kitchen. As the kitchen is constantly putting out new food, the lookout may want to have carry a piece of paper to track what foods are at the peak of their HAF (Hot and Fresh) factor. As buffeteers, we know that a fresh, piping hot tray of mac and cheese beats the crusty, half burnt mac at the bottom of the tray, so the Lookout makes sure you get the right foods at the right time.

The Medic - A position often overlooked by normal buffet goers, but it is important to always have a medic within your group. Only a B.D. (Doctor of Buffet) is necessary, and by reading this blog you will qualify for one. There are many common injuries involved in buffet going, such as burns, brain freezes, cuts from opening crab legs, loss of circulation to the lower part of your body due to excessive eating, and many others. The Medic, should have a small first aid kit with bandaids accessible, but most injuries can be cured within the buffet. Burns in the mouth or fingers can be soothed with ice cream or sucking on ice. The medic should remind the B-team to consistently move their legs under the table (a simple tapping of the foot is sufficient) to keep circulation moving.

So, what buffet role do you specialize in? Or are their other buffet roles you can think of?

Stay tuned, as next Saturday I will be doing my first field experience since the creation of this buffet, at Shady Maple Shmorgasborg.

The Ten Commandments of Buffet

I.Thou shalt not spill.
II. Thou shalt not commit buffet adultery--stealing from another's buffet plate.
III. Thou shalt not have just one plate.
IV. Thou shalt not practice the art of the Buffepticons.
V. Thou shall eat all that thou can.
VI. Thou shalt not bring their Weight Watchers point system sheet to the buffet.
VII. Thou shall honor the Art of Buffet while at establishment.
VIII. Thou shalt not judge a buffet food by its cover, or again judge a buffet food's taste until tried with bacon on top.
IX. Thou shalt not say the word buffet in vain. (Ex. "I'm going to buffet all over your Justin Bieber poster!")
X. Thou shall respect thy neighbor's elbow space.

Identifying your Plate Organizational Style

When you put food on your plate at the buffet, you may think you have no rhyme or reason to your food organization. Quite the contrare, my buffeteer. However, every time we cover our plate, we as humans are subliminally making a statement about our inner buffet. Below are four of the most common buffet plate organizational styles, and what the say about the buffeteer.

The Classic - This is the most common buffet plate organizational type. This buffeteer is not picky about foods touching one another, and will only have one layer of food on each plate. If the gravy slides into the fried chicken, the Classic takes it as a new flavor opportunity. If the gravy stays put in a well constructed mashed potato dam, well the Classic will be just as happy. This plate style is most commonly associated with the "El Classico" inner buffet. This, by most standards, is the most traditional buffeteer, and most novice buffeteers adapt this style, as it is 'safe'.

The Architect - The buffet plate is your canvas, and the food of the buffet is you paint. The architect does its best to create a fine dining experience for themselves with the materials given to them by the buffet. Instead of 'pouring' salad dressing over their salad, they 'drizzle' that vinaigrette in a swirlie motion. Mashed potatoes are not just meant to be 'plopped' next to the pork chop, but rather spread around it like as a halo on a delicious meaty angel. The architect has either an artistic flare deep down inside of them, or has Tivo-ed the last eight seasons of Top Chef. Either way, the architect would not eat anything before it is aesthetically up to par.

The Pile-on - As the name would suggest, the Pile-on does exactly what you would as much buffet food as they possibly can on one plate. "Who cares if it's all you can eat? I'm wasting valuable eating time by taking more than one trip to the buffet!" This is the thought process of the Pile-on. The Pile-on has no mind as to what foods mix together. Sesame chicken with broccoli and beef?? Try Sesame Beef w. Broccoli. If the plate styles were to have a competition over which could create the most impenetrable food fortress, the Pile-on would win no contest. The Pile-ons are aggressive, but also time-assertive and are not picky about which foods go down, and when. After all, it's all going to the same place.

The Segregator - Also known as the "Segmenter", a Segregators worst fear is that one item of food would invade the plate of another item of food. (Later in the blog, there will be tips on how to 'dam' foods from ruining other foods, but that is another buffet and time) Segregators usually view a plate as having four quadrants, with a piece of food in each quadrant. If the pea juice quadrant invades the fry quadrant, that plate is as good as ruined. The Segregator takes smaller portions to insure no cross contamination of buffet foods. The segregators and pile-ons have been enemies since the beginning of buffet times.

You  stay classy, buffeteers!

Buffepticons, Part Two


First of all, Happy Father's days to all those dads out there. If you choose to go out to buffet on this fine day, I commend you on your choice of cuisine. However, non-frequenters of buffets are more likely to show up on special days, such as Father's Day or holidays. Meaning there's a much greater chance of spotting a Buffepticon. And that's right, there's enough buffet offenders out there to take up two blog posts. So read on, my buffeteer, and be informed.

The Reach Acrosser - Now, many buffets are set up as 'islands', with food on both side of the buffet. Normal buffet protocol has you starting where the plates are located, and then moving around the island in a clockwise manner. But no, not for the Reach Acrosser. So I'm a Reach Acrosser, and I see some garlic mashed potatos across the way...forget waiting the 13 seconds until I get to the other side, I'm just going to reach out to the other side of the buffet, now cloggin up buffet traffic both ways. Not only is there north to south offenders, but also east to west offenders, especially at salad bars, which are often three tiered. While you are piling on some broccoli from the front tier, the reach acrosser can't wait the 8 seconds, and reaches across you to get beets on the third tier. Why the hell are you putting beets on your salad? Oh yeah, that's right, because you're a BUFFEPTICON! Basketball players and people with long arms are frequent Reach Acrossers.

The Unattended Child - Most people don't even know this Buffepticon exists, and the small child itself normally does not perceive itself as a Buffepticon. They think, "I'm a little kid and that gives me complete freedom to be a buffet douche". Common offenses of the unattended child? Brace yourself, my buffeteer. There's the spoon licker, the child who likes to taste the mac and cheese that is stuck to the spoon after they put it on the plate. There's the spiller, the child clearly too young to hold their buffet plate, which eventually leads to a broken plate on the floor, precious buffet food wasted. Even worse, the 'sneeze guard' that buffets have over the food is usually made for people four feet and above. The unattended child's sneezes sneak right under that guard and into the food. Note to parents: Do NOT let your child become a Buffepticon...they will be shunned by the buffet community.

The Piecer (Special thanks to J. Oshman) - The Piecer is most often found at pizza buffets. They decide to take the pizza slicer and make a ridiculously inconvenient cut into a slice of pizza, leaving an odd fraction, like 3/4 slice of pizza. Seriously? Who wants a quarter of a slice of pizza? I'll tell you, no buffeteer that I know. Even worse than the offense of cutting, is this Buffepticon usually has to handle the pizza with their fingers in order to make this douchey cut. Who knows where those fingers have been, Buffeteer, who knows...

The Critic - The final Buffepticon is the Critic, a normal person who magically 'transforms' into a food critic during their time in the buffet line. These people inspect every piece of food like a person inspecting their dog for ticks after leaving them in the woods for a night. Every piece of corn is turned around 360 degrees, to make sure no kernels are missing. Each piece of fried chicken is rotated around, looking for the one with the most crisp. Every dinner roll is pushed down on, so perhaps the Critic can get the fluffiest one. Who knows the motive of the critic...perhaps they do not understand that it is ALL YOU CAN EAT...and can go back for seconds. Either way, the critic is a line clogger and one seriously annoying Buffepticon.

So there you have it Buffeteers. Have you in your buffet experiences come across with any other Buffepticons? Please share!

Buffepticons, Part One

Buffepticons (n) - Buffet goers who fail to follow Buffet Etiquette (from this point on, known as buffetiquette) and are offenders of the buffet experience through their actions

The Buffepticons. I put this topic so early in my blog because you are bound to come across a Buffepticon during almost any buffet experience. There are proper ways to deal with this abominable buffet species, but for now, I am going to do a two part blog of the different Buffepticons you may encounter.

The Cutter

One of, if not the most common Buffepticon. The cutter is someone who breaks the natural left to right flow of the buffet line so they can 'cut in' and get the one food that they want the most. The Cutters don't realize that the tray of nuggets or fries or green beans is not going to disappear before they reach it, and even if it does then Congratulations! A steaming hot plate is on its way. Some Cutters try to be subtle, sneaking their arm into the line of your buffet path. Others pretend to be your friend for ten seconds while they cut and snag  the coleslaw. My fellow Buffeteers, they are not your friend.

The Finisher
You watch nervously as the alfredo pizza pie at the end of the line is being picked, piece by piece. Across the way the cook just puts a new pie in the oven, it'll be at least fifteen minutes before a fresh one comes out. All of a sudden, Alfredo pizza seems to have become the pizza of the hour, and everyone is getting a slice. You breathe a sigh of relief, there are three pieces of Alfredo pizza left, with only one person in front of you. Unfortunately for you, that person is a Buffepticon, a Finisher. The Finisher takes no mind of the person behind them. Quarter tray of mashed potatos? Gone.  Four pieces of fried chicken? See ya. The Finisher seems to take a tray with less than half the food as a challenge, only to have it go to waste when they are full. Some argue that the Finisher is not a Buffepticon, he or she is just taking part in an "all you can eat" experience. You may agree with those people, until you end up with a Finisher in front of you.

The Hoarder
The Hoarder is a two part enemy in the world of Buffet. The Hoarder hangs around the most popular items when they run out, and then takes enough of that item for themselves...and fourteen of their friends. Say, crab legs for example have just run out. First of all, the Hoarder stands right by the tray of crab legs, interrupting the flow of buffet traffic. Secondly, when the crab legs do finally come, they are as good as gone, as the Hoarder will take no prisoner. This is what separates the Hoarder from the Maximizer. The Maximizer gets their money's worth, but takes into consideration there are other people in the restaurant. The same cannot be said of hoarders.

Stay tuned for Buffepticons, part two!

Your Inner Buffet: Identifying your Buffet Style

Whether we realize it or not, every single one of us has a buffet strategy, unique to each individual. However, all buffet styles can be categorized into roughly five categories. Read the five buffet personality types below, and try to determine which one you best fit into. (or perhaps you are a hybrid!)

El Classico-Some may find the El Classico 'boring', but if you ask them, they are reliable.They like to play it safe when you go a buffet, regardless of the kind of food offered. If they like chicken nuggets best, hell with the chicken marsala, they are getting a plate full of chicken nuggets. And then another plate. And then some mac n' cheese. Forget that new gorgonzola dish.The 'El Classico" live and die by the life slogan, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." We call these, the "casual buffeteers".

The Maximizer-You just spent about $12.00 of your hard earned money on a good ol' American Buffet. And you damn well are going to get your $12.00 worth. Forget the low ticket items such as green beans or spaghetti, you're going straight for the prime rib or King Crab...and you're getting a lot of it. The Maximizer maximizes their dollar spent, and their stomach is not full until they've eaten the minimum amount they paid for.

The Sampler-Believe me, this buffet style is of those who aren't the least bit picky, they just want to try everything the buffet has to offer. This buffeteer will portion a little bit of everything at the buffet, rather than loading up on a particular item. At least, to start. Sometimes though, the sampler will come across something they very much like, and then become an Aggressor to that particular item. They like to test all regions of their palate, but don't usually have room to go around for a second lap. The only stipulations to the Nitpicker is food allergies.

The Aggressor-The aggressor understands that after twenty minutes, your tummy starts to feel full. And the hell with it if the aggressor going to feel full before he or she tries the homemade meatloaf! The Aggressor still savors, but savors many different items at many will fit in his or her mouth. You can usually identify an aggressor at a buffet, as on their first plate they will stick out their elbows like the start of a race to get best positioning for the least amount of buffet line time. Stick two aggressors in the same buffet path, and you are looking for trouble.

The Three Courser-The Three Courser does exactly as the name suggests. They usually don't go over three plates of food. One normally with a salad or appetizer type plate, one with a healthy portion of some substantial dinner food, and then one plate of dessert or dish of ice cream. This is usually the health conscious buffeter (they do exist!) and try their best to get all the food groups while enjoying a good mix of food.

So, what is your buffet style!

Welcome Buffeteers!

Buffeteer (n) [buff-it-tear] - An individual who constantly seeks the gastronomical delight of all you can eat foods

If you or someone you know qualifies under the above definition, then this blog is for you. We will take you in the depths of the deepest mashed potato troff, through the frozen peaks of chocolate fudge ice cream, in the between the towers of Flapjack, and hopefully end up at the gates of the satisfied gullet. Buffets are a world oft undiscovered by the casual diner...they are filled with opportunity, peril, and joy. We will give you step by step guide to reaching your full buffet potential, whether it's optimally navigating any buffet, identifying and eliminating problems with Buffepticons, (bad buffeters) organizing your plate to maximum efficiency, and dozens of other topics. Please feel free to suggest some of your own. Let's face it, the buffet's the limit. The key is to unlock The Art of Buffet.