Arranging the meal : a history of table service in France
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Disposables Shop All. Furniture Shop All. Restaurant Dinnerware Shop All. Janitorial Supplies Shop All. Business Type Shop All. From customer service and sommeliers, to place settings and posture, there are many rules and standards that are expected to be followed when working in a formal dining environment. Though the rules may differentiate from place to place, these fine dining etiquette tips should serve as a basic guideline when providing patrons with the best meal, service, and atmosphere possible. Depending on the event or meal being served, the type of table service will vary.
Formal dining at restaurants will be different than at a buffet or catered wedding reception, but all service types aim to serve patrons quickly, efficiently, and with great care. Servers should use descriptive adjectives when explaining menu items to patrons, and have extensive knowledge of different flavors found on the menu. Successful servers are able to anticipate when to bring items to the table before they are requested. When serving a la carte, guests are given a menu and can choose pre-selected items, which works best in settings where there may be budget constraints, or when planning is required beforehand such as weddings.
Dishes and trays are then passed from the left to the right. Servers will generally be present for the beginning and end of the meal to set up and then clean up the table. Cooked foods such as steak, beef wellington, or bananas foster are prepared on a hot plate, or rechaud on the tableside cart. Unlike the French style, all food is first prepared in the kitchen, and then carried into the dining room on decorative platters. Make sure to warn guests of hot plates or beverages. Servers at these types of events should continue to refill trays in the kitchen as soon as they are empty.
English - Commonly found in private dining rooms, English style service features a waiter or waitress individually serving each guest from a large platter, starting with the host. This style stems from English manor houses where the head of the house would do the carving, and then servants would distribute the portions. Common side work procedures will often include arranging table settings for the next set of patrons, polishing flatware, and folding napkins into suitable designs.
Formal dinner settings can include up to 20 pieces of dinnerware for just one guest, and with so many plates, utensils, and glasses, it can seem confusing as to what to place where. As a general rule of thumb, flatware is set from the outside of the dinner plate to the inside, since this follows the progression of a formal meal.
Arranging the Meal: A History of Table Service in France
Table settings are always arranged for right handed people. There may be additional pieces such as cups and saucers, or specialty utensils like seafood forks depending upon the menu. Glasses should be arranged in a diagonal or square pattern to the right of the dinner plate, and are comprised of glasses for water, white wine, red wine, and a champagne flute for occasions that require a toast.
Until employees learn where to place plates, napkins, and cutlery, rulers can be used to measure the distance between the edge of the table and the dinnerware, to make sure all tables in a restaurant stay consistent. Serving the Table - Most upscale dinners will include 5 courses, encompassing an appetizer, soup, salad, entree, and dessert. Plates should be rotated when being served so the protein of a dish is facing the guest, as opposed to a vegetable. If customers need to get up from the table to use the restroom, or make a phone call, napkins are placed on the chair to indicate the meal is not yet finished.
Removal of plates should always be conducted from the right of the guest, as this is industry standard. For meals with multiple courses, empty glasses and plates should be cleared prior the arrival of the next course. Regardless of a restaurant's size or style, the serving staff represents the face of every dining establishment. When not holding utensils, your hands should be visible above the table.
Dining etiquette for eating salad. Never cut your lettuce: fold it with your knife and fork into a little bundle that can be picked up with your fork.
Dining etiquette for seating. The most honored position is at the head of the table, with the most important guests seated first to the left and then to the right of the head of the table. If there is a hosting couple, one will be seated at each end of the table. Dining etiquette for refills and seconds.
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You are expected to eat all food on your plate and you should not ask for seconds. You may always have additional beverages; drink enough to cause your cup or glass to be less than half full, and it will generally be refilled. Dining etiquette for restaurants. There are many varieties of restaurants, beginning with the formal and elegant establishments serving haute cuisine right on down to the creperie food stand on the street.
There are several types in between: the bistros-or, originally, the bar-now usually a family-run establishment offering good, substantial fare that accompanies drinks; the brasserie, offering snacks not to be confused with fast food and traditional meals; and less formal restaurants, where reservations may not be necessary. In informal restaurants, you may be required to share a table: if so, do not force conversation: act as if you are seated at a private table.
Dining etiquette for discussing business.
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The business lunch or dinner are widespread. Take your cue from your French associates: if they bring up business at a meal, then it's okay to discuss it. Dining etiquette for the home. When invited to a colleague's home for a formal meal, remember that the meal itself, and the formality surrounding it, is theater, and that you are an actor in this great French play.
Play your part well.
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Once within the home, you will be told where to sit, and there you should remain. Do not wander from room to room: much of the house is really off-limits to guests. Use the toilet before you arrive, as it is considered bad form to have to leave the dinner party, or the table, at any time. Once you and the group are invited to another room, most probably the dining room, be sure to allow the more senior members of your party to enter the room ahead of you: men should also move aside to allow women to enter ahead of them.
At the table, be sure to look for place cards, or wait until the host indicates your seat: do not presume to seat yourself, as the seating arrangement is usually predetermined. The meal-after aperitifs and a few appetizers do not expect much in the way of pre-meal appetizers: the meal is the important focus follows several courses:. Take small portions, along with some bread.
When serving yourself, round-shaped cheeses should be cut beginning from the center, in sequential, triangular wedges never cut round-shaped cheeses from the side : rectangular, conical, or square-shaped cheeses should be sliced in small portions beginning from the cut end.
Bread is served throughout the meal, and is the only food, except for sandwiches and asparagus spears, that can properly be eaten at the table with the hand; almost everything in France is eaten with a knife, fork, or spoon. Asparagus spears are often served on a separate vegetable plate and should be lifted by hand and dipped in the sauce-usually butter-that accompanies it.
Dining etiquette for paying the bill. Usually the one who does the inviting pays the bill. Sometimes other circumstances determine the payee such as rank. It's easy to impress at the dinner table! Just take a few minutes to read through our table manners section and you'll be the most sophisticated diner at the table.
Visit our international dining etiquette section for more etiquette tips for your next trip overseas or hosting international guests! Evaluating wine involves four basic steps — looking, swirling, smelling, and tasting.