Dining For Profit: From Utensils to Salads

Business Business Communication Essential Business Etiquette Dining For Profit: Is That Your Bread and Butter Plate Or Mind?
17 minutes
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Hello, I'm Lydia Ramsay, president and founder of manners itself. We're here at Wexford plantation clubhouse on beautiful Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. And we're here today to talk about manners that sell specifically table manners that sell. Ever since Eve ate that first apple. There's been much ado about dinner. A lot of business is conducted over meals, whether it's breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

And it may be for that initial job interview for a job promotion. It may be dinner with that special client in an effort to seal the relationship or close the deal. Whatever the occasion, whether you land that job, whether you get the promotion, whether you win over the client, much of that is going to depend on how you handle yourself during the meal. It's your table manners that count. I have a favorite business. This author Harvey Mackay, who's written a number of wonderful business books that have great titles, including how to swim with the sharks without being eaten alive.

Push the envelope all the way to the top. dig your well before you're thirsty, and Beware the naked man who offers you his shirt. Here's what Harvey Mackay has to say about table manners. They don't much teach business etiquette anymore. So if you ever get to choose between incredibly Advanced Accounting and remedial knife and for head for the silverware, we're going to head for the silverware now. And keep in mind that the goal here is for you to be as comfortable as you can possibly be.

Once we finish this session, you'll be totally comfortable with your table manners, and that way you'll never have to worry again and a business meal about which fork is yours, how to butter your bread, or which way to spoon your soup. You'll be able then to focus on the business conversation at hand and the business meal right Other than the food and the utensils. Before we began, there are a few key points that I want you to remember. First of all, business meals are not about the food, they're about the business. Secondly, embarrassing things happen. If you don't get flustered and fall apart over them, everything will be fine.

And the third thing that I want you to remember is if you don't know what to do in a certain situation, watch your host or hostess. Hopefully, they know what to do. Now, let's begin by looking at the play setting. And what we have here is an informal play setting. When you sit down to a table where the meal has been pre ordered, as it has in this case, you're going to have all the utensils all the flatware on the table that you're going to need to eat the meal. You shouldn't have anything that you're not going to use at some point.

And you can look then at this particular play setting and see as you look to your right, there's a soup spoon so you know that you're going to be having soup And if you look to the far left, you'll see that you've got a salad fork. So there's going to be a salad course. And then you say your entree fork and your entree knife and you have a real luxury today because you've got a salad knife as well. So you're going to be able to cut your salad and not have to worry about what to do with a knife when you're through. Then once you've had your soup, and your salad and your entree, all of those utensils will be removed, they will have gone with each course and you'll be left with your dessert fork and your dessert spoon. Now let's talk about what to do with your neck and you're all seated here at the table together.

Waiting to make your first move, which would be to take the napkin off the table and you've done exactly the right thing, in that when you sat down, you did not remove your napkin immediately. The napkin comes off the table when everyone has been seated. Now since you're all here, you want to take your napkin off the table, and you want to stick it up fairly subtly, discreetly, you don't want to do anything rash, like you know, take it off the table and wave it around, open it up. So take it off the table and put it into your lap. And as you're unfolding it, you will sort of refold it so that the crease is in the middle. You folded this large dinner napkin in half, a luncheon napkin would be about half or two thirds the size of this napkin.

So you would leave that open, but this is the dinner size napkin so it goes in your lap with the fold of the crease toward your waistline and it stays in your lap throughout the meal. The only time that it would come out of your lap would be when you're using it and you're going to use it Simply for plotting your math during the meal from time to time, if you should get up during the meal, then you want to leave your napkin on your chair on the state of your chair. You do not want to put a napkin back on the table as long as other people are eating, you never put a soil napkin back on the table until everyone is finished and everyone is rising from the table and leaving the table the meal is over. Then the napkin can go back on the table.

At that point, you want to just take it by the corner and lay it gently on the table. It can be in the middle of your place setting or it can be to the right or the left. But back on the table then, not before everyone has finished getting ready to leave. Let's talk about when to start eating. You have this beautiful safe in front of you. And I'm sure you're anxious to go ahead and eat but you don't want to pick up your spoon until your host picks up his spoon and starts he admitted he does.

That's the signal for you to begin eating and of course the correct way to eat yourself. Soup is to spoon the soup away from you. You dip your spoon to the back of a soup bow, hold it for just a second, and then bring it back towards your mouth. And there's a good reason why you would do that. All these rules of etiquette have not just been contrived in order to make our lives more difficult. The reason that you do this is so that if a drop should fall from the spoon, it's going to hopefully fall into your bow and not on your nice new tie.

Everyone is being very careful in maintaining good posture here and that's what you need to do is to sit straight at the table with your back straight but leaning slightly in towards your food towards your soup so that when you take a sip of your soup, then you're in a position so that if a drop should fall, other than in the bowl, it's not going to fall on the front of you, but you don't want to be hovering over your food or over your soup bow If you're trying to protect it from everybody else at the table, everyone is now enjoying the tomato basil soup which looks absolutely delicious, spinning it away and then bringing it back to your mouth. If you want to rest between sips of soup, or if you're talking with someone, put your spoon down but put it on the saucer underneath your soup bow.

Because you've got this soup bowl or the soup cup. You don't want to leave your spoon sitting in the soup cup. If you had a shallow soup dish or soup plate, then you would leave the spoon resting in the soup plate or the soup dish. But with this sort of a cup rested on the saucer to the side. That's the same position that it takes when you are finished eating so that your server will know to come and take your soup. And if at this point you'd like to have perhaps a sip of your water since you've had this nice warm soup, then it's a good good idea a good time to take your napkin blot your mouse so that when you Take a drink of the water and you don't end up with particles of soup on the outside of your glass.

And you certainly never want to take a drink of water or any beverage as long as you have something in your mouth. Some people think that the waters for washing the food down, but it's actually not. And if you want to get that last little drop of soup in your bow is perfectly acceptable as long as that bowl or cup has handles on it, to tip it away from you and spoon the last little bit of soup. All right, now let's talk about the bread. Bread has been placed on the table. So it's going to be someone's responsibility to pass the bread and offer to others at the table.

And the person who is sitting closest to the bread is the one who should pick up the basket of bread and offer it to the person on his left. So Bob has picked up the bread he is now offering the bread to Stephanie he's holding the basket for her so that Stephanie can reach in or either Take it for herself and take a piece of the bread. All right, and she of course is going to put it on her bread and butter plate. And then she's going to offer it back to Bob. And he will take it. Then Bob is going to continue passing it to the right.

All food is passed to the right around the table. And the reason for that is that the server is serving from the left and if you were passing to the left, you would run counter to the server and you might have a terrible collision of foods or whatever. So you always pass to the right around the table. Whether it's the bread, whether it's the salt and pepper, whether it's salad dressing, whatever it may be cream, sweeteners pass to the right, now we need to pass the butter. So Melissa is sitting closer to the butter, so she would pick up the butter and she would offer it to Bob, who would then either refuse it or take it when he takes it. Then he picks up his Butter spreader, put some of the butter on his plate, and then he passes it back to Melissa.

After she's had butter if she cares to then she passes it on to darish. So now is the perfect time to have some of this delicious looking bread. Thank you. And please note the server takes from the right service from the left and takes from the right. You always need to be aware of that so you're aware of what you're doing when your plate is either coming to you or when it's being removed so that you don't interfere with the service. Now, back to the bread.

When you got to eat your bread, what you want to do, some of you may want to just pick the whole thing up slather the butter over it and take a Munch or a big bite out of it. That's not the correct way to eat your bread. What you really should do is to pick up your bread, break off a small piece of bread, butter it over your bread plate and then take one small bite at a time. After you've had that one bite of bread, you go back and you break off another piece of bread and think about it. We talk about breaking bread together. Nobody talks about cutting bread together or taking a big bite of bread together, we break bread together.

So now the salad is being served. And once again, you won't start eating your salad Of course until everyone has had their salad placed in front of them. If Bob were not the host here, if everybody here were equal, so to speak, then the the first person to start eating it wouldn't make a big difference. He would just someone would pick up a fork once everyone had been served but it really wouldn't matter. But we're still waiting on bob your host to be served his salad. Once he sure that everyone at the table has salad.

Then he picks up his salad fork, which of course is the outside fork on the left hand side and begins to eat his salad. Of course before you begin eating your salad, you'd like to have some that Nice dressing on it. So once again, it's Melissa who seems to be closest to the items. So she would pick up the salad dressing, she would offer it again to Bob who is on her left, he will take that and serve himself and then pass it back to Melissa, who will then take some for herself and continue passing it around the table to her right. Now do notice that when Melissa is ready to pass the dressing to doordash she has the handle facing him so that if necessary, he could take it by the handle as well the handle and the serving plate. Now if you find it necessary to cut something in your salad, it's perfectly acceptable these days to use your salad knife or to use a knife to cut your salad.

In this case, you're fortunate enough to have the salad knife. So if you want to cut a piece, cut a piece of your salad with your salad knife and take it to math one bite at a time. Now you just cut off one By the time occasionally you'll see people who sit down to eat their salad and they cut the entire thing out before they have any of you know, it's like getting all that work out of the way and then they can proceed to eat the salad. That is not the correct way to eat your salad. So cut one paste that you need to eat at that time if a piece of lettuce is too large or if there's a piece of tomato that's too large or if your salad has big chunks of cucumber or sometimes you get those really big chunks of lettuce.

So don't hesitate about using a knife to cut your salad if the side of the fork will not do it. Many people have been taught or have heard that you should not cut salad with a knife. That was because the blade of the knife was made of sterling silver and the interaction with vinegar in the salad dressing would create a problem with the sterling silver. Knife blades now are made of stainless steel so there's no issue with that so you can feel comfortable and confident using a knife. Sometimes you have only one knife on your at your play setting and so Then you may need to use your entree knife for your salad to catch yourself. If that's the case, once that course is over, you need to wait for your server to tell you what it is you should do with the knife, whether the server is going to take your salad plate with the knife away from the table and bring you back a clean knife.

Or on occasion, the server may say to you, please keep your knife. Now if you have to keep your knife then that might present a dilemma like what do I do with a knife, it's now a soiled knife, and no utensil that you've already used is going to go back on the table. So if the server says please keep your knife then you would put it over on your bread plate and keep it there until your entree is brought to you. And then you would put it back on your your entrees like I'd like to mention right now the placement for the knife and fork while you're eating your salad and then when you're resting and then when you have finished. Obviously if you're going to use the knife and fork to cut your salad, you're going to Pick up the the knife and fork and hold them with the fork in your left hand the knife in your right hand your index finger on the back of the fork and index finger on the back of a knife and you cut very gently in this fashion.

Then in order to rest your knife and switch your hand, switch, excuse me switch your fork to the other hand. You placed the knife on the top of the plate with a blade facing in. And then you would if you're right handed, move the fork over to your right hand if you're left handed, you would continue with it in your left hand. Now if you are just want to put down your fork and rest between bites, have conversation with your table mates. Then you put the fork down in the lower right hand corner of your plate justice Bob has right now and let it rest there with your knife at the top of the plate. The server knows that you're you're not through with the salad yet.

Once you have decided that did you are finished. Then you move the knife down To the right hand corner next to the fork that indicates to your host or hostess or to the server that you have finished. Very often people will ask me, what should I do if there's something on the plate that I don't like that I don't want to eat? Well, even if the entire course is something that you don't want, some people aren't particularly crazy about salad. But you go ahead, if salad is served to you, you go ahead and have a few bites of your salad so that your host does not feel bad, so that they don't try to find something else for you to eat or worry about the fact that you didn't eat all of your salad or care for it. So you eat just as much as you can to indicate that you're, you're satisfied with the course.

If there's something in your salad or in another dish that you don't want to have, you don't need to go to a whole lot of trouble to separate those things out. I've actually seen people who very carefully you know, in a salad particularly have segregated all of the tomatoes from the cucumbers from the walnut pieces from everything else, just so they could eat their favorite part. Don't bring attention to the fact that you're not eating a particular thing if it's the tomatoes, or if it's cucumbers, or whatever. Now we can look here at Bob's plate. And we can tell that the one item he wasn't so crazy about and his salad was his tomatoes, but he didn't make a big deal about that. While he was eating, he just carefully ate the lettuce and all the other good things that were in the salad and did not call attention to that.

Now, that also raises the question of should you clean your plate and it's best not to totally clean your plate. So Good thing you left some of your tomatoes there. Because if you eat everything on your plate, it looks like you're still hungry. And in some cultures and some places in the world, your host will continue to serve food to you will serve you that course until you stop eating it and leave something on your plate. So leaving something on your plate indicates that you're satisfied you enjoy the course, but you're not starving to death.

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