Dining like royalty – Learning the art of dining etiquette

Last Monday my Event Marketing class had the opportunity to attend an etiquette seminar, Dine Like a Diplomat, at the beautiful Faculty Club, University of Toronto. The Faculty Club is a beautiful ivy-covered building, situated near Spadina Avenue in Toronto, Ontario. Built in the early 19th century, the Faculty Club is used as a social centre for the University of Toronto community (particularly faculty and alumni). The venue can also be booked for private events such as weddings, meetings and afternoon tea.

The Faculty Club, University of Toronto Photo Credit: Chantal Penrose

The Faculty Club, University of Toronto
Photo Credit: Chantal Penrose

Our etiquette course was on the fine art of dining. Before attending this seminar I had never given dining etiquette much thought. Growing up I was taught basic table manners:  keep your elbows off the table, chew with your mouth closed, don’t slouch and keep your cell phone off the table.  With these basic table manners etched into my mind, I was sure that this etiquette seminar would be a breeze. I mean really… what more do you need to know than “keep your elbows off the table”?

Boy oh boy was I wrong. For starters, I learned that the fork always goes on the left side, not the right (at home I set it on the right side because I’m right handed).  There is a whole placing system for dinnerware and glassware. Often in formal dining settings, you will have about 2-3 sets of silverware to use. You generally always work from the outer most cutlery, inwards. It was exhausting having to basically learn a whole new way of eating

During our seminar Leanne Pepper, our etiquette coach gave us some very good tips:

  • It can take up to 21 days of practice to get into the habit of developing and maintain good dining room etiquette.
  • You must always wait for the host or hostess to start.
  • Never reach over the table to grab something. Always ask politely.
  • Always excuse yourself when you need to get up from the table. Exit your chair to the right side, push your chair in and leave your napkin folded (neatly) on the back of your chair.
  • You never want to be the first or the last person to finish.
  • The knife sits in the right hand and the fork in the left. Never “saw” your knife back and forth to cut the food. Also, always keep the tines of the fork face down when eating.
  • Always sit and walk straight. Imagine there is a string attached to your head that is being pulled upwards. This visual will serve as a reminder to always maintain a good posture.
  • Always, always, always keep your cellphone OFF the table.

During out seminar we able to practice what we were taught over a scrumptious three-course dinner. We started off with a delicious autumn soup, followed our main entrée, roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables. For dessert we were served a delectable cinnamon peach parfait.

The soup course Photo Credit: Chantal Penrose

The soup course
Photo Credit: Chantal Penrose

Our roasted chicken entrée Photo Credit: Chantal Penrose

Our roasted chicken entrée
Photo Credit: Chantal Penrose

Cinnamon Peach parfait  Photo credit: Chantal Penrose

Cinnamon Peach parfait
Photo credit: Chantal Penrose

Overall, I found the etiquette seminar very informative. I was surprised by all of the little things you have to remember when dining out in a formal setting.  While it might take a bit of practice, table manners can help or hinder your chances of getting a job in the future, especially if your job interview is done over dinner.  Outside of the dining world, good manners are always important. Always be kind, courteous and confident. The way you treat others and how you present yourself can really impact your professional image.

The EVM class at Dine Like a Diplomat  Photo Credit: Chris Bacchus

The EVM class at Dine Like a Diplomat
Photo Credit: Chris Bacchus

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