Fine Dining Etiquette: The Basics

Are you hosting a formal gathering with a Western-style fine dining experience? Perhaps you’re a little nervous about the finer points of etiquette in this kind of social setting. At eatz Catering, we do have a full suite of catering services that include service staff, butlers and onsite chefs as well as glassware and furniture, check them out here. After you have planned the menu and decor elements, take a few moments to brush up on the basics of fine dining etiquette.

The Napkin

At home, you probably use disposable paper napkins frequently. They’re cheap, and you can wad them up and throw them away instead of laundering them. Convenient, but not good for the environment! However, when you’re at a formal dinner or a business lunch, you should see a cloth napkin, decoratively or simply folded, as part of your place setting. Don’t tuck it into your collar or smooth it over your front like a bib. The napkin is unfolded at the beginning of the meal and placed neatly across your lap.

While you’re eating, use the napkin to delicately remove smears or crumbs from your mouth, rather than rubbing your mouth vigorously with it. If you have to step away from the table for any reason, lay the napkin on the seat of your chair and replace it on your lap when you return.

The Cutlery

If your caterer has set the dinner table in the Western style, you will likely see your plate in the centre of the place setting, with the spoons and knives to the right and the forks to the left. You may see an additional fork, knife, or both laid above the plate as well. Those are for the dessert course.

In what order should you pick up each piece of cutlery? Simply start at the outer edge of the place setting and work inward towards the plate with each course. So the outermost fork at the left is likely for the salad, while the outermost spoon on the right is for the soup course.

The Glassware

In addition to the multiple cutlery items, your Singapore caterer will have different glasses available for each guest, depending on the type of beverages that you have decided to serve during the meal. There’s no need to pour yourself a beverage; the servers will take care of that. Be sure to leave the glass on the table to be filled, rather than handing the glass to the server.

If you’d like to make a toast, simply clear your throat and say so instead of banging silverware against your glass. There’s no need to touch glasses with anyone, either. Just lift your glass and look at the person you are toasting.

The Bread

Before the meal, a typical fancy dinner includes the presentation of bread. This takes the edge off the guest’s appetite and prepares the palate for the coming feast. The Singapore caterer will likely place the bread on the small bread plates ahead of time or direct the servers to do so when the meal begins. Pick up the bread and tear off bite-sized chunks, buttering them one at a time.

The Meal

When you’re eating, make sure that you keep your fork in your left hand. The fork keeps the food still while you cut it. Instead of switching the fork to your right hand, keep it in your left hand to bring a bite to your mouth. Avoid cutting everything up at once; instead, cut one bite at a time. When you have finished eating, lay the knife and fork parallel to each other across the middle of the plate. Keep the tines of the fork down and turn the blade of the knife toward the fork. This simple signal lets the server know that you have finished with your plate.

When you’re placed in an uncomfortable social situation, such as a fine dining experience, you may forget one or two of the etiquette rules. If you do forget, look around you and notice what others at the table are doing; then proceed with confidence. A friendly smile, a confident manner, and a desire to be a gracious host are the most important elements for your dinner to be a success.

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