Top Ten Fine Dining Etiquette Fails

I rarely go out to eat.  Let’s face it, as an experienced chef, I can prepare pretty much anything we would like to eat, and chances are it’s going to be cheaper and better that what we can get in most restaurants.  (When I cook just for myself and my family, I can get exactly what we want and prepare it exactly the way we like it.  You don’t always find just what you want prepared in just the way you want it at a restaurant.)  So when I do eat out, I expect a certain level of service and hopefully atmosphere, in addition to the food, because that’s a big part of what you pay for.

I have been thinking about nice dining atmospheres as I get set to teach another of my kids Cooking Manners & Etiquette classes this week.  (4/11 & 12 (Tues & Wed) -1:00-3:00pm.  More info. here.)  I started to make a list of the things that bug me the most when eating a nice meal and came up with this “Top Ten list” of Fine Dining Etiquette Fails:

10.  Table Mis-setting.  Learn how to set the table.  From the left begin with the fork.  Bread plate above the fork.  Dinner plate.  Dessert spoon set above the dinner plate.  Then the table knife on the right side of the dinner plate blade facing the plate.  Then the spoon next to the knife with the glass above the knife and spoon.  The napkin can be placed anywhere as long as it is consistent.

9.    The Napkin – it is not a mop.  The first thing you do when you sit down to eat is put your napkin on your lap.  This simply shows you are ready to dine.  Your napkin is also not meant to be your meal towel.  It is there to protect you and your clothes if you drop or spill food.  Don’t wipe your mouth with your napkin, but instead dab your lips especially before you drink.  When you get up from the table for any reason, neatly place your napkin next to your plate or perhaps on your chair.

8.    Used Silverware.  Once you have used a piece of your silverware, it doesn’t go back on the table, it goes on your plate.   If you are still eating, place your knife and fork in an upside down “V” on your plate with the tips meeting at the top of the plate.  No ramps from the table to the plate.

7.    The Finish Line.  When you are done eating your silverware should go from the bottom right of your plate to the top left.  Think of the international sign for “No…”.  This signals you are done and makes it easy for your plate to be picked up without the silverware falling off.

6.    The Bread Plate.  Use your bread plate.  Butter bite-sized pieces only and eat them individually.  So do not butter a whole piece of bread or a bun and chomp on it.  What’s the hurry?  This is chance to play with your food by painting it with butter.

5.    Making Noise. .Eat as noiselessly as possible. .Try not to clank silverware, bang glasses, scrape your fork on your teeth or smack your lips.

4.    Fingering Food. .Do not use your finger as a backstop. .When you are trying to get that last bite of food off of your plate and onto your fork, use your knife or even a piece of bread as a backstop, not your finger.

3.    Public Grooming.  Don’t pick your teeth, apply make-up, clean your fingernails, comb your hair or do any other personal grooming at the table.  Use the restroom.

2.    Bite-Sized Bites.  There is a reason they are called “bite-sized.”  Small bites of food allow you to chew better, keep you from getting a mouthful of something you may not like (or is too hot) and make it easier to finish chewing and swallowing so you don’t number one.

1.    Projectiles.  Do not talk with food in your mouth.  Not only is it hard to communicate because you have food in your mouth but there is a good chance you will end up spewing bits of food at people while you are talking.

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