Buffet service may be the choice of your host at your next business or social meal or reception. Buffets can be found in the most informal and the most elegant of venues. The rules are straightforward:
- You will have to stand in line and wait your turn. Think of this as an opportunity to meet new people and to network.
- In some buffet lines, there will be servers who carve meat and game and serve these to you. Other buffet lines are strictly self-serve.
- Use the serving pieces that are provided. If a serving utensil is missing, ask for one.
- Use the serving utensil only for its intended dish; and when you’re done, return it either into the food or place it in the provided saucer or holder.
- See that the handle of the serving piece does not touch the food in the serving dish.
- No fingers in the serving plates! No eating directly from the serving plates.
- No matter how tempting, do not start sampling your food while still in line.
- You are dining with others, so please don’t touch food or put food on your plate and then place it back into a buffet serving dish.
- Never lean forward into the food to smell or sniff it, and of course, if you get food on your fingers from the serving pieces, absolutely do not lick your fingers.
- If you touch a piece of bread (or any other food), you own it. Do not put it back because you’ve changed your mind.
- If you must cough or sneeze, step away from the buffet line. If you have not sneezed into a handkerchief or a tissue, then as a courtesy to others, wash your hands before reentering the line. You are touching everyone else’s serving pieces!
- Be mindful of your long sleeves, cuffs, sweaters, ponytails and dangling jewelry. These items can inadvertently be dipped into the serving plates.
- Please don’t pile food on to your plate, making it impossible for your tablemates to see you! An overfilled and sloppy plate will look very unappetizing.
- Do not mix courses on one plate. No one wants to see the roast beef gravy running into the cheesecake on your plate. Take smaller portions; go back two or three times.
- Leave your used plates and silverware on the table; a server will clear these for you. Return to the line and take a clean plate.
- Carry back to the table what can reasonably be carried. You only have two hands.
- If there is a beverage dispenser, be careful to ensure that the rim of your glass does not touch this equipment.
- In buffet etiquette, the point is to eat while your food is still hot. You do not have to wait for the entire table to be seated. Do wait for two or more of your companions to join you.
- If you are taking a child through a buffet line, you will want to explain the rules about using serving utensils in lieu of fingers.
- If this is a business occasion, you can still enjoy your companions and good food while remembering that others are watching. It’s to both your personal and business advantage to observe the basics of table manners.
Excerpts of blog taken from the book: Hospitality Management – People Skills & Manners on and off the Job. Copyright © 2015 Lyn Pont, PhD
— Isadore Sharp, chairman and founder, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
“Pont’s book is a must-read for anyone considering a career in hospitality.”
See the book at: www.HospitalityManners.com
Visit Lyn at: www.MannersForBusiness.com