Below are the business and social dining questions I have been asked most frequently by professionals in all parts of the world. Dining with of your prospective employer or potential in-laws could be daunting if you are not prepared. So look over the questions and answers below and review Parts 1, 2, and 3 of this series. Now relax and enjoy your dining experience.
- May I push my plate away from me? Never push your plate away from you at the end of either a course or the meal itself. Never stack your plates in an attempt to assist the server. Do not push your coffee or teacup away.
- When are the plates removed? The waitstaff properly removes the guests’ plates after each course, and only when each and every guest at the table has finished that course. It is a breach of dining etiquette to begin serving a course to some when others at the table are not finished with the prior course. The last two or three people who are still eating will become very uncomfortable if everyone else’s plates have been removed.
- Who pays the bill? Whoever does the inviting pays for the meal. If you are the host, arrive early and give the Maître d’ (this is the person who manages the “front of the house” in a fine restaurant) or server your credit card. Depending on the number of guests and what is customary in your area, ask the Maître d’ to put the appropriate percentage gratuity on the card and sign the charge slip before your guests arrive.
- If you are the host and arrive late. When you receive your menu, let the server know that you are hosting the meal and that you will be receiving the check.
- How do I handle cocktail party food? Business cocktail receptions are about business. Hold your drink or food in your left hand. Your right hand must be clean, dry, and available for shaking hands. There is no gracious way to juggle cocktail party food.
- What are hors d’oeuvres? The foods served at these events are called hors d’oeuvres or canapés. They are small snacks such as cheese, meat, vegetables or fish. They may be served on a cracker, a miniature piece of toast or on a little piece of bread. They may be eaten with fingers or a utensil. They may be served on a plate, or you may be given a paper cocktail napkin when you are served.
- What if there are photographers at this event? If this is a business event and there is a photographer wandering around taking pictures, you may not want to be snapped holding an alcoholic beverage.
- May I visit the table of someone I recognize? This is called “table hopping.” When you see someone you recognize in a restaurant, smile and say “Hello” as you pass his or her table when you enter or leave the restaurant. Do not stop at your colleague’s table. Or, after you are seated, you may smile and nod from your own table if you see someone you know. Never stop and stand over your acquaintance’s table. In business, it would be rude to go over and expect that person to interrupt a business meal to stand and introduce you to his or her guest(s). Of course, you would want to very briefly visit the table of a relative or close friend.
- What’s the basic etiquette for buffet lines? Simply stand in line and wait your turn. Use the serving pieces provided. When you’ve served yourself, return the serving piece either into the serving plate or place it in the provided saucer or holder. No fingers in the serving plates! Never lean forward into the food. If you get food on your fingers from the serving pieces, absolutely do not lick your fingers. If you touch a piece of bread, you own it.
- Who clears the plates at a buffet? 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
- Do I have to wait for the table to be seated? At buffets, 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.
Think of these business and social occasions as opportunities to get to know and to enjoy clients, colleagues, potential clients, and new friends.
I hope that you enjoyed this article. You can find parts 1, 2, and 3 on my website blog at: www.MannersForBusiness.com
Excerpts of blog or article may have been taken from the book: Hospitality Management – People Skills & Manners on and off the Job. Copyright © 2015 Lyn Pont, Ph.D.
“Pont’s book is a must-read for anyone considering a career in hospitality.”
— Isadore Sharp, chairman and founder, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
See the book at: www.HospitalityManners.com
Visit Lyn at: www.MannersForBusiness.com
Lyn Pont, Ph.D. – World’s Top 30 Hospitality Professionals, Global Gurus
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