Module 1: Kitchen Basics Table Etiquette
Table Manners Good manners are used to show consideration and respect for others. Learning good manners will enable you to feel comfortable, more confident and relaxed in any situation. As with any skill, developing good table manners comes with practice.
Appearance and Hygiene • Come to the table neat and clean. • Wash your hands before coming to the table for a meal. • Do not comb your hair or apply make-up at the dining table.
Table Conduct: Being Seated • Come to the table when the meal is ready. • Allow your elders to precede you. • Wait for all who are dining to arrive at the table then wait for a signal from the host or hostess to be seated. • People should seat themselves from the left side of the chair; assist those who need assistance in being seated.
Table Conduct: Use of Napkins • Place the napkin in your lap as soon as you are seated. • Your napkin should be used to blot your mouth lightly and to wipe your fingers as necessary. • If you cough, sneeze, or need to blow your nose, use a tissue rather than the napkin. It is polite to leave the table if you have a long bout of coughing. • Excuse yourself and find the washroom if you need to blow your nose.
Table Conduct: Use of Napkins • The napkin should remain in your lap throughout the meal. If you leave the table for any reason during the meal, place the napkin on the seat of your chair.At the end of the meal, leave the napkin to the left of your plate. It need not be refolded, but should be neat. • If you spill anything, use your napkin to mop up the spill. If the spill is large or very messy seek the assistance of you host.
Table Conduct: General Behaviour • While waiting to be served, keep your hands in your lap. • Sit straight; do not slump. Elbows should be kept off the table until after the meal. While eating, keep your elbows near your sides. • Be polite. Contribute appropriately to the conversation so that the meal is a pleasant experience for all present.
Table Conduct: Handling Food • Wait for the host to indicate that it is time to begin passing food. If you are the host, you are expected to start first. • You may serve yourself foods that are close to you. Wait or ask politely for other items to be passed to you. Assist those beside you who may need help. • When serving yourself, take only the amount of food that you will eat. Do not take more than your share.
Table Conduct: Handling Food • Unless you are allergic to a food you should take or accept a bit of each food that has been prepared. This is a courtesy to the cook. • Unless you are dining with a large group (more than eight people), wait until everyone is served before you begin eating. • If you are uncertain about which piece of cutlery to use, follow the lead of your host.
Table Conduct: Handling Food Appetizers • Sauces that are served for vegetables, nachos or other appetizers should be spooned onto your own plate for dipping. DO NOT dip your food into the main serving dish, unless individual plates are not provided. • If seafood cocktail is served, use the fish fork. • If fruit cocktail is served, use the teaspoon provided. • Place the used utensil on the plate to be removed and taken to the kitchen.
Table Conduct: Handling Food Bread or Rolls • Place your bread or roll on your bread plate, if one is provided. If pats of butter are provided, transfer one from the butter dish using the tiny fork supplied. If a block of butter is provided, use the butter knife to place butter on your bread plate. • Break, do not cut, small, bite-size pieces off your bread or roll and spread butter on it each time you want to eat a piece. • The bread plate is also used for relishes, olives, pickles, celery and jam or jelly for the rolls.
Table Conduct: Handling Food Soup • Soup is to be eaten quietly and neatly. • Wait for hot soup to cool; do not blow on it to cool it off. • To eat soup, dip the spoon into the soup, moving the far edge of the spoon away from you. Do not fill your spoon full. • Lift the spoon to your lips rather than bending down to the bowl. The arm you are using to eat with should not be resting on the table.
Table Conduct: Handling Food Soup • Sip (not slurp) from the side of the spoon, instead of the tip. • When you have finished your soup, do not leave the spoon in the bowl. Place the spoon on the side of the soup plate.
Table Conduct: Handling Food Salad • If the salad is served as a separate course, before the main course, a salad fork is used. The salad fork is found on the outside of the cutlery setting to the left of the plate. Salad Fork • If the salad is served as part of the meal, use the dinner fork.
Table Conduct: Handling Food Salad • If the salad is served as a separate course, after the main course, as is done at formal dinners, the salad fork will be immediately to the left of the plate or may be provided by the server. Salad Fork
Table Conduct: Handling Food Salad • If ingredients in the salad are too large to eat, cut them with your fork, if possible, or cut the them one piece at a time with the dinner knife. • When you are finished eating the salad, position your cutlery across the salad plate, in the “five o’clock position”, with the tines of the fork placed downwards.
Table Conduct: Handling Food Main Course • The main course of a meal is also sometimes known as the entrée. • Most North Americans eat the main course using what may be called the “zig-zag” method. We cut our food then set the knife down on the edge of the plate. (Note that you should not set the knife on the table nor should you “bridge” the plate and table with the knife.) We then transfer the fork to the dominant hand to eat.
Table Conduct: Handling Food Main Course • A more direct method, the “Continental style”, is used in European countries. The fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right. After cutting one bite of food, the food is transferred to the mouth with the fork still in the left hand, tines facing downward. This eliminates the transferring of cutlery from hand to hand. • This method of eating is considered more formal than the zig-zag method.
Table Conduct: Handling Food Main Course • Cut large pieces of food into smaller ones, one bite at a time. It is considered impolite to cut all of your food at once. • Lift the food to your mouth; do not lean down to your plate to eat. • When taking a mouthful of food, eat all of the food off of the fork or spoon at one time. Do not take any of it out again.
Table Conduct: Handling Food Main Course • Cut large pieces of food into smaller ones, one bite at a time. It is considered impolite to cut all of your food at once. • Take small bites; chew your food slowly and with your mouth closed. • Avoid talking with your mouth full. If someone asks you a question when your mouth is full, wait to answer until you have chewed and swallowed the food.
Table Conduct: Handling Food Main Course • Swallow the food in your mouth before taking a sip of a beverage. Drink carefully; avoid slurping or gulping. • Do not handle any foods with your hands except for finger foods. Finger foods include bread or rolls, carrot sticks, celery, corn on the cob, olives, potato chips, and most sandwiches. • In informal settings, it is permissible to pick up a chicken, steak, or pork chop bone to finish off the remaining meat once you have cut off as much meat as possible.
Table Conduct: Handling Food Main Course • There are conventions about the placement of the knife and fork when not in use. • Your knife and fork should never be propped against the sides of the plate, nor should the knife be placed between the tines of the fork. • If you are merely pausing in your eating, cross your knife and fork on the centre of the plate. • If you are finished dining, place the knife and fork (tines down) in the five o’clock position. Leave your plate where it is; do not push it away, stack it, nor pass it to others to stack unless directed to do so by the host.
Table Conduct: Handling Food Dessert • Dessert cutlery is either positioned at the top of the dinner plate or is provided when the dessert it served. Dessert Spoon and Fork
Table Conduct: Tips • Remove fruit pits or seeds, or large pieces of fat from your mouth with your spoon. • Remove fish bones from your mouth with your fingers. • Place the pits, seeds, pieces of fat, and fish bones on the edge of your plate. Do not place them on the table. • If particles of food become stuck in your teeth, leave the table to remove the particles. Use dental floss or a toothpick in private.
Table Conduct: End of the Meal • A finger bowl, containing water and sometimes a piece of lemon, may be provided. To use a finger bowl, dip your fingers, one hand at a time, in the water. Swish your fingers gently, then dry them on your napkin. • Your host will signal the end of the meal by placing his or her napkin on the dining table. You may rise and leave the table when your host rises.