Double chocolate cheesecake covered with chocolate drizzle taunting you for over an hour while you attempt to learn everything there is to know about dining etiquette. What a task. This past Monday, I had the chance to attend the Career & Leadership Development Etiquette Dinner in collaboration with UW-Whitewater Dining Services. The program facilitators included Jason Goldschmidt, Retail Dining Director, and Rob Taylor, Catering Director, who put on a great and helpful program!
Dining Etiquette? when will this ever be useful for college students? Well, this was my view on dining etiquette before attending.
These 5 tips are what I learned from the program and I’m confident that they will help you become prepared for that next big event like a family gathering, on-site job interview, student organization meeting, and the list goes on. Dining etiquette is something that you may have already found useful or will find useful in the near or distance future.
1. Wait to Start Eating!
But I just want to eat my food NOW! This is one of the most important tips I can give you about dining etiquette. Make sure to wait until all members at your table have been served AND the host takes the first bite before digging in. This was by far the most challenging part for me. In my family it’s always “get eating while the food is still warm/cold!” But in some situations you could be viewed as impolite for not waiting for others to be served.
2. Bite-size Portions & Small Sips
I know it may sound simple to take small bites and small sips when eating at a formal dinner. However, as a college student we tend to (1) skip breakfast, (2) eat dinner late, and (3) our ‘meals’ may be snacks instead of actual meals, which means that it’s sometimes hard to avoid eating at a ridiculous pace. Make sure to cut everything into bit-size pieces and take ONE bite at a time so that you’re able to be present in a conversation if need be. Also, before taking a drink of your beverage make sure to use your napkin (that’s placed on your lap) to wipe your mouth before drinking out of a clear class. Let’s be honest, no one wants to see food residue on your clear class.
3. Now, That Salad…
It’s just a salad. Put as much lettuce as you can on your fork and try to look like you know what you’re doing. I can handle that. Well, it’s not as easy as you may think. (1) Make sure to cut your entire salad before you start eating. (2) This includes cutting your vegetables into bite-size pieces. (3) Eat your salad with your fork tongs point downward. After not following these steps in the past, eating that salad was intense work.
4. When You’re Finished
This is most helpful for your server, but also demonstrates that you have fantastic etiquette. After finishing your meal, make sure to cross your knife and fork with the tongs facing downward. This will signal to your server that you’re finished eating. Also, this allows for less interruptions from your server during your meal, and lets everyone know at the table that you are finished.
5. Show Your Appreciation
Whether it’s a family member, friend, a current employer, or potential employer, showing your appreciation to the host or person paying is great way to build your relationship with that person. If you find it necessary, send that person a handwritten thank you note. Also, it’s important to wait for the host to dismiss the table or signal that it’s okay to get up and leave.
Although it may seem difficult to follow these five tips, if you start paying close attention now, then you will be sure to impress your future employer, maybe your grandma who wishes you had better mannerisms, or even your significant other.
For the over-achievers:
If you’re still not feeling like an etiquette pro or you just want to learn more, then visit these links below!