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MU chef offers crash course in dining etiquette


Robert E. Thomas
Information Specialist
University of Missouri Cooperative Media Group
Phone: 573-882-2480

Published: Friday, Dec. 4, 2009

Story source:

Leslie Jett, 573-884-3485

COLUMBIA, Mo. –Question: Is it ever appropriate to tuck a linen napkin in your collar while dining?

Answer: Yes, but only in three cases—eating ribs, dining on whole lobster or crab, and anytime you are dining while flying.

That’s one of the many business dining etiquette tips students learn from Leslie Jett, executive chef and resident instructor in the University of Missouri’s hotel and restaurant management program. Jett also is a certified corporate etiquette and international protocol consultant through the Protocol School of Washington.

 He leads 2,000 students a year through a noncredit workshop that spans an entire four-course meal, from early arrival to sending a thank-you note.

“To be well-mannered at the table is to be able to eat food and drink beverages without attracting attention and without in any way being repulsive or rude to others at the table,” he said. “Most people are nervous about proper etiquette, but etiquette is in place to make you more relaxed.”

Here are some quick pointers on dining etiquette from Chef Jett:

-Arrive five minutes before the hour of the dinner. If dining at a restaurant, don’t eat or drink anything until your host or hostess arrives.

-Wait for the hostess to unfold her napkin first and place it on her lap. You do the same. If silverware is wrapped in a napkin, carefully unroll it and place the fork to your left and the knife and spoon on the right.

-In some European countries it is impolite to place your hands out of sight, so if you are dining with an international host or guest, avoid putting your hands on your lap. You may rest forearms against the edge of the table, but not elbows.

-Never order the most expensive item on the menu unless the host has urged you to do so.

-Do not reach in front of a person; ask to have food passed.

-Everything moving around the table travels in a counterclockwise direction.

-Cut two or three small bites of meat and eat these before cutting more.

-Dip away when using a soupspoon; drink the soup from the side of the spoon.

-Don’t break crackers or bread into your soup.

-Never leave a spoon standing in a drinking or sherbet glass.

-Don’t cut bread; break off a small piece and butter it while it rests on the butter plate.

-When finished eating, wait for the hostess to remove her napkin and place it on the table. Return your napkin to the left side of the place setting.

-Even if you don’t care for the food on your plate, try to eat a small portion. Don’t bring attention to the fact that you don’t like it.

-Send a thank-you card within 48 hours of the occasion.