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Dining Like a Pro

Practice makes perfect!

Dining Like a Pro

18 Tips from Bob Meyer, general manager of Sodexo food services at Northampton Community College, at the College's "Mocktails & Networking" event on April 28, 2015

Whether you're striving to impress a prospective employer, client or your girlfriend's parents, here are a few pointers:

1.       Act natural.  Don't try to be someone you're not.

2.       Practice.

3.       Check out the restaurant and the menu ahead of time.

4.       Don't order the most expensive item on the menu. 

5.       Put your phone away!  The only time it is acceptable to take a call is if a family member is truly deathly ill.

6.       Choose foods that are easy to eat neatly.  Spaghetti and food with bones could spell disaster.  Ditto for chicken wings and ribs!

7.       Put your napkin on your lap and keep it there until the meal is over.  If you have to excuse yourself to use the bathroom, do so without announcing your destination.  Leave your napkin on your seat, except to blot your mouth.  (Blot, don't wipe!)  Don't leave your napkin on the table or on the back of your chair. 

8.       Wait until everyone is served to begin eating.

9.       When confronted with a lot of glasses and silverware, don't panic!  If there is a full setting of silverware, work from the outside in.  The fork on your far left is your salad fork.  Your dinner fork will be next to your dinner plate.  If there is silverware above your plate, it is for dessert.  If you accidentally drop silverware on the floor, don't pick it up.  Politely ask the server to replace it.  Think of the car - BMW - when trying to figure out which plates and glasses are yours.  Your Butter plate is on your left, the plate for your main course is in the Middle, and your Water glass is on your right.

10.   Remember what your mother told you!   Don't speak with food in your mouth, don't burp, and don't smack your lips.  Bring your food to your mouth rather than bending over your plate. 

11.   If you take a roll, put it on the small bread plate to your left.  Don't butter the roll all at once.  Break off and eat one bite-size piece at a time, buttering it as you go.  Break the roll rather than using a knife to cut it.

12.   Don't season your food without tasting it.  That can be insulting to the cook.   If asked to pass the salt or pepper, pass them together, not separately.

13.   If your soup is too hot to eat, don't blow on it.  When it cools down, spoon it away from yourself and scrape the bottom of the spoon on the edge of the cup to get the last drip off.

14.   You may use a knife to cut your salad to make it easier to eat.  For all courses, take small bites so you can chew and swallow quickly if asked a question.

15.   When everyone else is done eating (in a business situation), so are you!  Don't make them wait for you to finish.

16.   If you don't want wine or coffee, simply pass your hand over your glass or cup when the server comes to the table.  Don't turn them upside down.

17.   If you put cream or sugar in your coffee, stir quietly.  Try not to clink.

18.   As good as the food may be, remember that at a business function, you are not there to eat.  You are there to get to know your host(s) and to put your best foot forward.

Need a refresher?  Bob highly recommends this website.