Mind your table manners: fine dining etiquette
In the world of fine dining, there are certain rules to be followed. From bread-eating to your mains, each course on the menu adheres to a specific protocol.
In the spirit of the much-anticipated Malaysia Tatler Ball 2014, let us guide you through some essential tips to help you mind your table manners, so that you leave a good impression to your fellow dinner companions.
Once you have mastered the essential dining etiquette, you can sit back, relax and enjoy the exquisite fine dining experience, prepared exclusively by Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur's Executive Chef Rudolf Kunkel.
Which spoon, which fork and which plate?
The first thing to take note of: the silverware placement on the table. Forks are always placed on the left side of your plate, whereas spoons and knifes are on the right side.
If you are worried about using the wrong utensils for a specific course, always remember to start with utensils from outward in. The furthest fork from your place is for the salad and the furthest spoon will be for soup. As for desserts, the fork and spoon will always be placed horizontally above the display plate.
Often in fine dining, meals begin with a freshly baked roll of bread, served on the plate on your left side. When eating bread, always tear the roll by hand into bite-size pieces and butter each piece before eating.
Soup-drinking is a very delicate affair that most ignore; it is more than just about drinking your soup with little to no noise. An elegant approach is to scoop your soup in an outward motion, away from your body. This allows any excessive soup to drip back into the bowl, instead of onto your shirt.
Give it a squash
When it comes to the challenges of fine dining, nothing beats handling miniature round-shaped food like peas and cherry tomatoes without having it slip and bounce off your plate.
The trick to the matter is, first use your knife to crush or flatten the peas before picking it up with your fork. For fresh cherry tomatoes, slice it in half before consuming.
Keep in mind that the key to mess-free eating is to take it slow. Also, always chew with your mouth closed.
Tatler Tip: Refrain from blowing at the food to cool if off; it is a sign of impatience and this can be offensive to the host – simply let it cool on its own.
Eating the right way is not the only protocol in a fine dining occasion; handling your utensils well is also important when it comes to being respectful to your host.
First we start with napkins: when you are seated, unfold the napkin and lay it on your lap. It is not acceptable to tuck your napkin in your shirt or to blow your nose with it. You should only use the napkin to dab gently at the mouth. The napkin should remain on your lap whenever you are seated.
When you need to excuse youself from the table, the napkin should be placed on your seat. As for silverware, the fork should be crossed over the knife in a X-shape, with the fork tines facing downwards.
I'm done, thank you
At the end of every course, utensils needs to be placed parallel to each other in the 4 o’clock direction to let servers know that you are done with the meal. If there is only one spoon of fork, always place it face down.
At the end of dinner, silverware and plates will be cleared from the table and you should place your napkin neatly on the left side of your plate. You do not need to re-fold the napkin but do make sure it is not flung casually on the table or plate.
If you are ever in doubt, always follow the lead of your host and hostess.