How To Use the Proper Utensils During a Formal Dinner
Join me at my table and take steps to avoid the most embarrassing fine dining faux pas.
Let's begin! Firstly are we dressed accordingly? If not it doesn't matter lol, but in reality we need to look the part for us to fit in with the formal crowd.
We are seated, now look at the table with the plate in front of you, forks to the left, knives & spoons to the right.
The fork on the outside is the salad fork, the fork nearest the plate is for the main course. If fish is been served the fish fork goes to the left of the dinner fork. There are exceptions for example; if the salad is served after the entrée, the small salad fork is placed to the right of the dinner fork, next to the plate. If the salad is to be served first, and fish second, then the forks would be arranged (left to right): salad fork, fish fork, dinner fork.
Now looking to the right of the plate. The first knife next to the plate is for the main course. The second knife to the right is the specially shaped fish knife, if fish is going to be served. The third knife is appetizer or salad knife.
The knife blades should be positioned with the cutting sides closest to the plate.
Right of the salad knife is the spoon, then soup spoon then oyster fork at the end to the outside.
Generally, the dessert fork or spoon should be placed parallel to you on the table near the top of your plate or are brought in on the dessert plate just before dessert is served.
The diagram below explains the arrangement of the utensils; this should help after you have digested the above information and gradually remember how to use them accordingly.
Observe and follow the host, they might not always use the right cutlery it does happen but generally they should know.
So when you pick up the fork don't scoop it, point the tines of your fork down towards the plate. Use your knife to nudge the food onto the tip of the fork.
When eating soup you should use the bowl-shaped or larger oval spoon. Never lift the soup bowl or tilt it to scoop the soup, keep it firmly on the table.
Scoop the soup onto your spoon by starting at the center of the bowl and moving the spoon away from you towards the edge of the bowl. Lift the spoon to your mouth and tilt the spoon and drink the soup from the edge of the spoon. Don’t put the spoon into your mouth, and don’t slurp and make loud noises.
Hold your pudding spoon with the bowl of the spoon facing inwards, and treat it like a knife. Use the pudding fork to push small portions of the pudding onto the spoon.
Don’t point your utensils at someone when talking with them, also if you drop your utensils on the floor, leave them there and let the waiter or servant retrieve them. They will fetch you another piece of cutlery.
To make things more confusing some restaurants will serve both a pudding and a dessert. The pudding is the sweet course, while dessert is typically some sort of fruit or a cheese selection.
If bread is served on the table do not use a knife to cut it, use your fingers to tear off a small section and butter a bite size piece. It is considered bad manners to spread the butter across all the length of the whole bread.
Don't tuck your napkin into your shirt, many years ago it was accepted now it's a sign of bad etiquette. Unfold the napkin and place it on your knees but only dab your mouth when needed.
After using each utensil, place it on the edge of your plate don’t put it where you originally picked it up off the table.
When wanting to drink any beverage, please place your utensils down onto the plate before holding the cup or glass.
So now you know how to present yourself at a formal dinner, it wasn't too bad was it! Practice yourself and let it become second nature and instinctive.