12 Dining Etiquette Tips

Attending a wedding this summer or a big party? Here’s a refresher on dinner party etiquette. Brush up on these basics you can’t afford to overlook, from etiquette expert, Diane Gottsman.

dining etiquette

1. Wait for your host before placing your napkin on your lap. Yes you are hungry and want to dig in, but wait for this signal from your host to begin.
2. Keep your elbows off the table. After a few drinks we may be tempted to slack on this, bud just don’t.
3. When in doubt, use the “D” – “B” rule. Drinks on right; bread on left.
4. Spoon soup away from your body. It seems to make no sense, but this is the proper way to eat soup. And of course, no slurping.
5. Cut only one piece of food at a time.
6. Pace yourself. Try not to be the first or last to finish your meal. Pay attention to those around you and keep up or slow down with them.
7. Pass items at the table counter clockwise.
8. Salt and pepper are sent around the table together.
9. Break off one small piece of bread at a time.
10. Do not butter the entire roll. Just a dab will do, and your waist will thank you.
11. Do not ask for a doggie bag. If there are plenty of leftovers and your host offers it up, then go for it. But don’t bring it up yourself.
12. Don’t forget to thank your host.

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Food Festival Etiquette: Dos and Don’ts

Summer and fall seem to be the peak time for food festivals. While they may be winding down in other areas, in the Southeast they are still going strong well into the fall. Sometimes people attend and forget their manners at home. If that is you, kindly refrain from going. But if you do, here are some rules for proper food festival etiquette.

1. Try new things. If you’ve been given a map or directory of restaurants and what they are serving, you may have meticulously plotted out which restaurants you will visit and in which order. I know I would. While this is a terrific plan of action, you need to also be prepared to try new dishes. You may discover something you love. So, be open to expanding your horizons.

2. Get out of the Way! There’s nothing more annoying than standing in a long line and when you are just about to get to the point where you can get your small plate, the jerk in front of you proceeds to stand there and eat instead of moving out of the way, creating a backup in the line. Don’t be this guy, just don’t.

3. Cutting in line. The lines for popular food tents seem to grow exponentially each year. News flash: no one likes to wait. We all want instant satisfaction. Cutting in line just makes you look like a huge douche bag. Wait your turn. And if you feel like you just can’t do that, find a line that is much shorter.

jazz brunch at euphoria food and wine festival

food festival workers

4. Say Please and Thank You. If you think it’s hot a miserable walking around while sipping on your beer, think about how miserable it is under the tent, standing all day long, plating up food. A smile and a “thank you” go a long way. So, don’t forget your manners.

5. Strollers are a no no. When did it become customary to bring toddlers to food festivals? If I had a kid, I’d for sure steer them to being a foodie. I’d make them try lots of different kinds of things. But I probably wouldn’t bring them to a food festival. It is boring for them and frustrating for festival-goers to have their feet continuously run over by strollers.

In talking with chef friends, I’ve learned that a food festival is one of the worst places to see any chef or restaurant at it’s best. It makes sense – they don’t have the same kitchen to work out of at a festival as in their restaurant. They have to choose items that can be prepped elsewhere and brought to the festival with minimal cooking. How else would they be able to feed so many people so quickly? Keep these things etiquette reminders in mind when visiting food festivals, and you will probably have a better time. Well, at least the people around you will.

Dining Out: New Rules

In many other countries, it is a huge treat to be able to go out to dinner. There are many here in the US, that seem to take it for granted based on the behavior seen at some restaurants around the nation. Besides being shameful not appreciate dining out, poor actions can ruin the experience for others. Here are some reminders for the proper etiquette when dining out.

Phony Bologna

When diners are checking email, putting pictures on Facebook, and texting others, they miss out on that lovely experience of dining out. Put the phone away and enjoy dinner. Nothing is more obnoxious than a boisterous diner while others are trying to have a pleasant meal.

Babysitters are too Expensive

A couple decades ago it would have been unheard of for a couple to bring their child on their “date night.” Now, with the cost of everything going up and shrinking income, many parents choose to bring their kids out with them, rather than pay a sitter. It is plain rude to bring loud, misbehaving children out and put a damper on other couples’ evenings out. Suggestion: swap nights out with another couple.

Taking Casual too Far

Gone are the days when restaurants had strict dress codes.  While it is good things have become more relaxed, perhaps they have become TOO realxed. So, here are some restaurant fashion dont’s:

  • Flip-flops and shorts have no place at fancy restaurants
  • No Baseball Caps
  • Let’s rule out the sporty look too. No sneakers or gym clothes at fancy restaurants

Cater to my Dietary Needs

Sure, everyone is free to choose their own diet. However, diners who require special foods should check out a restaurant website or contact them to find out if they have a menu to suite their needs. There is a lot of  work that goes into  that beautiful plate of food in front of you. So, don’t show up expecting them to cater to special food requirements.

Hold the Reservation

If you won’t be able to keep your reservation, call them and cancel. An empty table that would have otherwise been occupied is lost income. Restaurants are not free from blame either. A guests’ table should be ready when they arrive. Waiting great than 20 minutes for a table with a reservation is unfair. A free drink or appetizer goes a long way to smooth over a long wait.