Written by Tiffany Adams, Cincinnati Business Courier guest writer & CELI President
Click Here for published article in the Cincinnati Business Courier
My company has sponsored tables at an upcoming winter gala and I want to set myself apart since I will be dining with influential business leaders. I am confident with my dining skills but want to do something out of the ordinary at the table to make an exceptional first impression. Any suggestions?
‘Tis the season for winter galas to raise money for worthy non-profit causes. I applaud your initiative to raise the bar in the spirit of professionalism and refinement. You will be in the company of influential leaders and high profile clients where your dining etiquette will be closely observed.
First impressions count and the ability to handle oneself in the dining room is equally important, if not more important, than handling oneself skillfully in the boardroom.
As guests arrive, remain standing behind your chair to greet or introduce yourself with a firm handshake to other table guests. Once everyone is served, use the European/Continental dining style instead of the American dining style. The United States is the only remaining country in the world to utilize the American dining style. Often called the “zig-zag style” where once the food is cut, one shifts the fork held (tines up) with the left hand back to the right hand to eat. This back and forth motion continues throughout the meal. Hands are placed in the lap for resting.
To show sophistication and to align with a globalized society, try the European/Continental dining style where the fork remains in the left hand and after cutting, it is conveyed to the mouth, tines down. During the resting position, wrists remain on the table edge since in the olden days, people were worried about concealed weaponry. Hands which can be seen at all times clearly sends the reassuring message, “You can trust me.” The European style is preferred by most in the world since it’s less noisy, more efficient, and involves less hand movement.
We tip our hats to England and France for the European/Continental dining style, because in the mid-1840s, they declared that those who wish to eat like fashionable people should not change their fork to their right hand after they cut their meat, but raise it to their mouth with their left hand. Before long, the European/Continental style became prominent and world-class.
As you bid goodnight to all, leave a lasting favorable impression by shaking hands with ALL table guests even if you haven’t chatted very much with someone. Remember to mention their first name when parting. Research reveals that hearing our name spoken stimulates our brain and makes us feel important that we were remembered. Before or after the meal are the appropriate times when business cards may be exchanged…never during the meal. Bon Appetit!