- Food is brought to each diner at the table;
- The server presents the platter or bowl on the diner's left,
(Alternatively, plates are prepared in the kitchen and then brought to the table and set before the diners.)
- the host will dish food onto guests' plates to pass around the table; or
- the diners help themselves to the food and pass it to others as necessary.
Using Serving Utensils. Some general guidelines for using serving utensils:
- Serving utensils are placed on the right side of serveware;
- When a serving spoon and serving fork are presented together, the spoon is laid on the right ready to cut and lift and the fork on the left to steady and hold.
- The utensils are returned to the platter or serving bowl in the same position.
- When a serving spoon is presented on an underplate, after use the utensil is replaced in the bowl (ready for the next person to use).
- To protect the hand, the blade of a carving knife faces inward.
Placement when Passing a Plate. To prevent flatware from falling off when the plate is passed:
- The fork and knife are centered vertically in the six o'clock position toward the middle of the plate.
- Leave enough room to grasp the plate in passage and to provide space for another serving.
At a small table of only two to four people, wait until everyone else has been served before starting to eat. At a formal or business meal, you should either wait until everyone is served to start or begin when the host asks you to.
If you're allergic to a food or on a restricted diet, explain to your host (not to the table at large) why you have no choice but to decline.
- Mike Lininger, Editor, Etiquette Scholar
If you find any typographical errors, inaccuracies, or inconsistencies, or if you just have something to add, please email us.