Eating Etiquette for Formal Occasions

The purpose of a formal meal is to socialise, satisfying your hunger might or might not happen along the way.

Eat quietly taking small bites at a time whilst eating with your mouth closed.

Don’t blow on hot food to cool it . Wait until it cools down if you can’t handle. Use the time for conversation.

What goes in your mouth should not, except in case of emergency come out again. If you have put something inedible, such as a bone or fruit stone, in your mouth then you should remove it with your fingers as unobtrusively as possible and place it on the side of your plate. Don’t spit it out.

If you are a fast eater slow down to match the speed of others – If you are slow eater speed up so you wont make others wait for you to finish for a long time.

If there is anything on the plate you don’t like it is quite acceptable to leave it, or perhaps try a mouthful as a token effort.
Only place your knife and fork together if you want to show the Butler or a waiting staff that you have finished, if you want to pause place them away from each other.

In China the way to show you have finished your pot of tea and would like some more is to turn the lid upside down on the pot.

Name cards put at each place setting – Do not re arrange to sit next to someone you’d rather talk to. Remember your host has their reasons of how the seating plan has been made. Proactively get introduced to people around your table.



Do not tuck the napkin into your neck of your shirt , the exception is that if you are having a messy food (in such case you shall be provided with a suitable bib to protect your clothing) or alternatively everyone may tuck their napkin in.

The napkin is to clean your fingers and dab excess food from around your mouth.When finished it is okay to leave the napkins crumpled on the side plate or on the table.



You can eat the bread as soon as the starter is served.

If there is a bread basket kept on the table It is a good manners to offer the basket to the near neighbours before you take one yourself.

It is normal to cut the bread into pieces with a knife, a bread roll you should tear it into conveniently sized pieces, which you butter as you eat them.

Usually butter will be in a butter dish on a plate with the butter knife to take some with.

Use this to just to drop the butter on your side plate and return this promptly.

Use your knife to spread the butter.

Don’t throw your bread rolls at your neighbour, unless its a very good party!

Formal dinners are much about conversation as they are about food, so as a general rule is to cut your food into small chunks that can be chewed easily and swallowed quickly when required.

Make sure that you are eating slowly and carefully enough to be able to make conversation with others on your table. It is a good manners to include everyone near you in the conversation, always try to talk to both diners on either side of you.

Keep your conversation light and friendly.

If you have come this far and is still interested next issue I shall talk about few things to bear in mind when you eat soup.

About Prem Rao

Prem is a professionally qualified Butler and a passionate hospitality professional. Prem has a reputation for turning around properties and country estates to a dynamic and sought after places. Endeavours to provide a joyful experience by being thoughtful to his clients and to be a pleasure to work with for the staff. His humble beginnings of his career began in five-star deluxe hotels and lasted for 8 years. Travelled the world on cruise ships for about 9 years before embarking on being of service to ultra high net worth and title families in the UK. Have been of service to Royalties and celebrities.Prem shall be able to help with the following • Create Standard operational procedure and household manual. • Offsite training in all cores household skills • Onsite training to meet employer’s requirements • Tradesmen and contractors as required • Property management • Event managementPrem likes, History, learn new things, places , people, travel, documentaries, and good food. For him, the workings of a human mind is a constant curiosity.

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