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Etiquette Dinner Shows Students How to Project a 'Professional Image'

50 Students, Faculty and Staff Participate in Annual Event

April 13, 2012

Freshmen Jacob Boehm and Sarah Sinclair are served by Julie Ultrup, a freshman working in dining services, during the annual Etiquette Dinner sponsored by Sodexo and the Student Alumni Association.

Freshmen Jacob Boehm and Sarah Sinclair are served by Julie Ultrup, a freshman working in dining services, during the annual Etiquette Dinner sponsored by Sodexo and the Student Alumni Association.

Wilmington College students learned that, in spite of living in an increasingly casual and often coarse society, there is still a place for good manners and traditionally accepted protocol for interacting in a business or formal setting.

Nearly 50 students, faculty and staff participated in the annual Etiquette Dinner April 12 sponsored by the Student Alumni Association and Sodexo, the College’s dining services provider.

Lisa Brenner, Sodexo’s director of catering, presented the program that included table manners and step-by-step instruction in formal dining, which can be a bit intimidating when just considering forks.

Consider the three-tine salad fork, which is located to the left of the four-tine dinner fork (maybe there is a fish fork on the far left) in a formal place setting, while the dessert fork is positioned with the dessertspoon above the serving plate. Indeed, if finds a fork on the right side of the place setting, that could only be a seafood or oyster fork.

Complicated? Somewhat. However, Brenner explained everything from the silverware, plates and glasses in the place setting to RSVPs and proper introductions so it all made sense. She said possession and display of that knowledge could impress a potential employer, client or dignitary.

“It is all about projecting a professional image,” Brenner said, “but it’s important to know the first rule of etiquette is to never use your knowledge of good manners to put someone else down.”

Some of the tips she shared were: never ignore an RSVP request when invited to an event, give a firm — but not crushing — handshake, always start a meal using utensils placed from the outside in, place your napkin on your lap and leave it on your chair if you need to leave the table during the meal. When the meal has concluded, your folded napkin should be placed to the left of your plate.

Also, break off and butter individual, bite-size pieces of your dinner roll rather than taking bites from the roll, and always pass items to the person on your right. Remember, salt and pepper always travel as a team.

“Knowing good etiquette is a ticket to acceptance and respect in the social world,” Brenner said. “Hopefully this will help you when you go out into the real world.”