Basic Dining Etiquette – The Dessert and Coffee

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 72,926
    Nancy Mitchell of The Etiquette Advocate provides etiquette tips for the dessert and coffee.

    Nancy Mitchell

    Nancy R. Mitchell is an established protocol and etiquette consultant and advisor with more than 30 years of experience in the field. Currently, she is an adjunct faculty member at George Washington University, where she developed and teaches protocol courses to Event Management Certificate Program students in the School of Business and Public Management, and at Stratford University, Falls Church, VA. She serves also as protocol and special events consultant to the Library of Congress, the world’s largest library and cultural center. For 23 years, Mitchell was Director of Special Events and Public Programs at the Library of Congress where she and her staff were responsible for planning and managing over 400 events each year. She coordinated the institution’s major special events, visits of heads of state and other foreign dignitaries, fundraising galas, conferences and meetings. As the Library’s chief protocol advisor, she served as liaison to the White House, U.S Department of State, the Congress, the Supreme Court and other government agencies, foreign embassies, academia and corporations. Mitchell owns The Etiquette Advocate, Inc., a firm providing etiquette and protocol training to corporations, universities, embassies, government agencies, non-profit organizations and individuals. She is the etiquette consultant to Engaged! magazine, has been featured on Good Morning America, Fox 5 News, WTOP Radio and National Public Radio, and is quoted on matters of etiquette and protocol by the New York Times, Washington Business Journal, and the Washington Post. She is a co-owner of the firm, Protocol Partners-Washington Center for Protocol, Inc., and is a member of the Protocol and Diplomacy International Protocol Officers Association and the Women Business Owners of Montgomery Country (MD).

    Nancy Mitchell: Hell, I am Nancy Mitchell with The Etiquette Advocate and we are talking about dining etiquette. We are now going to focus on dessert. Dessert has been served, it comes with coffee or tea. How do we proceed? We earlier moved our dessert utensils from above our place setting to the left and the right of our place setting. We now have the option of using two utensils for dessert. Traditionally thats what was done. The fork was used in the left hand as an anchor if you will, to hold various foods or items in the dessert service in place while the spoon would scoop each bite. This is something that you still can do. If you choose to only use fork or spoon thats alright as well.

    If you have something like cheese cake, pie, other kinds of cake you may just need the fork thats perfectly alright. Between bites, the fork stays on the plate as we mentioned throughout the tutorial, utensils cannot go back on to the table or the tablecloth after theyve been used. So, between bites, I would place the fork on my plate. If have chosen to use two utensils while I am eating the dessert, both of these would be on the plate between bites or when I finished. Coffee then will be offered at that point by the wait staff. If you dont want coffee or tea, you do not want to turn your cup upside down to indicate you dont want that beverage, just pass your hand over the top of the cup and look, speak to the waiter and say, No thank you, when they come around to serve coffee or tea.

    If you want cream or sugar, ask the person who is closest to those set of condiments to pass them to you please. Even they are near you, even if you are not using cream or sugar, you should start these around the table, obviously someone at your table is going to require cream or sugar. So, you would start the sugar bowl in this fashion, passing to the right and the cream in this fashion, any condiment or serving piece that has a handle, the handle should be pointed toward the person who is receiving it as you pass it to them, make it easy for them to grasp it. So, you may have to pick it up in this fashion, turn it around, have the handle pointing toward the person its going to. One note on passing items; if someone to your right or left has asked that an item be passed, you should not use the item as it goes around you; it needs to go to person who ask for it and then it goes back to people who have been skipped in that whole process. Its called short stopping the items if while they are moving around, you decide you are going to use them or take something from a bread basket or take something from a serving plate while its on its way to the person, who has asked for it. Dont do that, thats rude. Coffee, lets say you have added cream or sugar, you want to stir very silently, dont make a lot of noise with your spoon. Never leave a spoon in a coffee or a tea cup in that manner. Its going to be spilt, its going to be hit, its going to be spilt. Take the spoon out, always have the spoon in the liner under the cup.

    Teabags, lets talk about the fact you may say to the waiter, may I have tea instead of coffee. They may bring you an individual serving pot, they may bring you a teabag. If you have done to teabag, youve made tea in your own cup, never use the spoon and whine the teabag around the spoon and squeeze it. You dont want to do that, very bad form. If you have a teabag, that does not have a string on it, its in there, its deep as long as you want it, use your spoon to remove the bag, put it on the liner.

    Remember, anything like teabag, sugar packets, anything that is a separate piece of equipment or condiments or whatever, once youve used them, they always need to go on a saucer, on the rim of a plate, serving plate, bread plate whatever. They dont go back on to the tablecloth.

    Next we are going to talk about eating challenging foods. How to tackle difficult items?