Dining In Notes for Hosts and Hostesses
First, we’d like to thank you for joining us for Dining In. As you know, this is an important element in the development of the students MMA sends out into the professional world. While this may be one evening and a relatively simple meal, it is often the first formal dining experience these students have had, and we hope it will be an experience that will stay with them for a lifetime. As you will see, they will be very nervous and anxious to please. We want you to feel free to discuss the details of the event with them and do not be afraid to coach along the way. Here are the expectations we have for them resulting from the training completed ahead of time.
Introductions/Receiving Line: You will be members of a receiving line. They are to come to you in pairs. They will introduce themselves first, then their “guest/friend/colleague”. You will introduce yourself to them, if they do not know you, then your guest. Small banter is fine, but we need to keep the line moving.
Handshake: We instruct them to use a firm grip, three pumps, say their name clearly and to make eye to eye contact. They are nervous, as I said, and will be worried about sweaty palms.
Socializing: After the receiving line, they will mingle with punch in a social setting. Please mingle with them once you are able as you would in this environment. After the “social time” guests will be directed to their tables and will stand behind their chairs. When the hostess is ready to be seated, the student on her left will seat her and all other may then be seated.
Dinner Table Etiquette: We instruct the students to “follow the hostess”. The meal begins when she picks up her napkin. They are instructed not to drink until the hostess has taken a sip. They may not have the bread until the hostess offers the basket to the student on her left, then she will pass to her right. They wait to begin their meal until the hostess has taken the first bite. Remember, these are hungry kids so don’t make them wait too long! The obvious rules apply: no elbows on the table, no cell phones, stand when a lady or person of importance approaches the table, napkin goes on the back of the chair if they step out, etc. They do a pretty good job and we do want them engaging in conversation and enjoying the company.
Silverware: They are instructed to use their silverware from the outside in. Desert utensils may be horizontal at the top of the plate depending on what is served. When they are finished eating they are to put their knife and fork side by side, angled on the plate to indicate the plate can be cleared. If dropped they wait for the staff to pick up and replace.
The Soup Course: They are instructed to spoon the soup away from them and tip the bowl away to get the last bit and to sip the soup from the side of the spoon. When finished, the spoon goes on the saucer. They often miss this one.
Bread: We talked about the passing above, but you may need to remind them to put the butter on the bread plate, never directly on the bread and to break bread into bite sizes before buttering each piece.
The Main Course: The usual… cut one bite at a time, raise food to your mouth – never lean in to your plate, take small bites, don’t talk with food in mouth, close mouth when chewing, don’t use fingers as a pusher or to pick up food and finally, never lick fingers or pick your teeth.
Dessert: At the end of the meal as the plates are clearing, they are to turn over their coffee cup IF they would like coffee or tea. Otherwise, it should stay overturned. They may be excused when everyone is finished and the hostess/host concludes the evening with a “thank you for coming” kind of signal.
I hope this helps you feel comfortable in having an enjoyable and informative discussion with your table. This is meant to be a fun and interactive evening. Thank you again for being part of it.